A few weeks ago my daughter’s laptop displayed a message saying that the battery was unable to charge normally. The message also said the battery was reaching the end of its life and suggested buying a replacement Dell laptop battery. I contacted Dell and was advised that the laptop was outside the warranty period and the laptop battery was not covered.
It has been established that the motherboard was at fault and this has been fixed. Dell then said if the problem continued it would replace the motherboard free. I am concerned that this fault caused the much reduced lifetime of the battery.
Dell explained to Mr Dobson that the motherboard problems he had experienced were caused by static building up in the motherboard’s capacitors. Once these were drained, the problem was resolved.
However, Mr Dobson wanted to know if he had a case to force Dell to replace the battery, which was just over a year old. He asked if Dell has a duty to do this, free, because he believes the problem with the motherboard reduced its lifespan.
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While there is legal protection if faulty goods cause damage to other components or property, he would need to prove his case. He won’t find this easy. Laptop batteries are notorious for giving people problems and are often not covered by warranties, or covered for longer than 12 months.
It is hard to say how long a battery should last too, as this depends on how often it is charged and discharged. Some will inexplicably fail within six months; others can last up to five years or more.
He could appeal to Dell to see if the company will consider providing a new laptop battery. The company has said that if the motherboard continues to show problems it would replace this free of charge.
As a goodwill gesture it may consider offering a new battery as well. But if it refuses to do this, Mr Dobson will probably find it difficult to prove that the build-up of static – which is not an inherent fault – reduced the notebook battery life. It will probably cost more to prove this than buying a new battery.
He could try recharging the battery and exhausting it a number of times. This may extend battery life and improve the performance.
The Sale of Goods Act 1979 says a customer should not be out of pocket because they have bought inherently faulty goods. This means that the customer must be in the same position financially as they were before a fault was discovered.
So if one faulty component in a computer damages another, the retailer will be liable to ensure that it repairs or replaces both of these.