When the fan on Patrick Dori’s Dell Inspiron laptop conked out in 2006, he sent it back to Dell for repairs. Not only did Dori not get a new fan, but Dell completely lost his computer and only returned his hard drive. The company’s response was to offer him a refurbished model — with no extension to the warranty. After five months and nearly two dozen phone calls proved fruitless, Dori gave up trying to work with the computer manufacturer and took his beef to small-claims court.
Dori’s approach was creative, if a bit sneaky. He had the court papers served to the Dell kiosk in his local Paramus, N.J., mall rather than company headquarters. When no one from Dell showed up in court to address the complaint, Dori won a $3,000 default judgement, and the court ordered that the kiosk could be locked down and merchandise seized if Dell didn’t pay up. At that point, according to the Associated Press, Dell settled with Dori for an undisclosed amount.