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United States

PC "Lemon Law" Bill Introduced In Pennsylvania 196

wmperkins writes: "Fox News had this article about a new law in Pennsylvania where consumers might soon have the law on their side when battling frustrating computer glitches. State Rep. T.J. Rooney, D-Lehigh/Northampton, has introduced the nation's first computer lemon law." What Rooney's introduced is only a bill at this point, but if it does become law it would require that "computers found to be defective within two years of purchase must be repaired, replaced or refunded," at least for Pennsylania residents. With systems as complex and interconnected as computers are, this seems to me more like a feel-good measure than a real benefit -- if a component claims to be up-to-date but doesn't work with Linux, can I sue?
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PC "Lemon Law" Bill Introduced In Pennsylvania

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  • by Segfault 11 ( 201269 ) on Sunday August 27, 2000 @11:56AM (#824138) Homepage
    PLEASE NO!!!

    If I was a system vendor, I'd probably stop selling computers in PA if the law went through. Like most computer companies, I would make sure the customer had working kit, but I would not bend over backwards to do it. Nobody replaces hundreds of dollars of equipment just because you say "it's broken", and when you have a problem, you ARE going to need to spend some time waiting for an analyst -- you're waiting for a SKILLED person, and there aren't a lot of them, especially for the coin that a system vendor can pay.

    If the Pennsylvania legislature had any idea what goes on at the average tech support hotline, they'd change their minds really fast. It's challenging enough to deal with lusers without having the law involved.
  • This bill would be bad for companies that make quality computer. Why buy a Dell [dell.com] when you can buy an Acer [acer.com] and the government forces them to fix every time it goes haywire. Survival of the fittest, good. Government regulation, bad.

    --

  • A company can set what kind of warranty they want to put on a machine. Typically a household appliance only carries a 1 year warranty. Higher end computer equipment, like my Armada M700, carry a 3 year warranty. But to keep costs down, the low end lines, i.e. Presario, Pavillion, and Aptiva, all have one year warranties. If the PC is out of warranty, you have to pay for repair, but if it is within warranty, the OEM should and is legally bound to repair it to full operation. I should know, I work for one of the largest computer vendors in the world.

    Also people should keep in mind that statistaclly speaking a computer will only have one failure within its intended life, if you get that right out of the box, you're in luck actually, statistaclly speaking.
  • What about the machines with a bios that are not Y2k compliant?

    AMI does not provide an update, but they do offer to sell me one of their boards for $80.

    [RANT]

    Didn't they know Y2k was comming?

    [RANT]

  • Obviously, your economics courses were not covered by a lemon law.
    Free and open markets require informed buyers and informed sellers. If something is sold as a working computer, it should be a working computer, and Joe Consumer should not be the one to unknowingly absorb the risk.
  • I would make sure the customer had working kit, but I would not bend over backwards to do it.

    And that's exactly why Mr. Customer won't buy anything from you.

    Customers have every right to expect manufacturers to stand behind their products. Excellent customer service makes customers happy, and in turn, generates more customers, who in turn are made happy by receiving excellent customer service...(the pattern continues.)

    If you're not willing to bend over backwards to satisfy your consumers, they're going to find other places that will. Believe me, they're out there - any successful business owner will tell you that 90% of the success is due to good customer service.

    Nobody replaces hundreds of dollars of equipment just because you say "it's broken"

    Anyone who does, is a fool. That's usually why manufacturers have you ship the item back to them so they can have a look at it. Nobody out there declares something "broken" just because the user thinks so.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • I have done PC hardware warranty support for a few years for a couple of different companies and covering a lot of different brands of computers, and the sad fact is that if the system works in its 'original configuration' meaning you format the harddrive and run the restore disk they gave you with the system, then the support guys can pat themselves on the back for a job well done.
  • For a long time Creative Labs had only a 90 day warranty, counting their CD-ROM drives, sound cards, everything. I don't know if anything is different.

    That was one reason I totally returned a defective CD-ROM drive that I bought from them a year or so ago.
  • Herein we find the root of the error of your reasoning: you rightly recognize the need for large-scale organization, but you believe that only government can provide it.

    Actually, I think private standards bodies are a good thing, especially in industries that don't deal with life or death situations (not the pharmaceutical or medical professions, obviously).

    Most importantly, though, is the nanny-state attitude that most citizens have: "the gub'r'ment will take care of us! we don't have to look out for ourselves."

    Here's one of the areas where our fundamental views differ; I take it (and I apologize if I'm mistaken) that you're a libertarian, as this is one of those terms that seems to be in the standard libertarian arsenal. I've always preferred "statist" to "non-statist"; while it's meant as an insult, it doesn't have the slant that "nanny state" does.

    To me this country is not a "nanny state"; that implies a lack of control that I don't think exists. If I try to eat food that hasn't been regulated by the FDA, I don't have federal health inspectors breaking into my house and wrestling it out of my hands. If I decide to take herbal remedies the Surgeon General doesn't send agents to my house to stop me. The FDA limitations on experimental drugs are another thing, but I agree totally with you that the rules governing them should be made more permissive.

    I have a contract with my government. I pay my taxes, and I expect those taxes to be spent a certain way. I expect the FDA to test my drugs and food; I expect the Surgeon General's office to make recommendations as to my health. The government may be inefficient, overly bureacratized, and slow, but I'd rather have them conduct testing than private companies, mainly because I feel they are both more objective, and more prone to err on the side of caution.

    I didn't sign this contract, but I endorse it by living in this country and taking advantage of it. If I wanted no part of it I'd move to a less restrictive place. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so does a free market. Supply grows to meet demand... The free market is a "magical black box" which produces all good things without an outside controlling organization.

    This is the other fundamental point on which we disagree. It's been consistently shown that the freer a market, the more liable consumers are to abuse. Whether it's the railroad companies in the 1800s using variable pricing schemes to squeeze out every dollar they could, to Japanese electronics companies flooding the US market with below-cost goods then driving up prices once the competitors were gone, to Microsoft driving competitors out of the market, to Savings and Loans going under because they made obviously bad loans to 3rd world dictators, business without oversight has been consistently shown to end in harm.

    A central libertarian/anti-government mistake is, I feel, the premise that government takes control out of spite or in an attempt to grab power. The regulations in this country sprang up piecemeal in response to specific problems. Maybe they've grown too much, and maybe they're too encompassing, but it wasn't a product of some malevolent government official, but rather 300 years of (usually well-intentioned) lawmaking.

    I'm not saying the system is perfect; far from it. I just think the alternatives are worse. And while I have major problems with the way the government has done a lot of things, I recognize that some form of central government is needed. I tend to defend more than most people mainly to avoid the hypocrisy that a sizeable chunk of our population participates in; the "there oughta be a law" crowd that later turns around and criticizes how large the government has grown. At least I (and my libertarian opponents) are consistent.
    --
  • After all, a democracy can be a totalitarian state in which your only freedom is for whom to vote, if a majority decides that's the way it should be.

    The majority is as dumb as the average person, so effectively, it is roughly equivalent to being ruled by a monarch of average intelligence, who is prohibited from referring to himself in his legislation. So if he want to make a law for his own benefit, he has to vote that benefit for everyone like him.

    The majority don't have enough money for all the health-care they want, so they vote to make it "free". Sure, they still don't get all the health-care they want, but at least nobody else can buy more than them, and they don't have to worry about which insurance plan they should buy. Ughh, God I hate them, they sell out my rights for their convenience.

    I'd never live in a country where the power of the democracy wasn't limited by an acceptable constitution.

    Right now, most limit personal economic freedom so severely that I'd prefer anarchy. I'm getting off this dirtball ASAP.

    It costs nothing,

    TANSTAAFL; everyone pays for it in their taxes, and in higher prices due to having to comply with regulations.

    ---
    Despite rumors to the contrary, I am not a turnip.
  • Lesson learned here. Don't even jokingly insult the /. gods (i.e. Linus).
  • If there is one thing I learned from my economics classes, it's that the U.S. has forever been built on a FREE and OPEN market.

    For all of you snotty-nosed trolls, this means that there is open competition to help thwart these kinds of problems. Ultimately, you get what you pay for. If you buy a computer with a one year warranty (or no warranty at all), that's exactly what you get, damnit. If you want a two year warranty, buy from someone who offers such.

    I will be very disappointed if this becomes a law. It effectively creates a government mandated warranty of two years. So, if you want to sell products in PA, you had better be ready to provide a two year warranty. God forbid we actually look at the real world, but there is actually a market for cheap computers that come with no warranty. Whatever mom and pop stores there are in PA, will be forced to provide a two year warranty whether they want to or not. So, this is actually a boost for big corps like Dell and Gateway. They can easy afford a two year warranty, while some smaller shops cannot.

    So in the end, the government is forcing businesses to provide services they may not wish to provide, and the business has every right to not provide these services if they so choose. If this bill passes, the government will have chipped off a piece of the free enterprise system that has made America great.
  • Think about all of the people who tales everything that happens to their computers as a sign that its crapping out.

    I work on computers for a living. and we get alot of computers from places like Circuit City, and Best Buy from people who have no clue what is going on. Alot of the problems are reports that the mouse stops working (It needed to be cleaned, or replaced. or simply they are moving it around when the computer is busy) or like, 'I got a bad sector error when I ran scandisk. I want a new HD (even though the error only amounts to 1k lost on a 3.2gb disk)

    The point is that If you tell the people that you cant fix it, or that it is something that happens to computers. then they get all offensive and start calling channel whatever on you side, and your local consumer advocate and saying that they were ripped off.

    Imagine how people will then attempt to point to tiny things that are normal as a sign of a lemon PC. (it hung on shutdown, so its a lemon. I got a bad sector, so its a lemon. It wont read my old cds, so its bad) Before a goverment starts making laws about lemon PCs, they better take great care in noting what does and does not make a lemon PC.
  • But who the hell buys from local vendors anyways. They don't stock anything they just order from Ingram. Besides even *paying* the shipping for next day service, you beat the price ordering from an out of state supplier.

    Tax?? we don't pay no stinkin sales tax.....
  • No intelligent business writes off an entire market. I work in the insurance biz and I know we jump through stupid and absurd hoops to become regulated in the different states. Some states even have weird requirements about seperate systems, which mean we cannot even have websites hosted from the same machine.

    Writing off an entire state because you don't like a law is something you do only if the law is going to make you go bankrupt. Otherwise you stay in the state and lobby to have the law repealed or have the teeth cut out of the enforcement.

  • Usually because some mindless twit has decreed that "Our Office runs on Windoze, get over it." as I was told when I mentioned that Windoze was not sufficently stable to process an entire video file without crashing, and that I am running it on a Mac.
  • If the computer lemon law is written like the automotive one I could have a new computer for life. After a year and a half I would start calling support complaining about how the computer just shuts off all by it's self at random times and I loose all my work (pull the plug so the app logs show this). Send in the computer for repair. This is where it gets interesting in lemon law, Insist that you want the computer repaired and not exchanged. Let them fix something, anything. When they have made any repair they have acknowledged a defect. Send the computer in two more times and now you have an official lemon. Ask for your refund and get your Moors law upgrade. This stuff happens all the time at car dealers. Some law offices specialize in it. I know one customer on his 4th new suburban in 6 years.
  • The article cites that if the computer, scanner or software or other components fail, the law would apply.

    IANALBIP1OTv, the proposed law appears to be a 'whole body' warranty...that is, if you buy the computer system, then it is covered by the proposed law in its entirety.

    If the modem doesn't work, it gets replaced, fixed or refunded. If the pre-loaded software makes the system crash, you're covered.

    Astute readers will notice the 'between the lines' part of this...the proposed law will cover what's on the machine at the time of purchase.

    Reformat the drive and load Linux, and you've voided the software component of the warranty, though the hardware portion will likely still be in effect.

    So...order your system with Linux pre-installed, and it should be covered. Go back to the same dealer and have them install any upgrades, and you should be able to continue to be covered.

    It looks like a good effort; the practice if its passed and signed into law will be very interesting to watch.

  • "computers found to be defective within two years of purchase must be repaired, replaced or refunded,"

    Am I the only one who thinks that within two years, the thing will be obsolete anyway? I don't think they usually sell the same computer models for two years. Can obsolesence be considered a form of defect? Then a repair is an upgrade and replace means get a brand new computer. Somehow I don't think the computer retailers will see it this way...

    My computer is mostly* older than 2 years, though, so I guess I disprove my own point...

    *My computer is cobbled together from parts of differing ages, oldest going back to ~1992, newest in 1999.
  • by eagl ( 86459 ) on Sunday August 27, 2000 @11:57AM (#824157) Journal
    A law like this would likely have the same effect it's had on the auto industry... Any non-OEM parts installed can immediately void the warranty at any dealer's discretion. Buy a computer, upgrade the video card, and have the motherboard go sour, then they could say "you're not using our parts, too bad".

    While I like the idea as far as it goes for replacing systems with intermittant hardware failures, any quality manufacturer or retailer already has a good customer service policy for this. My fear would be that all new computer purchasers would have to pay for the currently-optional extra year of hardware warranty coverage.

    Both of my parents recently bought new computers... My Mom got a pretty fast Micron and my Dad got a near-top-end Dell. My Mom got approximately 20 hours free tech support to resolve some hardware compatibility issues (her scanner cause the whole computer to flake out until she got the drivers and resources figured out), and my Dad's wouldn't post so Dell immediately sent him a new computer without requiring him to first send back the original computer.

    I fail to see how a lemon law could have further helped either of them, since both companies responded immediately and appropriately to get them up and running. Over the last 4 years, they both previously owned Gateway computers, and between the two of them they got over $800 in free parts under warranty (hard drives, power supplies, etc.) A lemon law certainly wouldn't have helped there either.
  • Computer hardware failures within the first two years are pretty rare, and usually covered by warrantee.

    Sure - Rare if you get yourself a computer that is built well. However, Joe Computer is going to buy himself that spiffy Compaq he's had his eye on. Compaq is NOTORIOUS for shoddy computer equipment. (I speak from experience.)

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • It's understandable that lawmakers want to make OEM's more responsible for their products, but i'm not so sure that this is exactly the way to go about doing it.

    Exactly. This sounds a law dreamed up by politicians without any 'expert' advice. They should seek help in the professional community. Both the professional computer community, and the psychiatrist community.

  • Sue who? Linus Torvalds?

    I think he means the manufacturer who claims to 'support Linux' and doesn't really.

  • If you're not willing to bend over backwards to satisfy your consumers, they're going to find other places that will. Believe me, they're out there - any successful business owner will tell you that 90% of the success is due to good customer service.
    That is true for many customers. But not me. I prefer to do my own research, and then choose and purchase quality components, with manufacturers warranties, from a store with rock bottom prices and no tech support or customer service whatsoever.

    Most tech support and customer service from "computer stores" is crap anyway. Why would I want to pay extra for the privilege of calling up a manufacturer only to have them tell me that they don't know anything about getting the 2.4 kernel running on their hardware, and what is the 2.4 kernel anyway?

    Basically, I want to buy stuff from a warehouse. And I'll bet there's a lot of people reading slashdot that feel the same way.

    Torrey Hoffman (Azog)
  • It's been consistently shown that the freer a market, the more liable consumers are to abuse.

    I think your confusing incompetent management with a free market.

    Each of your examples is caused by incompetent government intervention:

    Whether it's the railroad companies in the 1800s using variable pricing schemes to squeeze out every dollar they could,

    Not everyone with money can lay rail. The government granted and enforced monopolies on rail-lines in certain places, which was naturally a bad thing for consumers.

    In those cases where there is a natural monopoly, like rail or power lines, the government should retain ownership and rent their use to the highest bidder (they should also contract out construction and maintenance). That's the true free market solution here (and it's a better way for gov't to earn their money than taxing).

    Look at Manitoba Hydro (in Canada) for a prime example of a natural monopoly owned by the government and run well. Okay, they should be renting more things out, and contracting more jobs out, but they luckily had some very sensible and competent bureaucrats so it worked anyway. Too bad such things are a crap shoot; if every gov't endeavor could be done this competently, I'd be a socialist (I was when I was younger and prone to thinking of how best to run the world if someone competent was in charge and everyone was pulling together for the common good... before I realized that those basic assumptions are totally backwards).

    to Japanese electronics companies flooding the US market with below-cost goods then driving up prices once the competitors were gone,

    Were they truly intentionally selling them at a loss? I doubt it. This was just the standard Jap-bashing propaganda line to justify protectionist tariffs.

    America has more capital than Japan, and some of the best high-tech workers in the world. It isn't some two-bit banana republic that can't afford to ride out product dumping or build new factories to re-enter a profitable market.

    Prices do fluctuate in a free market. That's the natural order of things. Low prices drive some out of business, high prices bring more into business. Any amount that stops this fluctuation does so by holding the prices high, and screwing the buyers.

    to Microsoft driving competitors out of the market,

    Poorly written IP laws. Copyright shouldn't grant total control over distribution in this age of instant near-free copying, only the right to set a price the holder must be paid per copy made.

    IP law is an unnecessary government interference in the free market. Here is an essay [boswa.com] that covers why I don't think IP law is necessary for software.

    The ownership of copies as if they were physical objects is acceptable, but the ownership of the monopoly right of making copies, to do with as one wills, is insane. This behavior isn't analogous to any real property. All forced monopolies, like natural monopolies, should be owned by the government, and legal copies of copyrighted work (really just permission to make physical copies) should be sold by the government, with proceeds going to the copyright holder. Furthermore, copyright term should be limited to five years. If you aren't going to make your money back in five years, you won't write it for the money. These aren't the days of giant, expensive printing presses anymore.

    If government's going to interfere, it should keep its interference under it's own control, not just hand over their power of violent enforcement to be wielded in whatever manner the IP "owner" sees fit.

    to Savings and Loans going under because they made obviously bad loans to 3rd world dictators,

    Yes, some companies are run incompetently. Some people invest poorly. Tough.

    Regulation hasn't, and never will, guarantee any return on (or of) your investment.

    business without oversight has been consistently shown to end in harm.

    I don't see that at all. Regulation without foresight consistently causes harm.

    Other evil government interference in the free market:

    corporations- corporations are not natural, they are creatures of the government that have greater power than individuals in many ways and are used for securing individual profit without individual responsibility. You should not be able to buy voting stock in a company without being personally responsible for all actions of that company.

    public schooling- Incompetent government bureaucracy given an important task combined with the government indoctrination of our children. How much worse can a deal get? I remember grade school as the greatest waste of time in my life, and I believe that the chosen course material forms most of the political opinions of the masses.

    income tax- The more you earn, the more you pay, in fact, the higher a portion of your earnings you pay! An insane disincentive to profit and productivity.

    With gaping holes like these in the boat, adding other regulations atop them to fix the problems they cause is akin to drilling holes in the other side of the boat so it sinks evenly instead of overturning.

    ---
    Despite rumors to the contrary, I am not a turnip.
  • so does that mean every time my computer blue screens microsoft owes me money
  • If I build a machine with a "lemon" mobo (such as the "Great Cape Cod" fiasco by Intel) who is responsible for the "lemon"? Does Intel have to take back the machine and replace the mobo, or do I have to be their agent, or...?

    Granted a reputable firm will recall its defective products and supply or compensate the users (such as Intel did, not that I am a fan of Intel's), but I can also envision other circumstances where the liability is more diffuse and the defect more nebulous than that case.

  • more like a shank to kill off all the mom and pop computer stores with windows did this and windows did that give me money or ill sue you, i personaly have never had much problems with computer hardware and waht problems i did have there manufacturer warranty took care of, so i dont see much need for such legislation
  • So, let's take a hypothetical that's not so hypothetical. I bought a FireWire card for my PC so I could use the PC to edit digital video from my newly purchased Sony TRV-120. I installed it. The drivers recognized the card. The driver that is supposed to recognize my CAMERA is provided by Micro$oft. It doesn't recognize my camera. I go download the latest versions of every driver I can find related. It still doesn't recognize my camera.

    So, seeing as how CompUSA is actually somewhat enlightened about return policies, I took it back, got a different brand card, installed it and its drivers, and now the Micro$oft driver DOES recognize my camera.

    Query: Was this a hardware or a software problem? Please tell me how the lovely legislation protects me (obviously I don't NEED protection, since CompUSA, despite incredibly an incredibly inefficient return desk, did allow me to return/exchange the item in question).

  • Yes, that's the same dork next door who has been told that if his kids don't get computer experience, they won't have a very promising future too look forward to. So he goes out and drops some bucks that were most likely earmarked for next months electric bill on a $800 PC only to find out his modem gets fried the next week, or his monitor goes on the blink.
  • Yes, some companies are run incompetently. Some people invest poorly. Tough.

    Yes, it is tough. And I think that's why the government should monitor banking practices. I think one of the government's jobs is to protect those who can't protect themselves. This includes people with poor judgement.

    Regulation hasn't, and never will, guarantee any return on (or of) your investment.

    It does. The FDIC insures my accounts. It returns the money that I invested if the bank loses it.

    Not everyone with money can lay rail. The government granted and enforced monopolies on rail-lines in certain places, which was naturally a bad thing for consumers.

    Actually, no private group could have built the railroad; it was a joint venture between corporations and the US government. Without 300 years of infrastructure building by the local and federal governments, we'd still travel mostly on dirt roads. I agree that the government might have taken over railroad line management in the beginning, but in that case it wouldn't be fair to those companies who poured their money into helping build it. The best result in this case in my opinion would have been regulation from the start; private ownership, with government oversight but without a government monopoly. This would be sort of like the government being a co-owner. The same holds true for other networked commodities, like gas and electricity.

    Prices do fluctuate in a free market. That's the natural order of things

    No argument here. But the problem begins when you have a company that changes it's prices not in response to costs or demand, but rather as a way to force others out of the market.

    I agree with you about IP law though. And as I read it you shouldn't be allowed to either copyright or trademark software, just as you can't with any other kind of algorithm. The patent office seems to be breaking it's own rules.

    Here is an essay that covers why I don't think IP law is necessary for software.

    The essay is interesting, but it sounds mainly like the shareware idea, minus the crippleware component. And while it sounds good in theory, the problem comes to one of self-interest. It's the old "tragedy of the commons" aspect of environmental economics: it is of greater benefit for me to abuse the system than to abide by it. Expecting people to act in concert that way just doesn't make sense. My objection to the IP system is that it is immoral; words or ideas shouldn't be considered property. If I copy a book I haven't changed the inherent value of that book.

    income tax- The more you earn, the more you pay, in fact, the higher a portion of your earnings you pay! An insane disincentive to profit and productivity.

    It's not an "insane" disincentive to profit; most people pay 1/4-1/3 of their salary in income tax. The sliding income tax rate is to prevent hardship for those so poor that a flat tax rate (which would be somewhere between 10-20%) would be too much hardship. And since when has moving into a higher tax bracket ever prevented people from seeking pay raises or higher paying jobs?

    public schooling- Incompetent government bureaucracy given an important task combined with the government indoctrination of our children. How much worse can a deal get? I remember grade school as the greatest waste of time in my life, and I believe that the chosen course material forms most of the political opinions of the masses.

    I didn't particularly enjoy any of my pre-college schooling, but private schools would have done the same thing, with different kinds of indoctrination. What other options are there? Home schooling? Go ahead, nobody's preventing you. For-profit private schools? Too much incentive for them to cut costs. Maybe the free market will even it out in the end, where good schools would become recognized and successful, but that would take a few years. And in that time we'd just produce a generation of children with an even worse education than they get now.

    You should not be able to buy voting stock in a company without being personally responsible for all actions of that company.

    I agree whole-heartedly. I'd also expand it to those who work in those companies.
    --
  • remind us all why you stuck with a compaq laptop? i hope it was only because pc connection wasn't willing to give you one of some other manufacturer's model...

    eudas
  • This is sort of scary if it passes. Can you imagine Dell being sued repeatedly in Pennsylvania Civil Court because people have Windows PCs that occasionally crash

    I am sure Dell can find a way to pass that problem on to microsoft (ms supply the buggy os, not Dell.) The worst case for this might be the end of preloaded windows in Pennsylvania.

  • Exactly. Computer hardware and, even more, software just isn't to the level of reliability that other, longer-established industries have achieved.

    Frankly, these "tiny things that are normal" for a PC are things we wouldn't tolerate from a microwave oven, a toaster, even a VCR. And perhaps we won't get to that level until Moore's Law stops working (as it almost assuredly will - sooner or later, you can't cheat Heisenberg) and a given hardware design has a chance of lasting more than six months before becoming obsolete.

    But that's so far in the future that it's probably silly to try to make any detailed predictions. And of course the lusers you refer to, who don't know what to expect of a computer, will still be with us, even as there are people who try to fish their wedding ring out of the toaster with a knife or try to force a videotape into the VCR upside down.

    --

  • Consumer "protection" is interference.

    Of course it's interference. Doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad thing.

    This isn't protection from the seller lying about the product, this is protection from their own bad choices, like seat-belt laws and anti-drug laws. It's government saying, "We know what's good for you better than you do." and forcing their opinion of what's good for you on you whether you like it or not.

    What "bad choices"? So I -HAVE- to buy from a large, well-known company? Most computer retailers list their components in detail. If I buy a P3 that's really a falsely marked P2, how is that a "bad choice"?
    It's wrong in principle, even if it improves results for thousands of stupid or careless people

    It's wrong in principle? How? Is it wrong in principle when the FDA "interferes" with drug companies by examining their product before it allowing it to go on the market? Or forcing food companies to maintain some standard of quality control? How about when the EPA "interferes" with corporations pouring toxic chemicals into our rivers? Alright, enough of a rant, I guess seeing the automatic "any government interference is bad" reaction on slashdot for so long has gotten to me...

    Even a lot of libertarians seem to think that one of the few purposes of a government is to make sure contracts are honored, and that's all that this law is doing. It's saying that if you have a warranty, it must be honored; that's all. It doesn't apply to non-warrantied computers.
    --
  • -- if a component claims to be up-to-date but doesn't work with Linux, can I sue?
    Sue who? Linus Torvalds?
  • Don't you love it when two "Score: 2" people have a long conversation with each other that gradually gets more and more off-topic?
  • you know...we should take your inferrence just one step further and kill all butterflies.

    why?

    well, we all know about chaos theory, and the "butterfly" effect. So, suppose a butterfly in Zimbabwe gets riled up and starts flapping it's wings. It runs into an elephants nose accidentally, which causes the elephant to go berzerk, thusly causing a stampede of elephants. This, in turn, causes a stampede of enormous magnitude over the african plains, creating a gust of wind that, by the time it reaches the US coast, is a full blown storm. Many computer related industry workers take the day off...and this storm, in some very small way, affects the thinking paterns of IBM's manufacturing plant work-force.

    Over the next several weeks, the plant makes poorly built hard drives (which probably wouldn't have happened if not for the storm). Eventually these hard drives fail, and we're back to where your point comes in. failure, medicare, etc. etc.

    So you see, in my opinion....fuck the butterflies. Those bastards deserve to die!!

    btw - the money that melissa or ILOVEYOU cost companies wasn't taken directly out of workers' insurance payments...it was taken out of profit. And being that about 50% of companies that were affected by these virii were .com's - the only real cash that was lost was venture capital.


    FluX
    After 16 years, MTV has finally completed its deevolution into the shiny things network
  • Even a lot of libertarians seem to think that one of the few purposes of a government is to make sure contracts are honored, and that's all that this law is doing. It's saying that if you have a warranty, it must be honored; that's all. It doesn't apply to non-warrantied computers

    I misread the article; the only-under-warranty part refers to a law already on the books. Shouldn't of skimmed so fast I guess. So ignore my last paragraph (I know, I know, you're probably ignoring the whole thing anyway)

    Anyway, my point still is that it's not automatically a bad idea when the government forces corporations to maintain some quality control. And for a lot of people a computer is a pretty major purchase. While I personally see no big deal in spending half of my salary on computer hardware, a lot of people consider it an investment that should last a while.
    --
  • They're talking about hardware faults - not whether you've got a driver/module available for your OS.

    Honestly, this has nothing to do with Linux; you're still trying to bend it to mean such?

  • i agree with you 100%.. i used to assemble and sell pcs (i dont now, much more money to be made in various software services) and the problem as i see it, people are going to take advantage of this law...

    ive personally seen people buy my pcs, then return them 1 week before the 2 years is up, and say everything is broken... (and i would be willing to bet that they removed the hard drive and droped it a few times until it had internal damage)

    after 2 years, the industry is completly different ! i couldnt even get their '2 gig drive', since all computers get '8 gig drives' now, etc... ALL PCS should come with a 1 YEAR REPLACEMENT ONLY policy, and thats it. (unless the reseller wants to charge extra for more time, which would lose money in the long run, imho)
  • by vectro ( 54263 ) <vectro@pipeline.com> on Sunday August 27, 2000 @03:28PM (#824179)
    When computers fail, people don't die. There are of course exceptions to this for air traffic control or medical systems, but those aren't the target of the law.

    So a better analogy would be if you got into your 1982 Escort and it didn't start. Should the manufacturer have to fix it? Hell no!
  • i love the quote "computers found to be defective within two years of purchase must be repaired, replaced or refunded,"

    now watch every ingnorant computer user try to get their PC fixed, when it has nothing to do with the actual hardware
    can anyone say Micro$oft? ...

  • I spend a lot of time maintaining the 5 computers in my house. We don't put up with poor quality in cars or TV sets. Why should computer hardware (and especially software) be any different ? Just because it's always been that way doesn't mean that it shouldn't change.
  • So, what if a manufacturer decided, "screw this," and not to sell to residents of Pennsylvania, but some resident of another state sold a used one to a Pennsylvanian? As I read the story, the manufacturer is still on the hook. This seems unfair, since the manufacturer would be trying to avoid running afoul of an onerous law.
  • i wonder if this law would provide protection against chips that were advertised as one thing but actually over clocked versions of lower-end chips like what was occurring in australia. pennsylvania seems to be one of the only states attempting to be 'nerd-friendly' with its tax expempt holiday (a month or two in pennsylvania you could buy PCs tax-free) and now this Computer Lemon Law, well... bill. is this some attempt to attract hi-tech users to the east coast, an attempt to make a philadelphia bay area... it makes one wonder.
  • by Accipiter ( 8228 ) on Sunday August 27, 2000 @12:04PM (#824184)
    ...but there's no way the Ford should be held liable for a product that is, for all practical purposes, obsolete.

    (NOTE: The Following is purely hypothetical.)

    I walk outside, down my driveway, and I get into my 1982 Ford Escort. I put the key into the ignition, turn it, and my dashboard explodes. After an investigation, it's found that this was the result of a faulty ignition mechanism plaguing all 1982 Ford Escorts, that you have just discovered at the risk (expense?) of your life.

    Now, are you going to tell me that Ford isn't responsible, simply because this car is "obsolete?" Wrong. You'd bet your ass Ford would issue a recall and correct the problem.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • That would be a SOFTWARE problem. This bill seems to apply to HARDWARE problems only. This won't cover your missing drivers. What it would cover, however, is if it short-circuits and goes up in flames.
  • "What "bad choices"? So I -HAVE- to buy from a large, well-known company? Most computer retailers list
    their components in detail. "

    Since when?

    "If I buy a P3 that's really a falsely marked P2, how is that a "bad choice"? "

    That's called fraud and it's already illegal.

  • I read through the other posts, so I don't believe this has been mentioned before, but I apologize if it has.

    I used to work as a computer/service technician at my local Best Buy. Best Buy offers a 3 year "Performance Service Plan," and one of the perks of this plan is just this -- a No-Lemon Guarantee if the computer requires more than 3 repairs within the span of the warranty. In theory, this is an excellent idea, but trying to get a new computer out of BBY's No Lemon law is in the same category of Impossible as wringing blood from a stone. You have to keep the paperwork from each and every repair (even though we keep records of every repair in our database, you still have to hold onto a piece of paper from a repair that was done years ago). And of course, no one at a Best Buy store could authorize a No-Lemon exchange, the unit first had to be shipped out to our certified service center, who then decided whether or not our customer would get a new one.

    I have seen person after person get screwed out of a new computer by this system. For example, a ~4 year old Packard Bell came in late last year, from when we used to sell 4 year warranty plans. The sound wasn't working on it, so we sent it out to be authorized for a No-Lemon exchange. Of course, two weeks later we get it back saying that there are software problems and we should restore it. We inform the customer to do this, they do it successfully, come back in after it was done and still no sound. We were all set to send it back out again after verifying for sure it was a bad sound card. But, behold, the warranty ran out when it was last at the service center. Guess what? No new computer. Well, technically they got a new computer after it sat in our back room for 9 months (NOT an exaggeration) as management sorted things out, but I digress.

    So has this been off-topic enough? Yes, but the point I'm trying to make is if a company that made someone pay $180-$240 for a warranty can be this screwed up when it comes to issuing replacements for bad products, then imagine if the slow juggernaut of bureaucracy gets to warrant this claim. At least Best Buy had the opportunity to make the customer happy, after all they did pay extra for the service.

    Imagine if Best Buy had to do this free of charge, for EVERY customer, not just the ~50% who had warranties.
  • An OS Lemon Law...

    I would have responded to this sooner but my ISP Shaw@home was down all weekend

    Hmmm... What about...

  • It's a sad day when you can't decide whether you want to pay extra for the warrantee or not.

    Like many other areas where consumer protection laws have been passed, consumer "choice" is often an illusion. In reality, its "take or leave it", with most vendors offering near-identical terms, written by lawyers who are trying to shield their client from all liability. These laws are not passed because it was a slow day in the legislature and they didn't have anything better to do.

  • However, what is relevant: If I buy a computer with a defective drive controller that only shows up under Linux because Linux uses a different DMA mode/PIO level/whatever, will I be able to sue? This used to be a major problem. Until windows started using the higher performance settings, hardware manufacturers didn't give a rats ass if their drives corrupted data outside the most performance poor settings (irq unmasking, anyone?)

    Same thing with memory and CPUs. I have had bad memory and bad CPUs that worked fine under windows, not even necissary because Linux "pushed the hardware harder", but just because of different usage patterns. The fact is, most hardware vendors only test under Windows, and if it works there, it is deemed "correct" regardless of whether 90% of the modes of operation were tested.

    These things are getting better, but it would be nice to force vendors to have some accountability for these issues.
  • If I was a system vendor, I'd probably stop selling computers in PA if the law went through.

    Since the article says that even used computers under warranty are still covered, it looks like even that isn't an out. If a PA resident buys a used one from some other state and it craps out, looks like the manufacturer must fix it.

    What wqould keep me up nights if I was a manufacturer is what constitutes a 'defect', and how to establish that it's the computer, and not, say, that piece of shareware crap that the user installed after s/he got the machine. The cost of tech support for resolving issues like that could potentially be horrendous.
  • The state can ask the other state for extradition. But the state can't cross state lines and arrest someone, fine someone, etc.
    --
  • It's wrong in principle? How? Is it wrong in principle when the FDA "interferes" with drug companies by examining their product before it allowing it to go on the market?

    Absolutely. Doctors know their business and are quite capable of organizing their own testing of drugs. Putting the thing in the hands of government bureaucrats only adds a healthy dose of waste and incompetence to the process.

    The FDA adds to the cost of drugs and puts them more firmly under control of large corporations.

    Furthermore, it takes the choice out of how "experimental" a drug a patient can choose to take. People die who could be saved while FDA human drug tests go on, with no option to tell the government to stick their cautious testing methods wherever they care, and just try the medicine themselves.

    Suckers are still sold poison as medicine every day. The FDA hasn't stopped that, and nothing ever will.

    Or forcing food companies to maintain some standard of quality control?

    Again, who is the government to say what is fit food and what isn't?

    As long as the government enforces the exclusivity of standards-organization trademarks, sensible people would only buy food from vendors who follow practices they consider fit.

    How about when the EPA "interferes" with corporations pouring toxic chemicals into our rivers?

    This is pure "straw man" idiocy. The corporations don't own the rivers. Not everybody who has some interest in the river is agreeing freely to have toxic chemicals poured into it. This has nothing to do with the freedom for any two consenting parties to form any contract they wish. It is instead a crime against the non-consenting public, like robbery or murder.

    That kind of thing is exactly what the government should be dealing with.

    However, they often do it incompetently, setting required mechanisms rather than required results. For example: catalytic converters. These were needed to bring emissions from inferior American cars down to acceptable levels, but were not necessary for foreign cars which could meet the emission limits without them. They are now, in fact, counterproductive, adding expense and increasing fuel consumption. There are better ways to lower emissions, but you still can't sell a car without a catalytic converter. That kind of crap is what ties us to a handful of large car manufacturers and slows innovation to a crawl.

    That kind of poor decision is exactly why government shouldn't be involved in anything it doesn't absolutely have to be.

    If I buy a P3 that's really a falsely marked P2, how is that a "bad choice"?

    It isn't, it's fraud, and it's already illegal.

    It's saying that if you have a warranty, it must be honored; that's all.

    Bullshit. They are already legally obligated to honor warrantees.

    Everything that should be done in protecting "consumer rights" in purchasing is already done, and in fact, too much is done already, hurting business and consumer alike.

    ---
    Despite rumors to the contrary, I am not a turnip.
  • There are very long, federally mandated warranties on automotive emission control systems. I believe it is currently 8 years/80,000 miles for certain parts.
  • Actually I think this is good. It will protect the people who buy computers from CompUSA and the like that have defective parts. This is not interference this is consumer protection. You should appreciate that unless you are an executive of a large computer corporation who sells shitty hardware through marketing hype. I know damn well that the machines I have seen in various places aren't worth thier "899.00" dollar price tag. The lemon law has helped tens of thousands of people (I am sure of it) who unknowingly bought shitty cars. So before you get all hot and bothered about how the government is fucking you, think this one through. It's a good deal.
  • Under your statutory rights in the UK, _all_ goods sold must be of 'merchandisable quality' - that is, unless you specifically state it is sold 'as seen', it must work. The time frame for returning a defective product is three years. So, unless it fails due to reasonable wear and tear in the first three years, it gets repaired.

    You already have this law for cars, so what not make computer sellers as honest as used car salemen?

    So why, exactly, is this a problem for a country like the US?

  • AFAIK, that might be a violation of Interstate Commerce laws.

    Although I'm prepared to believe almost any absurdity about U.S. laws, this would be a hard one for me to swallow. If some state passed a law that every spatula purchased must be accompanied by a pound of gold bullion, would all of the spatula manufacturers have to continue to sell there? I'm pretty sure that selling in one state doesn't obligate you to sell in all. If that weren't the case, I'd be able to buy any product in the U.S. here in my home state. Since I can't, I'm guessing you're incorrect (and thank God).
  • I think you're completely missing the point of these laws. This has NOTHING to do with forcing manufacturers to provide warranties! If they are anything like the lemon laws for vehicles, the purpose is to protect consumers from products that simply aren't what the consumer paid for. From the article:

    Similar to automobile lemon laws, this bill will provide legal recourse for warranty abuses and ineffective repairs.

    "Right now, PC consumers have little or no recourse when manufacturers refuse to back up their products and warranties."

    Have you ever bought a car? If so you should be well aware of what the purpose of lemon laws are. ALL new cars are bought under warranty. So why do lemon laws exist for cars? Becuase it has not been uncommon for dealers and manufacturers to screw the consumer by failing to honour warranties. Or, in some cases, the quality is so poor that the same repairs need to be done over and over. The car ends up spending more time in the shop than on the road, and when the warranty expires the owner is left with a very expensive pile of metal, rubber, and plastic. Some good buying with a warranty does in those cases.

    Computers are not as complicated to fix as cars, so you and I don't need this kind of protection (but I think it would be nice to have anyway). But for the average user who doesn't know much about computers, this is long overdue. Warranties only protect the consumer from the EXPENSE of fixing problems. They don't protect consumers from products that are such poor quality that the manufacturer can't/doesn't fix properly, or from abuse of the warranty.

  • If a vendor in East Podunk, IA sells a system to me in Oaks, PA, and I find it a lemon, PA state law is irrelevant. PA law has no bearing on anyone in any other state.

    This is far different from state lemon laws on cars, since 99% of PA-driven cars are sold by PA car dealerships.

    This will hurt places like CompUSA, Best Buy, Circuit City, Rat Shack, and might drive out of business some of the small ma-and-pa places. Meanwhile, it'll help every business outside of the state. The "computer fairs", full of out-of-state gypsies, might have better deals than retail again.

    Meanwhile, our state legislature has proven itself incompetent once again, writing cruddy law that hurts businesses in the state. Unlike many states, the PA pols are highly-paid full-timers. That's supposed to make them better legislators, but in reality, it only makes them able to stick their fingers everywhere they shouldn't be.
    --

  • Sure - Rare if you get yourself a computer that is built well. However, Joe Computer is going to buy himself that spiffy Compaq he's had his eye on. Compaq is NOTORIOUS for shoddy computer equipment. (I speak from experience.)

    I agree with you, Compaq is notorious for selling crap, however the law should not protect people from their own stupidity. Computers are major purchases topping out over $1000 usually. You'd think these people would try to be informed, if I know Compaq sucks, and you know Compaq sucks and Joe Schmoe Computer Buyer goes out, without trying to inform himself about the products, and buys a Compaq, then its his own damn fault.

    Everybody by now has heard of the Firestone tire recalls, if you hear about these and go out and buy firestone tires anyways then get in a car accident because the treads of your tires came apart, thats your own damn fault and the law should not protect you for it.

    This law is a BAD idea.

    -- iCEBaLM
  • But the problem begins when you have a company that changes it's prices not in response to costs or demand, but rather as a way to force others out of the market.

    If there aren't a lot of legal barriers to entry into the business, this isn't a problem.

    When one company underprices its goods, the consumers benefit from the lower prices. When they raise them again, the consumers hurt for a little while, but it becomes profitable to compete again and the situation corrects itself. That competition can spring up awfully quickly when the consumer feels cheated and actively hates the company that is gouging them.

    Like I said, it's natural price fluctuation.

    problem comes to one of self-interest. It's the old "tragedy of the commons" aspect of environmental economics: it is of greater benefit for me to abuse the system than to abide by it.

    Not at all. The self-interest component is effectively purchase of status. You pay to be treated as a relevant person by buskware developers. The essence of the difference between this and shareware is in the public record of revenues. By paying for products which support your interests, you alter the priorities of the producing pool toward your interests. This is because profit-seeking producers will naturally try to predict what will be profitable, and this will be most evident from what has been paid for in the past. I don't expect everyone to jump on the bandwagon at once, but for spectacular successes in niche markets to gradually demonstrate the viability of the model. Some people will be willing to pay, and they'll start getting exactly the products they want for less money than their proprietary-software counterparts do, so the practice will spread.

    The reason that "tragedy of the commons" doesn't apply is because nobody can do harm to the system. There isn't a limited resource available to be consumed for free. You can either be irrelevant because you don't pay, whether you use the product or not, or you can contribute and have your wishes considered in future production.

    since when has moving into a higher tax bracket ever prevented people from seeking pay raises or higher paying jobs?

    Of course it hasn't. But it does severely hurt division of labor.

    Work you do inefficiently, for yourself, isn't taxed. You get all the benefit from it. If you want to spend your time more efficiently by earning more money and hiring a professional, suddenly you must work longer to pay extra income tax, pay his income tax inflated price, often pay a service tax, etc.

    Without this kind of barriers, it would be, for example, cheaper to eat in restaurants or have take-out delivered than to eat at home (saving everyone lots of time). That's the insanity I'm talking about.

    Taxes on earnings are a disincentive to effective division of labor because they are a penalty for doing things efficiently with money rather than by your own untrained labor.

    It further hurts people by forcing them into the "large corporation - small employee" model of earning a living (and naturally limiting consumer choice), because beating these tax penalties requires economies of scale and tax breaks available only to large central organizations. Extremely personalized services, which could easily be provided by microbusinesses (the perfect escape from corporate wageslavery), are made prohibitively expensive by these taxes.

    What other options are there? Home schooling? Go ahead, nobody's preventing you.

    ...as long as you have the wealth and legal savvy to defend yourself against charges of child abuse.

    You think everybody just willingly sent their kids off to public school? Near-universal attendance was achieved under threat of force.

    Let's not ignore the fact that everybody pays for public schools, too. If the gov't didn't take the money from you by force, you could afford to send your kid to private school or hire a group-tutor with your neighbors (another one of those great microbusinesses the government discourages so severely).

    For-profit private schools? Too much incentive for them to cut costs.

    Pure and unmitigated nonsense. This argument can be used against every for-profit private enterprise. Children going to a good private school will come home and impress their parents with what they are being taught. When parents are buying an education for their children on the free market, they lose that sense of inevitability and the apathy that goes with it.

    The situation can't get any worse than it is. Children are taught that they are "special", and to have a disdain for honest work. They are given passing grades in advanced physics, biology, and mathematics without understanding that rockets don't move by "pushing against" the air, humans didn't coexists with dinosaurs, or how to divide large numbers without a calculator. Fat, lazy, clumsy children are given high grades in "physical training". Don't even get me started on what passes for language training!

    Public education, IMNSHO, has a net negative effect on practically everyone who passes through it. If it was cut off abruptly, tomorrow, there might be more people who were totally illiterate (most of these people don't amount to much as it is anyway), but the "hump" of the distribution would move forward. IOW, the base lousy education of public school wouldn't be universal as it is now, but on average, the level of education would be much higher.

    I consider this preferable. Socialist garbage like public schooling always has the effect of pushing toward flattening everyone to the same low level. Schools teach as much as the dumbest student can pass, and screw everyone who can do better. Considering who is more imporant to society, this is clearly a very dangerous instance of clinging to what passes for security.

    ---
    Despite rumors to the contrary, I am not a turnip.
  • So a better analogy would be if you got into your 1982 Escort and it didn't start. Should the manufacturer have to fix it?

    Okay, let's use that analogy. (Again, Hypothetical.)

    I get into my 1982 Ford Escort, put the key in the ignition, and try to start the car. It doesn't start. After an investigation, it is found that it's due to a faulty starter that is found in all 1982 Ford Escorts. You have just discovered this manufacturer's flaw for the first time, however Ford has had many complaints in the past regarding similar issues. They finally acknowledge it's a defect, issue a recall, and correct the issue.

    Now, for something better - a Non-Hypothetical, Real-Life situation. (And it's still a relevant analogy, too!)

    The 1980 Mazda 626 had several manufacturer recalls done. Let's examine two of the recalls.

    Wind noise around doors.

    Steering wheel slightly off-center.

    These issues are definitely not life threatening, and are minor irritants at most. Yet, Mazda issued recalls for these very issues. Should the manufacturer have to fix something they were responsible for creating problems in? Hell Yes!

    Oh, and to invalidate yet another argument, someone brought up the issue of recalls not possibly going undetected for any excessive length of time. Well, the two recalls I mentioned were both issued in 1998 - The steering wheel in April, and the doors in July. That's 18 years between the car being manufactured and the recall being issued.

    And to carry your analogy to real life: I get in my 1980 Mazda 626 and find it doesn't start. After an investigation, it was found that the battery went dead due to a manufacturer defect.

    There was an October 1998 recall for that very issue.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • by Accipiter ( 8228 ) on Sunday August 27, 2000 @05:15PM (#824256)
    You'd think these people would try to be informed, if I know Compaq sucks, and you know Compaq sucks and Joe Schmoe Computer Buyer goes out, without trying to inform himself about the products, and buys a Compaq, then its his own damn fault.

    I agree with you 100%. People need to make informed purchases. But that's not what this law is about.

    Let's say Joe Schmoe Computer ignores his friends and buys a Compaq anyway (God help his poor soul). His Compaq comes with a warranty. He has problems with it, and tries to have it fixed under the Warranty. Compaq refuses to acknowledge the warranty. (They did this to me!) Now, Joe Schmoe Computer is SOL because Compaq refuses to abide by their own warranty.

    But Joe can take action if the law says you MUST uphold your warranty. That's what the bill is about.

    Now, if Joe were my friend, I'd sedate him before letting him buy a Compaq, but that's another story.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • You sound like you were brain-washed in your economics class.

    Consumers have rights under common law and the Uniform Commercial Code that are not overridden by the worthless little piece of paper that the manufacturer's warranty is printed on.

    You can tell people that the warranty lasts for 3 hours, 15 minutes and 7 seconds. That doesn't mean that it is a fact. That is up to a judge to decide. Many contracts/warranties contain unenforcable bullshit that is strictly there for intimidation value.

  • ...if a component claims to be up-to-date but doesn't work with Linux, can I sue?

    This is the problem with the Judicial system today. Someone gets a problem with something, they immediately think "SUE!" If you (editor) had actually READ the article, you would have discovered it pertains to WARRANTY issues, and REPAIR issues. Hardware, my friend.

    Now, if the company claimed outright that the product works with Linux, and in reality it DOESN'T - Then you have a lot more solid ground to stand on. But for crying out loud, Don't break out the lawyers! (You cry when it's done against things you support, but if it's in your favor you'll turn and do the same?)

    ..this seems to me more like a feel-good measure than a real benefit...

    I bought a laptop from Compaq awhile back, and struggled with their so-called "customer service", just trying to get some repairs done while it was still 2 years before the end of the warranty. Writing to the BBB, and consumer protection divisions of several organizations had no effect. It wasn't until the company I bought it from (PC Connection) got wind of my situation, and kindly replaced it for me with a superior model/different brand, that this case was resolved.

    Compaq refused to uphold their warranty, and I was left with a useless laptop. Now you're saying that having strong legal backing wouldn't be a real benefit? If it wasn't for the company I bought my laptop from, my POS Compaq would have ended up on eBay being sold "AS-IS" for quite a lot less than Compaq SAID they would have refunded me (in their warranty).

    P.S.: I highly recommend PC Connection due to their outstanding customer service. No, I don't work for them, but they kindly replaced my shitty Compaq with a much better brand, and a superior model. I just wish I had this bill (law, hopefully) backing me up. Frustration is a lousy thing to be forced deal with by a company like Compaq, who's main concern is cutting costs and screwing the consumer.

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • With Microsoft.NET, the manufacturer could install the client on the machine, weld shut the case and say 'here you go; if you install anything else you have voided the warrenty. Have a nice day'.

    Being facecious of course, but who knows what will happen? Combine a X-Box type console with Microsoft.NET, and you have a turnkey, un-user-altaerable system that is so limited in it's uses that it cannot really fail.

    On the other hand, the PC manufacturers could compile a program that acts as a whole-system diagnostic independant of any OS. Then they could say "so long as this disk works, it is not our fault".
  • When I ran Windows 95, I found that I had to wipe the HD and reinstall about every 6 months. I would imagine that "had to reinstall OS 4 times in 2 years" would count as defective. OEMs are going to start feeling the pain of poor OS choice...
    --
  • No, its not a publicity stunt. No, computer failures for new owners are not rare. I have seen many people stuck with computers that don't work shortly after delivery. Sometimes I save the day, sometimes I just feel sad for them.

    Its time engineers started bulletproofing computer designs and software. That might be a new concept for those who live in Redmond. Investing in quality assurance now will save everyone from having to wait on hold through levels of voice recordings, tech support, return information, and credit card protection. Believe me, consumer protection is needed.

    If we have higher expectations of quality, business will thrive due to increased consumer confidence. Joe Consumer will no longer be afraid of buying a lemon and declining a purchase.
  • Obsolesence is when an item designed to work with other components cannont work with the lasest 'other components'. By analogy [0], consider a screwdriver, with a pentagram head. When it was made, pentagram head screws were common. not they are not. This screwdriver is obsolete. Is it defective?

    No, it can still perfrom the purpose for which it was designed, and, presumably, purchesed for.

    Obsolesence and defective are orthogonal concepts.

  • by Vassily Overveight ( 211619 ) on Sunday August 27, 2000 @12:23PM (#824269)
    how is this law onerous?

    Think about it. You the manufacturer get a call from a customer whose computer is crashing continuously. The problem is that the customer has added 27 software packages and 3 add-on boards to the thing since receiving it. Now you have a couple of unpalatable choices: 1)spend endless hours of tech support trying to help them isolate the problem so that you can determine whether it's your machine or their additions. Or 2) tell them to restore the machine to its originally-shipped state and see if the problem persists. In 1) you've incurred tremendous costs for yourself. In 2) you've ticked off your customer (who may or may not even be technically capable of restoring the machine to its original state anyway, in which case you're back to 1). A reputable manufacturer who wants to keep customers happy will try to make things right, but the PA law puts too much power in the hands of the customer to penalize even those manufacturers who act in good faith.
  • Unfortunately, most users get sucked in by stores like "Cameras, Sound, Video, and Computers" who give deals that are too good to be true, and stick consumers with crap parts.

    I see this at the computer shows out here in PA all the time. You have people selling computers with parts that I wouldn't even use in a compost heap. When the parts break, the so-called "customer service" departments will do nothing to help and blame the consumer for even complaining. The consumer spends a lot of money out of pocket to get someone else to fix the system, and in the end they spend more for a crap computer with no warranty than they would have for something more stable and servicable WITH a warranty, such as a Dell.

    Because of this, the BBB out here in PA HATES computer stores, and especially the ones that are cut-rate and outright rude to customers, which is most of them outside CompUSA and MicroCenter, when it comes to warranty service of broken equipment. CompUSA and MicroCenter are much better than average here than anyone else (most of whom are outright thieves, which is why I buy mail-order than buy in PA), which does not speak too well about PA at all.

    Compaq (with their Presario line) is absolutely crap also, and Packard Bell/NEC are just as bad. A lot of smaller vendors also like to stick it to consumers by using the cheapest parts imaginable, especially in the systems sold in Computer Shopper.

    These systems DO break a lot. Consumers do get upset. PA is finally putting some teeth into their laws to prevent manufacturers from selling utter crap. I hope it bankrupts those computer stores that have been selling junk that breaks to consumers, and teaches them lessons about how not to screw over PA.

    Then again, most of these junk resellers will move to Delaware or New Jersey to try and avoid this law anyway.
  • So every time I get the BSOD in Windows, can I sue for a faulty OS? After all, your OS should be stable.

    -Antipop
  • Absolutely. Doctors know their business and are quite capable of organizing their own testing of drugs. Putting the thing in the hands of government bureaucrats only adds a healthy dose of waste and incompetence to the process.

    And how many individual medical practitioner can afford to fund their own tests? This isn't about who's qualified; private practitioners may be just as skilled in these matters as FDA scientists, but they have neither the time, the inclination, or the money to pursue rigorous testing. And the drug companies have a history of suppressing negative results, and a financial incentive to cut down on testing as much as possible.


    Furthermore, it takes the choice out of how "experimental" a drug a patient can choose to take. People die who could be saved while FDA human drug tests go on, with no option to tell the government to stick their cautious testing methods wherever they care, and just try the medicine themselves.

    I agree that restrictions on testing of experimental drugs should be made much looser, but I don't challenge the government's (as elected, and funded by me) authority in saying that publicly sold drugs should have some oversight.

    Suckers are still sold poison as medicine every day. The FDA hasn't stopped that, and nothing ever will.


    If I take a drug that's advertised as a antihistamine (hypothetically speaking), it shouldn't have a side affect of making me die. It has nothing to do with being a "sucker"; I can't analyze the chemical properties and possible biological impact of medication by just looking at the pill.

    As long as the government enforces the exclusivity of standards-organization trademarks, sensible people would only buy food from vendors who follow practices they consider fit.

    Yeah, fine, but the problem is enforcement. I'm supposed to take some large corporations word that what they put on their label is what's actually in the food?

    This is pure "straw man" idiocy. The corporations don't own the rivers. Not everybody who has some interest in the river is agreeing freely to have toxic chemicals poured into it... It is instead a crime against the non-consenting public, like robbery or murder.

    But distributing unsafe medicine to an unsuspecting public isn't? Or we should just force them to take responsibility for it after someone dies?
    --
  • One man who submarined, and had his legs all smashed up, but had the top half of the car sheared right off, and would have been cut in half if a seatbelt held him upright. Another who was thrown from a car and landed in nice soft muck when his car rolled and the top was flattened right down.

    Of course, I also know a lot of people who have survived accidents wearing seatbelts, and many would probably have died without them. And I've seen people hurt badly from accidents without seatbelts (I mean that, I've seen it happen with my own eyes).

    I knew one woman who was burned over her whole body and permanently disfigured, while trapped in the flames by her seatbelt.

    I also know plenty of people who had to pay fines because they weren't wearing seatbelts, and plenty more who have just learned to watch for cops and slip their seatbelts on when they see them.

    I don't see any point to wearing a seatbelt on the highway. The chances of a crash are small, and you're not likely to survive one anyway. In the city, it makes much more sense, but I still think it should be left up to individual choice.

    I find your attitude most offensive, assuming that my opinion is based on lack of real-world experience. I'm quite familiar with the real world. It's a place where everybody dies, sooner or later.

    I'm not against seatbelts. Statistically they do lower your chances of death. I'm against "protecting" people from their own choices, and I'm against government pretending it always knows what's best for you.

    People have a right to take whatever risks with their own lives that they wish. When it comes right down to it, people who act stupidly tend to die and improve the species. [darwinawards.com] It's not biologically sound policy to interfere with that: eventually, you'd produce a race of hopeless morons who have to be watched constantly

    Think of it this way: how many lives would be saved every year if every surface of every wall, floor, and piece of furniture was padded, if nobody had kitchens or workshops in their homes or was allowed to keep any sharp things, if everyone had to follow a diet set by his state-selected physician, couldn't smoke, and had to do the exercies prescribed for him, if cars were restricted to speeds at which they could guarantee the survival of all passengers (say, 15 mph)? Probably over a million. The average lifespan would probably be extended by 10 years.

    However, that isn't sufficient justification for those measures; people have a right to destroy themselves, quickly or slowly, intentionally or through negligence. But we are moving toward that, one little step, one regulation, one tax "for your own good", at a time.

    ---
    Despite rumors to the contrary, I am not a turnip.
  • When one company underprices its goods, the consumers benefit from the lower prices. When they raise them again, the consumers hurt for a little while, but it becomes profitable to compete again and the situation corrects itself. That competition can spring up awfully quickly when the consumer feels cheated and actively hates the company that is gouging them.

    I don't think the competition can always spring up fast enough. Especially in high tech fields, where you need a massive amount of capital to begin construction (think semiconductor industry).

    Not at all. The self-interest component is effectively purchase of status. You pay to be treated as a relevant person by buskware developers.

    But unless there are short-term, direct, personal benefits to be gotten from paying the developer, I don't think most people will do it. If 50 people like a piece of software, and 49 pay, the one who doesn't wins out economically; they've gotten the software, keep their money, and rely on the rest of the pool to encourage the developer. By not knowing how many other people pay, each of those 50 people are placed into the position where they probably won't send out the checks.

    Without this kind of barriers, it would be, for example, cheaper to eat in restaurants or have take-out delivered than to eat at home (saving everyone lots of time). That's the insanity I'm talking about.

    Why is that insanity? My time is worth a certain amount of money; if I go to a restaurant and avoid spending time cooking, I can very easily come out ahead. It's just the idea of specialization; I specialize in certain things and do them efficiently. It makes more sense economically for me to pay someone else to do those things that I do inefficiently.
    Extremely personalized services, which could easily be provided by microbusinesses (the perfect escape from corporate wageslavery), are made prohibitively expensive by these taxes.

    Actually I don't see that happening; small business development has been increasing in recent years I think. And under our current tax system, small businesses have advantages over the salary model. If you own a small business, you can (and a lot do) merge your personal and business finances. Have the home owned by the business, and your car, and pay yourself a small salary. You get all the benefits of living a comfortable existence, with the tax breaks you have in having a low personal worth.

    Let's not ignore the fact that everybody pays for public schools, too. If the gov't didn't take the money from you by force, you could afford to send your kid to private school or hire a group-tutor

    The amount of your tax dollar that goes to pay for schooling your children is much less than it would cost for private school, as the cost is taken from everyone. It's a social cost; we all benefit from an educated populace, even if we don't have children in the school system. If you're talking about taxes as a whole being the money the government takes from you, yes, you probably could afford to send your children to private school with that money. But you'd also have to pay for all the other services the government would usually provide. Add private school tuition to paying for your water supply, sewage system use, sanitation, roads and highways, fire and police, etc. and the amount your paying approaches what you pay in taxes (or exceeds it depending on your income level).

    As for the quality of the school system, I think there's a lot of misinformation out there. First of all, the US has had a reasonably good school system through most of it's history; pointing to recent problems as evidence that public schooling doesn't work just ignores a huge chunk of history in which it did.

    I am a product of public school, up to and including college, and I think I received a decent education. There were always special programs and more advanced classes that students could enter if they weren't being challenged by the regular ones. I don't think the social promotion idea is as bad as most people think, on the elementary school level, simply because there isn't enough of a difference (in my mind) between different grades there. When you get into higher grades, of course it's wrong, but I think it's inevitable considering that a lot of kids just don't have the desire to go through with it. The answer, to my mind, is to bring back the idea of trade schools, where kids who don't fit into a college track can go to learn a skill that in most cases ends up being more useful than a college degree. It's one of the reasons a lot of foreign schools outperform ours; the students who aren't cut out for academics are moved out.
    --
  • If 50 people like a piece of software, and 49 pay, the one who doesn't wins out economically; they've gotten the software, keep their money, and rely on the rest of the pool to encourage the developer.

    You're looking at it from the wrong angle. Donating is like voting, not buying. By your logic, people shouldn't vote either: their personal vote is unlikely to make the decision, and if they don't vote, they save the time and effort of voting.

    You're looking at it from the angle of the software being "paid for". In buskware, nothing gets "paid for", donors create pressure toward those areas where their interests lie. It's like pushing your finger down on a rubber sheet to make balls roll toward that point. There's no "sufficient" amount that the 49 can pay so that the 1's payment is in vain, more effort can always be expended for the benefit of the donors (although can be a point where it is more beneficial to pay someone else, so producers in the area don't think that you're hung up on just paying this one guy, and they've still got a shot at making a buck).

    The payoff for donating is in having your voice heard, and allocating a little more effort toward your personal tastes.

    Anyone is free to enjoy the products of the industry, but any payment on their part will be balanced by a proportional consideration of their interests by the producers. It just wouldn't make sense for profit-motivated producers to ignore that data.

    Actually I don't see that happening; small business development has been increasing in recent years I think.

    This is the result of moderate-scaled businesses being driven out of business. Megacorps grow beyond their naturally efficient size to gain the advantages of legal thuggery and government lobbying (esp. for corporate welfare), and the family businesses are being driven into garages.

    The biggest prosper and grow, everyone else shrinks. Only in extremely unsettled industries, like the computer industry, are sufficiently wild profit margins and low barriers to entry for moderate businesses to grow and compete with large ones.

    Also, people who are essentially temporary employees, like consultants, are calling themselves "small businesses", even when they take corporate contract after corporate contract, and go work in the cubicle farms every day.

    Yet another factor in the "growth of small business" is that people are running a small business as a tax shelter, even when the business itself is unproductive and unprofitable. This is nothing but a symptom of how insane the tax laws really are.

    The amount of your tax dollar that goes to pay for schooling your children is much less than it would cost for private school, as the cost is taken from everyone.

    First of all, it's morally wrong to steal from me to raise your children. It's a form of slavery.

    Secondly, the education per dollar of public school is so low that even an individual parent's share of the tax burden is more than adequate to produce the same level of education on the free market.

    Thirdly, as I explained, it is my opinion that public school is damaging to children, and does not contribute to a usefully-educated population (rather, it is the direct cause, in large part, of the general apathy, nihilism, ignorance, and laziness of young people).

    Add private school tuition to paying for your water supply, sewage system use, sanitation, roads and highways, fire and police, etc. and the amount your paying approaches what you pay in taxes

    Oh yes, that's right. You believe that tax-supported bureaucratic government monopolies are as efficient as free market production. If you believe that, there's no point in me arguing the point, you probably also believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairie.

    BTW, I do pay for water and sewage system use, where I live. I've also lived in places where people dig their own wells and septic fields. It's really no big deal compared to the other complications of house-ownership. Of course, as a natural monopoly, I do believe this is an area for the government to have a strong role in.

    This kind of expense is the classic excuse for taxation, and in reality it is a tiny, tiny portion of actual government spending. Roads are much more than paid for by gas taxes alone (a fair tax, if you ask me, if it was limited to road-maintenance costs instead of being yet another general revenue grab). Garbage-hauling, distributed over all the clients, takes roughly 2 minutes, once per week, of paid truck/driver time: its cost is pennies per week.

    Let me and my fellow law-abiding citizens have guns, and we'll have damned little need for police. Police are not your friends, they are the government's enforcers, and you would not hire them for most of what they do.

    But a hell of a lot more goes to welfare, in all its guises, both the personal and corporate kinds, than to basic services like these.

    First of all, the US has had a reasonably good school system through most of it's history;

    The public school system is fundamentally flawed. It was initially carried by the enthusiasm and honesty of the originators, but, of course, is slowly decaying to uselessness and being twisted into a propaganda tool of the state. This is the natural progression, as all people follow their best interests: a mandated bureaucracy like public education does not survive and prosper by performing its stated function to the best of its ability.

    And that's even assuming you agree with the government on what should be taught. I don't.

    ---
    Despite rumors to the contrary, I am not a turnip.
  • If a vendor in East Podunk, IA sells a system to me in Oaks, PA, and I find it a lemon, PA state law is irrelevant. PA law has no bearing on anyone in any other state.

    Are you sure about that?

    I was recently reading some material on "long-arm statutes" that can result in state law and jurisdiction being applied to out-of-state businesses.

    One example given was shooting someone in another state, across a state line. Is the shooter subject to the jurisdiction of the state where the bullet hit someone?

  • Hope the folks at emachines have some of their Y2k survival food left or they are going to starve trying to meet up to the standards this law would imply.
  • You're looking at it from the wrong angle. Donating is like voting, not buying. By your logic, people shouldn't vote either: their personal vote is unlikely to make the decision, and if they don't vote, they save the time and effort of voting.

    Actually, your voting issue kind of proves my point. A relatively low percentage of eligible people in the US actually DO vote; the majority feel that it's just a waste of their time. And if there was a 50 dollar "voting fee" for each vote, that would probably cut back even more on it. And of course I think people should vote as a matter of principle. Just like I think people should voluntarily pay under your system. I wasn't speaking against it's philosophy, I was just saying that due to self-interest on the part of consumers it probably wouldn't work.

    This is the result of moderate-scaled businesses being driven out of business. Megacorps grow beyond their naturally efficient size to gain the advantages of legal thuggery and government lobbying (esp. for corporate welfare), and the family businesses are being driven into garages.

    Beyond preventing monopolistic practices and enforcing environmental and labor practices, I don't think the government should interfere with business, either for or against it. I certainly don't agree with our lobbying system and the tax breaks and government support large corporations often get away with. Just because I support some form of public welfare doesn't mean I think corporations should qualify.

    I don't have any statistics on it, so I won't comment too much about the moderate-size company thing. All I can say is that all the ones I know about seem to be doing just fine.

    First of all, it's morally wrong to steal from me to raise your children. It's a form of slavery.

    That's just follows your idea that it's theft for the government to take your money, and isn't particular to the education aspect of it. I still consider taxation part of a voluntary social contract, and not theft.

    Secondly, the education per dollar of public school is so low that even an individual parent's share of the tax burden is more than adequate to produce the same level of education on the free market.

    I don't know about that. Like I said before, most people underestimate the actual quality of public school. While it can be low in places, it can also be quite high; a lot of of the statistics are skewed in my opinion.

    Oh yes, that's right. You believe that tax-supported bureaucratic government monopolies are as efficient as free market production. If you believe that, there's no point in me arguing the point, you probably also believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairie.

    Of course I don't believe that. I've emphasized in my prior posts that government bureacracies ARE less-efficient. However, I believe certain fundamental services should be supplied by the government because a) they will be extended to people who can't afford it, and b) a potentially dangerous need for profit will be removed. In regards to the latter point, I think the free-market proponents make a major error in thinking that ALL services can be privatized. Some things just might not be able to make a profit, but they MUST be supplied.
    --
  • You seem to be a Troll
  • This is disgusting
  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 )
    And I just moved to PA too, for college. :) Now to become a resident!

    I wonder what it would take to get the bill to cover just parts. :) I'm not the type to buy a pre-built system with some good, some cheap components.

    -------
    CAIMLAS

  • by Hrunting ( 2191 ) on Sunday August 27, 2000 @12:23PM (#824300) Homepage
    Seriously, sometimes the complete lunacy of Slashdot readers boggles my mind.

    IANAL.

    What the bill is essentially mandating is warranty. If you buy your computer from Dell or Gateway or any other major reputable computer retailer, you get one of these already (my warranty is 3 years on a Dell I have). This law is mainly to protect the consumer from those cheap computer builders who use refurbished parts, faulty returns, and just a dash of cluelessness to sell crappy computers, then charge people large amounts of money when they bring them back for repairs.

    It's not about whether hardware works with Linux. It's not about making a faulty extension of the automobile lemon laws. It's about protecting the consumer. And personally, I don't think it goes far enough. It should extend to parts and systems sold at trade shows. There's a lot of people out there with enough knowledge of computers to completely screw people who have no knowledge.

    Quit twisting good ideas and good intentions into some sort of cluelessness.
  • This is a government imposed minimum warranty, and an attempt to keep hardware quality from going down the storm drain (it is already in the gutter) in the face of massive price competition between vendors. The idea is that if everyone has to meet some uniform minimum standard of quality, vendors can still compete equally, while protecting consumers from complete junk. Whether it will work remains to be seen. The problem is that massively catosrophic failure in the first 2 years isn't that common, and is often already covered under warranties. What we need are protection against "flaky" RAM, video cards, and chipsets that work fine 99% of the time, but randomly corrupt data, crashing the computer. This is very difficult to do and only a few large vendors of certified "server systems" do this rigorously. Even then, it is only usually tested with certain combinations of software, which may or may not expose all potential problems.

    An interesting point, if it *does* work, it should lower the price of computers to people like me who value reliablity even on a desktop, and have to pay a premium for high quality components.
  • by GeekLife.com ( 84577 ) on Sunday August 27, 2000 @01:12PM (#824305) Homepage
    Can we get a Macintosh Apple Law?

    "Computers found to be Apples within two years of purchase must be repaired, replaced or refunded"
    -----
  • This is not interference this is consumer protection.

    Consumer "protection" is interference. This isn't protection from the seller lying about the product, this is protection from their own bad choices, like seat-belt laws and anti-drug laws. It's government saying, "We know what's good for you better than you do." and forcing their opinion of what's good for you on you whether you like it or not. It's wrong in principle, even if it improves results for thousands of stupid or careless people.

    Every new regulation makes it a bit harder and more expensive to open a new business, locking us more and more into the role of employee, making us more dependent on lawyers and professional business managers. More power for corporations, less for individuals.

    The fact is, you can buy computers with full 2-year warrantees. Some people don't, and some buy inferior discounted products. Sometimes their computers don't work. Tough luck for them, it was their choice.

    I don't think the government should be regulating minimum lengths to warrantees. It's not their business.

    I want the option of buying from some shop on a shoestring that doesn't have a service department, if I think it's the better deal. I don't necessarily want to do it, but I'd still rather have the option.

    ---
    Despite rumors to the contrary, I am not a turnip.
  • Such rudeness is offensive
  • Fruit case is more like it...
  • [cpu/chipset] is not available in Pennsylvania, and some other locations with crazy PC hardware laws"
    ...Mo$eisley spaceport; you will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.
  • Mod me up scotty!
  • by TheDullBlade ( 28998 ) on Sunday August 27, 2000 @11:50AM (#824315)
    It's a sad day when you can't decide whether you want to pay extra for the warrantee or not.

    Computer hardware failures within the first two years are pretty rare, and usually covered by warrantee.

    This is just a publicity stunt which will drive prices up slightly for those of us who would rather take our chances.

    But this kind of thinking is dangerous. Now it's "responsibility" legislation, next it will be "safety" regulations and all computers sold will be required to be equipped with the latest anti-virus software. Once government starts regulating an industry, it never stops.

    Remember, bureaucracium has a negative half-life, the damned stuff grows over time, sucking energy from the area it's in.

    ---
    Despite rumors to the contrary, I am not a turnip.
  • And how many individual medical practitioner can afford to fund their own tests? This isn't about who's qualified; private practitioners may be just as skilled in these matters as FDA scientists, but they have neither the time, the inclination, or the money to pursue rigorous testing. And the drug companies have a history of suppressing negative results, and a financial incentive to cut down on testing as much as possible.

    Herein we find the root of the error of your reasoning: you rightly recognize the need for large-scale organization, but you believe that only government can provide it.

    Consider: professional engineering organizations, bar associations, and medical associations did not, as a rule, start out as government organizations. They started out as voluntary private associations, and by long demonstration of superior competence, they were eventually granted special status by the government as having monopolies on official competence. Some have held to their private origins, while others have been integrated into the government, but they originally came into being without government assistance. However, there is no way to assure their competence after the day the government accepts them as the sole such organization. As they age, secure in their monopolies, they tend to gradually place higher and higher barriers to entry, while actually delivering a lower standard of service. It's not that hard to become a doctor, an engineer, or a lawyer, but you've got to put in your dollars and your years. From what I've seen, they've shifted from guaranteeing a high level of competence to guaranteeing knowledge of one's limits: doctors that refer all patients that might have a problem to other doctors, engineers that sit quietly in the back of meetings, and lawyers who act as glorified clerks. Meanwhile, as they claim to raise their standards by raising the barriers to entry, they lobby to expand their monopolies so it gets harder and harder to do anything without hiring an Official Professional.

    Sorry, I got off track a bit, but the point is that they grow without any special privilege of the government to competence (which, tangentially, decays after they gain their government-granted monopoly).

    The average doctor can't, by himself, test a drug. The average driver can't, by himself, design and build a car. However, both are bright enough to hire such work to be done for them, and figure out which sources produce reliable results. Private business has long since learned how split costs up among many buyers. So what if your drug verification cost shows up on your doctor's bill rather than your drug bill?

    Intelligent buyers have always known that they can get honest evaluations by hiring uninvolved 3rd parties with good reputations. A lot of testing is done by private labs. Naturally, they work for the person who pays them. So it's in their best interests to be honest if they're hired by people who want them to be honest. Bribery is possible, but no more so than in a government process.

    The drug companies won't do the testing that doctors trust. That would be insane. The doctors' associations would do the testing.

    When the government isn't setting standards, obviously it becomes vitally important for private organizations to set them. That is why it's vitally important for government to enforce the trademarks of such organizations. It would be total chaos if not only were there no government standards, but any street vendor could put the "Kentucky Central Food Standards Association" logo on his cart without actually meeting their standards.

    I'd really rather have the choice between, say the "Kentucky C.F.S.A." (which considers feeding growth hormone to chickens an acceptable practice) and the "Kentucky Food Approval Organization" (which considers feeding growth hormone to chickens unacceptable), instead of considering the government's decision as the only valid one.

    Sure, you might say, that's all to the good, but there's nothing stopping you from starting such standards organizations now! True, but the government isn't very friendly to competing standards associations. For one thing, you have to meet the government standards, no matter what else; that gives a competitive price advantage to businesses that only comply with the minimum gov't regulations (not bad by itself, but downright nasty combined with the next two). For another, governments have a way of pooh-poohing these competing standards in their official propaganda (letters from the Surgeon General, etc.). Most importantly, though, is the nanny-state attitude that most citizens have: "the gub'r'ment will take care of us! we don't have to look out for ourselves." Part of that comes from the official propaganda lines, and part from the public education system, but mostly from the fact that this is a democracy, ruled by the whim of the majority, who see any problem and think, "There oughta be a law!" (I would never dream of blaming the government as something seperate from the people; the majority of the enfranchised public is directly responsible for all actions of the government; unfortunately, they don't understand government)

    Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so does a free market. Supply grows to meet demand.

    The free market is a "magical black box" which produces all good things without an outside controlling organization. You can control the quality of its products purely through selecting which businesses get your dollars, if you can muster the brainpower to choose someone competent to decide who's competent (and if you can't, you sure as hell shouldn't be trusted with a vote). The advantage over doing it with dollars has over doing it with violence-backed government enforcement is that each person can make his own choice, rather than all having to conform to the choice of the voting majority.

    But distributing unsafe medicine to an unsuspecting public isn't [a crime against the non-consenting public?]

    No, it isn't. It is a damned fool who buys medicine that his doctor hasn't told him is safe and necessary. If some such fool wants to buy it, that is all his fault and none of the seller's.

    The difference here is that murder, robbery, or poisoning rivers, is something that is done to a non-consenting individual or public, while in a purchase of unsafe goods, the buyer asks for these goods.

    That doesn't mean fraud shouldn't be a crime. Of course it should be illegal to claim that some sale good meets a standard when it doesn't. That doesn't mean that the government has to pick the standard.

    I've always also felt that people should be able to make legal oaths, call down whatever government punishments upon themselves that they wish (guaranteeing payment in advance for the cost), and file them as public records. It would make establishing trust much easier. Contracts do part of this, but generally limit losses to financial ones, and criminal law can never codify appropriate punishments for every kind of betrayal.

    ---
    Despite rumors to the contrary, I am not a turnip.
  • This is a good opportunity for me to suggest you read The Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems [ncl.ac.uk].

    I haven't read it yet, but by the looks of the web page The Software Conspiracy [softwareconspiracy.com] looks pretty worthwhile too:

    There are no significant bugs in our released software that any significant number of users want fixed... The reason we come up with new versions is not to fix bugs. It's absolutely not. It's the stupidest reason to buy a new version I ever heard... And so, in no sense, is stability a reason to move to a new version. It's never a reason.

    -- Bill Gates

    While it is indeed true that it is difficult or impossible to get all the bugs out of a system, the situation can be much better than it is (do you use a memory debugger like Spotlight, BoundsChecker, Purify or Bounded Pointers for GCC?).

    Until the public wakes up and realizes they're being ripped off the situation will continue.

    For us developers, this is a matter of taking responsibility for our work. For the public (and us developers when we purchase software) it is a matter of demanding that the vendors take responsibility: refuse to purchase software whose End User License Agreement disclaims a warranty, and demand of your legislators that the government enforce minimum quality standards on software and quality products.

    At the very least you should be able to get your money back on a defective product, even if the manufacturer disclaims responsibility. And if there are real costs associated with the failure, as when a friend of mine bounced a $4000 check [ncl.ac.uk] because of a bug in Microsoft Excel, the injured party should be able to sue for damages.

  • If CompUSA's better than average, Pennsylvania NEEDS this law.
  • by Chasuk ( 62477 ) <chasuk@gmail.com> on Sunday August 27, 2000 @01:55PM (#824328)
    Computers found to be defective within two years of purchase must be repaired, replaced or refunded...

    And who makes the decision that a PC is defective? The customer, the retailer, or a third-party arbitration panel?

    I work at a busy PC retailer where we assemble PC's to order. We have customers who enter the store daily whom we KNOW should never be allowed to own a PC (hell, there are customer's who should be licensed to operate toasters), but there is no reasonable way to deny them ("I'm sorry, but you are too stupid to ever learn to operate a PC"), so we are put in the unenviable position of selling to people who, three years later, still call our tech support weekly because they have forgotten how to cut-and-paste again, because they have deleted system files again, because they have forced a floppy disk in the drive upside-down again (quite a feat), who can't figure out how to plug their PCMCIA card into the serial port (I wish I was kidding, but I'm not), and who decide a week or an hour after purchase that their PC is "broken" because they don't know how to use it. They have been to classes, have been assisted hundreds of times by our polite, patient staff (and we are unfailingly polite and patient, despite the tone of this message: I'm ranting here, not responding as I would to a customer), but the Uncle visiting from Oregon (or Utah, etc.) who is a computer "expert" (meaning he owned a Commodore 64 for six weeks, ten years ago) told them that their new PC is "broken."

    These people should be allowed to return a computer TWO YEARS after purchase because someone who couldn't possibly know the grief that they have put us through - or the smiling, apparently-reasonable customer's history of idiocy - because the customer considers it "defective?"

    I would agree that this idea had merit only if customers were forced to take and pass a basic computer competency course before they were allowed to purchase a PC. If they aren't willing to take the test, or able to take it, they wave their right to arbitrary refunds (and arbitrary are what the refunds would be). Since I know that no such test will ever be required, I think that this legislation is an incredibly poor idea.
  • If I write a crappy little operating system (I'm not suggesting that Linux is, just creating a situation) and I forgot to write a driver for some obscure card that happens to come with a PC sold in PA, ca I sue? See how dumb that sounds?

    Come on, think! This is obviously about hardware problems, and possibly OEM software problems. Not about driver issues for every OS under the sun.

    Finkployd
  • It's understandable that lawmakers want to make OEM's more responsible for their products, but i'm not so sure that this is exactly the way to go about doing it.

    One of the biggest considerations one would have to take into effect in something like this is the durability that a product has to have based on the average lifespan of a computer. Following the car to Computer metaphor, the average computer that was built two years ago could basically be compared to a 1982 Ford Escort. - Sure, it should still run...but there's no way the Ford should be held liable for a product that is, for all practical purposes, obsolete.

    Should we hold OEM's accountable for faulty products? Yes. But let's take into account product lifespan in general. Not how long the product can run...but how long it should run.


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