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HP, Dell, Others Offer Refunds To Customers With Sandy Bridge PCs

The number of PC manufacturers offering refunds to customers affected by the Sandy Bridge recall continues to grow, and now includes HP, Dell, and Lenovo.

Lenovo, HP, Dell, MSI and Samsung have suspended production of systems running Intel's Sandy Bridge platform and offered to compensate customers affected by the Cougar Point design flaw.

End users who purchased any of the half-million systems that have been affected out of the eight million Intel series 6 Cougar Point chipsets that Intel says have shipped since Jan. 9 will receive refunds and replacement parts from Intel's OEM customers. How that affects the relationship between Intel and those manufacturers -- whose high-voltage and temperature tests identified the error -- remains uncertain.

Lenovo on Thursday said the Sandy Bridge situation has not changed its partnership with Intel, but added that it expects Intel to hold up its end of the deal as customers call for compensation.

"Intel is one of our most valued technology partners and we expect that partnership to be as strong as ever," a spokesperson for Lenovo told CRN. "We are in conversations with Intel about the service program and offering refunds and we expect the conclusion of that to be for our partner to do the right thing here."

Lenovo said it has established a new customer service program in response to the recall, and subsequent delay, of Sandy Bridge-based products. The program will provide a free system board replacement to customers that purchased PCs, as soon as those parts become available.

Lenovo said it wants to reassure customers that the issue will not affect their data, and likely won't affect their system boards, since Intel estimates the failure rate for Cougar Point is under 5 percent. Among the systems that have been affected are the IdeaPad and IdeaCentre consumer-oriented PCs that Lenovo unveiled at CES 2011. Potentially affected IdeaPad notebook models include the Y460P, Y560P, Z570, G470, G570, V370, V470, V570, B470, and B570, along with IdeaCentre K330, K330A, and B520 desktops.

"Lenovo is working with Intel on the technical details and we will have further updates as appropriate," the Lenovo spokesperson said. "If any customer is not satisfied with the system board replacement program, we will work with our customers to find an alternative remedy, including a full refund at point-of-sale."

The Sandy Bridge recall also caused HP on Wednesday to cancel an event in San Francisco scheduled for next week, at which HP had planned to launch several enterprise notebook PCs featuring the older, dual-core Cougar Point chipset supporting the Sandy Bridge integrated graphics processors.

Next: Dell Reaches Out To Affected Customers

HP said on Thursday that the Cougar Point design error affects its consumer systems alone -- with the exception of one enterprise system sold in the Europe-Middle East-Africa region. "Customers can return their affected product and choose a comparable product or receive a refund," HP said in a statement.

HP said it stopped manufacturing PCs with the Cougar Point chips on Monday and put a hold on shipments in addition to accepting returns. The second-ranked global PC manufacturer behind HP, Dell is also accepting returns and offering customer support.

"Customers experiencing issues will be supported under the warranty and service terms," a Dell spokesperson told CRN. "Once we have new chip sets from Intel in early April, we will provide a motherboard replacement that corrects the design issue at no cost to our customers. Replacements will be provided at the customers’ location and convenience via authorized Dell service providers."

In a blog post on Thursday Dell said it is in communication with Intel regarding the Cougar Point error, but said it will offer more details as they become available.

However, Dell has identified the four Sandy Bridge products affected by the recall -- the XPS 8300, the Vostro 460, the Alienware M17x R3 and the Alienware Aurora R3 -- and removed them from its online listings.

"Customers experiencing issues will be supported under the warranty and service terms," Dell said in the post. "Once we have new chipsets from Intel in early April, we will provide a motherboard replacement that corrects the design issue at no cost to our customers. Replacements will be provided at the customers’ location and convenience via authorized Dell service providers. Affected customers may also take advantage of the applicable return policy, which may vary by region."

MSI on Thursday put out a statement saying that its P67 and H67 motherboards may be affected, as well as its HM 67 gaming notebooks. MSI said customers who want to return HM67 notebooks are eligible to receive an upgraded next-generation gaming device upon availability, and may contact the original place of purchase to ask about their return or refund policy.

Similarly, Samsung on Tuesday said that it will refund customers with systems that may be affected by the chipset error including its RC512-S01US and RF711-S02US notebook PCs -- of which approximately 1,000 units have sold in the U.S.

"Samsung is being proactive and will replace the affected PC at no cost when replacements are made available," Samsung said in a statement. "As an alternative option, customers may return their product to the original place of purchase for a full refund."

In addition to refunding their customers, OEMS partnering with Intel can look forward to having a fixed Sandy Bridge product to sell later in the first quarter. Intel said on Monday that fixed Cougar Point chipsets will be available later this month.

Intel expects the recall to approximately $300 million of lost revenue in the first quarter, as well as approximately $700 million, according to Intel, bringing the total cost of Intel's mistake to $1 billion.

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