Does This Mean What I Think It Means?

I’m looking at the detailed terms and conditions for the three-year “notebook protection with ADH” plan offered by CDW on a laptop which in fact has a manufacturers’ three-year warranty for defects in workmanship.

The attraction of the extra warranty is that it purports to offer some protection from accidents.

Coverage begins on the date of product purchase and is inclusive of the manufacturer’s warranty, Coverage includes Accidental Damage from Handling, 100% of shipping cost reimbursement for depot service if required, Coverage provided by Service Net.

Since this is a gift for an accident-prone person, that sounds attractive.

But, hey, I’m a lawyer, right, so I’m going to read the detailed terms and conditions. And in there I find this amazing paragraph:

3. ACCIDENTAL DAMAGE FROM HANDLING (ADH): ADH pertains to You if listed on the reverse side of this Contract. Your Product is protected against accidental damage from handling. ADH will end prior to the expiration date when We have, as a result of service provided to You, replaced Your Product or incurred costs under this plan and all other coverage equal to the original purchase price of Your Product (as indicated on your invoice). ADH only covers operational or mechanical failure caused by an accident from handling and does not include protection against normal wear and tear, theft, misplacement, negligence, viruses, reckless, abusive, willful or intentional conduct associated with handling and use of the Product, cosmetic damage and/or other damage that does not affect the unit functionality, damage caused during shipment between You and Our service providers and any other limitations listed in the Limitations of Coverage section. Any resultant damage from this type of treatment is NOT covered by this ADH program. The use of this coverage requires an explanation of where and when the accident occurred as well as a detailed description of the actual event. Failure to provide this information will result in claim denial.

I’ve read this three times now, and I’m having some trouble figuring out what sort of accident this covers. What would be an “operational or mechanical failure caused by an accident from handling” that is other than the excluded “normal wear and tear, theft, misplacement, negligence, viruses, reckless, abusive, willful or intentional conduct”? The exclusions seem to cover both negligence and willfulness. What’s left?

Whatever it is, they seem to think people will pay $152 for it.

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7 Responses to Does This Mean What I Think It Means?

  1. dr says:

    I dunno. A few years ago I broke a laptop by knocking it off of a table accidentally. You could say that it was reckless of me to knock it off the table, but that seems to deflate a real distinction between acts with unintended consequences and acts where consequences are forseeable but discounted.

    • I would not say that was “reckless” unless you perched the laptop so it was hanging off the table ready to fall. I would, however, say that it was arguably “negligent”.

      And, more to the point, I would bet that the company which wants you to provide “an explanation of where and when the accident occurred as well as a detailed description of the actual event” for that sort of an accident is certainly going to say it was negligent, and refuse to pay.

  2. ruidh says:

    Having read more than a few insurance contracts in my day (actuary, not lawyer) this doesn’t look out of the ordinary for a mechanical repair contract. It covers accidental damage like the dropping example above. It would cover a spill. It would not cover intentional damage. “I got angry and threw a shoe at it resulting in a cracked screen”.

    I think the standard here would be “ordinary care”. “I had it in the backyard and the sprinkler came on.” might invoke the negligence clause.

    There is an implied covenant of fair dealing in every insurance contract. They can’t interpret contract terms so narrowly so that there is no way to collect.

  3. Vic says:

    Assuming this is construed as an insurance contract – and I’m not sure if it would be offhand – I would agree with ruidh and add that you can also take heart that in Florida, insurance contracts are construed, when ambiguous, narrowly and against the insurer and for insurance (not unexpectedly) AND award fees if you have to sue for coverage. The fact that they have a provision for it, certainly implies that there is some catagory of loss that must be covered. So if it came down to whether something was negligence or just accidental, I doubt they would be able to broaden the deffinition of negligence so far as to encompass even accidental happenings. SOMETHING has to be an accident, and a good lawyer is going to argue that IF the insurer wanted to void coverage for tripping, they should have drafted the contract that way, since everyone knows people trip accidentally without being negligent. etc.

    And even if it’s not insurance in the above regard, I doubt they would hold out very long for $1000 in the face of an arguable accident when confronted with letters from the clutz’s lawyer (you) threatening legal action, or maybe even filing a Complaint. So long as your giftee isn’t clearly negligent in all this, I don’t think you’d have a problem.

    But yes, it’s a confusing paragraph that non non-lawyer would ever really understand.

  4. Werner Kuballa says:

    I came across this discussion by googling for “accidental damage handling” in conjunction with “washing machine”. Yepp, something went into the washing machine that’s not supposed to be cleaned that way :-(

    Almost two years ago I purchased a Nokia cellphone from Dell with the two years ADH. The ADH paragraph is identical to the one posted above – apparently the same template.

    A few days ago, my wife put my pants into the washing machine, not realizing that the cellphone was in one of the cargo pockets. The phone is spotless clean :-) but it no longer works :-(

    I called Dell/ServiceNet to claim a repair or a replacement based on the ADH paragraph. I was told that “leaving the phone in the pockets of a pair of pants and putting it in the washing machine” is a neglectful event and therefore excluded from ADH.

    Tomorrow I’m going to call a lawyer to check what his/her opinion is and if I should appeal. I’m not very optimistic and it seems that I paid $130.- for nothing – lesson learned.

    I’m posting the story here just to see what others think about this.

    Regards,
    Werner

    • CC says:

      What happened in the end? I’ve got a cracked laptop screen from it being dropped and they say they won’t cover it because apparently the contract only covers if a part randomly stops working. Furthermore since I’ve told them I’ve got a cracked screen from dropping it they say the contract won’t cover anything. Waste of $200. Never have heard a good review of Service Net Solutions.

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