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I have purchased a laptop, but the company from which I bought it is refusing to officially transfer the ownership. It's a Dell laptop and Dell have a form for transferring ownership. I am based in the UK, but bought this will the UK was in the EU.

My question is simple.

Can a seller legally refuse to transfer ownership of a laptop?

If they are legally required to but still refuse, what recourse do I have?

I still have the receipt from the laptop and the company does not dispute the fact that I bought the exact machine from them.

Points for clarity. The seller does not dispute that I bought the laptop in question. I have seen other questions, eg this one, saying that ownership transfers at the point of sale. Dell have a transfer of ownership form for the purchase to be registered. The company are refusing to register the transfer of ownership to me.

According to Dell, the laptop is still not registered to me. As such, they are refusing to service it under its warranty. They do not accept my receipt as evidence. I guess this is fair from their point of view: it doesn't say the service tag, so it really could be any laptop of that model.

Extra details. It is a company who have their own website but also trade on eBay, not a private seller; they still trade both on eBay and their website. They are simply saying that they do not transfer ownership. They claim that this was in their listing on eBay, but I have no recollection of this---and likely would not have bought if I had seen it, since it sounds super dodgy---and the eBay listing no longer exists. Further, they claim that the transfer is not necesssary since Dell will service without this. I have not found this to be the case, nor have many others; see below.

Specific pointers to UK law would be appreciated, rather than general references. I'd like to go back to the company armed with facts, not merely opinions, as well-informed as those may be.

I hope that this question will be helpful for others. It appears that proof of ownership is a big issue for Dell laptops. See the image at the end of the question, arising from a search for refusal to transfer ownership laptop, for evidence of this!

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    What you are actually asking is whether a company can refuse to register a transfer of ownership to you with another company - no one in your post seems to dispute you bought the laptop in question, the dispute seems to be about registering the transfer of ownership with Dell, a third party, right?
    – user28517
    May 10, 2021 at 9:44
  • @Moo Correct. Dell won't service this without the registered transfer of ownership. I shall update the question immediately to make it clearer
    – Sam OT
    May 10, 2021 at 9:45
  • Then its highly likely that you cant force them to register the transfer, theres no legal requirement to do so - but you might be able to make a legal claim for breach of contract if the ebay listing included a Dell warranty etc, but that will take a lawyer to judge and carry out.
    – user28517
    May 10, 2021 at 9:48
  • One thing to consider, if they are refusing to complete Dell's transfer of ownership process, they may not be authorised to re-sell Dell products. As such, they may be in violation of Dell's own ToS. May 10, 2021 at 9:52
  • @Moo I see. So is the issue that I am the legal owner, but I am asking them to fill in a form which they are not required to do? Nothing in the law about filling in forms, I guess. But Dell won't service without the registered transfer of ownership. I kind of see why neither party is individually breaking the law. But it seems odd because it seems that jointly I am not being provided with the warranty when the two individual actions are combined
    – Sam OT
    May 10, 2021 at 9:54

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You have no relationship with Dell.

You bought the laptop from the seller. I am not intimately familiar with UK Law, but assuming they implemented EU directives correctly while they were still in the EU, then you have a 2-year warranty from the seller for any defects that existed at the time of sale. (Where a defect is defined as anything that makes the laptop not fit for its agreed-upon purpose if you defined a specific purpose in the contract, its advertised purpose if the seller advertised it, or the purpose that a reasonable member of the public would commonly expect, if nothing was advertised.) Furthermore, during the first 6 months, there is a reversal of the burden of proof, where the seller has to prove that the defect did not yet exist at the time of sale – as a general rule in civil law, the person making a claim (in this case, you would be the one claiming that the defect existed at the time of sale) has the burden of proof, so after 6 months, the burden of proof is on you.

Note that warranty entitles you only to repair or replacement, but not return.

Of course, you can also buy additional warranty from a third party. For example, Dell sells extended manufacturer warranties. But you didn't buy an extended manufacturer warranty from Dell: the seller did.

You can buy warranty from anyone you want. E.g., for my bike, I bought a warranty from a third party, neither the seller nor the manufacturer. In your case, you didn't buy any warranty, but obviously you still have the default warranty by the seller.

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  • Thank you for your clear answer +1
    – Sam OT
    May 10, 2021 at 21:10

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