MIAMI (CN) - A federal class action claims that Carbonite sells computer backup services for $50 a year without telling customers that the system fails with Windows Vista. The named plaintiff, a dentist, claims that after he lost data, Carbonite told him that it "was aware of the glitch, but did not want to cause 'widespread panic' with its customers" by informing them.
While he was waiting, fruitlessly, for Carbonite to solve the problem, the dentist says, the company "had the gall" to automatically bill him for a second year of service - at $54.95, up from the $49.95 he paid for year one.
Dr. Allan Gross claims that Carbonite lures customers with a fraudulent pitch: "The statistics are staggering: every year 43% of computer users lose irreplaceable files. Dangers lurk around every corner - hard drive crashes, theft, power surges, natural disasters, or accidentally deleting your own files. You need to be aware that losing your most valuable files is a very real possibility. You need to take proper precautions."
Carbonite claims that its software will assure that its customers' data is "constantly and automatically backed up."
But Gross says that after signing up, he tried to transfer all of his files from an HP computer running Windows XP to an Acer computer with Windows Vista, which he upgraded to Windows 7. He says he was "unable to retrieve the data that defendant represented to be backed up."
During the weeks in which he tried, unsuccessfully, to regain his professional and personal files, Gross says, Carbonite representatives told him that the company "was aware of the glitch, but did not want to cause 'widespread panic' with its customers," and "had the gall" to bill him again.
Gross says Carbonite refused to return all of his money - that the best offer it made was 6 months of free service, which he rejected.
He demands damages for breach of contract and fraudulent concealment, and want the "arbitration and no class action clauses" declared unenforceable contracts of adhesion, and the limitation on damages unenforceable as well.
He is represented by Jeffrey Ostrow, with Kopelowitz, Ostrow and Ferguson of Fort Lauderdale.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.