Getting Better Then
It used to take a lot longer and a lot more arguing to manage a refund.
An enterprising PC user has been refunded on his copy of Windows, after he rejected Microsoft's operating system and license Reg Reader Graeme Cobbett was paid $115 (£70.34) by Dell after he bought a Studio 1555 notebook with Windows Vista already loaded and complete with a free upgrade to Windows 7. Rather than accept the …
In Britain, contracts with consumers cannot be enforced if they are "unreasonable" (the law on business contracts is different). I expect most and maybe all of Microsoft's EULA (and similar conditions by other suppliers) is rendered sheer bluster by our consumer legislation, as far as individual users are concerned.
I am not a lawyer. This is not advice. You have not been charged for my musings.
The court says that these EULAs after sale are not valid. They rejected the cruise liner argument...that it is the detail of the contract that is not stipulate on the ticket. A cruise is a service, a piece of software is a product.
Here we have a case, where a user gets a refund, but is implicitly accepting that the software was sold under license. The laptop was sold, the terms attempt to change the terms of the sale. It is *not* sold under license.
I notice his bog has 2 entries and both are timed after this ruling, so I think this is fake PR.
I also notice that BSA went on the offensive recently, the court reaffirmed what we all knew, namely that software is sold not licensed. That means BSA has been making false take down notices for years where it issued a take down notice where purchased software is being resold.
BSA would be open to a class action lawsuit to recover all those damages, so it went on the attack, pretending nothing had changed and talking up it's success in taking down 'copyright violations'. This is why their recent PR I think.
There now needs to be a big big class action lawsuit to restore basic buyer rights. The judge confirmed what we all knew, that computers are sold,not licensed.
I was stung by the old "OPENING THIS JEWEL CASE = ACCEPTANCE OF EULA" scammery scam scam scamaroo
Turns out the CD was scratched and NO ONE would refund me or send a new disc free of charge because simply opening the box meant I had accepted a non refundable licence for their crapware, whether I could actually install it or not. That meant no refund, and Microsoft made it damn clear that any replacement media would cost me top dollar. As a long pointless call to one of their brainwashing facilities confirmed.
If companies are prepared to pound us in the ass like that, it's time to boycott those companies.
Ubuntu isn't exactly my cup of tea, (I'm an XP and Red Hat man myself,) but it's good to see that he didn't have to pay for the bits he didn't want.
More to the point, good on Dell for actually refunding that copy of windows. I am unsure if this is something that would have happened without an unbelievable amount of gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair even 5 years ago. 2 months and 14 e-mails to get windows refunded seems positively tame. (Well, compared to the horror stories I've heard to date.)
The bunch of thieves called microsoft owns me still the refund of 32 unused and sealed winnt licenses, even ordered by court to pay (now 15 years ago) they let you run around the world and force you to use all of your money to rent lawyers, till you give up or that the cost to collect are higher than the refund.
they just don't want to pay ..
I praise this guy that he got his money back
When you read it in conjunction with Microsoft's EULA for XP it gets quite interesting.
Microsoft's EULA states two interesting things:
"This End-User License Agreement ("EULA") is a legal agreement between you (either an individual or a single legal entity) and the manufacturer ("Manufacturer") of the computer system"
"The terms of a printed, paper EULA, which may accompany the SOFTWARE, supersede the terms of any on-screen EULA."
And Dell include a separate licence with all their systems which states:
"This agreement covers all software that is distributed with the dell product, for which there is no separate licence agreement between you and the manufacturer or owner of the software."
Since Microsoft's agreement is actually between yourself and Dell, it seems that the Dell agreement trumps the Microsoft one.
And that's quite interesting as it says that you can use the software on any computer - all of Microsoft's clever, restrictive OEM terms saying it's non transferrable go out of the window. You're just left with Dell's very user friendly terms of:
"You may use one copy of the Software on one computer at a time. If you have multiple licences for the Software, you may use as many copies at a time as you have licenses."
"You must ensure that the number of persons using the Software installed on a network server does not exceed the number of licences that you have."
Sounds good to me :-D
Yes, this is what's known as 'The Microsoft Tax', which makes every new PC more expensive than it should be. You have to really search around to find a pre-installed Linux PC, to avoid paying the Microsoft tax in the first place.
Dell used to be in bed with Microsoft, but it's good to see Dell being a bit more independent these days, offering some Linux netbooks, and choosing Google Android for its mobile phones, rather than the moribund Windows Mobile.
I did this with Dell over a year ago with my (then) shiny XPS 1330 laptop.
I received a refund for Vista + MS Works = £120. I sent them a nice letter with a lovely coloyr A4 (glossy) printed photo of me clicking the "reject license" option and another photo with the laptop running Kubuntu 3.5.
Shortly after that incident (don't think it was related), Dell started offering preloaded Ubuntu XPS 1330 laptops.... but with inferior specs: the Vista version would have much high hardware specs than the Ubuntu lappy for the same price. The reasoning was that my example would no longer be refunded as a non-windows option was available.
Sadly, AFAIK, this is no longer the case and Dell (AFAIK) is back to Windows only oferrings (at least on the home/soho offerings).
PLEASE, Graeme, make pages readable. White on black is terrible, and links in yellow drive me to distraction (or at least, almost got the missus to drive me home to get my specs. Which being as blind as a Prime Minister/Badger's asshole/take your pick - would be nigh on impossible. Having no car's a bit of a hindrance, too, but we're as recourceful as the average unemployed scouse. We'll nick one, if needs must. She's usually got a pile of bricks in the shopping for the axles, if you get my mystical meaning)
I got through the first few lines and thought "Fuc'k this for a game of Soldiers" and closed the tab.
Mind you, you're not the worst. Purple on black is really, really easy on the eye. I just browse away. Easy. Really easy. Like I did with your page.
Dell give you the choice of OS - or no OS at all - when you buy servers from their website, so why can't they offer the same options for desktops and laptops?
Maybe they don't think low demand would warrant the options, or they prefer to push Windows on every desk/laptop to make a little extra profit?
By booting Windows and reading the EULA, it is assumed that you accept it? Then its too late to return it for a refund?
Since he didn't boot Windows he can claim a refund? It seems to me you are screwed both ways, unless you get a copy of the EULA and read it carefully first.
I have to say that reading software EULAs is about the most boring thing you can do short of sitting on a stool and staring at the wall. I'm sure Microsoft counts on that.
I'd like to suggest that Microsoft attach a printed copy of the EULA to every copy of Windows (or every computer loaded with Windows) and let the purchaser agree to it BEFORE putting their money down. Maybe they could come up with a "simplified" version that humans can actually read. Show a little consideration for their customers, maybe?
......they have to give people options. Including to reject the OEM OS and get recompensed for it.
I have to say though that MS should have a policy that if your manufacturer refuses to reimburse you without question they should lose the right to sell your OS. End of. Also MS should compensate you if your first email from the OEM is a rejection and charge the OEM twice the reimbursal fee.
It would make the OEM Distributors think VERY carefully about being nasty to Microsofts EX-Customers just because the EULA has a clause they don't feel comfortable with.
This isn't the first time someone has succeeded in doing this. There are guides out there on how to do it - you have to be patient. I tried it and gave up though, because the Dell computer came from Tesco, and they kept trying to pass the buck (once I'd got them to understand what I was asking). Dell eventually said I should have done it within 7 days of receipt.
By the way, in my experience it's much easier to make a Windows PC dual-boot if it's never been booted in Windows, because I presume there is a fixed-size Vista partition which grabs all the extra disk space the first time it is used, and then you have to use a manual partitioner to get it back again.
Are we talking about Dell UK???
The last time I bought something from them the terms & conditions were quite plain: you must accept any licenses for software that comes with your product. If you don't accept the OS license, you must return the whole thing.
I had to deal with a bunch of morons somewhere in India who couldn't even speak English.
Above says it all!
Thanks to El Reg for posting this, hopefully this will encourage more people who actually want to do this to actually do it - they could link this article maybe.
Myself, I would also suggest looking at it another way - I would assume bundled windows is somewhat discounted, and if one has ever even the inkling that he or she may need to use it, it may well be worth one's while keeping said copy.
Of course, if said windows copy is crippled with stupid recovery partition crap and un-reinstallable from removable media, then it may well be good enough reason to return it.
I am admittedly, somewhat platform agnostic - I also like my games, 'nuff said.
Congrats to Graeme for sticking to his guns and going the whole way with this. As you can see (2 months, 14 emails and the computer had to be returned!), it's not that easy to get the unwanted Windows trojan off of your new hardware. This is why Windows is so prevalent. It has NOTHING to do with quality, ease of use or security (pah!). It's because most people don't have a choice.
The average user doesn't know that they can even install another OS, let alone find a PC or laptop with one installed in the first place. Clearly, even people who know what they're doing have no end of grief getting money back for something they didn't want in the first place.
And yes, I tried several times to get Acer to give me a refund on the pre-installed crap that came with my last laptop, but they insisted on having it returned to the factory. The extra con involved here relates to the non-removable Winshite stickers that are on the case itself. I was only trying to get rid of Vista, so the time and effort involved with getting a £40 refund wasn't worth it.
If any sad gits want to leap to the defence of the Redmond parasites, maybe they'd first like to consider giving me £40 in return for nothing except some emails explaining how it's "policy" to dick them about.
The only fair solution is to provide an immediate refund, on confirmation of product licence keys that aren't going to be used. The only problem with that is that it's fair and we wouldn't want that now, would we.
Please let the rest of us in on the "secret" of doing this! Every computer I currently have was booted into Linux before Windows (I actually remove the OEM hard disk and replace it with another drive before powering on for the first time); next time I'd love to return the HD to the manufacturer (along with the crappy shredded Windows labels on the bottom) and get a refund for the OS -AND- the hard disk.
Use this piece of software that I've used for a few years:
It reads it for you and highlights strange paragraphs, namely data gathering, toolbar, etc. You just copy the text, or you can even get it to select the right window (if installing a game for instance with fullscreen) and it'll get the text.
Should reveal many interesting things.
...after looking at he blog, I call some kind of PR bullshit. Not sure what game Dell/Ms/Linux Foundation/Whomever is playing, but it doesn't ring legit.
A blog with only 2 entries (one of which just appears to be a picture) gets billing on El Reg and other mainstream media? Too convenient by far. It stinks of PR astroturfing bullshit.
If only there were some journalists who could investigate...
If only there was a £65 computer..
Funnily enough, in my pub about an hour ago, the landlord presented me with a nice Dell laptop (about 2 years old) that the seller had sold him because "it had a faulty display".
"Andus, can you tell me where to get a new display from?", so I powered it up. Sure, the display was smaller than the screen. That was the 'fault'.
Turns out, in Windows-XP, the resolution was set to 800x600...1024x768 fixed it in a few seconds.
Price the landlord paid? €40. 2G RAM, 1200meg processor..nice.
Godalmighty, all I got was a free beer for my 30 seconds of work. (actually, that's €4,20 for 30 sec. I'll bet lawyers aren't on that much!). Hence the icon.
I can't believe the myth still exists that modern Linux distributions are hard to to install. Maybe you might struggle with wireless networking on laptops but there's plenty of advice about models that have no problem.
I build my own desktops & servers running Suse GNU/Linux and use Sun VirtualBox on an old laptop that came with XP.
The 'Certified for XP' sticker now resides on the lid of the waste-bin !
I forget which piece of MS-ware it was (probably an Office variant), but a few years ago I recall getting a CD that was sealed into the case with a sticker saying "By opening this case you agree to be bound by the enclosed license terms..." or something similar. How is that supposed to work? Surely that's not enforceable?
Hi everyone, Graeme Cobbett (the man with the refund) here. Thanks for your comments!
I promise I am real, and don't work for Dell or their PR company! I am a UK civil servant.
@Brett Brennan 1: Do you mean a full transcript of my email exchanges with Dell? Great idea! I'll add them to my nascent blog when I work out how.
1 - Dell wanted me to return the software media (DVDs), not the whole laptop, so I had continuous use
2 - The precise amount refunded was £59.43 + vat = £70.93. Clem at Linux Mint reports this converted to $117 (I previously estimated $112 - $115. Exchange rate win!)
3 - @Anonymous Coward: yep, getting those Windows and Intel stickers off was the hardest bit. Um, don't use a nail file: it's a bit scratchy. In the end, fingernails + persistence won the day.
4 - @Peter2: the "refund hourly rate" probably equals mine. The day wasted at home resulted in my flat being extra-clean, so everyone wins. I'm guessing it has cost Dell a fair amount to keep up their end of the communications, so it would be better for them if they'd just paid upfront.
I get fed up reading this b*ll*x about "the Windows tax".
In the past two years I've bought two machines from a major online retailer in the UK (and I've built three more myself). I had no problem buying machines without any O/S installed. As it happens, I chose to buy a copy of XP for one of them and the other is running under a downloaded copy of Ubuntu.
So what's the big deal about this "tax"? If you don't want to pay it, don't buy it! Many contributors to El Reg are incredibly arrogant and scathing about people who make "simple" mistakes, and have less technical knowledge. If you're so knowledgeable and clever that you totally diss Windows why are you buying a pre-built machine with WIndows pre-installed. Surely you macho know-it-alls should be building your own machines? Even a technical lightweight like me can build his own machine - or buy one without an OS.
Did this laptop get its faulty screen after falling off the back of a lorry?
Back on topic: Old news, I got about £50 out of Dell 18 months ago for Vista Basic and Works which I didn't want. Took a couple of calls, but if you read the license terms to them over and over they will eventually find the part of the script that says "allow the refund".
So all things considered my RAM and HDD upgrades from basic spec were free.
You may get a PC with no OS, but you more than likely still pay the Windows Tax. Dell Ubuntu is more expensive than it should be because Dell STILL has to buy a Windows license for every unit sold! And, of course, the Ubuntu based units are lower spec and few and far between.
As for a "major online retailer" selling naked boxes, who exactly? Smaller operators/parts-sellers, sure. But major chains? Nup - always Windows whether you want it or not. Either your are in error with regards to the truth, or our definitions of "major" differ.
Having said this, I am probably going to have to move from XP to Win7 as the limitations of Linux (multi-screen and printer mainly) prevent me from using it how I would like. Major stumbling block? X and it's stupid, stupid, STUPID "square" virtual desktop. How will that work with an older CRT TV and wide-screen monitor? It won't. Sure, I could buy a new TV (and printer) and conform to the needs of X, but that would cost me 5-10 times as much as an upgrade to Win7! It's a shame, I want to like Linux, I really do; but it just keeps throwing up too many stumbling blocks.
PS: Check this out http://ubuntuforums.org/archive/index.php/t-1239048.html
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@Christopher P. Martin
Interesting, I wonder can I do the same with my letter box and mobile phone...
Dear Credit Card Company,
There is a now a chage of £5 and each letter and £20 for each phone call you make to me. By sending me mail or telephoning me you agree to be bound by these license terms..."
Is that enforceable?
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I'm glad you admit to have an IQ of 50. Not many people would be that honest.
However, I bought a Dell because I liked the laptop, not because I liked their employees or their terms of sale. In fact, I got it though the online shop *just because* I didn't want to give commission to any particular salesperson. It came with Windows pre-installed because any choice was explicitly refused.
Now, for all intents and purposes, the choice to install an OS of my liking and not buy something I don't need is my right as a consumer as well as yours. We had that right taken away from us and I, for one, am not happy about it!
I hope you can get it through your THICK skull that this is not about trolls arguing which OS is better, but it's something bigger. It's about a basic right being violated by big companies just because they can.
You would want that right back as well if you had a higher IQ. Don't you dare say people who managed to think outside the box are at your level; with that attitude you can only strive to find a path that makes you less brain-dead.
Tell me where I can get the parts for my choice of laptop so I can build it and I will. I've built over 50 machines for myself and friends but decent laptops components seem to come as laptops with unwanted extras.
It takes longer to get the wrapping plastic of the parts for a desktop* than it does to build it mind so maybe it might just be better to buy a dell and fight for the windows tax refund - until they learn the customer comes first.
*and a skip to dump them!
I've no idea what you a talking about as regards the square virtual desktop ? I've hooked opensuse upto several TV's without a problem. VirtualBox (is that what you mean ? ) is capable of a continuously variable screen size once you have loaded the VboxGuestAdditions.
It sounds to me like you need to do a little research into the problem you are having, rather than jump ship.
I ordered a Latitude E5400 from Dell earlier this week. It's shown on the website as available with Windows or Windows.
I did the 'chat with a sales rep' thing, and after explaining clearly that the machine was to be Linux, I got a quote with FreeDOS instead of Windows, and a price reduced by approx 50 quid.
Not received it yet, but living in hope.
When I went to download the RC of Windows 7, I got a message in FireFox asking me if I wanted to grant complete access to the computer from Microsoft?
Err, No thank you, Im not agreeing to that.
So I denied access but I still get the email "congratulations for downloading..." even though I diddnt download it
@N2: How can you install an operating system withour graniting complete access to your computer?
@AC (19 Oct): Dell, like most OEMs, have adapted versions of XP that does allow installation on any PC. There is a BIOS check at the start of setup that queries the manufacturer details and, if they match, install and activate without further product key checking. Stick a Dell OEM disk in a non-Dell and it will ask for activation. So what you say about their EULA allowing installation on any computer is correct, but generally works only on another Dell.
@ Apocalypse Later
> In Britain, contracts with consumers cannot be enforced if they are "unreasonable" (the law on business contracts is different).
That may well be the case, but with these EULAs there are often clauses along the lines of "you agree that the OS can phone home at any time and send us whatever information we ask it to - we won't tell you what it sends home, where we'll store that, what we'll do with it, or who we'll sell it to". Almost certainly not enforceable in law and almost certainly illegal under data protection law. OK, so we can ignore it as it's not legally enforceable ... except that it's a technical measure that will happen whether we agree with it or no, so our only option is to refuse the whole lot and reject the software.
Same with the equally illegal clauses like "we can remotely disable your system whenever we like if we think you've done something wrong - and you have no recourse to any third party because our word is law and whatever we decide is final". Just realising that the clause is not enforceable won't stop the shit happening.
What it needs is for someone with the wherewithall to actually challenge it in court and have it declared illegal - then MS could be forced to pony up a means of disabling all the technical measures enforcing illegal terms.
Oh yes, and to all those "if he didn't want Windows, don't buy something with Windows" posters. It's not about that, it's an argument about having the right to know what you're buying BEFORE you buy it, and the right to reject unreasonable contract terms.
Wouldn't be easier for Dell to simply offer the option of a laptop without a preinstalled OS? Any action on the part of M$ to stop them from doing just that would certainly meet the legal definition of "anticompetitive behaviour". How many people need to demand a refund before Dell considers the option of not charging them for something they don't want in the first place?
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