back to article Israeli Linux fan squeezes Windows refund out of Dell

A Dell customer has struck an out of court settlement with the computer giant after being refused a refund apparently guaranteed under the terms of Microsoft’s Windows licensing agreement. According to Ynetnews.com, Ziv Devir from Haifa, Israel, sued Dell in the small claims court for the cost of the Windows operating system …

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  1. dervheid

    Excellent!

    It's about time computer 'manufacturers' were compelled to make their product available, sans OS, or any other 'free' software, for those that prefer it. With the commensurate price reduction, of course.

  2. Iain Purdie
    Thumb Up

    Spotted in France...

    At the local Carrefour I've seen a couple of EEEPC thingies (Dell and Acer, plus some unknown makes) available with both Windows XP and Ubuntu installed. The Ubuntu versions are around 80 Euros cheaper.

    Likewise in Malaysia I reckon about half the laptops I spotted in the smaller electronics outlets were available with free OSs, and again not just small companies'. HP and Compaq machines were being sold with Ubuntu and FreeDOS amongst others.

  3. Chris
    Thumb Up

    Haha

    ha! The range of Dell kit that you can buy with Ubuntu installed on is a bit of a joke. Not the hardware mind, just the limits of what you can get with it. I understand their argument that 'if we can install it, we know it works' when building custom spec machines but an option to have _no_ OS would be nice, leaving those of us with too much time / too much sense to install everything per our own requirements, even if we have to do some digging in advance for those pesky sound / wifi drivers.

  4. Macros42

    Good work

    Last year I bought a laptop with Vista on it - wiped it and installed Linux. I mailed Dell in Ireland and stated that "I was unable to buy the laptop on it without Microsoft Windows. I have rejected the license and formatted the machine and would now like to claim a refund for my unused copy of Windows". I got a mail back the next day telling me my refund would be credited to my card within 14 working days - which it duly was. No hassle at all.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    About Time...

    I once made the mistake of emailing dell to ask how much a PC would be without an OS installed, their response was to fill my inbox with spam about...... PC's with windows.

  6. IGnatius T Foobar
    Thumb Down

    Microsoft is still violating the terms of the antitrust settlement

    As part of the "Seattlement" from the antitrust case, Microsoft agreed that they may no longer charge OEM's different prices for Windows depending upon whether the OEM agreed to install Windows on 100% of their computers. But they're basically still doing it. Instead of adjusting the line item price of the Windows OS itself, they simply give good little lapdogs like Dell a discount in the form of kickbacks. They're violating the spirit of the settlement and should still be divested as originally planned.

  7. Simon Painter
    Thumb Up

    alas

    Alas all too often the price of a PC with no OS is less than $137 cheaper than it is with Windows. It's one thing to buy something with no OS but a totally different and bigger WIN to get it at the price they sell it with Windows and then get the $137 buck refund.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    No choice??

    How can someone argue they had no choice but to buy the computer with Windows on it - surely the answer would had been not to buy from that company if you didn't want windows. Idiots.

  9. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Last time I checked ...

    Dell put Microsoft's logo next to the OS choice on their web page even when you have selected Linux. I was not expecting a Microsoft distribution of Linux until after Windows 7 has proved to be as popular as Vista.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much do you pay for the licence?

    The OEM copy of vista has a cost, obviously. But I'd thought that part of that cost was subsidised by the amount that other vendors pay to have their crapware installed along with the OS.

    Do OEMs pass on the full cost of the Windows licence, and take all this as pure profit then?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just for Linux fan boys

    There is a market for new computers that come with no OS installed. I've used an old non-OEM Windows license from a dead computer on a replacement machine. Why should I pay twice to run Windows on 1 computer?

    Dell sell all of their servers with an option for no OS so why can't they do the same with their desktop and laptop computers?

    This is no different to requiring a TV License if all you want to do is watch Sky One and Sky Movies. Why the heck should you pay for the BBC if you don't want to watch it?

  12. Mark Lynch
    Thumb Up

    @Macros42

    My sister recently bought a laptop from Dell ireland too and I INSISTED that she not accept the EULA and ask for a refund (she had to install XP anyway for work). She didn't want the hassle but did it anyway and 2 emails later (the 1st one was the typical machine and OS are part of the package) we had a refund of €171 for vista and works. Now that's almost 20% of the price. It's ridiculous! Anyway, glad to see Dell (at least in ireland) are giving these refunds quickly. The joke is when you select a Linux option and the same spec actually costs you more! So even when you want linux it's actually better to order the vista machine and then get the rebate. How long before they cop on ?

  13. Chris
    Stop

    @AC: No choice??

    Because sometimes we want a particular bit of hardware. We've spend the hours researching, looking, pondering and checking the bank balance, knowing that what you're going to do with the software is wave a magnet at the HDD and start again. For example, I was toying with the latest Thinkpads, not for their software but for everything else.

    If that's the hardware you want, then that's the hardware you buy, and the rest should be completely up to you, with the ability to get the money back if it's not.

  14. Chris
    Gates Halo

    No fan of Linux

    but yeah, the choice of what you run should be with the buyer / user without penalty.

  15. Farai
    Paris Hilton

    IF they wanna charge more...

    They need to be like Apple.. They lord over the hardware and the software, and you get both or nothing if you want the machine.. Wipe it later if you want but you've paid for it. Install something alongside if you want but you've paid for it...

    Paris, because she gets what she pays for :)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WTF?

    What's the problem here?

    Laptops don't work without Windows installed so what's the point in buying one without it? Surely it's cheaper than buying your own copy of Windows afterwards?

    Or was he just annoyed because he wanted to use a ripped-off copy?

    Freetard!

  17. Hetore Del Faveri
    Paris Hilton

    @patrick flavin

    I'm definitely seeing pigs flying.

  18. Cameron Colley
    Linux

    Pleasantly surprised.

    I'm glad to hear this, as I made a decision after my last laptop purchase (bought with XP installed because I needed Windows and didn't want Vista) that I would not buy windows again.

    Luckily, I know a great place for buying desktop machines with Linux pre-installed (Efficient PC), so I have that angle covered already -- now I know that my next laptop purchase doesn't have to be from a tiny subset of the hardware on offer.

  19. N Silver badge

    Bravo

    My sincere congratulations to this person who removed the malodorous pile of Microsoft guano from his Dell laptop & installed something else.

    Vista is rubbish, Microsoft knows it and should offer anyone who removes it a refund & OEMs particularly Dell should know better than to ram the 'its designed for Vista' line down customers throats and offer them a choice.

    After all, the customer is right & if Vista was a rotten vegatable wed bought from Sainsburys, wed take it back and complain & get our money back.

  20. Mark
    Flame

    WFT?

    "Laptops don't work without Windows installed"

    *ducks for cover before the explosions*

  21. James Pickett

    Choice

    "Devir failed to follow the return policy"

    Which is?

    It would be simple enough to make the OS a 'delete option' so you can elect to have it or not. Having a simple choice between none ($0), Ubuntu ($10 to install) and Vista ($100) would restore the balance nicely...

    Dell should either admit to a cosy (and illegal) relationship with MS or allow the choice. Why do they say the recommend Vista, anyway?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Re: WTF?

    And here, Ladies and Gentlemen, is the problem.

    There are still people who are simply not aware that Windows is but one type of operating system for PC-compatible hardware.

    My own laptop runs Slackware Linux. My workstation runs Slackware Linux and FreeBSD. My Asterisk server runs Slackware Linux. The various web and mail servers I administrate run various versions of FreeBSD and Solaris. My dad's PC runs Ubuntu Linux... There aren't that many people around me using Windows on their machines in fact.

    So, the statement that "laptops don't work without Windows installed" is patently false.

    PH because she seems to know more about laptops.

  23. Tony

    @James Pickett

    'Why do they say the recommend Vista, anyway?'

    Because it's so good.

    It's not a steaming pile of horse manure. Honest.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    @ IGnatius T Foobar

    I to would like to see that happen since Microsoft has continually proved they feel as though they are above the law. A mindset which is re enforced by various governing bodies and law enforcement agencies when they sit on their hands and do nothing while Ballmer & co continue with business as usual (yes FTC I'm looking at you, don't think I haven't noticed your lack of action). All of which adds up to the fact that M$ will never face the full penalties levied against them how many years ago now?

    It's sad really but something I've come to expect. My only hope is that they will either totally shit out and by some software magic manage to create a reasonable OS, or they will implode under the sheer weight of their own fail. Frankly I'd be happy with either outcome but again I don't think either will happen.

  25. Adam
    Thumb Down

    Eh?

    The sooner this stupidity is ended, the better. If you knowingly buy a laptop with Windows installed, but don't want Windows, why should you get a refund? Why should a consumer be allowed to get a refund for PART of a purchase, which they bought knowing that they didn't want!

    If I go into a shop and buy a tin of baked beans with hot dogs in it ("because there's no plain tins of beans available" - to use the normal justification here) and then take it home, fish out all the hot dogs and send them back to the manufacturer with a demand to be refunded the value of the sausages, would I get it? Would I bo**ocks.

    Could I buy a Ford Focus and then send the engine back because I wanted to put a V8 in it? No.

    Could I buy a package holiday and then demand a refund on the cost of the flight because I decided to drive and just stay in the hotel? No.

    If there is a substantial market for non-Windows laptops (which there isn't, besides Macbooks), then the manufacturers will make them. Why wouldn't they? It's more profit for them! At the same time, why should a manufacturer be forced into providing something it doesn't want to provide? Where does it end? Can I buy a PC from Dell and send the hardware back because I only wanted the software?!

    If you want a fully-customised computer, build it yourself. Anyone who has enough nouse to use Linux should be more than capable of slotting together what is essentially digital Lego.

  26. Bill Cumming
    IT Angle

    Dell's just taking the pith...

    What's so hard about Dell selling PC's without an OS? They sell servers OS free ALL the time!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    @Chris - re Choice

    I hear what you say Chris, but it's a bit akin to a consumer saying to Ford, I want that Fiesta, and I want it with an Electric engine (because I'm an eco warrior obviously). It has to be up to the company doing the selling to decide what the spec of the machine is - if they decide they are going to put some flavour of windows on, you have the choice to buy a similar spec from someone else, or build your own computer - it may cost you more, but thats the price you pay for your choice.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    other POV

    Dell offers products with Linux on them and he purchased a basket of items that included a laptop and other items such as software - with alternate options available this is really no different than if he had ticked the purchase office 2007 option.

    IANAL put a click through copy of the windows EULA at check out would probably cover this. I would still prefer the no OS (or freedos) option and an associated discount.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Well done

    I tried to get a refund earlier in the year for a Dell bought from Tesco. As you can imagine, each company blamed the other and found more and more excuses not to pay up. It didn't help that Dell's customer service line was so quiet as to be almost inaudible. I gave up when Dell decided to tell me I had to apply to them within 7 days of purchase after several weeks of delay from Tesco had already occurred.

    Ironically, Microsoft was the most responsive and helpful party in the matter.

    And switching off the machine to prevent it booting up in Vista (I didn't realise at the time that you have the option of not accepting the on-screen EULA) resulted in a borked OS that the recovery disks couldn't mend. It now runs Kubuntu all the time and I shall shortly free up the Windows partition, and for the odd game, run XP in a virtual machine with no network access.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From the channel...

    I found out not so long ago at a channel conf that Windows OEM pricing is coming in at $25 for system builders shipping more than 10,000 units per year. Add to that the deal Microsoft has with the big manufacturers were Dell actually gets cash for every machine shipped with Windows on it and you realize why they aren't overly keen on sending out blank drives!

  31. wsm

    Customer choice

    Dell has been giving MS refunds for years--so it's not clear why this happened. But the main reason they don't want to make this easy is obvious: customer choice. In other words, Dell doesn't want this type of customer.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    "Why do they say they recommend Vista anyway?"

    Just in case it's not 100% obvious: they say it because they get a bribe (kickback,whatever) from MS for saying it. Now obviously that kind of thing goes on and isn't generally illegal, but where it starts being very dodgy and possibly illegal is where it's used by a monopolist in a way that makes it commercially unfair. Obviously Billco wouldn't do anything anti-competitive, because it would risk them being fined.

    Incidentally, what's the latest on the EU daily fines on MS? Last report I saw, they owed the EU over a billion dollars (how many banks could we bail out with that?)

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/07/microsoft_launches_ec_fine_appeal/

  33. Lager And Crisps
    Stop

    ...are you for real?

    'What's the problem here?

    Laptops don't work without Windows installed so what's the point in buying one without it? Surely it's cheaper than buying your own copy of Windows afterwards?

    Or was he just annoyed because he wanted to use a ripped-off copy?

    Freetard!'

    I think you should go forthwith to a vasectomy clinic and reserve an appointment for a consultation with a specialist. The sooner you are removed from the genepool the better for us all. These people should not breed and need to be sterilized.

  34. Mark Fraser
    Linux

    An idea

    This has got me thinking, if I was to buy a Toshiba NB100-12A with XP (£273 at Comet) which has 120GB drive and 1GB memory instead of the NB100-11R running Ubuntu (£245 at Comet) and only has an 80GB drive and 512MB memory, I could return XP for a refund and install Ubuntu Netbook remix on it.

  35. Stewart Stevens

    UK, 2001

    I bought a high end Dell Inspiron 8000 laptop in the UK in 2001. I phoned up the sales phone number when trying to purchase online because you couldn't remove Windows from the order. They deducted the license fee but shipped the Windows license in any case saying that if there were support issues I'd have to install it.

  36. Richard Porter
    Jobs Horns

    BBC Licence

    "Why the heck should you pay for the BBC if you don't want to watch it?"

    Because if you only watch Sky One and Sky Movies you're sad and deserve to pay for the BBC.

  37. Rich

    Should apply to everything

    If I buy a car and don't like the tyres, send them back for a refund and put alternate ones on?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Return Policy

    "instead, contact the manufacturer or installer to determine their return policy for a refund or credit."

    And Dell are perfectly entitled to say "Our Return Policy is that you send the laptop back in it's original packaging for a full refund, less 15% restocking fee". If you don't want the laptop Dell sell, then don't waste everyone's time by buying it and returning it.

    It's not as if you didn't know that you were paying for Windows when you click the "Buy" button on their website.

    You can't return half a packet of biscuits for a refund either.

  39. Rich Davies
    Alert

    This is until....

    Vendors get smart and offer 'free' versions of Vista. No refunds then eh

  40. J
    Pirate

    Hm...

    The EULA says: "contact the manufacturer or installer to determine their return policy for a refund or credit"

    So, the EULA does not guarantee anything! By what is written above, one could very well contact the "manufacturer or installer" and then find out that their "policy for a refund or credit" is... there is no such thing here, sod off. There you go, you have just determined it -- never says you will actually get a refund or credit. If that conflicts with laws (which will be different in each country, maybe), that's a different question altogether...

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @Chris: No choice

    You just don't get it.

    If you don't like the way a company does business, then don't do business with them! Put them *out* of business.

    It's people like you that keep GM, Ford, and Whysler going...

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    One sincerely hopes,

    now the cat is well and truly out of the bag, that our friends at Microsoft are shitting their collective pants.

  43. Alex Rose

    @all the idiots using the car analogy

    It's software, not a car component. If you can't see the very obvious difference in the arguments about the two then I pity you.

  44. Paul Powell
    Stop

    Cans of beans with sausages

    If a can of beans with sausages in it came with a bit of paper saying that you could return the sausages if you didn't like them then of course I would expect to be able to return them.

    Microsoft has offered a right in it's contract, and so it should follow through. There are enough clauses in a proprietary EULA designed to shaft us - why not take advantage when we can?

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder...

    I wonder if you can get an Mac without Mac OS?

    If not (I don't think you can) why is there no fuss about this?

  46. J
    Black Helicopters

    @Rich

    "If you don't like the way a company does business, then don't do business with them! Put them *out* of business."

    Well, it appears YOU do not understand the real world. You know, the one outside of the free market religion ideas. What you say would work, but only in ideal circumstances. But when ALL major companies just adopt the same practices (for whatever reason), then you do... what? Put them all out of business, how? OK, build your own computer? Or find some small online store that does what you want and hope they are not a scam? Not everybody wants (or knows how) to do these things. Very few do, actually, if my sampling is anything to go by.

    Democracy is the dictatorship of the majority, that's all there is to it.

  47. Doug Glass
    Go

    @ Lager And Crisps

    Why buy a white box? One with no OS? Well, maybe to use one of the uninstalled (and never activated) retail versions of XP Pro I bought a few years ago. Bought in perpetuity I might add.

    My old Acer laptop is way obsolete and I'd like a newer machine that's "mo better" as my man Justine Wilson would say. You know ... faster, better, quicker, slicker than snot and hot to trot.

    As a system builder I actually prefer a machine with no OS. Actually I prefer to build them myself. Never built a laptop though.

    Shoot, I might have a client who actually wants his favorite Linux distro installed.

  48. John O'Hare
    Flame

    @Adam

    "Why should a consumer be allowed to get a refund for PART of a purchase, which they bought knowing that they didn't want!"

    That's because selling a notebook with windows installed is like going to the supermarket and being forced to buy eggs if you want to buy a loaf of bread.

    "If I go into a shop and buy a tin of baked beans with hot dogs in it ("because there's no plain tins of beans available" - to use the normal justification here) and then take it home, fish out all the hot dogs and send them back to the manufacturer with a demand to be refunded the value of the sausages, would I get it? Would I bo**ocks.:"

    You're either ignorant or just trolling. For baked beans you can go to any shop other shop and get exactly the baked beans you want. If you were looking for a particular piece of hardware that's only sold by one vendor, you can't go to another vendor and ask for the same hardware.

    "Could I buy a Ford Focus and then send the engine back because I wanted to put a V8 in it? No."

    Nice broken car analogy. The OS is not the 'engine' of a laptop, the CPU is.

    "Could I buy a package holiday and then demand a refund on the cost of the flight because I decided to drive and just stay in the hotel? No."

    O my, you really are a dense git aren't you?!

    " If there is a substantial market for non-Windows laptops (which there isn't, besides Macbooks), then the manufacturers will make them. Why wouldn't they? It's more profit for them! At the same time, why should a manufacturer be forced into providing something it doesn't want to provide? Where does it end? Can I buy a PC from Dell and send the hardware back because I only wanted the software?!

    OMFG, you must be working in marketing.

    "If you want a fully-customised computer, build it yourself. Anyone who has enough nouse to use Linux should be more than capable of slotting together what is essentially digital Lego."

    Yes, please take a Dell Inspiron body, then place a HP branded notebook DVD drive in it, now just add a T61 mainboard and hey presto. Your own personalised notebook.

    Idiot.

  49. Donald Becker
    Go

    Rejecting the EULA gives you default right-to-use

    It seems that most of the people are missing the point: the EULA is purporting to limit their normal rights.

    The purchaser bought, at retail (e.g. with no power of negotiating a contract), a tool. After purchase they were presented with limitations on how they are allowed to use the tool -- limitations that go beyond the "first sale doctrine". (Yes, that's a U.S.-centric phrase, but many countries have similar principles.)

    According to a plain reading of the laws, the purchaser has an option to reject the limitations. The vendor has to provide an option for a refund, or accept that the EULA limitations have been rejected and the user has their default legal rights. What might those rights be? Resale without restrictions. Moving the single copy of the OS to another machine. Using the fonts and images with other programs (on a single machine). Running the programs and libraries under a different OS kernel.

    What the users are really asking for is either the right to use the installed system without the limitations of the EULA, or a refund because they don't agree with limitations that were not evident when they purchased. If the vendor says "no refund", they are Microsoft's agent in giving the user their default rights -- something Microsoft probably doesn't want to happen.

  50. Bill Cumming
    IT Angle

    Interesting side issue...

    Does this mean that the EULA's ARE legal documents now?

    This might bugger up MacClone wannabes....

  51. Goat Jam

    To all the car analogy numbnuts

    If car manufacturers sold their vehicles with a EULA that stated "by using these tires you agree to all the terms and conditions of this EULA etc etc" then it would be quite reasonable for purchasers to return those tires if they choose to reject the EULA.

    If PC manufactures want to sell you a product that includes a legally binding contract that cannot be read or agreed to prior to purchase then they simply have to stump up and provide refunds to those people who do not agree to the terms of that contract.

    It's quite simple.

  52. James O'Brien
    Stop

    @Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 4th December 2008 16:05 GMT

    Umm then why do I have a Dell laptop that has been happily running Ubuntu, in a closet, without reboot....for the better part of a year?

    Speaking of that I should probably update the OS.....

  53. Dave

    Shrink-wrapped?

    How easy is it to inspect the particular EULA with a machine before purchase? If you can't read it you don't know at that point whether you are prepared to accept it or not.

  54. Steve Lowry
    Unhappy

    Shop around

    Firstly I'm definately not a Microsoft fan boy, however I think it needs saying:

    The EULA does not entitle you to a refund only points you to whom to need to ask IF you can have a refund. OEM's are fully entitled to say no.

    For most people the packages sold by main stream manufactores are perfectly acceptable, but if you want something a little different be prepaired to have to shop around for it. You can't keep using the excuse that you cant buy a computer OS free or with the OS of your choice any more because you can. Have a look.

    Back to the car analogy; you don't buy Ferrari for the engine and wine constantly because the seats arent the colour you wanted.

  55. Turbo Beholder
    Coat

    IANAL, but...

    whether OEM or wrapped retail CDs it's obviously full of... slippery things. To begin with, unholy combination of 2 contracts: offer to public at large from shop and EULA from M$ - with whom EXACTLY you're dealing in what, or to which degree ? Normally manufacturer can be involved only via "consumer protection". If it's not yours until you submit (or even after) - then what EXACTLY did you just purchased in shop and what shop itself did bought from M$ ? And this inevitably leads to "uh, ask third party's home rules" crap. "Sticker-based" contracts ? Come on. Suppose you'll buy something in closed envelope and it turns out to contain note "uups, you owe me 1000$", or "by opening this you gave any passer-by right to strip-search you". Isn't it the same ? Agreement with content changeable without even prior notice ? Great. They already smuggled some interesting things there, and who can say it's the top of their imagination ?

    http://www.infoworld.com/articles/op/xml/02/02/11/020211opfoster.html

    @ Adam: if you could catch food manufacturer doing what M$ and their subsidiaries do, it could be rather sensible idea to send *missiles*, not sausages. If arrested, just produce their EULA and claim self-defence. =)))

  56. bobbles31
    Coat

    I don't get it?

    Its like removing the Gherkin from your Big Mac and asking McDonalds for a refund If you don't like Gherkins, buy a Burger King where they will make it to order.

    I appreciate that you are trying to make a political point but come on you are being completely unreasonable. I personally buy my gear from a manufacturer that DOES allow a NO OS option.

    If Dell started seeing lots of their competitors selling machines with no OS installed the option would soon appear on their website.

    As the Italians say, "You can't have a drunk wife and a full bottle of wine."

    Mines the one with the empty bottle of wine and two annadin in the pocket.

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