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Dell Pay User to Uninstall XP 2006-11-16

Posted by clype in Articles of Interest, Gizmo, Money.

A Sheffield man has won a refund from ‘Dell’ for not installing ‘Microsoft’s Windows XP’ on a laptop he bought from the PC giant.

Freelance programmer Mr.Dave Mitchell ordered a ‘Dell’ laptop on 2006-10-21, and the machine was delivered a few days later.

As Mr.Mitchell was planning to run the Linux open source operating system on the machine, he had no need for the copy of ‘Windows XP Home’ that had been pre-installed.

When he started it for the first time, he clicked the box that said ‘no’ on the Windows licence agreement that asked him to agree to its terms. The text of this agreement states users can get a refund for the ‘unused products’ on their new computer if they get in touch with the machine’s manufacturer.

Cash back

Mr.Mitchell, who is an active member of the open source community, said he knew that other Linux fans had tried to get refunds in a similar fashion with varying degrees of success.

The origins of this campaign date from 1999 when open source activists in the San Francisco area started campaigning to get refunds for software they had no intention of using.

Every time a computer-maker, such as ‘Dell’, sells a PC or laptop they must pay ‘Microsoft’ for the copy of the ‘Windows operating system’ installed on it. While many PCs are now sold with a customer’s choice of operating system installed, no laptop-makers yet offer the option of anything but ‘Windows’, said Mr.Mitchell.

To bolster his case, Mr.Mitchell shot photographs of every stage of the process that ended with him declining ‘Microsoft’s’ licence terms.

‘I had a clear record of what the licence did or did not say,’ he said.

‘I fully intended to take it as far as the small claims court,’ he said, ‘”just to be bloody-minded”.’

He then wrote a letter, outlining what he had done, to ‘Dell’s’ Bracknell office and waited for a response. In the letter he did not mention his digital document of the process with photographs.

“I assumed that would come out when it came to the small claims court,” he said.

However, two days later, ‘Dell’ rang him and told him to expect a refund to his credit card soon after.

‘They only took two days to respond,’ he said.
‘I was pretty gob-smacked that it was so easy.’

The total refund was for £55.23, which Mr.Mitchell took to be the value of a pre-installed version of ‘Windows XP Home’.

A couple of days after the refund was agreed, an invoice from ‘Dell’ arrived through the post, which described the refund as “goodwill unspecified”.

Although Mr.Mitchell has now waived the right to use the copy of ‘Windows XP Home’ on his laptop, ‘Dell’ has not asked for the installation disc to be returned.

‘I’ve cost “Dell” 50 GBP — not “Microsoft”, which is a slightly annoying,’ said Mr.Mitchell.

He encouraged other people to try to get a refund and wondered if ‘Dell’s’ policy on which operating systems it offered on laptops would change if enough people tried.



1. Gurock - 2006-11-29

How do I get a similar refund?
It seems Dell is pretty hard to deal with in the U.S.
Can anyone recommend a guide to get my money back from bundled Windows and switch to Linux?

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