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  #1  
Old 25th July 2007, 06:28 PM
matth45 Offline
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Posts: 160
Windows Tax Refund from HP (Not Likely)

I recently bought a HP Pavilion tx1000 laptop from HP directly, intending to run fedora linux exclusively. Inspired by this, I thought I might try to get a refund for the copy of windows vista that was shipped with the laptop.

The end of the story is, I didn't get the refund. Microsoft has changed the language in the Vista EULA in order to make it very difficult to get. I don't have the exact text in front of me, but it now says something to the effect of "if you don't agree to the terms of this license, you must contact the oem of the device this software was bundled with to obtain a refund according to their refund policy."

Needless to say, HP's refund policy does not include giving out a refund for Vista. Their refund policy is to politely offer a full refund for the laptop should I chose to return it, which I declined.

I'll post the sordid details below, for the curious.

I first asked if they were willing to sell the laptop without windows installed.

Their reply:
Quote:
Thank you for contacting the HP Home & Home Office Sales Center.

I understand that you are interested in purchasing the HP Pavilion
tx1000z Notebook without an operating system. I am sorry Matt, we do
not sell our PC and Notebooks without an Operating System.
Then I bought the laptop, along with Windows Vista, the only choice(TM).

Here's my first letter.
Quote:
Last week I purchased a tx1000z laptop, which arrived bundled with the
Windows Vista Home Premium operating system. When the laptop is powered
on it displays a message requesting that I accept a license agreement
for the Windows Vista operating system. For multiple reasons, I am not
willing to accept this agreement, so I plan to install Red Had Fedora
Linux on the laptop rather than use Windows Vista. The licensing
message directs me to contact the equipment manufacturer (HP) for a
refund in accordance with the manufacturers return policy.

What are the steps to obtain the refund for this software?

Thanks for your help,
Matt
Their reply:
Quote:
Dear Matthew,

Thank you for contacting HP Total Care.

I gather from your email that you would like to install Red Hat Fedora
Linux Operating System on your HP Pavilion tx1000z notebook which was
shipped with Windows Vista Home Premium installed on it.

Also, the Windows Vista licensing message directs you to contact HP for
getting a refund for the Operating System installed on your computer.

I understand your concern in this regard and will make sure that I give
you the correct information.

Matthew, HP does not recommend that customers install Linux on their
Pavilion notebooks; however, we understand that some customers may wish
to change operating systems for their personal needs. HP does not
support Linux on any models of HP Pavilion PCs at this time.

Information about Linux can be located at the following Web site:

http://h10018.www1.hp.com/wwsolutions/linux/index.html

HP pre-installed the latest version of the Microsoft Windows operating
System (Vista) on your Pavilion PC. The Warranty on your Pavilion
system does not apply to software not provided by HP and does not apply
to defects or errors in hardware resulting from software not provided
by HP with that system. Please review your PC documentation to
identify the supported operating system.

Also, there is no HP return policy for getting a refund on the operating
system installed on the computers.

I hope this information is helpful for you. If you have further
questions, please reply to this message and we will be happy to help
you.

You may receive an e-mail survey regarding your e-mail support
experience. We would appreciate your feedback.

For information on keeping your HP and Compaq products up and running,
please visit our Web site at:

http://www.hp.com/go/totalcare

Sincerely,

Susan
HP Total Care
Quote:
Susan,

Thanks for your quick response. I appreciate your acknowledgment that
the operating system shipped with your computers does not suit the
needs of all users. Thank you also for your advice on open source
software, and I do understand that the HP warranty would not cover any
software not provided by HP.

It strikes me, however, as unfair and possibly fraudulent to sell me a
product which is subject to severe legal restrictions, notify me of
these restrictions only after I purchase the product, and then refuse
me a refund of this product when I object.

From your email I understand that HP does not have a policy for
getting a refund on the operating
system installed on the computers you sell. In my opinion it would be
in both my and HP's best interest for HP to establish a policy
addressing your stance on operating system returns. I understand as a
member of the HP Total Care team that you're not in a position to
establish HP policy. I would appreciate it if you could pass this
issue along to someone in an appropriate position to handle this
request.

Thanks very much!
Matt
Quote:
Dear Matt,

Thank you for contacting HP Total Care.

I understand frustration regarding the issue with installing Linux on
your notebook and with regards to this issue you would like to escalate
the issue to a higher authority.

Matt, I will make sure that I give you the appropriate information.

I would like to inform you that I can escalate your issue to a Case
Manager who is the highest point of escalation who is the authorized
person to deal with this issue, so please get back to us with the
information requested below to escalate.

It is our goal to provide a resolution as quickly and efficiently as
possible. After going through the complete correspondence, it is
apparent that this issue requires the personal attention of the Case
Manager. Please respond with the following information:

Contact Information:

* Full Name:
* Organization:
* Mailing Address (No P.O. Boxes):
* Apartment/Building/Mailstop:
* City:
* State:
* Zip/Postal Code:
* Phone Number (including area code):
* Convenient Time for Callback:

* Alternate Time for Callback, (if we are unable to make contact the
first time):

Product Information:

* Product Model Number (ex: C1234A):
* Product Serial Number (ex: US12345678):
* Product Purchase Date:

Once the information has been updated in our database, Case Manager will
contact you at the phone number you provided, within the next 48 hours.

If you need further assistance, please reply to this message and we will
be happy to assist you further.

Sincerely,
George
HP Total Care
I provided them the requested information (which they ignored and just called whenever they felt like it). My conversation with the guy who called was very civil, but ended with his offering a full refund and a return, or no refund. I don't see any way around this. If you do, please let me know! The guy asked why I wasn't willing to accept the license agreement, which I had read before starting this process. I gave him a list of reasons, including some of these (from an email I wrote to a friend):

Quote:
Activation. http://www.securityfocus.com/columnists/420

By default a program called Windows Defender will automatically (without
asking you) remove "potentially unwanted" software from your computer if the
software is rated (by microsoft) "high" or "severe". ("high" or "severe"
what?)

There is a list of programs that run by default and exchange information
with Microsoft. They reserve the right to share that information "with
others".

You're not allowed to publish benchmarks, except under certain conditions
(http://www.securityfocus.com/columnists/420).

One and only one user can assign the license to a device only twice (first
time, plus one reassignment). By the way, they count "physical partitions
and blades" as different devices.

Only 10 other computers can access any servers running on my computer at one
time. (10 incoming tcp/udp connections?)

Media center extender is something that allows you to display content from
your computer, with some remote friendly interface, on your tv.
You may only use 5 instances of this software OR ANY SIMILAR SOFTWARE at
once.

I may not use my copy of windows with any visualization software.

The EULA is littered with http links that provide "more information" about
the restructions on use. Seems like the information there could be changed.
Rediculous that you can put that in a contract...

You may only use your licensed copy of windows on up to two cpus at once.
I should also note here that the copy of the Vista EULA I found on Microsoft's website was different than the one shipped with my computer. Particularly with regard to the refund clause. The one on Microsoft's website said:
Quote:
By using the software, you accept these terms. If you do not accept them,
do not use the software. Instead, return it to the retailer for a refund or
credit. If you cannot obtain a refund there, contact Microsoft or the
Microsoft affiliate serving your country for information about Microsofts
refund policies.
...which obviously gave me a lot more hope than the copy I found on my computer.

So after all of this, I do have a few problems running fedora on my laptop, but they're getting solved, I think. (http://forums.fedoraforum.org/forum/...d.php?t=156576) Just in case, before I wiped the disk to install fedora, I ran a dd of the entire /dev/sda device to a server I own. Well, I paid for the damn thing, I may as well keep it around!
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  #2  
Old 25th July 2007, 06:34 PM
pete_1967 Online
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AFAIK, manufacturer does not have to refund the license, but Microsoft does. They do the same with their earlier EULAs: contact seller, but if seller refuses, then contact MS for your refund.

If both refuse, contact your local Trading Standards office and they'll do the rest.
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  #3  
Old 25th July 2007, 06:37 PM
matth45 Offline
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Posts: 160
IANAL, but I don't see why they would be obligated to give any refund for the software alone, given that the EULA says the OEM is responsible, and the OEM offered me a full refund of the entire laptop. If you can make me a persuasive argument to the contrary, I'm more than happy to take it up with Microsoft.
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  #4  
Old 25th July 2007, 06:46 PM
pete_1967 Online
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Lol, you do what you want with your Vista license, I just told you how it has been so far and making my guess that despite of slight change in wording (if there's one compared to XP license) doesn't remove your right to refund if you refuse the license for software. Rejecting EULA for a piece of software has nothing to do with hardware it comes with.
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  #5  
Old 25th July 2007, 08:29 PM
Thetargos Online
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pete_1967
Lol, you do what you want with your Vista license, I just told you how it has been so far and making my guess that despite of slight change in wording (if there's one compared to XP license) doesn't remove your right to refund if you refuse the license for software. Rejecting EULA for a piece of software has nothing to do with hardware it comes with.
Unless the vendor's terms of use or agreement make it so. We also ignore if this stems from another agreement HP might have with Microsoft or others, etc, etc.

I recently sent an e-mail to Dell asking pretty much the same question about their Inspiron and XPS laptops (what if I reject the Microsoft Windows license?) and specifically pointed out the fact that Dell does sell machines without any OS and alternatively with Ubutnu Linux pre-installed... But the models that do are the low end models, I wanted to know if their higher end models could also be shipped that way. Imagine their top of the line XPS system without the added cost of Windows Vista Ultimate, you may end up saving at least a couple 100 bucks or more there (considering the retail price for Ultimate is of about $600USD).
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  #6  
Old 25th July 2007, 10:39 PM
matth45 Offline
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Yeah, that would be pretty sweet for us as end users, I agree.

I think it helps to look at the issue as an OEM would see it. They, of course, aren't paying retail for each license of windows they sell, so part of that savings you're talking about comes out of the OEM's pockets. So in my simplistic analysis, they, the OEM, stand to make less money on every laptop sold without Windows on it. If they can balance that loss by selling more laptops by providing linux as an option, then they'll provide linux as an option. But I think it's a hard move to justify to the shareholders, if you will.

Now, from my perspective as a consumer, this all sounds a lot like antitrust, which we here in America supposedly have laws against. But it's admittedly a gray area, and if the US government couldn't win that lawsuit, I would just be lawyered to death.
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  #7  
Old 25th July 2007, 10:56 PM
JN4OldSchool Offline
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Dont forget all the adware the manufacturers pile in there. There is a correct term for this stuff, cant think of it. But they get money this way also. Remember to, that most manufacturers have their own software department that incorporates their own software layer on top of Windows. The simplest being splash screens and the like but our new HP laptop for instance has all kinds of media software and power monitoring and wireless networking doo dads...Easy when you just have to write over top of Vista...but think of the added development costs just here alone. This is why I have never really been that gung-ho about manufacturers offering a Linux option. It isnt that I wouldnt like to see Linux being offered this way, I just dont see how the manufacturer can afford it. They will just end up marking up the final price to cover all these losses. Better if they just sold bare bones naked systems and got out from under Redmond. Take the software equation completely out of the picture. But this wont work either because most folks these days want to open the box, plug it in and surf the web.
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  #8  
Old 25th July 2007, 11:09 PM
Gnafu the Great Offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JN4OldSchool
Dont forget all the adware the manufacturers pile in there. There is a correct term for this stuff, cant think of it.
I believe it's called crapware.
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  #9  
Old 25th July 2007, 11:19 PM
Thetargos Online
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Dunno about others, but I'd be willing to pay a reasonable price for a computer if it had the option of not having the Windows Tas in it. In your example, Matt, I suppose OEMs get a number of OEM licenses a month (only to say a period of time) at a preferential price, which is not what the end consumer pays for this "OEM version"... The easiest example would be XP, which "public price" of the OEM version is (was) $95USD. Suppose an OEM gets a volume's discount from Mircrosoft, plus other discounts for contracts and being an OEM in itself and each copy of OEM version actually costed the OEM $55USD, that's still a profit of $40 bucks per computer sold on the OS software alone. Now suppose of this brute, but the OEM has to "pass on" some of those profits for stuff like transportation, storage, handling , wrapping, printing, etc.and the net income of those $40 per unit was merely $15 bucks. Now do the same "per piece" of a computer. Maybe I'm all too familiar with this practice, as that is how cars are sold down here in Mex, and why they are so expensive compared to other parts of the world, each piece has a "tax", and you end up paying up the car in "pieces" than the whole.

Of course that they are not making a huge profit of selling the machines with an OS installed, as it is, let alone they'd be willing to depart those profits they make and the very same expenses they have should they ship the machines without an OS, which would then translate into monetary losses. The operational margins of companies such as Dell or HP are immense, but the profits they make are rather very slim. And they are in continuous search on how to reduce such expenses to have better profits. But that's the system "Industrial America" built and those are the rules they have to play by, rules that even companies like HP helped set. That's why it is so profitable to rather sell the merchandise on-line than have it on stores, where there are many of these "associated expenses" or "operational costs" (particularly those of storage, transportation and handling) where as if the companies themselves could stock up the machines themselves that would save them a great deal of money on what they would have to pay if others would have to do that for them.

At any rate and regardless, the key question I guess would be: Would you not as a Linux user, but as a regular user be willing to pay the exact same amount for an OS-less machine on which you can install whatever OS you want and be completely free no strings-attached and only receive warranty for the hardware you are buying without any "technical support" whatsoever on a new system you buy? Most likely the answer would be NO, however (and taking advantage of truly Free alternatives, both monetary and liberty) would you be willing to pay the same for a new system bundled with a version (any version) of Linux, with warranty only for the hardware and no technical support whatsoever, BUT with a brief user manual with information on how to get help should you need it? In this case maybe the answer could be yes.However most people are unfamiliar with Linux and would end up buying a system with a more familiar OS such as Windows, in the end they both cost the same in the eyes of the end user.

So I'm with JN on this... How could a retailer offer Linux or OS-less machines and still make a profit?
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  #10  
Old 25th July 2007, 11:30 PM
JN4OldSchool Offline
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Yeah, I'm sorry Thet, but in your second question my answer is a resounding "NO!" I am not a fool! Why would I pay the same amount of money for computer A with a version of Ubuntu I can download FREE at home as I would the same computer with Vista? No deal! I want Vista. I may never use it, but it is a product in my pocket. I might need it one day. Maybe I will eventually sell the computer. Of course I am pretty set that I will NEVER use Windows again, but most people arent. Most people would dual boot and have double value for the same price. Yeah, the economics just dont work, at least in the current model. The key is to get out from under MS and level the playing field. I see this as the wrong road for Linux anyway, but that is ANOTHER discussion...
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  #11  
Old 25th July 2007, 11:50 PM
Thetargos Online
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It would be a rather interesting discussion at that, JN! Maybe someday we'll start such a discussion here in the Linux Chat forum.
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  #12  
Old 26th July 2007, 12:48 AM
pete_1967 Online
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Well, regarding 3 previous posts: Dell took the plunge and has for longer time offered FreeDOS option as well. Now it's a question of time to see how well they sell and if they are profitable.

Of the topic: Comment about the deal between software and product manufacturer regarding software licenses doesn't/ wouldn't hold in the UK at least.
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  #13  
Old 26th July 2007, 12:55 AM
Thetargos Online
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The problem with those computers sold by Dell is that they are usually of the lower end wing, this means they can still make a profit out of obsolete hardware from the get go
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  #14  
Old 26th July 2007, 01:06 AM
JN4OldSchool Offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thetargos
The problem with those computers sold by Dell is that they are usually of the lower end wing, this means they can still make a profit out of obsolete hardware from the get go
Which is actually a way to make this work and can be a very good thing AS LONG AS THEY ARE UPFRONT WITH THE CUSTOMER about what they are selling. Many people are looking for a bargin basement system just for office docs and web browsing. Heck, sell this old stuff with Linux for a couple bills. There is a whole market out there for such computers. But, and the big but, is Dell is just not going to make any money selling Linux equipped computers.
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  #15  
Old 26th July 2007, 01:06 AM
pete_1967 Online
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Quote:
Inspiron Notebook 1420 N
Intel® Core™ 2 Duo T5250 (1.5GHz/667Mhz FSB/2MB cache)
Ubuntu version 7.04
2GB1 Shared Dual Channel3 DDR2 at 667MHz
Size: 160GB2 SATA Hard Drive (5400RPM)
Starting at
$774
FREE Upgrade to 2GB Memory and 160GB Hard Drive! Value of $275!
Quote:
Inspiron 1520/1521
All-Around Performance
Perfect balance of always-connected mobility, screen-size and power. Available in 8 colors.Intel® Core™ Duo 2 Processor T7500
Genuine Windows Vista™operating systems
15.4" UltraSharp™ Wide Screen SXGA+ (1680x1050) display with TrueLife™
Starting at 6.36lbs
From
$749
NOTE that Inspiron 1420 is also available with Windows, they just don't show specs in such a compact way so couldn't bother to copy them here (from $799).

Quote:
XPS 410 N
Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor E4300 (2MB L2 Cache,1.8GHz,800FSB)
Ubuntu Desktop Edition version 7.04
1GB1 Dual Channel3 DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz - 2 DIMMs
250GB2 Serial ATA 3Gb/s Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache™
Starting at
$870
Quote:
XPS 410


Powerful entertainment & productivity – Do more, play more
High-performance processors & hard drives for maximum speed
Cutting edge graphics for vivid pictures, games, videos

Starting at
$999
19-inch Flat Panel Monitor & 2GB memory Included!
I wouldn't call those Linux boxes 'obsolete' in any way or form.

Last edited by pete_1967; 26th July 2007 at 01:11 AM.
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