Pressure Mounts on Windows Tax? [Update]

I wonder…

Since I wrote about getting the Windows license fee refunded on my Asus 1008HA netbook here in the UK, there have been more examples where individuals have had some success.

First we had a story on slashdot in the USA that seemed to be inspired by my own:

Today Amazon credited my card with $65.45. After ordering an Eee PC 1005 HA from amazon.com, I asked them for a refund for the cost of Windows XP via the ‘Contact us’ form. At first they told me to cancel any items on my order that I wanted a refund for, but after I explained that XP was pre-installed on the machine they got it. They asked what the cost of the OS was, and I answered that I had no idea but that Amazon UK refunded £40.00. Within a few hours I got a response saying ‘I’ve requested a refund of $65.45 to your Visa card.’

Then we had some tales of difficulty in getting the refund from Amazon and Ebuyer, although I guess they will capitulate in the end as it seems the law is on our side:

If the retailer is awkward, then the way to a refund is avoid the trap of following the instructions in the EULA. Instead you request that the retailer replace the software with a version that isn’t ‘faulty’ (ie doesn’t have the additional terms and conditions imposed). You didn’t agree to them when you purchased the item and therefore they don’t form part of the contract of sale with the retailer.

The Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002 requires that the retailer replace the faulty item, or if that is impossible provide you with a refund. The Sale of Goods Act gives you the right to partially reject items. Essentially you assert your ’statutory rights’.

Simos Xenitellis writes about trying to acquire a machine sans Windows Tax. And finds a few locations. I note that the first comment to his post is suggesting he visit our own site http://nakedcomputers.org for more bare-metal suppliers.

It is very difficult to buy a computer without Windows (that is, to buy it with either Linux, FreeDOS or no OS) in the European market.

Why would you want to buy a laptop without pre-installed Windows?

1. Because you are simply not going to use Windows (for example, you plan to use a Linux distribution)
2. Because your school has an Developer Academic Alliance (formerly MSDN AA) with Microsoft and they provide the Windows software for you
3. Because your organisation has a company-wide agreement for Microsoft software, and you do not wish to pay twice for Windows.
4. Because you somehow have a Windows license or Windows package installation box already.

Sadly, when talking to the sales personnel of a manufacturer, it might look an easier strategy to just mention points 2 or 3. There is already some prior knowledge with the sales personnel that large organisations do not need the pre-installed Windows software.

And then we have Venkat Raghavan who has just bought an Asus 1005HA, again from Amazon, inspired by the earlier mentioned Slashdot article, and with not too much trouble has managed to get the Windows Tax refunded:

I’ve been a linux user for quite a while now. I looked to buy a netbook without Windows on it, but due to market conditions, that did not seem possible.

Based on this slashdot article, I went ahead and ordered the same item. (see my report on it here)

The first conversation was over the phone, which did not get me anywhere.

I had better luck over email. They offered me a refund of 10% on the price of the netbook, along with keeping Windows on it.

I however, asked again pointing to the slashdot article and after that they refunded me the price of Windows XP according to the article: $65.45

Thank you amazon for being so awesome!

That’s great. Congratulations on your perseverance and success.

Venkat also describes his experiences installing Ubuntu Netbook Remix and subsequently eeebuntu on his new machine here.

To wrap up this quick post, there is this very interesting news story/rumour about Asus being reported currently, I wonder if the message is finally getting through?

Awesome news from Engadget about the open source future of the next generation of Eee PCs. Their ‘spies’ have uncovered information that the first Moblin-running Eee netbooks will be in stores come October. Asus, the Eee PC manufacturer, is apparently considering making open source OSes an option for all their netbooks in the future.

Please keep up the pressure dear readers. If you buy a computer where you do not “need” a Windows license, for whatever reason (see Simos’ suggestions for 4 of them above) then make sure you contact your supplier and request a refund. By all means use links and reports gathered around the ‘net to support your claim.

Hmmm, I think feel a new website idea brewing….

[Update]

We just received a comment on our “Please Sell us some Laptops” post from Claudio about how he got a refund from Dell in Belgium very easily:

I installed Ubuntu on the machine. Everything worked out of the box (a firmware update was needed to speed up the Intel Wifi) and I was a happy customer. Because I don’t use the pre-installed Windows partition, I sent a polite e-mail to Dell requesting a refund for the license of Microsoft Windows and Works. I just stressed I was a happy customer (I am) and didn’t want to return the laptop. I didn’t accept the EULA and asked for an address to send the Windows restore DVDs.

The answer was fast and professional:

Thank you for contacting Dell online customer service.

We will not be collecting the software CD’s from you, but would arrange for the amount to be refunded back to your account.

Please allow 5-7 business days for the amount to get reflected on your account.

And indeed, a few days later € 96,78 was added to my credit card. That’s what I call a customer service WIN.

Thanks.

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13 Comments

  • Ilan says:

    I haven’t posted anything about it, but back in January I had similar success with Amazon. They refunded about $70, on a 1000HA Asus. Asus themselves were a bit difficult when I contacted them, but Amazon took care of the issue with only 2 e-mails.

  • […] Pressure Mounts on Windows Tax? Please keep up the pressure dear readers. If you buy a computer where you do not “need” a Windows license, for whatever reason (see Simos’ suggestions for 4 of them above) then make sure you contact your supplier and request a refund. By all means use links and reports gathered around the ‘net to support your claim. […]

  • We have started an on line petition recently which will be sent the EU community at the beginning of October 2009. We hope we can gather enough signatures of our petition which you can find at :

    http://www.softwarepushers.com

    We want to direct the EU Commission to the fact that there’s no uniform OEM and OEM-free policy in Europe. Even more, that in some member states bare computers can be sold, in others not. And that e.g. you can buy a Netbook (this is just an example) with Linux preloaded on it, which you can not do in the Benelux.

    Also, and most important, even though it is stated in the OEM license agreement, you can not yet get a refund of OEM pre-installed software if you wish so.

    I hope you and your readers can give is some more exposure.

  • bahaltener says:

    You can add known cases to Wikipedia here, to make it more accessible to general public:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_refund#License_refund_cases

  • s j west says:

    amazon.co.uk informed me this in a presales enquiry

    “I can understand windows XP license is not needed, please be informed that we do not have the option to send the ASUS Eee PC Netbook without XP preloaded and refund for that.”

    A linux version of the eeepc from them is listed on the site but appears to be continually ‘out of stock’ and this appears to be the avoidance device that they will use not to give british clients a windows tax refund.

    I decided not to purchase from them.

  • TT Mooney says:

    So, when I saw your first post, I immediately contacted Amazon about a refund on my Asus 1000HE. The order was a bit old, but I figured it would either work or not. They immediately replied, kicking me back to Asus support.

    I let it sit for a while, until I saw mention of The Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002. I replied, some weeks late, and invoked both that weighty legislation, along with the need of goods to be fit for purpose. I also offered to return the unit outright if they felt they could not comply with statutory law. Again, I thought it would go nowhere.

    To my pleasant surprise, they have just offered me a £40 refund. Now to go back and find the order number for my EEEPc 900….

    Thanks for the blog, and the legwork.

  • the_guv says:

    well, i bought a new machine last week, nicely gparted/ubuntu’d .. you inspired me!


    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Having bought a laptop computer from one of your shops in Valencia last Saturday, 6 days ago, I wish to enquire as to the correct procedure to request a refund, please.

    The computer itself, a HP Pavillion DV2-1140es, is satisfactory. However, it came with what, one might say, may be loosely described as an operating system, Microsoft Windows Vista, and it is this element that I would like to return.

    Then again, “would like to return” is not always possible, with Microsoft-bundled computers ..

    I would be happy to return the application to you but, for reasons beyond my comprehension, it did not ship with an installation disk. I can, however, provide its serial number, together with the sticker on the bottom of the machine. Of course, it would be destructive to remove the Windows key from the keyboard, but really I think that is part of the hardware and, sure, can be reconfigured to useful effect.

    Thank you for your assistance in this matter. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Yours faithfully,

    .. Will let you know.

  • Mike says:

    I am just starting on this process myself. The machine is an MSI Wind netbook. It seemed to be promising when I contacted MSI about it and got answers about who to phone, email etc. I then received an email saying that it would be a long process, going fro mSI Europe to China, then Microsoft in China, then to Microsoft US and back again, possibly taking 4 to 8 months, and would only be likely to be worth 15 to 25 USD.
    As they appear to be trying to put me off, I will follow this through just be awkward! Will post updates as and when.

    • Alan Lord says:

      @Mike,

      Thanks for the post and do report back how you get on. Did you try the retailer before going to MSI? If so what was the retailer’s position?

      Cheers

  • […] I came across this post from one of my haunts, The Open Sourceror, and subsequently this wiki piece from the […]

  • […] in the product price. Not many people know this, but getting a refund on the Windows-tax has been a hot issue in the Open Source community for a few years now. Amazon UK, Amazon US and various European Amazon branches have refunded […]

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