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Old 08-29-2011, 09:29 PM   #1
Mr_Nuke
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Windows tax refund from HP


I recently purchased a HP dm1-3210 laptop from HP. Obviously, it came with Windows 7 Home Premium preinstalled. The usual unilateral EULA popped up, which of course, I did not accept. I turned off the computer, booted from a liveusb , re partitioned the drive, and installed Fedora 15. That day, I sent an email to HP

Aug 26, 2011
Code:
Today, I recieved the dm1-3210 laptop computer, which I ordered this week. When I first powered it on on, it displayed a message requesting that I accept a license agreement for Windows 7 Home Premium. For various reasons I do not agree to the terms of the Windows 7 End User License Agreement (EULA).
(1) I have not used any of the pre-installed software.
(2) I have deleted all preloaded or embedded software from my computer.
(3) I installed Fedora 15 as my operating system.
Please inform me how you will refund the cost of the software. I note that the Windows 7 Home Premium license retails at $199, which means a total refund of $215.42 (after taxes) is due to me.
The same day, I got a reply from HP:
Code:
Firstly, I congratulate you on your notebook purchase. Thank you for choosing HP.

From your email, I understand that you do not agree to the terms of the Windows 7 End User License Agreement (EULA), and installed a Linux distribution on your system. You would like to have refund for the cost of the bundled software as you are not using it.

I am sure that I have understood your query completely, and assure you that I will do my best to provide the appropriate information to answer your query.

Alexandru, HP sells its notebooks with bundled software as a single complete product. Moreover, HP acquires bulk OEM Licensing for Windows Operating System from Microsoft. Hence, it is not possible to calculate stand alone refund value for the bundled software as you do with a retail version.

Since both the hardware and software is sold as single product, there is no option to have a refund on software alone.

I believe the above information helps.  If you need further assistance, please reply to this message and we will be happy to assist you further.

For information on keeping your HP and Compaq products up and running, please visit our website
at:
http://www.hp.com/go/totalcare

Have a great day, ahead.

Sincerely,

Bryan

HP Total Care
Notice how they used the word "bundle". This arument was easy to refute. I sent the following reply:
Code:
Bryan,

Thank you for your quick response.

I understand from your email that the software is "bundled" with the hardware. If
that is the case, then why did the software come with a separate license? The
Windows 7 EULA clearly states that I may choose to not accept the license, and
contact the vendor for a refund. The license is quite clear in this regard, and I
wish to exercise my right to return the operating system and just the operating
system.

You also stated that HP acquires bulk licensing from Microsoft. If the amount due
to me is less than the retail price of Windows 7 Home Premium of $199, please
provide me with a copy of the licensing agreement between HP and Microsoft.
I guess this was too much for the email support team to handle. The reply I got suggested that I may have to return the entire computer. Bryan also suggested that I call HP support about this issue.

This is his reply:
Code:
Hello Alexandru,

Thank you for writing back to HP Total Care.

Alexandru, my answer to your query is based on the information available with me as a HP representative. Please be informed that there are no options or plans available with HP to provide a refund for bundled Operating System. However, The HP Home & Home Office Store will accept returns and exchanges up to 21 days after delivery for most products.

The reason for Windows having a separate licensing is due to the fact the it is a software bundled by an Original Equipment Manufacturer with OEM licensing from Microsoft. I agree that the Windows 7 EULA states that you may choose to not accept the license, and contact the vendor for a refund. In that case, HP offers a refund for complete product within 21 days from the date of purchase, instead of a refund for the Operating System alone. Please be informed that OEM products are intended to be preinstalled on hardware before the end user purchases the product. An OEM operating system license (such as the license for Windows) cannot be transferred from its original PC to another PC.

If my response is not to your satisfaction, I recommend you to contact our phone support team for a one-to-one conversation on this issue.

You can contact our HP Customer Care at 1-800-hpinvent. (1-800-474-6836).

The idea of redirecting you is not to disappoint you and let you down from our support. We are bound by the limitations of email responses and I am sure our well trained staff at phone support will be happy to assist you further. I hope that you understand our limitations and scope of support through email channel.

For information on keeping your HP and Compaq products up and running, please visit our website
at:
http://www.hp.com/go/totalcare

Have a nice day.

Sincerely,

Bryan

HP Total Care
I called HP the same day. I explained to the representative everything that I had written in my first email, outlining that I do not agree to the EULA. The rep then asks to put me on hold while he discusses the situation with his supervisor.

After several minutes of hold time, the rep gets back on the line, and tells me that I cannot be refunded for the software and that I have voided my warranty by installing a different OS, and "changing the manufacturer's settings". I calmly explain that HP may not void my warranty for this reason, and cite the Sherman Antitrust Act, and how voiding my warranty, or forcing me to use a specific OS is seen as "tying" according to the law, and is thus illegal.

The representative suggests that I contact the store where I purchased the laptop. I explain that the EULA said I should contact the manufacturer, not the store. The representative then tells me that she can't help me, and that I am not entitled to a refund.

Seeing that this was leading nowhere, I ask to escalate the case. The rep puts me on hold for a very long time (10 to 15 minutes). After the long wait, she tells me that I cannot escalate the case. When I tell her that there are several documented cases where customers have received a refund from HP for the software, the representative says she will transfer me to "the department that is supposed to give you the refund".

The call ended up transferring to the HP store. The representative at the store seemed very irritated by my request, often raising her tone, and interrupting me as I was speaking, and even speaking over me. After explaining the situation, she tells me that she can only help me return the entire computer, and after much insistence on my part, she tells me to call technical support again and speak to a case manager.

Call #2

After the unpleasant conversation with the lady from the HP online store, I called technical support again. This time I was connected to an Indian-sounding representative, named Jabran.

I explain the situation to Jabran twice, after which, he tells me that I knew the computer came with Windows 7. Accordingly, I am not entitled to a refund. I explain that I was not informed of the Windows 7 EULA when I placed the order, and I ask to speak to a case manager. then Jabran, asks me to confirm every single detail of our conversation, and made sure that I wanted a refund for the software that came on my computer.

After holding for a few minutes, Jabran gets back on the line and tells me that the case will be escalated to a case manager. Then, he asks me to confirm my details, such as email, address, phone number, and puts me on hold. After a few more minutes, he gets back on the line, gives me a ticket number, and informs me that I will be contacted by a case manager within 48 hours. This was Friday at about 9 PM.

Monday afternoon, Aug 29 2011, I find two missed calls from HP (around 8:45PM on Sunday). I figured I will call HP when I got home. Home, I find an email from Marcus, my case manager, saying that several attempts have been made to contact me, and leaving me a phone number to get in touch with them.

I call that number, and end up speaking with a different case manager, as Marcus was out of the office. The case manager quickly verifies some details, and transfers me to the HP online store. The representative at the HP online store was a lady whose name I did not get, as she was extremely difficult to understand. She informed me that I am entitled to a refund of $20, and it will be credited to my credit card. I try to ask for a check, but she tells me that is not possible. I tried to negotiate the amount of the refund, but quickly realized this would be futile, as I could barely understand her.

So this is it. A $20 refund for not using Windows. After the refund goes through, I plan to follow up with HP, and verify that the amount is correct. If they can prove that $20 is what they actually paid for the Windows 7 Home Premium license, I will leave them alone. Otherwise, I will continue to ask for the remainder of the sum.

On a happier note, GNU/Linux runs surprisingly well on the laptop. The wireless didn't work with the stock Fedora kernel, but after plugging it into a wired connection, and upgrading to 2.6.40 (Fedora's way of saying 3.0), everything runs out of the box. I can even play Nexuiz on medium settings .

Last edited by Mr_Nuke; 08-29-2011 at 09:30 PM.
 
Old 08-29-2011, 09:34 PM   #2
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+1

very nice. I'll have to give this a shot next time I buy a computer.

Sounds to me like they were giving you the 20 dollars to make you quit calling, rather than as a refund for the OEM license.
 
Old 08-29-2011, 09:38 PM   #3
frankbell
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According to this Wikipedia article, your struggle is not atypical:

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikiped...Windows_refund

You might want to look at some of the amounts of the refunds and follow the citiations to verify the narrative.
 
Old 08-29-2011, 10:06 PM   #4
snowpine
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I agree with Bryan at HP; you bought the computer as a bundle knowing that bundle included Windows pre-installed. It was nice of them to give you $20.

Yes the EULA stipulates "you may contact the vendor for a refund" however the vendor is within their right to state "the refund is $20" or even "the refund is zero," and your assumption that HP owes you $199 is absurd.
 
Old 08-29-2011, 11:22 PM   #5
Mr_Nuke
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Registered: Feb 2009
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Original Poster
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
I agree with Bryan at HP; you bought the computer as a bundle knowing that bundle included Windows pre-installed. It was nice of them to give you $20.

Yes the EULA stipulates "you may contact the vendor for a refund" however the vendor is within their right to state "the refund is $20" or even "the refund is zero," and your assumption that HP owes you $199 is absurd.
I appreciate your opinion, but please take no offense when I say it is short-sighted. The problem here is not that I purchased a bundle and started whining about wanting a refund for part of the bundle; it is that I did not have the choice of buying the constituent parts of the bundle separately. AKA, I did not have the option of buying the laptop, or a similar laptop without an operating system. I was thus forced to also pay for a product I did not want.

There are consumer protection laws agains that. The legislation is quite clear.
 
Old 08-30-2011, 12:01 AM   #6
snowpine
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No, you were not "forced" to buy Windows. There are many fine vendors who sell computers with Linux preinstalled, or Mac OS, or even "barebones" systems with no OS at all. You chose to buy the HP with Windows. HP did not deceive or coerce you into making this purchase.

The "Windows Tax" is a myth. If you comparison-shop Windows, Mac, and Linux computers with similar hardware specs, I think you'll find the Windows computer is the cheapest of the three more often than not.

In fact I'm going to go out on a limb and speculate that you already know this. You shopped around for Linux laptops at System 76, Zareason, Dell, etc. and ultimately chose the HP with Windows pre-installed because HP offered the best price for your desired hardware specs. Am I wrong?

Anyway reading over your conversation with HP, they were polite and helpful in my opinion. $20 is a good compromise; perhaps you will donate it to the open source project of your choice?
 
Old 08-30-2011, 12:28 AM   #7
Mr_Nuke
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What I shopped for was a laptop with an AMD E-350 fusion processor, and LED backlit screen no larger than 12". Not to mention that when I bought my EEEPC almost four years ago, I chose the linux version. Did I really choose this HP to whine?

I believe that an idea through code is worth more than any donation. My donations are made of code, not money.
 
Old 08-30-2011, 01:07 AM   #8
snowpine
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A quick Google search and I didn't find anyone selling that particular hardware config with Linux pre-installed. So I am willing to concede that point.

Anyway I am not trying to give you a hard time or say you did anything wrong. I'm as big a Linux fan as anyone, and I know full well that Microsoft's business practices have been challenged at various times in various countries. Perhaps you will get your $199 after all if you pursue (or even just threaten) legal recourse?

Nevertheless I am supportive of HP as well. Choosing Windows as their pre-installed operating system is the obvious business decision due to MS's overwhelming market share. Their communication with you was polite (with the one exception of the mean lady!) and transparent as far as I can see. Having worked customer support in the past, I can assure you these people follow scripts and must work within the framework of company policies. "If you are not satisfied with your HP purchase, you may return it for a full refund" is a reasonable and accommodating policy in my opinion.

Ending on a positive note, AMD fusion is new to me, I am doing some quick reading and it sounds pretty slick (I'm typing this from an older Atom, ugh). Good luck with it!
 
Old 08-30-2011, 02:06 AM   #9
AnanthaP
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Quote:
This time I was connected to an Indian-sounding representative, named Jabran.
Huh? What is Indian sounding?

How id you find it out?

OK?
 
Old 08-30-2011, 09:13 AM   #10
cascade9
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I dont think you'll get anywhere near the retail value, and I honestly believe that the cost of windows to the OEMs is in around $20-40.

I also dont think you would ever get HP to 'prove' how much windows costs to them, that sort of information is very valuable. More valuable than the cost of a small fleet of lawyers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
The "Windows Tax" is a myth. If you comparison-shop Windows, Mac, and Linux computers with similar hardware specs, I think you'll find the Windows computer is the cheapest of the three more often than not.

In fact I'm going to go out on a limb and speculate that you already know this. You shopped around for Linux laptops at System 76, Zareason, Dell, etc. and ultimately chose the HP with Windows pre-installed because HP offered the best price for your desired hardware specs. Am I wrong?
I disagree, IMO there is a 'windows tax', but its nowhere near the amount that some people seem to think it is.

Comparing 'linux' hardware normally means looking at specalist retailers, like System76 (etc). They wont be getting OS-free laptops any cheaper than other companies, if they can get them at all (the manufacturer could have signed a 'windows only, installed from the factory' deal).

If the cost of windows (to major retailers/manufacturers) is only in the order of $20-40, its not hard to see where the higher cost per unit to small outfits like system76 could be higher than cost of windows to the big companies.
 
Old 08-30-2011, 11:36 AM   #11
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I admire your persistence, I doubt I would have negotiated so much for that $20. Windows 7 Home Premium is at least $70 anyway.

I always build desktop PCs myself from parts so that I avoid Window$ completely. For note/netbooks (which I recently bought) I get one with Linux if possible or with Window$ 7 Starter.
 
  


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