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Dell Refunds Vista/Works With Two Emails 277

Posted by kdawson
from the try-this-at-home dept.
look@thealternative.ch writes "Although many people have asked for pre-installed Linux, and Dell seems to have listened, some still think that buying a naked PC won't be easy. But what about stripping it naked after you buy it? I managed to get Windows Vista (and a bit more) refunded from Dell Germany last week. The process was surprisingly simple: 1) After delivery, ask Dell Support for refund by email. 2) ??? 3) Refund!!! Read the full email conversation in the original German or my English translation. For the impatient reader: The refund is €77.54 for Windows Vista Home Basic plus Works 8.0 (that is 15% of the total amount I paid). The whole process took 2 emails, 2 more to say thank you, and less than 48 hours. The money is already in my account. Kudos to Dell Customer Care (esp. 'Veronika') for being efficient and customer-oriented!"
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Dell Refunds Vista/Works With Two Emails

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  • by Saint Stephen (19450) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:02PM (#18481223) Homepage Journal
    Isn't it wonderful when the hot/nice telephone operator helps you out with your "problem" in an efficient manner. It's like this little relationship you're having you where she's completely at your service there making your life so so so wonderful.

    But then she goes and does it with the next guy too. Dirty girl.
  • Great ! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BESTouff (531293) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:05PM (#18481239)
    77 for Vista OEM is acceptable. Now, make that not an accident but a regular refund, and explain hos to do it elsewhere than in Germany, and I'm sold.
    • by packeteer (566398)
      Ask dell to do it here too. Politely tell them that you like their policy in Germany and you want them to do it here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      > 77 for Vista OEM


      not quite, EUR 42.29 for Vista Home Basic, EUR 35.24 for Works 8.0. Google says, 77,53 Euros = 103,262207 U.S. dollars.

      • Re:Great ! (Score:5, Funny)

        by Chris Mattern (191822) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:32PM (#18481421)
        103,262,207 US dollars? Wow, everything *is* more expensive in Europe!

        Chris Mattern
        • tehe, yeah either that or the inflation in the US really *is* getting out of hand!
    • Step zero is to buy from Dell in Europe, not in USA. European consumer protection is far better than in USA.
  • by biocute (936687) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:08PM (#18481263) Homepage
    Dear Vista Hater,

    As you do not want the Windows Vista operating system, we will refund you the purchase price you paid for it (ca. 42.29 Euro gross). I would like to ask you to send me your bank details that I can mark the payment in our system. I need:
    your name:
    bank name:
    city (of bank):
    bank code:
    account no:
    The money should be paid back within one week.

    Yours Sinfully,
    Ajabaili Sakilikulu
  • I hated dell... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by catbutt (469582) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:08PM (#18481267)
    back in the day, after buying two computers from them and having generally bad support experiences.

    This makes me want to give them another chance.
    • Essentially having a customer remove the supported OS wipes them of all support responsibilities. Even gross hardware failures will probably be blamed on the new OS (likely Linux). Imagine your call to Dell Support because your optical drive blew up:

      Dell: How can we help you?
      Mr. Vista Free: My DVD burner exploded.
      Dell: Right-click on the DVD drive and click "Properties".
      Mr. Vista Free: I'm using Ubuntu.
      Dell: Right-click on the icon please.
      Mr. Vista Free: My friggin DVD drive exploded!
      Dell: Please download t

    • Re:I hated dell... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Eskarel (565631) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @09:57PM (#18483151)
      Dell gets a lot of flack, but in my experience they're usually the best of a bad lot. If you are an average user and you want an affordable pre-built PC which you can get support for, it's about your best bet.

      The first dimensions sucked, but they've gotten better, and they even seem to have worked through the problems they were having with their business models(the Optiplex 270's and 280's were pretty shocking, the 260's were ok though and the 520's are reasonable). I'd personally never buy one, but that's because building the PC is half the fun of buying one for me.

      As for their support experience, yes you'll end up talking to someone from Southeast Asia(Dell left India some time ago) who barely speaks English, and yes they will be working really hard not to send the technician out to see you(assuming you have on-site support in the first place), but if you are sufficiently obnoxious and forceful(I hate doing it, but when I was working in support I just got tired of playing the game), they'll do what you want them to do and fix your problem. HP's support on any of their consumer grade products is much worse, at least it is over here.

      When people ask me what computer to buy, I generally recommend Dell simply because their products are as good as most, they're prices are reasonable, and they'll be around in 5 years. I don't build PC's for people because I don't support home PC's, so Dell is as good a solution as any.

  • Automation (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NekoXP (67564) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:08PM (#18481275) Homepage
    I wonder if they could automate the process the same way you track the shipment of your PC.

    Enter your order ID. Enter your Vista key.. and then a refund is processed. The Vista key could be submitted to Microsoft such that it no longer authenticates copies of Vista on Dell PC's (XP/Vista activation and WGA knows the difference somehow, somewhere) and Dell can have the money sent to the user without tying up their customer support line.

    Microsoft might be concerned that they don't get their money for this, but then again it would be against the law for them to do anything like force Dell not to do it, or insist that users do not get a refund anyway (the EU would have a field day and think up some higher billion dollar amounts for fines).

    I bet it costs more to process it through 'Veronika' than clicking a website button would.

    The uptake on this? I dunno. Maybe a lot of people would use it.. but a far higher number would not give a crap and carry on running Vista. I think shipping a naked/bare PC is extremely user-unfriendly and it also gives Dell a burn-in-test nightmare (how do you burn in a laptop which is supposed to have never had an OS installed on it? Do you then perform a military-grade disk wipe after you put the burn-in software on there? I dunno..). Putting the most popular, most needed for most people OS on the system (Vista I guess) is an okay thing to do. But I do think if you don't actually want Vista, you should be able to go through and click the Refund button..
    • by houghi (78078)
      The burn-in softwarere gets deleted. So why not delete the rest as well?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zappepcs (820751)
      I recently bought a Dell SR2030, mostly because the price it was selling at was more than 25% cheaper than I could buy the hardware. To me, that is a deal. It also came with Windows XP on it. I swapped that hard drive out with a 300GB SATA drive and installed Linux before the sales ticket cooled off.

      I kept the Windows HD as sold because I can't get any money for it, and it might, read *might*, come in handy some day. Not that I'm counting on it, but hey, whatever. If I could go to the website and get the re
      • by zappepcs (820751)
        Yes, replying to yourself is bad form... shrug

        I just put this together. In my case, perhaps many others, MS has indeed, if not on purpose, recieved payment for what amounts to me getting Windows XP for free! There is something that is simply not right about that, not right on any level. At first glance, it appears that MS is paying Dell to give me XP. That can't be right. According to this story, if I voice my desire nicely I might get back %15 of the value of the Windows that I didn't actually pay for? OR,
        • by Rix (54095)
          All those little demos and advertisements pay into Dell. So, yes, Dell is being paid to load windows.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MindStalker (22827)
      No need to wipe the Vista install anyways. Vista is now perfectly legal to install on ANY machine without a license. It sets up an automatic trial installation and you can then purchase the license before the trial is over. So installing Vista on new hardware for burn in testing even if the customer isn't going to buy Vista is not a problem.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nine-times (778537)

      Or, if you don't want Windows, buy an N-series desktop or laptop [dell.com]. People keep complaining that you can't buy a naked PC from Dell, but there it is.

      Now, whether it's much cheaper (or even cheaper at all) to buy a naked PC than the same PC with Windows is a different issue. I've heard plenty of speculation that, with the discounts Microsoft gives Dell and the money crapware vendors pay Dell to install their stuff, installing Windows on a machine costs Dell pretty close to nothing. I don't really know. I

      • by shaitand (626655)
        'Or, if you don't want Windows, buy an N-series desktop or laptop. People keep complaining that you can't buy a naked PC from Dell, but there it is.'

        Yes, but people don't want to have to buy an N-series. They want to be able to pick ANY computer from the Dell site and buy it with that $40 taken off. Most of the refunds I have heard about are $40ish so I assume that is what Dell pays for the license. Whatever time they save preparing a windows image and imaging the drive that goes into the system is probably
        • Right now Dell forces you to buy a premium system, usually with some extra markup and the title 'workstation' or 'server' to get Linux or No OS. We want to be able to buy Grandma the same $299 special, minus $40 because we don't want Vista and load Ubuntu on it.

          What I bought was the same Dimension C521 without Windows, saving $40. Not $299, but the cheapest I could find on the Dell website.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BruceCage (882117)

      Microsoft might be concerned that they don't get their money for this, but then again it would be against the law for them to do anything like force Dell not to do it, or insist that users do not get a refund anyway (the EU would have a field day and think up some higher billion dollar amounts for fines).

      Actually the reason you're able to refund your copy of Microsoft Windows is because of Microsoft itself.

      The background story. Back in 1999 some members from the SVLUG and also a Slashdot editor (Chris DiBon

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by shaitand (626655)
      If you are running a burn in suite that runs on top of windows it is useless anyway. For instance, how could you test RAM with something like Vista loaded and preventing access to a couple gigs?

      Good burn in suites are run from trimmed linux boots or DOS/DR-DOS/custom os/etc. As a rule they are loaded from a boot disk and never installed onto the hard drive.

      The biggest assumption in your post is that Dell runs a burn-in diagnostic. This is probably not likely.

      I'm not sure how Dell does things on their assemb
    • by Tim C (15259)
      I bet it costs more to process it through 'Veronika' than clicking a website button would.

      You're thinking long-term though. Setting up the automated process costs a damn sight more to do now than even a large number of refunds processed through customer services costs; you'll never make management with that kind of thinking!

      On a more serious note, though, if the cost to set up the automated process is great enough, you won't save any money anyway, as only a tiny minority of customers are going to be claimin
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mpcooke3 (306161)
      Microsoft might be concerned that they don't get their money for this, but then again it would be against the law for them to do anything like force Dell not to do it

      All they have to do is decrease the discount they give dell on OEM copies of Windows to bring them back into line. They can give any number of reasons for doing this because the agreement would be confidential. This is already how they get Dell to "Recommend Windows".
  • Sounds good (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cdrdude (904978) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:09PM (#18481277) Journal
    That sounds nice an all, but it's in Germany. How about other places? Is German Dell an anomaly here?
  • Finally Uh? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:13PM (#18481311)
    For almost 10 years, the lock on OSes to hardware with companies like Dell has not been mandated by MS, and finally we see one of these companies stepping up to the plate and doing the right things.

    The Windows and or OSes tied to hardware are for pure support cost reasons at this point with companies like Dell/HP/etc.

    Even prior to the dissolving of MS only contracts, any hardware company had the choice to not buy into an exclusive package from MS and pay the $5/10 bucks more per copy. And even though MS took the flack for this, it was not an uncommon model in the software/OEM industry and it was also something that the greed of OEMs were eager to take advantage of to the loss of their customers.

    I was part of a fairly large OEM company during this timeframe, and we chose not to save the $5 a copy on OEM Windows, and still maintained a great relationship with MS even still we sold naked and *nix preloaded on many systems.

    Sure we could have signed a bundling deal, just like we were offered by Corel and even IBM in the early years for OS/2, however saving a couple of $$ per Windows system was less important than providing our customers what they wanted.

    So Kudos to Dell for finally stepping up and taking responsibility for the product they are selling...
  • The best part (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wes33 (698200) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:15PM (#18481321)
    So far as I can see, the guy could take the money and still be using vista. At least, I don't see anywhere any verification of the non-use was requested. so how does this work? what's to stop someone lying to Dell and getting 77 bucks
    • ...trust. For now, anyways.
    • Dell has a record of the License code they gave to you. Hopefully they deactivated the license. I wouldn't be surprised if Dell machines connected to Dell itself for the license server, though I don't know if this is true.

      On Vista for corperate installs, you now have to install a Microsoft provided license server on one machine (your domain controller most likely) your individual machines then connect to that server for verification.
      • by imemyself (757318)
        You don't have to install the Key Management Server. That's one of the two options for VLK licenses with Vista, but you can also have it activate with MS's servers.
    • by StormReaver (59959) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @06:07PM (#18481669)
      "what's to stop someone lying to Dell and getting 77 bucks"

      Dell: Hi, this is Dell technical support. How may I help you?"
      Customer: Uh, I want a refund for Vista since I'm not using it.
      Dell: Okay, I just need you to answer one randomly selected question. What does "ls -l" do?
      Customer: It displays a long directory listing.
      Dell: Your refund check is on the way.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tim C (15259)
      If you haven't activated Vista yet, I assume that it will no longer be possible to do so (and so the most you could use it for is about 120 days with registry hacking). If you have activated it, I imagine that WGA (or similar) will kill it soon enough.

      (Oh, and it was €77, so more like $100 or so)
    • So far as I can see, the guy could take the money and still be using vista.

      Dude, don't you know that you don't get the Wow if Vista is not Genuine? [theregister.co.uk] Where have you been?

      Another way to look at it is as Saint Heinlein did [wikiquote.org], "Stupidity cannot be cured with money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can't help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and withou

  • Style. (Score:4, Funny)

    by jez9999 (618189) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:15PM (#18481323) Homepage Journal
    some still think that buying a naked PC won't be easy. But what about stripping it naked after you buy it?

    Doing things that way always gets me waaay more in the mood. Gotta do it slowly though.
  • by hugorxufl (1071598) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:18PM (#18481347)
    Since IANAL, do any of you know of differences in consumer laws/regulations that may have made it easier for the German or European customer? Previous slashdot stories suggested that a Windows refund have been a mess for US customers in the past.
  • by biocute (936687) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:21PM (#18481359) Homepage
    Maybe charge PC vendors a "Gates" fee that is equivalent to 99% of the revenue of the OS, then charge $1 per Vista copy. So Dell can only refund $1 to the customer, but still pays about the same amount of what it would have sold in a year (assuming all PCs pre-installed with Windows).
    • by AusIV (950840)
      From some other cases of people trying to get refunds on XP I've read, vendors will often try to refund the customer something on the order of $10, claiming that's all it's worth. I don't know what the basis for that claim is, but I've heard it's a common way out of refunding customers for their Windows purchase.

      This page [linux.com] details some experiences of returning XP to dell.

      Personally, I've built my desktops much cheaper than I could buy them with Windows, and I bought my last laptop from System76.com [system76.com], which

      • by zoward (188110)
        From some other cases of people trying to get refunds on XP I've read, vendors will often try to refund the customer something on the order of $10, claiming that's all it's worth.

        Then I would request that they send me ten licenses for XP and I'll pay $100 for them.

      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        I would just get the Vista refund for the principal if nothing else. Even if the refund was only $0.01 I would still get it if I wasn't using windows. Just to show Dell and MS that I infact wasn't using the software.
    • by Shados (741919)
      As long as they dont use it as an excuse to escape taxes one way or another, and its done "by the book", the OEM can refund you whatever the hell they want to refund you, since they can just write it off as custom retention fee or something along those lines. How much they paid for Vista, how much they refund you...thats all up to customer service.
  • by jimicus (737525) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:45PM (#18481505)
    Note the following line:

    Vista did not manage to recover from the aborted install process the previous day and got lost in an infinite loop of reboots. (I wonder what people do with a power outage during install as there was no such thing as a Vista-CD delivered...)

    And I've noticed that some OEMs aren't setting up a "recovery" partition (basically, a second partition which can be booted directly from the BIOS which reinstalls the OS) any more. Not good at all. Heck, I took delivery of a PC only last week where there was no hardware fault from the factory, but there was something wrong with the OEM Windows install and it was stuck in a reboot loop. Didn't bother me as we've got a Windows site license so I could rebuild from our own media anyway, but that's not really the point.
  • by jpellino (202698) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:46PM (#18481511)
    That was EU77.00 for Vista and 00.54 for Works.

    Sounds about right.

  • by mark99 (459508) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @05:51PM (#18481547) Journal
    So how do they know you really formatted it, and aren't using Vista Home.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      So how do they know you really formatted it, and aren't using Vista Home.
      When it phones home to Microsoft...
  • I'm impressed to hear you got the crud Works refunded too. I didn't realise that was possible. I bet if more knew/could be bothered Dell and the like would be issuing loads of refunds. I bet less than 10% of users ever use Works.
  • I asked dell customer support 4 years ago if I could get it cheaper b/c I don't use windows. They said yes. It was like EUR 80 for xp home. So to be sure ask before you buy. I ended up not buying the notebook. But a friend did it.

    Dell has always handled that in a pro customer way. If they just would make windows an option in their webinterface, I don't mind if it's selected, but it should be de-selectable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      The Firefox Web Developer Extension has an option to uncheck all radio buttons. I wonder what happens if you click that on dell's site. I Run off to dell.ca. I am amazed they sell vista desktops with 512 MB of Ram. Well, even if you uncheck all the radio buttons, it still thinks you chose windows vista. It doesn't even report any errors. I think i'm going to email dell and tell them about the bug.
  • by Ignatius (6850) on Sunday March 25, 2007 @07:44PM (#18482277)
    ... but here in Austria you can order Dell Workstations with Linux (RedHat) preinstalled. Also, about a year ago, I ordered a Dell Precision 380 workstation without a preinstalled OS (It came with a FreeDos partition containing drivers and docs IIRC). YMMV
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by baileydau (1037622)
      Here in Australia, same thing.

      My work PC is a Precision 380 that came with "no OS" which translates to FreeDos.

      Actually I'm using it right now (running SUSE 10.2)

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