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Lenovo Requires NDA For Windows License Refund 321

Posted by timothy
from the deserves-a-raise dept.
tykev writes "A customer wanted to return the license for preinstalled Windows Vista Business that came with his Lenovo laptop. After some lengthy negotiations with representatives of Lenovo's technical support and management, he was offered financial compensation for returning the license in the amount of CZK 1950 (USD 130, EUR 78), pending his acceptance of a non-disclosure agreement that would cover the entire negotiations with the company and its results. He declined and published his experiences on a Czech Linux website. The website editors decided to reward the customer for publishing the article by paying him an author's royalty in the same amount as was the offered compensation for returning the license."
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Lenovo Requires NDA For Windows License Refund

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:38PM (#24782857)
    Vista is pants
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:42PM (#24782913)

      no it's not

      • by Millennium (2451) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:54PM (#24783091) Homepage

        Linux is better

        (This post is a violation of your bank's terms of service. Please choose another post instead.)

        • by davidsyes (765062) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @05:31PM (#24785443) Homepage Journal

          http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/shropshire/7585098.stm [bbc.co.uk]

          "A man who chose "Lloyds is pants" as his telephone banking password said he found it had been changed by a member of staff to "no it's not"."

          ""But what really incensed me was when I was told I could not change it back to 'Lloyds is pants' because they said it was not appropriate.

          "I asked if it was 'pants' they didn't like, and would 'Lloyds is rubbish' do? But they didn't think so.

          "So I tried 'Barclays is better' and that didn't go down too well either.

          "The rules seemed to change, and they told me it had to be one word, so I tried 'censorship', but they didn't like that, and then said it had to be no more than six letters long." "

          ----

          So, this is my position/question:

          Why the HELL was a low-level functionary employee able to "see" the true password of a customer? The frackin password should have been a reduced or hashed form so that even if an IT person can copy and paste it in a local system, they could not know the contents and be able to type it in at a point of sales station or an ATM, or on any sites that reject copy-paste-in passwords...

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by againjj (1132651)

          censorship

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That is a gross affront to the dignity and proud service of pants in covering up our naughty bits everywhere.

    • by Abreu (173023)

      Not another meme, please!

      We already have to keep track of too many of them

  • by HetMes (1074585) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:39PM (#24782869)
    ...which didn't even seem that implausible at the time.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If he's from Czech does he have a mate?
  • by MosesJones (55544) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:40PM (#24782887) Homepage

    So now we know the minimum we should accept. Time to start negotiating upwards to see what other numbers can be achieved.

    That is probably the most effective way to start companies shipping hardware only or Linux pre-installed as the negotiation process will cost money. If 1,000 people went through this process with Lenovo (or Dell, or HP, etc) then we would probably see more progress than 5 years of bitching has managed to achieve.

    Kudos to the guy

    • by maxume (22995)

      If people violate the NDA or regularly turn down the NDA, they will simply stop offering any money under an NDA.

      The amount paid without an NDA is almost certain to be smaller.

      • by MosesJones (55544) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:57PM (#24783129) Homepage

        Or they'd publish a fixed price which means you could cost it out. Which after all is what we all want isn't it?

        • by initdeep (1073290)

          no.
          most people simply don't care.
          i realize that thought is blasphemous on /., but then again, /. isn't the real world either.

          • by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:13PM (#24783347) Homepage Journal

            Really? I think most people would want their $130 USD back if they knew they qualified for it. It's not a lot of money, but it's not a trifle, either.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              I tried to order my laptop without XP (since I had like six legal XP Pro licenses sitting around) but I didn't have any luck. The thick-accented Dell rep ("Michael" or somesuch, I'm sure) could not understand why I'd want to order a laptop with no OS, no matter how I explained it. I finally gave up... I guess I should have tried for a refund after the fact.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by maxume (22995)

          My point is that the $130 is almost certainly the maximum for the fixed price, not the minimum.

          It isn't even all that likely that they will make a similarly sized offer under an NDA, as that ship has sailed.

        • by Locutus (9039)

          my itemized invoice for a laptop a number of years ago showed Windows XP SP3 Home at $5. I was going to ask to return license til I saw the invoice. And Windows Starter Edition didn't exist yet so where they got the $5 I don't know. It wasn't worth the hassle for so little.

          So they could probably make up a price, claim some expenses for the whole refund thing or something and make it seem like small change. the little people aren't going to have the legal backing to go after them anyways.

          It will still be ver

    • by mpapet (761907) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:59PM (#24783155) Homepage

      Before anyone goes blathering on about "ufair" this and "innacurate" that, follow my test.

      1. Visit Dell.com on two different browser tabs.
      2. Tab #1 starts here.http://www.dell.com/content/topics/segtopic.aspx/linux_3x?c=us&cs=19&l=en&s=dhs
      3. Tab #2 starts here. http://www.dell.com/content/products/productdetails.aspx/xpsnb_m1330?c=us&l=en&s=dhs&cs=19 [dell.com]
      4. Configure the Vista product with the ultimate version. That is roughly feature equivalent to Ubuntu.
      5. Pay attention to the hardware options because the Linux product has fewer and generally more storage/RAM.
      6. At the end, you should have a spread of about $349.

      So, Vista costs the consumer $349 OEM through the consumer URL.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by igrutje (171410)

      Last week I got a refund of 83,30 euro's from Dell for Vista Home Premium Dutch and MS Works 9.0 (in the Netherlands we still can not buy Ubuntu laptops from dell).
      After I got in contact with the right guy it was quite a smooth process.

  • Can of the /. faithful translate the published account into English or point us to a link of an existing translation?

    Thanks

  • by Timesprout (579035) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:42PM (#24782921)
    I especially liked this bit

    Sleny operátorky na lince Lenovo byly velice milé. Po vyslechnutí mého poadavku m chtly odmítnout, ale poté, co jsem odcitoval píslunou ást licence, si vyádaly pár dní na zjitní aktuálního stavu od vedení firmy. Tím jsem se viditeln dostal o úrove vý, nebo nyní následovalo kolo telefonních rozhovor.

    I dont know what it means but I like it. I think.
    • by gardyloo (512791) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:44PM (#24782947)

      That was my favorite part, too. It started off kind of slowly, but the ending was great. Maybe Stephenson could learn to write in Czech.

    • by Tony Hoyle (11698) <tmh@nodomain.org> on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:46PM (#24782987) Homepage

      Hmm.. "Sleny operators on the line Lenovo was very beautiful. After hearing my requirement m chtly refused, but after I odcitoval píslunou part of the licence, the vyádaly few days to zjitní current state of company management. Thus I got the viditeln level amount, or now, followed by round of telephone interview."

      Still don't know what it means, but I agree with you.

      • Thus I got the viditeln level amount, or now, followed by round of telephone interview.

        Still don't know what it means, but I agree with you.

        I know, I get these emails all the time, he's trying to sell you RiT@1iN. It's obviously a fraud though, he doesn't even spell it right.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:11PM (#24783331)

        "The operator girls on the Lenovo phone line were very nice. After hearing my request they wanted to reject, but after I cited them the respective part of the licence, they asked for few days to find out the current state from the company management. Obviously I got with that one level higher, as next round of phone talks started"

    • Google's Translation is even more entertaining: Sleny operators on the line Lenovo was very beautiful. After hearing my requirement m chtly refused, but after I odcitoval pÃslunou part of the licence, the vyÃdaly few days to zjitnà current state of company management. Thus I got the viditeln level amount, or now, followed by round of telephone interview.
    • by cptdondo (59460)

      The young ladies answering the phones were very polite and kind (also can mean beautiful, pleaseant, friendly, all the things you want a young lady to be.)

      After they listened to my request they wanted to turn me down, but when I quoted the appropriate part of the license they asked for a couple of days to get the exact status from company management.

      I had apparently a high enough level (of being annoying? Persistent?) as several rounds of telephonce calls resulted.

      Doesn't quite translate but Czech and Engli

  • by coats (1068) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:48PM (#24783007) Homepage
    The EULA doesn't specify that an NDA is required for a refund, so Lenovo is trying to change the rules of the game in a way contrary to (US-style, anyway) contract law. Lenovo's action is unconscionable (and should be actionable, for that matter).

    There go Lenovo's chances on my next laptop purchase.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why the hell is a NDA agreement required anyway? This is for a refund on a specific part of the total price. The price of Vista. Requiring a NDA for this is stupid unless you're trying to give as little away as possible - but wouldn't/shouldn't that be illegal? :P The cost of Windows on it is not subjective, it's concrete.

      If it were me, and they attempted to hit me with a NDA prior to the process, I'd take them to court. Any NDA they have with microsoft is between them and microsoft. I should not be for

      • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:24PM (#24783477) Journal

        Why the hell is a NDA agreement required anyway? This is for a refund on a specific part of the total price. The price of Vista. Requiring a NDA for this is stupid unless you're trying to give as little away as possible - but wouldn't/shouldn't that be illegal? :P The cost of Windows on it is not subjective, it's concrete.

        I think you'll find the price of vista varies quite a bit depending on who you are. A large OEM like lenovo is going to pay less than the average joe buying a box off the shelf. If you're, say, a public school system who's put some thought into switching to linux, you'll probably pay even less.

      • by Locutus (9039)

        well, you hit the nail on the head. It is all about Microsoft or Lenovo protecting Microsoft because they have an NDA with Microsoft. Unlike the laptop hardware or other software where the price is listed and itemized, Microsoft does not want you to know what is really getting paid for the Windows right-to-use license.

        Did you notice that since Windows Starter Edition a few years ago, Microsoft is willing to go to $5 for Windows when going up against Linux? The pulled Windows XP out of its grave, crippled it

    • by initdeep (1073290)

      The EULA also doesn't grant you the RIGHT to a refund from an OEM.

      • The EULA also doesn't grant you the RIGHT to a refund from an OEM.

        As much as I want to disagree with you, I'm afraid you're right.

        In theory, you have by law the RIGHT for a refund, because in the first place you DON'T accept the terms of the EULA. Therefore, there's no agreement and you have NOT purchased the software in the first place.

        But then again, nobody forced you to buy a Lenovo laptop if in the article purchase order it says "with Windows Vista". You bought it, you're screwed.

        It's up to the Courts to decide the legality of forcing a software on you whenever you bu

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by cawpin (875453)
        No, but the OEM's agreement with MS does. MS has confirmed multiple times that customers are eligible for a refund of the cost of Windows if they aren't going to use it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TheRealJobe (1125771)
      The EULA does not specify it is not. Lenovo, as would any reasonable business, saw this as a legal transaction with an unfamiliar party. Asking them to sign an NDA is not unreasonable. The customer could have done a simple web search and found that people have had a higher success rate going straight to MS. As I did, and found it to be a relatively simple process.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by aztektum (170569)

      Instead of going through Lenovo, I filed a complaint with my state's AG office. I wasn't lookin' for a refund, rather physical media in case the hard drive were to fail and I could no longer use the "restore partition."

      Couple weeks after my complaint is filed, I get an e-mail from Lenovo asking for my model/serial number so they can send me a disk. BUT I bought an IdeaPad which they don't have disks for.

      I was like "What the? Party foul." and now they're letting me return the IdeaPad sans restock fee so I ca

  • Stupid Lenovo... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bennomatic (691188) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:49PM (#24783023) Homepage
    ...Everyone knows you make them sign the agreement *before* making an offer!
  • The real question: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:55PM (#24783105) Journal
    Where does the desire for the NDA come from and why?

    Is it Lenovo? If so, is it some sort of routine ass-covering procedure that doesn't make all that much sense? Or is it something that applies to all "there is a not too well known way to get some money from us, we'll do it; but don't popularize it" situations?

    Is it Microsoft? They have been historically tight lipped about their OEM agreements and prices, are they attempting to discourage indirect indicators like this one?
  • by krgallagher (743575) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @02:56PM (#24783117) Homepage
    [disclaimer]I love the Czech. I have family there and have been to the Czech Republic a couple of time.[/disclaimer]

    I wonder why on a Czech web portal, that one news article was in English. I did a little looking around trying to see if I could find any other pages in English but that was the only one. It was also the only one that had a /. submit script on it. Even the Czech version [abclinuxu.cz] of the story did not have the script.

  • Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bogtha (906264) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:02PM (#24783201)

    The website editors decided to reward the customer for publishing the article by paying him an author's royalty in the same amount as was the offered compensation for returning the license.

    Meanwhile, Microsoft still got paid for a product that was completely unwanted and unused. This is a great example of the Microsoft Tax in action. Even when their new operating system is a disaster and people refuse to use it, they still get paid, purely on the basis of their market position. This is the kind of reason why Microsoft should be subject to antitrust laws. Normal market forces just don't apply to them.

    • Re:Big deal (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TeXMaster (593524) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:20PM (#24783417)
      And this is the reason why we have to keep forcing OEMs to refund: if they have to keep paying twice (Microsoft *and* the customer) they'll be pushed into understanding that giving the choice to the customer to only pay for hardware is the best solution in the long run.
    • Re:Big deal (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:22PM (#24783447)

      And then what? Microsoft just can't be stopped short of using actual force, military, police, or otherwise. They have too much money to give a damn about any fine short of forcing them to pay off the national debt and they're too big for the govt to just say "Nope, you can't see shit anymore".

      The only real way to get at them I think would be to offer the equivalent of modern day letters of marque against microsoft and tell everyone "Pirate their shit".

    • I actually like Vista on my OS. But what I don't like is that it comes bundled with a TCP/IP stack. Since I have my own, I'd prefer that they give me a partial refund for that part.
  • Czech? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sporkinum (655143) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:29PM (#24783539)

    The website editors decided to reward the customer for publishing the article by paying him an author's royalty in the same amount as was the offered compensation for returning the license."

    Lenovo tried to cancel the Czech. Did the editors pay the Czech with a check? I guess I should TRFM and Czech it out.

  • So, open source business model actually works.

    Good on them.

  • by PsyQ (87838) on Thursday August 28, 2008 @03:59PM (#24783969) Homepage

    To my company, the best Lenovo could manage was a "If you bulk purchase 100 laptops of the same type we can negotiate downgrading them to Vista Home, but we will not refund the license.", after about a dozen e-mails.

    Dell, on the other hand, refunds licenses after just two minutes on the phone.

    Disclaimer: I've been trying to purchase brand-name laptops without an operating system for more than eight years now. Recently I've signed up as reseller for several big laptop manufacturers, who will remain anonymous. It's still impossible to get even a single one of them to accept the EULA and refund licenses to my customers. Also, the EULA says that my company would have to refund my customer, but none of the manufacturers so far gave me a way to get my money back from them. So if you're wondering why every store tells you that refunds don't exist, this might be it.

    If you want to sell brand-name stuff without OS, the only choice you have is to contact another reseller who is a key account with the big guys. These resellers can sometimes get you built-to-order machines. Those, on the other hand, are often more expensive than a similar stock machine WITH Vista Pro, so if you think your customers are saving any money there, think again. All you get is the added inconvenience of waiting for the BTO.

    If the manufacturers would at least honor the EULA, I could buy those machines with Windows and return the licenses myself, passing the savings on the customer. Since they don't, I can't even do that.

    • If the manufacturers would at least honor the EULA, I could buy those machines with Windows and return the licenses myself, passing the savings on the customer. Since they don't, I can't even do that.

      There really ought to be a lawsuit in here somewhere. A big juicy class action one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by joostje (126457)

      These resellers can sometimes get you built-to-order machines. Those, on the other hand, are often more expensive than a similar stock machine WITH Vista Pro

      Noticed the same in The Netherlands. When on holiday in Bulgaria, I saw in ordinary shops several brand-laptops without windows (some without OS, some with linux). These tended to be the lower-end models, but dropping windows did appear to reduce the price by about 100 EUR for a comparable model. Also, the windows-less moddels were the ones with OSS-f

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