06.24.14

Microsoft Tax Refund

Posted in Free Software, HP, Society at 1:52 pm by Pirate Praveen

Last Sunday evening marked starting of an important campaign when a casual search for a good laptop for a friend turned into tussle with HP for a refund of unused software bundled with their hardware.

Ishan about to make a phone call

Most laptop vendors ship their hardware with a version of Microsoft Windows preinstalled. Microsoft says we can get a refund for the windows version if we don’t want to use their software (we cannot use it unless we agree to their end user license agreement or eula and their eula denies many rights that we in the Free Software community hold dear).

So we sent this email to HP support asking for a refund.

Hi,

I just brought a new hp pavilion 15 Notebook PC (model number: 15-n259TX) with serial no: 5CDxxxxxx7 and product no: G2H01PA#ACJ. It came pre-loaded with Windows 8 but I don’t agree with the End User License Agreement. There was no option provided without any operating system or with a Free Software Operating System for this model at the HP world shop in Kandivali West (Amgee Computers PVT. LTD).

Microsoft EULA (http://download.microsoft.com/Documents/UseTerms/Windows_8_English_ca383862-45cf-467e-97d3-386e0e0260a6.pdf) states that I can get a refund for the unused license by contacting the manufacturer.

It states “If you do not accept and comply with these terms, you may not use
the software or features. Instead, you should return it to the retailer or other place where you purchased the software license, for a refund or credit.”

How do I collect the refund money?

Thanks

We immediately formatted the machine and installed Ubuntu 14.04 on the machine.
Format entire disk

We called them up the next day and registered an official complaint with HP but they refused to give a refund. When they said they offer other models with Free Dos installed Ishan gave a brilliant analogy. If you go to buy a shirt and you like a Yellow shirt, they tell you have to buy a pants along with it, but you can buy a black shirt without pants, would that be acceptable to you?

HP says they will offer only a refund of the entire product (hardware and software) and not a partial Windows only refund. In France and Italy there is already rulings that forced HP and Acer to refund the Windows license fee. Indian courts have ruled set-top boxes allowing only one particular service provider are illegal.

Prasanth Sugathan from Software Freedom Law Center India has promised to send a legal notice to HP within 2 days.

This is going to be a landmark struggle for Free Software in India.

If you have recently bought a laptop or planning to buy a new laptop, contact us and we can fight this together.

Update 1 (25/06/2014): HP has closed the case without a resolution. Prasanth needs a copy of the invoice to go ahead, we’ll send it by tonight.

Update 2 (25/06/2014): There is a good discussion about this issue on reddit.

The relevant law which HP violates is Competition Act 2002.

“Any agreement amongst enterprises or persons at different stages or levels of
the production chain in different markets, in respect of production, supply,
distribution, storage, sale or price of, or trade in goods or provision of services,
including—
(a) tie-in arrangement;

shall be an agreement in contravention of sub-section ( 1 ) if such agreement
causes or is likely to cause an appreciable adverse effect on competition in
India.
Explanation.—For the purposes of this sub-section,—
(a) “tie-in arrangement” includes any agreement requiring a purchaser of
goods, as a condition of such purchase, to purchase some other goods; ”

Update 3 (25/06/2014): There is precedent in Europe where companies are ordered a refund.

  1. HP must reimburse Italian PC buyer the amount paid for Microsoft software
  2. Lenovo ordered to pay €1920 for making French laptop buyer pay for Windows too

Update 4 (25/06/2014): Acer America has policy of giving refund on unused Windows license.

Update 5 (26/06/2014): Prasanth would need 2-3 days more to complete research on this topic.

Update 6 (11/09/2014): Prasanth has sent the legal notice to HP. This case is covered by Economic Times now. You can get a copy of the notice from mediacru.sh. (MediaCrush is Free Software media sharing platform). Mediacrush is shutdown, but archive.org has a copy.

Update 7 (13/09/2014): This is a fresh development, Italy: High Court shoots down Windows tax

35 Comments »

  1. Prasad said,

    June 24, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Awesome,its great.We were not aware of this kind of things are also exist.Thanks you posting this article.
    I will let you know if anyone wanted to buy a new machine and without Win* Operating System.
    All the best!

  2. Thomas said,

    June 24, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    The parable of Yellow shirt and Black pants is really awesome. There are many people are forced to pay Microsoft without using their product. And many people are forced to give up buying some specific models which are not available as blank boxes. Please update this when Prasanth got reply from HP.

  3. Anish Sheela said,

    June 24, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Great initiative. All support with you. Keep us updated.

  4. ബാലശങ്കർ സി said,

    June 24, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    കൊള്ളാം… ഇതിനേ കുറിച്ച് ഒരു ചെറിയ റൈറ്റപ്പ് ഉണ്ടാക്കി മെയിലിങ്ങ് ലിസ്റ്റുകളിലേക്ക് അയച്ചാൽ, കൂടുതൽ പേർ ഇതിനെ പറ്റി അറിഞ്ഞോളും.

  5. Praveen A said,

    June 24, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    വിശദാംശങ്ങള്‍ ഇവിടെ ചേര്‍ത്ത വിക്കിപ്പീഡിയ താളിലുണ്ടു്. ബാലു കുറിപ്പെഴുതി നോക്കാമോ?

  6. Krishnakant Mane said,

    June 24, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    This is digital Dadagiri or mafia group I feel. Companies like Microsoft are getting into a dirty nexus to take away our basic comsumer freedom.

  7. Jaseem Abid said,

    June 24, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    I have been through this. The same thing happened to me when I bought a dell studio 1558 3 years back. Tried my best to get the machine without windows, but couldn’t. For this one thing, I’m willing to go to any extend. Please ping at @jaseemabid for any help.

  8. Pirate Praveen said,

    June 24, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Jaseem, we are not going to give up easily. We will fight it in the courts and they will have to not only change their policies but pay penalties for violating the law. No one is above the law, you cannot have a policy in violation of the law of the land. This has been going on since no one stood up to them. HP had to refund customers in Italy and we will set a precedent in India as well.

  9. Vishal Vijay said,

    June 24, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    This really awesome. Great move guys.

  10. Prabodh C P said,

    June 24, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    We are with you. Its absurd to pay for an OS that you do not like. We will not bow to such armtwisting tactics.

  11. Vignesh Prabhu said,

    June 24, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    This is really nice attempt. It is worse in US where you can not get any decent model from these hardware manufactures without Windows. I had to pay for the same even though I removed the first day I got the laptop from there.
    Also it will be interesting to see if the same can be extended to mobile where Google’s Android is creating a similar monopoly. Why shouldnt user be allowed to get a phone which is free from proprietary softwares by vendor and Google. In a way, it is worse as in many phones it is not easy to install another OS.

  12. Pirate Praveen said,

    June 25, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    Vignesh, Acer America has a refund policy. Many Android phones can be flashed to run Firefox OS. Android is mostly Free Software, but we should get Replicant to run on more models.

  13. Anilkumar said,

    June 24, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    It is high time we try to expose the nexus between the hardware manufacturers and Microsoft thieves.

  14. Pirate Praveen said,

    June 25, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Anilkumar, not all hardware vendors are bad in this issue. Acer America has a policy of giving refund on unused windows license if you take it to their service center.

  15. tic said,

    June 25, 2014 at 4:09 am

    actually we must ask for sale of all laptops without os rather than refund.this will solve the problem in better way

  16. Pirate Praveen said,

    June 25, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Hemendra, if all laptops are sold without an os, it would be difficult for a lot of people to install it themselves. But then local resellers can offer to install an os users choose. You can start a campaign on it.

  17. Joseph John said,

    June 25, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Thanks for the initiative, eager to know what is happening. Any updates from Prasanth Sugathan

  18. Pirate Praveen said,

    June 25, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Prasanth needs a copy of the invoice to proceed. We have to collect it from the local reseller and we’ll send it by tonight.

  19. Nikhil said,

    June 25, 2014 at 10:45 am

    This is good. Even I am planning to buy a new high-end laptop but I am searching for one without OS or with Linux. And not Windoze! I support your movement on this.

  20. Pirate Praveen said,

    June 25, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Nikhil, if you liked a model that comes with windows only, join us in this campaign to get a refund. Once we set a precedent everyone will have to follow it.

  21. Sivahari said,

    June 25, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    പോരാട്ടം തുടരുക… അഭിവാദ്യങ്ങള്‍

  22. Sandhya said,

    June 25, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Kudos!

  23. Ishan Masdekar said,

    June 25, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    A recent update in this issue:
    I just mailed the photocopy of the invoice to prashant..

  24. Abhijit said,

    June 27, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Wonderful. Keep it up and keep us posted on the developments.

  25. Sagar said,

    July 1, 2014 at 11:09 am

    Awesome

  26. Prateek said,

    July 1, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    I asked HP India on their Facebook page to comment on this: https://www.facebook.com/HPindia/posts/850292831666288 . They are amazingly incompetent at just reading what’s said.

  27. Someone said,

    July 2, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    It’s excellent that someone finally took it up. But, what can *I* do? I’m not a lawyer or something, but I don’t want to just sit by…. can anyone tell me?

  28. Pirate Praveen said,

    July 21, 2014 at 2:38 am

    Someone, can you check if you can buy laptops without Windows pre-installed at your local computer store and tell us? We also need help building a campaign website, so we can collect details from as many stores as possible in a systematic way.

  29. Someone said,

    July 21, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Pirate, after Flipkart, what IS a “local” computer store ANYWAY? 🙂 Most people SHOULD have shifted to them by now, it’s really them, i.e. organised retail that you should be targeting. Whoever hasn’t shifted yet, will, just that it’ll take time.

    FWIW, I bought 2 laptops some time back, and 1 particular store DID give me a Win free laptop. I’m typing on one of them right now 🙂

    Please write and tell me what’s going on. If you need me to write to Flipkart, just say the word.

  30. Pirate Praveen said,

    July 22, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Well, if everyone has already shifted, all local stored would be shut down by now already 😀 Since they are running and I don’t believe their owners are doing charity, I think we need to consider them as a real option for many people to buy a laptop.

    If you can get Windows-free laptops from Flipkart, then it is fine, if not you can write to them.

  31. Someone said,

    July 22, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    Just wrote to Flipkart, Snapdeal, Tradus, and Infibeam.

    You guys get busy too.

  32. Someone said,

    July 22, 2014 at 11:42 pm

    Sorry, to add, Pirate, could you give me your email? I can tell you who my local computer store is, but I don’t wanna post it here…

  33. Pirate Praveen said,

    September 11, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    This has appeared in today’s Economic Times and we have sent the legal notice to HP http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/software/ishan-masdekar-sends-legal-notice-to-hp-for-compelling-him-to-buy-a-notebook-with-windows-8/articleshow/42219383.cms

  34. Anil said,

    October 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Hey man long time. I am planning to get a new laptop and would definitely not like to have windows on it. The hardware I want comes only with windows, but the vendor has other models with free-dos. Is my only option to buy the model with windows and remove it? Or can we fight this legally? Mail me we can talk about this.

  35. Rahulkrishan R A(rark) said,

    April 2, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Awesome,This will be a great initiative and common people will aware of this thing if we publish it publically.

Leave a Comment