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.
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.
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?
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,
(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
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.
- HP must reimburse Italian PC buyer the amount paid for Microsoft software
- 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