As you may recall, I recently bought a Gateway laptop from Best Buy. And, I did not configure Windows Vista. Instead, I changed the boot order and installed Ubuntu 8.04.1. About a week later, I saw a blog about a guy who received a refund from HP because he didn't want Windows either. So, that inspired me to try and get a refund from Gateway. This blog is just to give you a quick recap of what happened.
At first, I contacted Gateway through their Customer Support page. I emailed them and told them that, according to the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) with Windows, I should contact the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for a refund if I decided I didn't want to use Windows. I even sent them copies of the EULA. They, of course, stated that I was not entitled to a refund because I purchased the laptop with Vista already installed. I explained that, yes, the laptop had Vista installed, but I didn't have to accept to use it, according to the EULA. This back-and-forth conversation went on for a couple of weeks. I was finally invited to call them at Customer Support to see if we could work something out. So I did. I must say that the whole time, the email conversation was very respectful. Customer Service is such a lost art these days.
So, I called the Customer Support number and told them my story. They pulled up my reference number and things changed a little. And not in a good way. The first guy I spoke with just flat out stated that I would not be getting a refund from Gateway. 'They won't issue you a refund'. I reminded him what the EULA stated. He said that I bought the laptop fully knowing that Vista was installed and therefore I won't get a refund from Gateway. This happend for about half an hour--he telling me I won't get a refund, me telling him that Gateway is in contract with Microsoft to do so. Finally, I asked to speak to someone else. 'That won't change anything. He'll just tell you the same thing.' But he put me through another guy just the same.
This guy was just shocked that I would even want such a thing. 'I've worked here for over 10 years and I've never heard of anyone asking for this.' He went on to say that they aren't authorized to make a decision on this (funny that the previous dude didn't know this) and advised me to write a letter to Corporate Customer Support (What? Don't those people have an email address or phone? I guess they want to see how tenacious one is.). So I did just that.
A number of weeks had gone by and I was just about to contact them, when my phone rang. It was Gateway. The woman's name was Diane. She said that she had gotten the letter and couldn't believe that this hadn't been handled already. 'You are right, Mr. Gillespie. You are entitled to a refund.' But, to get this refund, I would have to send my laptop to Gateway and they would have to determine that I actually did not install Vista; that there wasn't any Microsoft products on my laptop. I would also have to send in the OS media. They would remove the Microsoft Windows Vista license sticker from the bottom of my laptop and the 'Powered by Windows Vista' from the inside of the laptop. She said the refund check would be for a total of $65.13. After explaining all of that she asked if I would still be interested. 'Most certainly', I replied.
So, I shipped off my laptop (I know a guy who owns a box store where they sell and ship boxes). After about a week, my laptop was returned and the hard drive was empty (I figured as much and had good backups waiting). I re-installed Ubuntu; updated it; and restored my data.
And then yesterday, I had two great things show up in the mail--one, my check from Gateway:
...and two, my 'Powered by Ubuntu' stickers!
Now, my system is completely free from Microsoft. I hope this post inspires others like that one inspired me. You don't have to be forced to use Windows! There are plenty of alternatives out there that will work just as well, if not better, on your existing hardware. If you don't know what to do about getting your hands on one of those great Linux distros, just ask around. I'm sure there's a geek around that knows how to install it properly so that you won't lose all of your data.
Peace be with you.