How I returned the pre-installed on a Windows laptop and received $ 60 back



    This article is a help to those who would like to buy a laptop or desktop computer and at the same time not to pay extra money to Microsoft only because they persuaded the manufacturer to put their operating system there in advance.

    Depending on the location, returning Windows can be more or less troublesome. In my particular case, it happened this spring in the USA, where I now live. But the story is not tied much to either the States or the specific time of the year. It turned out that the main task is rather to find a laptop manufacturer that voluntarily accepts OS returns (it turned out to be Acer).

    UPDATE: according to information from commentsspecifically in Russia, a refund for Windows at the request of the buyer is mandatory (not everyone knows about this). Take practical experience and a training manual here . What is the situation in other ex-USSR countries? Write, add to the article.

    My personal motive in this whole enterprise was purely ideological. Six months ago, Microsoft, out of the blue, upgraded the HDD to SSD and took and locked my Windows key. After which I promised that I would not continue to spend money on their OS. The logic is simple. As Einstein said: "The biggest stupidity is to do the same and hope for a different result." Accordingly, if you continue to pay for Windows, then the people from Microsoft will continue to select it at their own whim, having fun while drinking for my money morning coffee from Seattle's Starbucks on 24th Street.

    And the matter here does not concern any one specific company - on Habré there are enough stories about the helplessness of people in the face of a variety of fat companies. For example, here’s a literally yesterday’s note with a lot of comments about the attitude of the Good Corporation towards its direct breadwinners.

    Alright, enough lyrics. Keep a practical research recipe on how to buy a laptop, return Windows preinstalled on it, get compensation and comfortably use Linux as an OS.


    Situation intelligence


    When our old laptop ordered a long life, I was given the opportunity to keep a promise and stop paying Microsoft. However, it would be a little difficult to use a computer without an operating system. Given the zero price of Linux and how much more comfortable it has recently become for the average user, the choice of a future OS was obvious.

    There were several options for buying a device on which I can use Linux and not pay for Windows:
    • laptop without OS
    • with dos
    • with Linux
    • with Windows, which I will return and receive compensation

    Laptops without an operating system I could only find used on eBay and Craigslist. However, I didn’t really want to get into the load problems with sunk keys, a tired battery and scratches on the screen. Therefore, this option did not fit.

    With new FreeDOS laptops, things were better, but they were sold physically far enough - mainly in Asia, with payment in rupees, dinars and other money with exotic names. Flipkart example . I did not want to mess with international delivery, foreign currencies and unknown stores.

    Linux laptops were easy to get. It turned out that the US market is developed, and there are a number of local companies that collect and sell them quite massively. For example, judging by the reviews, System76 and Emperor Linuxgood enough. The laptops of these companies are focused on Linux initially, which can be seen even in the little things.



    The trouble of laptops with free (!) Linux was only at a suddenly higher price than similar devices coming with paid (!) Windows. There are several reasons why this is so: the smaller production volumes of Linux laptops; the need to maintain the correct operation of drivers and software for a less common user OS; the lack of familiar crapware paid by developers for Windows . But personally, as a banal consumer, I did not want to spend extra money, regardless of the reasons.

    Thus, I dismissed the first three options, and began to study the possibility of buying an ordinary laptop on Windows in order to further return the pre-installed OS. Please note: my choice of this particular path does not mean at all that it is the only and most ideal one. It is likely that you can find a more suitable method for you to get a Linux laptop. If you already know a good option, then feel free to tell us, everyone will only be happy.

    I got the general theoretical preparation for the return of Windows thanks to the corresponding Wikipedia article . Which, by the way, is issued first in Google by the eloquent phrase Windows Tax. The information from there, together with the topics on the forums, showed that today there is no clear understanding of whether preinstalled Windows is an independent and imposed product, and whether the manufacturer is required to provide a return service for this OS separately from the device itself. Everything changes greatly from country to country due to large differences in the legal framework. In the specific case of such a progressive USA, the matter was not very rosy. Local practical experience is that it all depends on the policy of a particular manufacturer.

    For reference - the text of the Windows license until about (middle?) The 7th version was quite pleasant for the end user. So in the document it was indicated that in case of refusal to accept the agreement, the user had the right to return the OS and receive compensation from the device manufacturer. But even with such an agreement, people constantly had problems in order to exercise their rights. Such a return scenario was usually absent in the support service instructions books, and the user was offered to return the money only for the entire laptop. However, having the text of the license in their hands, the Americans were already able to put pressure through the state bodies of consumer protection. Or even in court. What gave joyful trouble to manufacturers.



    Somewhere in the Windows 7 area, cunning Microsoft lawyers, together with top managers of electronics manufacturers, changed the license from human-friendly to corporate-friendly. Now, if you refuse to accept the agreement, the user can only contact the company that created the laptop to find out its return policy. Which does not in the least deny the formal existence somewhere there of the service of returning one OS without a device (convenient for protection against legal cases of exclusive abuse in the market). But at the same time, it allows companies to completely independently dictate conditions that are comfortable for themselves. Naturally, they are often not too comfortable for the user.

    I had to contact the main manufacturers of laptops in order to figure out the rules in advance and not to get in the way with the purchase. We must pay tribute to their support departments - I received all the answers very quickly: either instantly in online chat, or by e-mail during the day.

    Top companies that DO NOT offer Windows Return to the USA at all:
    • Dell
    • Lenovo
    • Asus
    • Toshiba
    • HP
    • Samsung

    Some of them once did something in this area, but those days are long gone, and only dusty legends about once glorious eras remained in our inheritance.

    The only top company that provides Windows return service to the USA (for which she respects):
    • Acer

    This policy is clearly indicated on the Acer website . When communicating, I was pleased that the support service they are also aware of these provisions. Plus, they do not require any top-secret non-disclosure agreements and subscriptions (O_o - it happens ).


    Step-by-step instruction


    The process in numbers looked like this:
    • 3 weeks have passed from the time of purchase of the laptop until the moment when I was able to use it
    • 6 weeks have passed from the time of purchase of the laptop until the moment of receiving money for the returned OS
    • $ 14 of my money flew into the pipe, and 1 week later a laptop came with a check simply because of the inefficiency of the organization of the work of two different departments of Acer. Process setting is the standard scourge of any large office.
    • I received $ 61.90 in compensation for the returned Windows 8.1

    So, first I bought the laptop itself in the Acer online store . The place of purchase did not matter, it was just there that the prices were the most suitable for me. It is noteworthy that for two different URLs the same laptop could be bought on their website with a difference of ~ 10%. I’m sure that I haven’t found any third URL with a 20% discount ... American e-commerce - it’s so tough and with coupons.

    Within 1 week, the purchase was delivered to my home. Even without including the laptop, I immediately contacted Acer support via electronic chat - they opened a ticket in their system, reported the amount of future compensation and gave the address of the main company service center located in Texas. A laptop should have been sent there, so that Windows is removed from it and all the corresponding stickers are removed. Since I live in California, it was a little unprofitable for me to personally call in a place with a laptop. Accordingly, I paid $ 14 for a leisurely FedEx ground delivery and sent the package to the lone star staff.

    Here you can say a few words about Acer's corporate inefficiency that affected me:
    • Firstly, they are not able to directly send their laptop from their online store to their own service center.
      Even if I warn their support team in advance that I want to return Windows in accordance with the policy of their company, the laptop still makes a loop “store -> me -> service center -> me” instead of a simple logical route “store -> service center -> I". Because of this, I had to wait an extra week for the laptop to come to my home, and then spend extra money on sending it back to Acer in Texas.
    • Secondly, Acer is not able to keep the packaging in which the laptop is sent to them and send it back to me in it. I don’t know why. More precisely, I know that the prefix “Inc.” in the name of the company always adds a bonus to the skill “bureaucracy of processes”.
      Be that as it may, they warned me in advance that the sent laptop would be returned back to the simplest cardboard box. This is inconvenient - either you have to spend money on a new box for sending electronics to a service center, or you can say goodbye to warm original packaging. But you need it at least if you buy a laptop for a gift. Well, do not forget about the meaningless use of paper, trees and other resources. For Americans promoting a green lifestyle and having voluntary green teams in every office, this squander is strange enough.

    But back to life after sending the laptop to a service center. FedEx took 5 days to get it there, then 3 days certified Windows removal experts removed the operating system from it, after which another 5 days the laptop went back. In total, 3 weeks after the initial order I received a clean laptop with Acer’s only label and without any data on the hard drive.

    Frankly, I didn’t check how the disk was cleaned, and did not try to restore the OS. I fully admit the idea that the guys from the service center can erase Windows with simple quick formatting. Accordingly, skillful playful pens are able at home to easily return everything back. But it may be that the disk is made a full wipe with overwriting each bit. Who else will return Windows - let him tell us about this point in the comments.

    By removing the OS, Acer did not really have a proactive desire to contact me and return the money. So I went to the support chat again, gave them the ticket number and my home address. After 3 weeks, a nice envelope arrived with a check for $ 61.90, which was immediately happily cashed in a bank.



    The total amount of my profit, minus sending a laptop to a service center, was about $ 50. It's a pity, of course, $ 14 spent in vain for FedEx services. But both of us Acer and I raped our buns - I achieved what I wanted, and they stood out as politics among other laptop sellers and for this they honestly earned money from me.

    In the meantime, the trial and the case, I, without further ado, put the freshly downloaded Ubuntu distribution on my laptop. The process went surprisingly absolutely smoothly - the OS was installed without a hitch, the devices showed up and earned. Even I could set the touchpad sensitivity accurately and accurately (thanks to the config files), which I never managed to do in Windows.

    All major programs were also quickly found online. Firefox, Skype, KeePass, XnView, Libre Office and others created the familiar environment in Ubuntu - just as it was before. Switching from Windows to Ubuntu was so easy that even my wife’s new OS didn’t cause even minimal rejection. We were satisfied.


    Parting words and afterword


    If you also want to return the preinstalled Windows and get compensation for this, then I will give some tips.

    Read the theory - OS license, manufacturer information and consumer protection laws.
    What you assume and how the legal situation is in fact can be very different.

    Check out the practice - the experience of people specifically in your area.
    The ease of returning the OS (and a similar opportunity in general) is affected by local legislation, local rules of manufacturers and historical traditions. Preliminary reconnaissance will save you money and nerves, as well as avoid many prints from a rake on your forehead.

    My experience with this particular company is applicable in any country.
    Acer itself does not impose restrictions on where the laptop should be bought. So, at least one way you already know. Of course, the price of a parcel, for example, from Europe to America, is unlikely to be repaid by the amount of return. But I assume the presence of closer service centers. Yes, even just for the sake of a common good cause, it is worth it.

    The return of Windows is worthwhile in both personal and social terms.
    Personally, you get a nice amount of money. And for society as a whole, you are doing a number of useful things: you are destroying the monopolization of the OS market, stimulating companies with good services, and stopping the imposition of unnecessary goods and services. All this will definitely affect your future life in the local community in a positive way. Although, maybe you have already started a tractor and you do not care?


    For me personally, the process was positive. Yes, I had to wait a bit for the laptop. Yes, I had to spend time reading forums and communicating with support services. But in the end, everything worked out, and even without too much trouble. Plus $ 50 left for a surfing lesson or new sneakers - haven't decided yet.

    I hope that for you, dear readers, the information about this experience will be useful.

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