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1 9th August 03:09
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Default Dell's Software Policy: Dude, you're screwed


Dell's Software License Policy
Dude, you're getting screwed.

By Ian Goldberg and Kat Hanna
Cypherpunks via Slashdot
http://www.cypherpunks.ca/dell.html

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Kat and I just received the Dell Inspiron 5100 notebook
we ordered from Dell Canada. We quickly ran across
problems.

I pushed the power button to turn on computer. I got the
Dell POST screen, then a screen from Dell (Photo):
http://www.cypherpunks.ca/dell_screen.jpg

SOFTWARE LICENSES

- Before using your computer, read all of the software
license agreements that came with each program that you
ordered. There may be several agreements to examine. To
comply with the terms and conditions of the software
license agreements, you must consider any CD or diskette
set of Dell-installed software as BACKUP copies of the
software installed on your computer's hard-disk drive.

- If you did not order Dell-installed software for this
computer, or if you do not accept all the terms of the
licenses, please call the customer assistance telephone
number listed in your system do***entation.

Press any key on the keyboard to indicate that you have
read all of the software licenses and agree to their
terms.

Be Direct TM
Dell TM
http://www.dell.com

But there are no license agreements in the box that the
computer came in. [There are some shrinkwrapped CD
containers, but the "Terms and Conditions of Sale
(CANADA)" that came with the invoice says:

"7. Software. All software is provided subject to the
license agreement that is part of the package. Customer
agrees that it will be bound by the license agreement
once the package is opened or its seal is broken. Dell
does not warrant any software under this Agreement.
Warranties, if any, for the software are contained in the
license agreement that governs its purchase and use."

I've never agreed to those Terms and Conditions, to my
knowledge, but I assume they think they're enforceable,
so I can't open up the shrinkwrap to see if the license
agreements are in there, without automatically agreeing
to them.]

So I called the only Dell number I could find on my
do***entation (1-800-847-4096) and spoke to a customer
support representative. I told her what was on the
screen, and told her I couldn't find the license
agreements I'm required to read and agree to before
pressing any key.

She put me on hold while she looked into where the
license agreements might be, and eventually transferred
me to technical support. The tech support agent told me
her database was down, so she couldn't look up anything
at all (I hadn't even told her what the problem was yet),
and I'd have to call back in an hour.

I call back, and speak to a tech support woman. She says:
"press Tab." I explain that I can't without saying I've
read and agreed to do***ents I don't have. She says
"press page down". Same problem. She says "scroll down".
I explain it's not a Windows screen. She says "insert any
Dell-shipped CD". I exlpain the problem of opening the CD
packaging.

She insists I have to press a key. I ask her if she
really means that I have to agree to the licenses before
it's at all possible that i've read them. She says "yes".
I explain that that's not acceptable, and ask for her
supervisor.

Her supervisor insists it's a Customer Care issue, and
not tech support, and that there's nothing he can do. He
can't explain why they sent me to him. He enters my info
into the call log databse, and I go to call back Customer
Care.

So back into the hold queue I go.

I'm finally connected to a Customer Care representative.
[Pretty much each sentence in the following was
interspersed with long, long times on hold.]

She looked up the call log to get the background info.
She insists she doesn't have copies of the agreements,
and that I'm supposed to go online and look them up
myself. (?!) She says to use a public computer if I have
to. I ask how to know what companies have software on my
disk. She goes away for a bit, and says she doesn't have
that information, and there's nothing they can do. [And
there's no supervisor available.] She asks why I don't
want to agree to the license. I explain I haven't *seen*
it. She says "it just says you won't copyright any of the
files". I ignore the mistake, and explain that licensing
agreements are long, long do***ents that say much more
than that, and that anyway, the screen says that I have
to have *read* it.

Eventually she does manage to connect me to Alan Burley
(Manager, Customer Service).

He said he installs things all the time without reading
the license agreements. He says I should just do that. I
ask if he's really telling me to lie and to agree to
legal do***ents I haven't seen. He says I don't have to,
but the only thing he can do is take the computer back.
He says that it's the first time this issue has
escalated. He does manage to tell me what software is on
the system, and says I need to go to those companies'
websites to get their agreements. [Never mind that I need
the OEM version and that's unlikely to be there.] I ask
_him_ what if this was my first computer. He said I would
have to go to a library or a friend's house. He really
couldn't send me the agreements that Dell insists I read
and agree to before using the computer.

He said he couldn't give me his phone number or mailing
address, and that he didn't have a boss who could talk to
me.

So we've got nothing left to do but send it back. He says
he'll send waybills, and will refund the cost of the
computer, including the original shipping charge, and
won't charge a restocking fee. We will have to pay for
the shipping back to the Oakville depot. I figured we
could just run it by there ourselves (it's not too far),
but he said that that's not possible. (I don't understand
why. We'll probably try, anyway.)

It's crazy that it came to this. If they had said
*anything* reasonable, we would have been happy to just
install Linux on the thing and be done with it. But they
were saying that anyone who uses a Dell laptop (with this
startup screen) *has* to just lie about having read the
licenses, and just blindly agree to them. That's
unacceptable enough that it's going back.

It's also interesting to note that everyone except Mr.
Burley assumed that I was talking about a Microsoft
screen which included the Windows EULA, until I told them
otherwise. This was a Dell screen, with no EULA, and I'm
surprised that none of these people were aware of its
existence.

After all this, we *did* try to boot off a Linux install
CD. That just took us to the same screen as before. So we
had to go into the BIOS so that it would try to boot off
the CD before the hard disk, but after we did that,
Windows started to boot, without having displayed the
"press a key to agree" screen. We quickly powered the
machine down before Windows started. [Though now you no
longer get the "press a key to agree" screen when you
turn it on, even with the BIOS settings back the way they
were.]

This took from around 3pm to around 8:30pm today. I'm
just bewildered that Dell corporate policy is that users
need to lie to use their new laptops, and to agree to
legal agreements that it's completely impossible to have
read. This is the next level above "click-through"
licenses. Now, they figure no one reads the EULAs anyway,
so why bother even providing a copy?

Ian Goldberg and Kat Hanna

Source - http://www.cypherpunks.ca/dell.html

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by Eala

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-To: Eala

Would that we all had such little problems in life! No
one is forcing anyone to purchase a Dell. If anyone has a
big problem with the EULA agreements, they can always
ship it back.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by Cultural Jihad

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-To: Cultural Jihad

Say Dude, you didn't bend far enough..........

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by pointsal

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-To: Eala

Dude...get a custom built computer from a local shop.
Just ask them to use all brand-name hardware and supply
you with all cd's of software they install. Yhey will be
happy to do this, give you an equal or better price and
you will know who you are dealing with. Local shops are
the way to go. They appreciate the business and will be
there if you have any questions/problems.

Trust me, this works the best.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by Khurkris (Ranger On...)

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-To: Eala

Sounds like the old witch trials in centuries past. To
prove you're not a demon, they tie you up and dunk you in
a river. After a while, if you come up then you're a
demon and burned at the stake. If you don't come up then
you're deemed innocent, but unfortunately screwed.

You're a trooper, I don't know anyone who reads or cares
about the fine print in licensing, because it's taken for
granted that we get screwed.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by roadcat

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-To: Cultural Jihad

Would that we all had such little problems in life! No
one is forcing anyone to purchase a Dell. If anyone has a
big problem with the EULA agreements, they can always
ship it back.


No, the issue I have with Dell is their firewall-pounding
spyware, SUPPORT.EXE, and I feel strongly enough about it
to never buy another.

BTW, folks, this is my first post running LINUX!

One machine totally stripped of MS, six more to go.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by Gorzaloon

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-To: roadcat

Did you ask if this help center was in India? Not that
you would get an honest answer. I hear that call center
employees in India watch US sitcoms so they can lie about
it if the caller asks what city they are in or where are
they from.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by RushingWater

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-To: Eala

Dude,
I didn't have this problem with my 12" Aluminum skinned
G4 Powerbook. (Apple for you'se not from NJ).

bill From Nutley

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by njmaugbill

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-To: Cultural Jihad

Agreed. And that's what they did. But IMHO any
corporation presenting such a Catch-22 situation deserves
the bad publicity.

My previous work laptop was a Dell and even though the
driver support for Win2K (it came with Win98) was, well,
mediocre, I liked it well enough. But sadly, the mega-
corporation that recently bought my employer has upgraded
all our machines with cheap Compaqs -- big (too big to
use in airline steerage class) and heavy. The one I liked
most was a Toshiba -- for its keyboard.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by Eala

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-To: Eala

You wasted your time from around 3pm to around 8:30pm
today.

You wouldn't be able to comprehend the hidden meaning of
the agreement anyway. A roomful of Philadelphia lawyers
would have a constitutional convention over its
interpretation. The agreement is there for Dell's
protection, not yours. They are bound by limits in the
Uniform Commercial Code that gives you certain
protections. Dell has to compete with other companies who
claim to have better services. Why waste your time? The
computer will be obsolete in three to four years anyways.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by LoneRangerMassachusetts

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-To: Eala

A long time ago in business law class, I learned that no
contract is enforceable if it is signed under duress.
(Not that I'm a lawyer or anything.) I mean, every time I
view a DVD I see a screen telling me all this stuff I
can't do with my DVD. I just laugh. If I want to show the
thing to a hall full of oil rig workers, I'll damned well
do it!

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by zook

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-To: Eala

Send your tale to Michael Dell. Sometimes CEOs don't know
this stuff is happening and they really care. I've gotten
some dramatic results by going to the top.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by owl

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-To: Eala

send it back. it's obvious that you don't want software
so what the hell do you need a computer for?

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by go star go

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-To: Gorzaloon

Congratulations! Which distro and version? My primary
Internet machine has been a RedHat system of one version
or another for, uh, well, years now... I hate the "one
and only one desktop" that Windows forces on you.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by Eala

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-To: Eala

If you don't like it, go to eBay. Look up seller
dell_financial_services. Buy a refurbished computer with
no software for a bargain price. Load it up with Linux or
FreeBSD.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by proxy_user

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-To: Eala

I went through something like that back around 1996 or
so... I found a mail order company that had a money back
guaranty on their systems, and they told me that it was
compatible with the version of Unix that I wanted to run
on it (I think it might have been Microport, but I can't
remember off-hand). Anyway, when I ordered it, I told
them that I did not want an OS installed on it, because I
was going to be installing Unix, and I didn't want to pay
for an OS that I wasn't going to use... I was told that I
could NOT buy a system without an OS. That I would be
charged for it, weather I used it or not (it was because
of the "per CPU" licensing agreement that MS had back
then, which was later determined to be illegal). So I
relented, and it shipped with Windows 95. Of course, the
first thing I did was wipe the system drive.

Anyway, after 4 days of trying to get Unix to work on the
system, I finally had enough. I called them to get an RMA
to ship it back. I was informed that I would get a
refund, minus the original shipping charge, and minus the
cost of the Windows OS!I explained that I had never used
Windows, had never even booted the computer to Windows,
that I had never opened the Windows software package that
shipped with the system. I was told that it didn't
matter. By starting the computer, I had agreed to the MS
license agreement. I insisted that's not possible, if the
agreement was never presented to me. The fact is that I
booted to a Unix floppy disk, and wiped the system in
order to install Unix before it had ever even attempted
to boot to Windows. They told me it didn't matter, and I
got the same story all the way up the food chain in
management.

Well, to make a really long story even longer, I finally
got American Express involved, and told them about what
was happening, and I refused to pay for anything. They
agreed that I was being treated unfairly, and really
worked things out for me. While I was originally willing
to pay the shipping costs both ways, thanks to AMEX, I
got a full refund of the original shipping, as well as
the Windows95.

Believe me, YOU aren't being screwed by those damn
license agreements. Have you ever tried to read one?
Jeez! For instance, when you install MS Windows 2000
Server, you have to hit the page down about 20 times, and
it even lapses into French for our Canadian friends! And
it's a good thing that they insist that they're only
licensing the software to you to use, not selling it...
By doing that, they can make the outrageous claims that
pretty much say that it might work, and it might only do
a little bit of what they say it's supposed to do, and
that it's not their fault if it doesn't work and that you
will never hold them responsible for anything... etc...
If they were to try to "sell" a product like that, state
AGs would be all over them for marketing and advertising
violations.

Mark

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by MarkL

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-To: Khurkris

People, people, people! Please take a minute and look at
the posting. I did not write this; this is not my
experience; I simply posted it for your edification. If
you have comments for the author, follow the link.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by Eala

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-To: njmaugbill


I'm shocked to be saying this, but if I can get all the
network monitoring and management apps I need to work on
an i-Book or a Powerbook, I'll be switching... I made the
mistake of getting a Dell Inspiron (not really a mistake,
but I needed a DVD-ROM, and at the time Latitudes weren't
available with them). The problem was that the OS is
WinXP (WindowsME was the option... No official Dell
support for Linux, Win2K or Win98), and it's just
unstable as hell, and most of my network apps (like
Sniffer) won't work under XP. So I had to use Partition
Magic and do my best to get Win98 drivers to work, as
well as getting Linux on it...

A buddy of mine picked up an i-Book 700, and I was
astonished. The damn thing is every bit as fast as a 2GHz
P-4! Maybe even faster.

So I may be going over to "the dark side."

Mark

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by MarkL

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-To: Eala


To the abyss with Windows. XP did me a favor in that it
made me get off my tail and FINALLY try Linux. I got Red
Hat 9. It came yesterday, I read the book at bedtime, and
it _slid_ into the machine (An old spare P3/733). I
carefully noted all my hardware and network settings and
Ethernet MAc, etc..etc.. but it was TOTALLY not needed.
Everything set itself up, configured my WAN connections,
and the LAN as well.

All I did was feed it CDROMs and GLOAT!

And it has ***EVERYTHING***, Office suite, three
different ways of accessing newsgroups, Mozilla, its own
FTP, etc..etc...there is just nothing lef to buy or do.

Next comes my laptop, then the Dell, and eventually the
whole house will be clean of bloated spyware.

!!!!ESCAPE FROM REDMOND!!!! Courtesy of a
penguin...hahaha.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by Gorzaloon

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-To: Eala

I'd avoid the customer service call centre route
entirely. Call their head office directly (you might have
to call their US main office) and ask if you can speak to
someone in the legal department. That'll get you some
attention from people who are more motivated when it
comes to resolving problems.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by badfreeper

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-To: Khurkris

Or, you can do what I did...build the thing yourself. I
did it, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would
be.

2.0 Ghz, 512 MB ram, 60gb hard drive, CD burner, modem.

$320, and I know EXACTLY how my machine is put together,
and EXACTLY what I've got on the HD at all times.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by Flaming Death

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-To: Khurkris

Or better yet, build it yourself. It's not as complicated
as one might think. All you need is a screwdriver and a
rudimentary knowledge of what goes where (which can be
obtained by a $20 book on building your own PC at any
bookstore).

Basically you just get a case (many "bare bones" kits
include motherboard, power supply and maybe a floppy) and
then you add memory, hard drive, CD-ROM/DVD drives, video
card, audio card, etc. Best way to do it is to install
the CD-ROM and hard drive first and get your OS loaded.
Then install your components one at a time. Usually your
computer will recognize your new hardware and walk you
through the steps to load software/drivers.

It can basically be done on a rainy Saturday afternoon.
Then you will be assured of a good system and you will
have the know-how to deal with any problem that might
crop up. You will be at the mercy of the computer repair
shop no longer.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by SamAdams76

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-To: Gorzaloon


I am jealous. We have a copy of the RH9.0 ISO images at
work, but it looks like the disk #2 image is corrupted;
it's missing files necessary to install. So I'm stuck
with RH7.3 for at least a few more days. *\:-(

And BTW, my work and residence both have Redmond
addresses -- Redmond, WA.

-From the belly of the beast...

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by Eala

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-To: SamAdams76

Yeah, what he said.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by Flaming Death

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-To: Eala

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/875386/posts

My Dell experience is posted here. Probably worst
experience in my life....and heck I used to VAR with IBM.
Think of how bad that was!!

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by mlmr

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-To: Eala

A comment I saw on Slashdot today said, in essence, if
they want you to agree to something and won't (or can't)
show you what you're agreeing to, the agreement is
invalid.

The customer tried in good faith to get an answer and
Dell couldn't help him. I'd fire off a note to Michael
Dell which do***ents the problem, and use the computer
anyway.

Re-format the drive and install Linux. EULAs be damned.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by TechJunkYard

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-To: Eala

On that thread this is the gist of what happened to me:

: Wright is right!

I would be happy to. I ordered the computer and installed
it. It had video card problems immediately and a new card
was sent out. Eventually a customer service rep came out
to install the card. (this is only after hours on the
phone and on my knees in front of the mother board as a
woman from India read to me from her troubleshooting
manual. sigh!!) Blue screens continued with Bios errors.
The cusotmer service rep said he would not touch anything
except the video card even though on the phones I was
told he would also investigate the bios issues and the
blue screens. He took me aside and said, exchange the
machine.

After more hours on the phone they finally sent out a new
machine. It arrived around twelve days ago and I
scheduled someone to help me switch towers today. I
opened the box and the config is wrong on the new box and
the Read write CD thingie is not installed.

Soooo I call Dell and ask what to do. They initally tell
me that they will send out a new Read write CD drive and
send someone to install it. then they sent me over to
customer service to set this up. This happened twice
before Iwas actually connected to customer service. The
nice man from India told me that yes, he would send out
the Read Write part...but only after I sent back the
first comptuer because there was only one service
contract and it had to be transfered to the new computer
before anything could be done.

Deep breath!!

Then they argued about sending me a rep to install it
too.

I went back to customer service and told them I wanted my
money back and to take both computers. They said no
becasue the first comptuer more than a month out. I was
transferred to a man who refused to consider taking the
computers back for twenty minutes. He would not even
negotiate with me. He refused to transfer me to a
superior or to let me talk to anyone else, including his
manager. I was in tears by the end of our conversation.
He told me that the exchagne could not be made. He then
put me on hold for the second time, to review things, and
then made the return. After he processed the return
paperwork, I told him that he didn't have to put me
through this...and instead of having a disappointed
customer, Dell now has an appalled ex-customer.

I found the customer service to be appalling and heard
regret and I am sorry so much in the past month....it was
awful.

I certainly would appreciate feedback.

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by mlmr

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-To: Gorzaloon

Congratulations! Another one breaks free from the chains!

Posted on Friday, August 29, 2003 by TechJunkYard

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End of forwarded messages

Jai Maharaj
http://www.mantra.com/jai
Om Shanti

Panchaang for 2 Bhadrapad 5104, Friday, August 29, 2003:

Shubhanu Nama Samvatsare Dakshinaya Jivana Ritau
Singh Mase Shukl Pakshe Shukr Vasara Yuktayam
Uttaraphalguni-Hasta Nakshatr Sadhya-Shubh Yog
Taitil-Gar Karan Tritiya Yam Tithau

Hindu Holocaust Museum
http://www.mantra.com/holocaust

Hindu life, principles, spirituality and philosophy
http://www.hindu.org
http://www.hindunet.org

The truth about Islam and Muslims
http://www.flex.com/~jai/satyamevajayate

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