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posted by n1 on Saturday October 25 2014, @07:55AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the is-it-still-1998? dept.

Roy Schestowitz notes:

Today I learned something somewhat shocking. A policy which I believed was some kind of controversial fringe policy from way back in the days of Vista is still in place, and it's in place right here in the UK. Currys/PC World is totally overzealous with its GNU/Linux-hostile policy, which is almost definitely dictated by non-technical management, maybe in collusion with Microsoft.

[...] an old desktop of mine died on me and I sought a replacement immediately (within the hour). [...] Currys pretty much devoured the competition [...and] has an outrageous policy regarding warranty.

As it turns out--and this was confirmed to us by multiple people (in multiple PC World stores) after arguing for more than half an hour--once you install GNU/Linux (even if it's dual boot with Windows) no damage to hardware would be covered by the warranty (keyboard, screen, and so on). One of the sellers, who follows the Linux Action Show, regretted this but also defended this policy because it's imposed from above.

No matter how ridiculous a policy it is, changes to [zeros] and ones on the hard-drive (to remove spyware), according to Currys, would void the warranty on what clearly is not connected to [the pre-installed] software. [...] we decided we just couldn't do business at PC World. The company is inherently GNU/Linux-hostile. Avoid Currys.

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Saturday October 25 2014, @08:21AM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 25 2014, @08:21AM (#109836) Journal

    I've seen this before, but then that was back in the Pleistocene.

    There was a time, when dicking around with you X settings required a lot of knowledge about your video card and your monitor (remember Monitors?). You could kill monitors with bad settings. You could totally hoze hard drives too back in the days when RLL disk drives were all the rage.

    You could maybe recover these messed up disks, but lots of people didn't know how and the tools available were pretty miserable back then.

    Still, that policy was easily gotten around for the price of a hard drive. I remember buying the machine with the smallest drive offered, replacing it with a much bigger drive and installing linux on that. I'd keep the small drive on the shelf till the warranty on the machine expired then reformat it for some other purpose.

    In the US, this kind of warranty scam pretty much came to a stop, somewhere along the line, and you just don't see it any more. I think there was a court case or something. Its still hard to get warranty repairs on somethings when you bring in a system with a totally different OS on it.

    But on the other hand, I can't remember the last machine I've had a warranty claim on. Most computers seem to outlast their warranty these days, unlike my IBM PC/AT which barfed a hard disk in 6 months.

    --
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    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by choose another one on Saturday October 25 2014, @01:10PM

      by choose another one (515) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 25 2014, @01:10PM (#109889)

      Don't forget the part where you had to dick around with needle nose pliers and jumpers to set up IRQs etc. when putting a new card in the machine.

      Back then some people used to sell machines advertised with X ISA slots free, and would then claim the warranty was void if you ever opened it up and used them.

      Better still was when they would diagnose, say, a broken network card over the phone and simply send you a new one to fit yourself, which would of course then (at least in theory, in practice you had to argue) invalidate the warranty...

  • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Saturday October 25 2014, @08:34AM

    by TheRaven (270) on Saturday October 25 2014, @08:34AM (#109841) Journal

    I'm pretty sure that that's illegal. If you mentioned at time of purchase that you intended to run Linux, then it's definitely illegal and you can return it as not suitable for the purpose for which sold (sale of goods act) if they later claim that doing so would void the warranty. Even without that, I believe that it's up to them to prove that any software changes affected the hardware. There's a strong argument that running an off-the-shelf general purpose OS on a general purpose computer is sufficiently within the realms of normal use that, unless they explicitly say at time of purchase that doing so would void the warranty, your statutory warranty still applies. Even if they do claim this, you'd probably need a court to decide.

    Usually the simplest thing to do is talk to the manager, explain that he has two options:

    • Obey the law and honour the warranty as he is legally obliged to do.
    • Lose a court case, have to pay costs on top of the cost of repair, watch the press run a story about people having to take his store to court to have the warranty honoured, and then explain to his management why he let it get that far.

    I've get to encounter a store manager who thinks that option 2 is better for his long-term career prospects...

    --
    sudo mod me up
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by maxwell demon on Saturday October 25 2014, @08:52AM

      by maxwell demon (1608) on Saturday October 25 2014, @08:52AM (#109843) Journal

      Since the UK still is in the EU, the EU consumer protection rules apply. And according to EU rules you have a two-year legal warranty from the seller. Moreover, in the first year, the seller has to prove that you broke it, not the other way round. Good luck proving e.g. that installation of Linux caused the screen joint to break ...

      --
      The Tao of math: The numbers you can count are not the real numbers.
      • (Score: 1) by greenfruitsalad on Saturday October 25 2014, @04:13PM

        by greenfruitsalad (342) on Saturday October 25 2014, @04:13PM (#109966)

        unfortunately, you're wrong. UK is (probably) the only EU country that does NOT have a 2 year warranty on all non perishable goods. I've been repeatedly bitten by this in the UK. then again, by law, goods must be fit for purpose. if a computer breaks 1 day after warranty expires, it wasn't fit for purpose and you can still return it (often with a nudge from 'small claims court')

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by mojo chan on Sunday October 26 2014, @09:04AM

        by mojo chan (266) on Sunday October 26 2014, @09:04AM (#110195)

        Even under the UK Sale of Goods Act this would never stand up. It's a general purpose computing device, and clearly if installing a non-Windows operating system breaks it somehow then it wasn't fit for purpose to begin with. No Small Claims Court judge would ever allow the installation of software to void the warranty on the hardware.

        It's obviously just PC World trying to wriggle out of the warranty. I used to do computer repairs years ago, during the great Nvidia chipset failure plague. They would always try to get out of honouring the warranty since about 80% of the laptops they sold during that period were failing inside 18 months, but the moment you started quoting the Sale of Goods Act and mentioning Small Claims Court they would fold. Their entire strategy is based on hoping you are ignorant of the law and your available remedies.

        Also, if you paid for the laptop on credit card (or even paid 1p on card and the rest in cash) you get Section 75 protection, meaning that the bank is equally liable as the vendor for warranty issues. It could be worth contacting the bank and getting them involved. If you have a Visa credit card you can also do a chargeback for the full amount. The rule on chargebacks is you have to do one within 120 days of discovering the problem on Visa, but if it is Mastercard it is 120 days from purchase.

        --
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    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by FatPhil on Saturday October 25 2014, @09:13AM

      by FatPhil (863) <pc-soylentNO@SPAMasdf.fi> on Saturday October 25 2014, @09:13AM (#109849) Homepage
      3 words: Citizens Advice Bureau.
      3 more words: Small Claims Court.

      Agree, this is so obviously against the sale of goods act that they haven't got a leg to stand on. The computer willingly ran every single opcode that was fed it. It installed linux, you only provided it the medium from which it read the bytes.
      --
      I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
      • (Score: 1) by Whoever on Saturday October 25 2014, @04:37PM

        by Whoever (4524) on Saturday October 25 2014, @04:37PM (#109978) Journal

        Don't forget Trading Standards.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 25 2014, @05:54PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 25 2014, @05:54PM (#110018)

        The computer willingly

        Did AI get invented while I was asleep? Computers aren't sentient and don't have a will. They're basically slaves without the capability to say no. The computer didn't "willingly" do anything, the user forced it to. Thus, it is on the user if they run incompatible code.

  • (Score: 1) by robpow on Saturday October 25 2014, @11:20AM

    by robpow (1575) on Saturday October 25 2014, @11:20AM (#109875)

    Guarantees and warranties are additional to the legal statutory protections that consumers enjoy when buying goods from retailer.

    Trading standards have a quick blurb on the differences:
    http://www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/advice/problemswithgoods-sum16.cfm [tradingstandards.gov.uk]

    While I think the company's policy in this case is far too simplistic and draconian I can see the issues behind that that are trying protect against. Imagine a noob installing all manners of OS and drivers that they don't fully comprehend and end up melting some components because they messed with the fan controller. Not likely but certainly possible and enough a reason for a product manager higher up to say no.

    If it happened to me I'd just nuke the boot sector and hand it in like that.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 25 2014, @03:11PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 25 2014, @03:11PM (#109930)

      Retail sales is a low wage, and therefore, low skill occupation. Trying to figure out exactly what is wrong with a computer, can take many hours of high skilled labor.

      Accept that cheap computers are disposable. If you want to play around with Linux, go to a Pawn shop, and buy a used computer. This computer I am typing on cost $100, with a broken battery. It works fine.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 25 2014, @11:44AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 25 2014, @11:44AM (#109877)

    This would be illegal if it was in Australia.

    In any case, I would wipe the hard drive of any pc I was returning for warranty, and depending on the situation, probably put a fresh install of windows on it.

    • (Score: 2) by Konomi on Saturday October 25 2014, @04:04PM

      by Konomi (189) on Saturday October 25 2014, @04:04PM (#109963)

      This is definitely the way to go, when you first get your PC generate those "Restore Disks" keep them to the side and use them when you send your laptop/computer back for service. Why anyone would leave their data on their laptop when it goes in for service is beyond me and trust me, techs go through all your data if they want to. Ethics is extremely lacking in some Computer Repair shops from first hand experience.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by frojack on Saturday October 25 2014, @06:12PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 25 2014, @06:12PM (#110022) Journal

        Pc restore disks?
        Is that even possible these days?

        They use a (sometimes hidden) partition to hold the source for Windows install. That partition is usually nuked with the Linux installation. In fact if your hard disk dies and has to be replaced you usually have to call the vendor for special installation media.

        Buy it with the smallest disk offered. Don't even boot it once, replace with the disk of choice and start a fresh install. Save the small disk till warranty expires. It's cheap.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 25 2014, @10:38PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 25 2014, @10:38PM (#110094)

          Why not boot it? It seems more sensible to boot it and check it is in full working order before switching out the hard drive.

        • (Score: 1) by SDRefugee on Sunday October 26 2014, @03:01AM

          by SDRefugee (4477) on Sunday October 26 2014, @03:01AM (#110145)

          On the rare occasion I buy a brand-new system with a warantee, I pull the original drive out, after making sure the system works as advertised, then I buy another drive (or use an on-hand spare) to install Linux. I put the original drive on the shelf until the warantee period is over (or I decide to, earlier) I put the original drive to use in place of the spare... If for some reason the system has to go back to the vendor under warantee, the original drive gets put back in.. These turds would have a hard time telling I'd ever ran Linux on the system in my case....

          --
          America should be proud of Edward Snowden, the hero, whether they know it or not..
        • (Score: 2) by meisterister on Sunday October 26 2014, @03:42AM

          by meisterister (949) on Sunday October 26 2014, @03:42AM (#110153) Journal

          I'm pretty sure that there's still the option to flipping make them yourself using your own disks and time. Funny thing, actually. My newest laptop (a toshiba I bought last year) didn't come with restore disks, but I could still make them myself (might as well save everything before I nuke Windows 8 from orbit), while the crappy Windows 8 tablet I previously bought had a restore DVD and everything. Guess which of these devices had a DVD drive built in? Guess which one was from the less reputable company? It's insane.

          --
          (May or may not have been) Posted from my K6-2, Athlon XP, or Pentium I/II/III.
          • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Wednesday October 29 2014, @05:39PM

            by urza9814 (3954) on Wednesday October 29 2014, @05:39PM (#111276) Journal

            Yeah, the last three new laptops I've seen have not come with a restore disk...but they not only allowed you to to create your own, they practically demanded it on the first boot! I imagine Joe Average would probably do what it says and create that disk...and then lose it because they have no idea what it's for ;)

            But why the hell are they asking for your hard drive anyway? The last time I sent in a system for warranty repairs (a Dell laptop) they specifically instructed me to remove the hard drive before I sent it back. Unless it's the hard drive that failed, why do they need it for a warranty repair??

  • (Score: 1) by Zappy on Saturday October 25 2014, @01:11PM

    by Zappy (4210) on Saturday October 25 2014, @01:11PM (#109890)

    The policy is void in EU, warranty protection is quite strong here.

    But I usually avoid confrontation. As a personal policy I stopped telling any supplier I use Linux when I need warranty or support.

    The problem is almost never caused or in anyway due to Linux so it is not relevant, adding this information only gives the supplier an escape clause for not fixing their shit.

    I will happily "reboot" my Windows PC when the internet supportdesk asks me and respond after a defendable delay to tell them that this did not solve the problem :-)

    • (Score: 2) by opinionated_science on Saturday October 25 2014, @06:20PM

      by opinionated_science (4031) on Saturday October 25 2014, @06:20PM (#110028)

      thank you for that! i had a good laugh ;-)

      How DO you mime the reboot of a machine?

    • (Score: 2) by el_oscuro on Saturday October 25 2014, @08:00PM

      by el_oscuro (1711) on Saturday October 25 2014, @08:00PM (#110063)

      Verizon has given me advice to edit settings in my "registry" when I called in about no carrier signal on the DSL router.

      --
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      • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Wednesday October 29 2014, @05:47PM

        by urza9814 (3954) on Wednesday October 29 2014, @05:47PM (#111279) Journal

        Hah, I had to call Verizon just the other day:

        Tech: "And what kind of system are you using? Windows, or Mac OS?"
        Me: (oh great) "Linux."
        Tech: "... ok ... so ... Windows, right?"
        Me: "Yeah, sure."

        Then he goes "I'm going to run some tests from our end" and then it was fixed...never even told me to reboot or do anything at all with my laptop. So that whole exchange was rather pointless.

        Glad he didn't ask about my router -- OpenWRT set up with multiple VLANs and a captive portal...trying to explain all that probably would have made his head explode ;) Or more likely reply with "Please connect the supplied router"...

  • (Score: 2) by theluggage on Saturday October 25 2014, @02:20PM

    by theluggage (1797) on Saturday October 25 2014, @02:20PM (#109906)

    Currys/PC World is totally overzealous with its GNU/Linux-hostile policy, which is almost definitely dictated by non-technical management, maybe in collusion with Microsoft.

    I think this is the usual case of large retailers being prepared to do anything to welch on their warranties. If you didn't get the same response to a question about dual-booting with Windows 7, installing a bare-metal hypervisor etc. it would probably mean that the salesdroid had only heard it as "arble farble Windows garble". Many years ago, I was told by a Large PC Supplier that I'd void the warranty on their win98 machine if I dual booted it with Windows NT. I see no reason to expect things to have changed since. Actually, knowing Currys/PCWorld's you'd probably still get the runaround if you got the box home and discovered it contained a bobcat [xkcd.com].

    Trouble is, as you say, if you need a PC today the typical out-of-town retail park now gives you a choice of "Currys/PC World" or a subset of exactly the same stuff as "Currys".

    Pro tip: Novatech still sell most of their PCs with Windows as an optional extra, but unless you live near Portsmouth they won't solve your "I want it today" problem.

  • (Score: 2) by darkfeline on Saturday October 25 2014, @05:20PM

    by darkfeline (1030) on Saturday October 25 2014, @05:20PM (#110004) Homepage

    I think their policy sucks too, but really, why does it matter? It's basically unenforceable. Just fill the hard drive with random data ("Maybe a virus did it" "Maybe the hardware shat itself because it was broken"), or if the hard drive is dead, either don't do anything or gauss it to be sure. No way to prove that you installed Linux.

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 25 2014, @10:06PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 25 2014, @10:06PM (#110089)

    But BSD isn't Linux so I can't get premium support from hostile nerds on Linux IRC channels! The HORROR.

  • (Score: 1) by ansak on Sunday October 26 2014, @04:05AM

    by ansak (3757) on Sunday October 26 2014, @04:05AM (#110159)

    Could it be that the reason for this policy is that the founding owner is related to the one for whom a Peruvian Bear stood in as the unwitting nemesis?

    In the meantime, swapping out the hard drive before installing Linux, swapping it back in after the failure should do the trick. That's not a simple feat for a laptop but the initial post mentioned "desktop" -- a situation where this should not be a problem, I'm guessing.

    Pass the marmalade, please...ank

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