Dell charging £16 to customers who opt for Firefox installs on new PCs

You may have seen, or used the fantastic online Dell service that lets you put together a PC with a variety of custom components, that service also offers stuff like paid support and certain preloaded software installs. A seemingly new feature of that service also offers Mozilla Firefox at a whopping £16 ($27) asking price if you want it preloaded onto the system.

 

Click image for a more detailed version.

A reader of The Register contacted the site saying he was asked to fork out the money for the convenience. According to The Register, after their enquiries to Mozilla, sources at the company replied that they had launched a preliminary consultation with legal teams, but this process was at "an early stage." and added:

Mozilla is looking into this as it does not comply with terms and conditions policy. I’m afraid we can’t really answer your questions until Mozilla hears from legal teams. 

As pointed out by The Register, Mozilla has a Trademark Policy which covers distribution terms of Firefox.

The browser, which is free and open source, takes around ten minutes to install on the slowest systems that support it, and is so straight forward that anyone actually looking for it probably has the knowledge to install software as well.

While we know that OEMs are in the business of making money off bloatware that is usually preloaded on systems, this particular "service" probably takes the whole concept a little too far.

Dell could not be reached for comment at the time of publishing.

Source & Image: The Register

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60 Comments

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There are many many companies charging for stuff you can do yourself for free. It's called convenience. It's called Capitalism. It's also optional. If you know what Firefox is you can install it. If you don't why would you tick the box?

You know we're talking about the flat out brain dead, totally computer illiterates here, right? Or, people with WAY to much money on their hands!

This is as stupid as some one who pays their ISP for a router/network service like Charter tries to do!

Two words.
PC-Decrapifier.
Ninite.

Users should download a copy of PC Decrapifier at http://www.pcdecrapifier.com to get rid of the crapware installed on most new computers (including Dell's). And then go to http://www.ninite.com and install any of the applications they want for free and without any of the toolbars or other crap that many of them include in their installation programs. You'll have to use the default installed browser to get to the sites but once there you can download both files and configure your system to your personal likes.

Sounds like a better dealing than paying Dell to install a free browser for you...

GraveDigger27 said,
Two words.
PC-Decrapifier.
Ninite.
...

Two third parties I've never heard of and therefore have no faith in what happens on my system after I hit go/start/finish on whatever wizard. No thanks.

Just because you haven't heard of them does not mean they are not known already. I guess you haven't heard of ccleaner or system ninja either. All four reviewed and talked about already plenty of times across the web. Research does not hurt.

Amen - some people may want to just throw money at a problem, but paying for Dell to install a FREE browser on your system doesn't make much sense if you know anything about computing.

And even if you don't know about PC-Decrapifier or Ninite, as dxgs said a little research doesn't hurt - there are LOADS of reviews that recommend these products (some of which are probably on THIS site) and I've used them both on new computers purchased by family members so I still recommend them as well

People bicker about a service/convenience of $25 thinking it only takes a few minutes to install. Think of all the combos of installation choices perhaps it's not as automated as one would think. If you don't like it don't buy it. Simple as that and the guy who made a stink about it should not have been so lazy and made that choice. Hell it costs phone case companies less a couple of dollars to make many of the cases we buy but many of us pay for it at the retail store for convenience instead of eBay or ordering from China where most of then are made. We know we can get them cheaper but if we don't want to wait or in this case want to take the time to install then we accept their terms. It's simple.

The agreement is not to charge for the product, it's distribution or download. Which Dell is not doing. It also states that it cannot be tied to a subscription or a service which it's not. Although it's a service fee/installation fee I do think the service in the terms from Mozilla means services or bundle where personal information is requested.

Regardless, you are not required to take the option. As the old saying goes. Price is what you pay, value is what you get.

I thought they weren't allowed to do this in Europe, and they had to have a 'ballot screen' with a choice of browsers

akav0id said,
I thought they weren't allowed to do this in Europe, and they had to have a 'ballot screen' with a choice of browsers

That arrives via Windows Update - after any preference prior to installation of the update has been made. If you're savvy though, you can always decline it.

Yeah I've seen a lot of evil organizations charging at retail and online stores to install Classic Shell too on new PCs. Just today someone reported that Fry's Electronics is charging to installing it. In the past, Office Depot was selling it.

wow! I know AutoPatcher was distributed through some over-the-counter magazines but afaik nobody was charged for it (if you don't count the cost of the pc mag)

If a customer calls me up or brings their computer to me and asks me to install Firefox for them, i would do it and would almost certainly charge them. This isn't that much different except that Dell can afford to automate this process and offer it for free as a courtesy... instead of giving people another reason not to buy their products.

_Alexander said,
Well if you still cling on to Firefox in the modern day, you should be charged.

Right, everyone should be using Lynx by now!

recursive said,

What Chrome lacks in features, it makes up in performance and does set a real high bar.

http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg....7707ed17cbd41bbc2b90861.jpg


it says nothing if you are faster at doing less. the crash rate of Chrome is even higher than Firefox nowadays, so again faster and flakier is not really setting a new world record.

Each browser has it's strengths, Firefox focuses on correctness while Chrome focuses on speed. Each targets their own demographic. Everyone wins.

Lord Method Man said,
"better than Chrome"

Yeah that's a real high bar to clear. /s

I would never use that Chrome spyware on my computer. Firefox/IE ftw!

I would imagine this is actually to cover the fact that Dell will have to provide customer support for Firefox rather than it only being to simply install the browser itself.

Either way, it's still ridiculous.

It appears that only business customers in the U.K. are affected.

I've just tried to replicate this on both dell.com and dell.co.uk in both for work and for home categories.

NinjaGinger said,
£16 pound for a free program. How dare they, money matters more it seems. There not on there own unfortunately.

Its not for the program they are charging, its for the time it takes to have someone install it. This is fair and square or what do you think all the companies from electric bill to loan support service charge the convenience fee for?

nickcruz said,

Its not for the program they are charging, its for the time it takes to have someone install it. This is fair and square or what do you think all the companies from electric bill to loan support service charge the convenience fee for?

I've always said they are rip off merchants.. Lets take my pc into this equation, it's old, a dual core Athlon 3 gig. firefox takes about 60 or so seconds to install from their servers.. add another minute or two for my weather and statusbar addons, total of about 3 minutes, lets call it 5... (they're claiming 10)

So a quick sum up in my head would suggest they are charging £96 an hour for it
Which makes it worse considering something Majesticmerc said, as it probably is just an install disk they use upon installation of OS..

Steven P. said,
OK I get it, but Mozilla also has distribution terms that may cover (and make illegal) such services too.,

That could be a legal slippery slope, what if I take my laptop to a local computer repair shop, and I ask them to install Firefox for me and they charge me for the labor as expected?

Also how do we now Dell doesn't have an agreement with Firefox. This smells as a partnership for Firefox to increase it's usage, why isn't Chrome on the list? Things like this don't happen randomly.

xendrome said,

That could be a legal slippery slope, what if I take my laptop to a local computer repair shop, and I ask them to install Firefox for me and they charge me for the labor as expected?

Also how do we now Dell doesn't have an agreement with Firefox. This smells as a partnership for Firefox to increase it's usage, why isn't Chrome on the list? Things like this don't happen randomly.

As a Dell customer, this is just Dell being an asshat.

nickcruz said,
Its not for the program they are charging, its for the time it takes to have someone install it.

Exactly. I used to write software that was sold to a company that provided hardware to large enterprises. The margins on the hardware are pretty thin--these guys made the bulk of their money customizing what came preloaded with those machines. Whether that software is free or not is entirely irrelevant.

Steven P. said,
OK I get it, but Mozilla also has distribution terms that may cover (and make illegal) such services too.,

That kind of term wont hold at court.

Steven P. said,
OK I get it, but Mozilla also has distribution terms that may cover (and make illegal) such services too.,
While Dell could just stop offering Firefox.

Simon Fowkes said,
worse than bloody Ryan Air trying to charge to go to the toilet.

Haha, for real? So what happens if you really have to go but have no money on you, would they prefer you do it in your seat?

whether it takes 10 minutes or 10 seconds, its still time for someone to do this or come up with a process to do this.

If it is as simple as the article suggests it is, then take the standard option and do it yourself aftwards.

Exactly! I am not sure why people are fizzing about this. This is a service provided but I m sure the next request they will ask of MS is to remove IE all together which would pathetic if you ask me but I have no doubt they would do that..

Dell won't have someone sitting there downloading and installing Firefox for every customer that opts for it. They'll have a separate disk image containing the Firefox installer. The whole thing is most likely automated.

Regardless, the actual pricing isn't the real issue here, the issue is that charging for Firefox installation under the Firefox trademark is forbidden. Relevant quote from the Mozilla site (emphasis mine):

If you are using the Mozilla Mark(s) for the unaltered binaries you are distributing, you may not charge for that product. By not charging, we mean the Mozilla product must be without cost and its distribution (whether by download or other media) may not be subject to a fee, or tied to subscribing to or purchasing a service, or the collection of personal information

Source: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/foundation/trademarks/policy/

I agree. You're paying for someone to do it for you. So i don't think FireFox can stop Dell charging for it because you're not paying for the browser. You're paying for the service for someone to install it for you.

No, I suspect not but to cover all basis I included that scenario. I think because its more than likely an option that not many will use and that the time it takes for that image still has to be created. The fewer requests that the image is requested the more expensive that image becomes so I think this is part of the reason.

Aheer.R.S. said,
wow, £16 for a free browser?

whatev.. bestbuy charges like $99 to set up windows 8 which takes like 15 minutes

Aheer.R.S. said,
wow, £16 for a free browser?

don't like it? Don't tick it, and use internet explorer to download it yourself. I honestly hope if Firefox have a leg to stand on that Dell drop them altogether, or replace it with a Chrome installer. It takes time and costs money, no matter how small to make this change.

Sicarius123 said,

don't like it? Don't tick it, and use internet explorer to download it yourself. I honestly hope if Firefox have a leg to stand on that Dell drop them altogether, or replace it with a Chrome installer. It takes time and costs money, no matter how small to make this change.
I never said anything about liking or disliking did I?
Besides, anyone with a little patience can build a pc with better specs, cheaper than the crap dell puts out anyway, and have any browser they like, free