Dear Valued Customer

Fake News written by James Baughn on Wednesday, February 17, 1999

from the this-is-not-a-form-letter dept.

Attached below is a letter forwarded to us by an anonymous Microsoft employee who mistakenly purchased a computer with Red Hat Linux pre-installed. Last Monday, he and a group of drunken friends protested in front of the manufacturer's offices in Ypsilanti, MI, demanding that the company provide a refund for the unwanted OS. Their efforts, while successful, attracted only minor media coverage (entries for "disturbing the peace" and "vandalism" in the daily police report of the Ypsilanti Ypquirer).

Linguin Computers, Inc.
849 Power Lane, Suite 256
Ypsilanti, MI

Dear Valued Customer,

Linguin welcomes you to its corporate offices today. We are always available to answer any questions you might have about Linguin products and technologies.

We understand that part of your purpose yesterday was to request a refund for the version of the Linux operating system that came pre-installed on your personal computer. After a lengthy debate between members of our executive staff, we have decided to award you a refund of US$0.94.

The amount of the refund is the total expense for us to pre-install Linux and to provide a Red Hat Linux CD-ROM with our computer systems. The CDs are burned in-house by our staff, using the latest copy of Red Hat downloaded (for free) from Red Hat's FTP site. The cost of the CD media and of operating our CD burning equipment costs exactly $0.74 per copy. In addition, we spend $0.19 on labor for our employees to pre-install Linux and burn-in our computers. Finally, we spend approximately $0.01 on electricity and other miscellaneous expenses in the process of pre-installing Linux on our systems. Therefore, the value of the software that came bundled with your computer system is $0.94, which we have decided to refund to you.

HOWEVER, even with the refund, you presently OWE us money. During the last few hours of your protest, you and your associates have inflicted significant damage to our offices. While we have no problem against peaceful protests, the destruction your group has caused to our front steps and ground level windows is most troubling. Enclosed is a bill for US$5,000 to cover the costs of replacing our broken windows and removing the "WELCOME TO HELL" message you painted on our front steps. We have elected to directly bill you for the damages instead of filing criminal charges or pursuing a lawsuit -- hopefully you will find this solution satisfactory.

Our support staff would like to point out that our 3 year free technical support policy is only valid when Linux is used. Questions you have about other operating systems should be directed to the respective manufacturer. Linguin computers are optimized for the Linux operating system to guarantee the best customer experience. For instance, all Linguin computers contain hardware modems, even though these devices, according to Microsoft's website, perform less reliably under Microsoft Windows 98 as compared with software modems ("WinModems). Therefore, Linguin is unable to provide technical support or warrantee protection if you elect to use a non-Linux operating system.

Fundamentally, you, the consumer, have a choice of operating systems and PCs. You can purchase a PC with a non-Linux operating system or a PC with no operating system preinstalled at all. In fact, more than 200,000 PC makers worldwide will allow you to choose which exact components you want on your PC, from processor to video card to operating system software. According to our market research, more than 160 OEMs operating in the Southeast Michigan area alone offer PCs with Microsoft Windows pre-installed. The choice is yours.

As always, we invite your comments and suggestions on how we can continue to serve our customers. Feel free to write or call us at any time with any feedback you may have.

Thank you,

Mark Bradley
Vice President, Linguin Computers, Inc.

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