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Mozilla wants to know why Dell is charging customers for Firefox

firefox classic theme restorer add negates version 29 features
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Did you know that Dell charges U.K. customers a £16.25 fee (which converts to 27.17 USD as of this writing) to pre-install Firefox on new computers? Mozilla didn’t, but they do now and they’re pretty upset about it. Charging customers for the free browser is forbidden by the software’s terms of service so, as you might expect, the Dell’s fee has Mozilla up in arms.

“There is no agreement between Dell and Mozilla which allows Dell or anyone else to charge for installing Firefox using that brand name,” Mozilla Vice President Denelle Dixon-Thayer told The Next Web. “Our trademark policy makes clear that this is not permitted and we are investigating this specific report.”

charging for firefox
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Interestingly enough, Dell only offers this paid pre-installation service for a single model of the OptiPlex 7010 desktop and only on the company’s UK website. A thread on Mozilla’s official forums, however, suggests they may have been charging a similar $15 fee here in the U.S. as recently as September.

So what’s Dell’s excuse? They claim that their surcharge is on the up and up because they are charging for “time and labor” costs, not licensing the software:

“Dell Configuration Services, including the application loading service, ensure customers have a complete, ready to use product when it arrives,” a Dell spokesperson told The Next Web. “In this particular situation, the customer would not be charged for the Mozilla Firefox software download, rather the fee would cover the time and labour involved for factory personnel to load a different image than is provided on the system’s standard configuration.”

Technically they’re right. Charging for Firefox-related labor isn’t the same as charging for Firefox. Still, 15-22 dollars seems a little pricey for such a simple service. 

What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.

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Mike Epstein
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Michael is a New York-based tech and culture reporter, and a graduate of Northwestwern University’s Medill School of…
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