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Man Says Dell Charges To Remove Own Spyware

Jason Lee Miller
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-05-04

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You may have heard of the Dell Computers spyware allegations involving My Way Search Assistant. But a story is making the rounds (posted on a blog from last July) that Dell charged a customer $49 to remove the unwanted program from his computer.

Michael Righi, founder of IT company Field Expert and formerly a loyal Dell customer, says that the My Way Search Assistant, a program whose selling point is anti-popup advertising that records browsing habits for targeted advertising, was a stubborn one to remove.

In fact, after uninstalling the program through Add or Remove Programs, Righi rebooted only to find the program still there smiling at him. This was going to require Dell's assistance.

"After a 30 minute wait on hold, a man with an Indian accent who asked to be called Stewart answered the phone. Our (abbreviated) conversation went something like this:

Stewart: What seems to be the problem?
Me: I'd like to remove My Way Search Assistant from my computer. I tried to remove it through the Control Panel, but it still appears in "Add or Remove Programs."
Stewart: What do you know about this program?
Me: I know that this is Spyware and I know that I want it off my machine.
Stewart: How did My Way get onto your computer in the first place?
Me: What do you mean? It came pre-installed when I bought my computer from Dell.
Stewart: I have trouble believing that this was on your computer when you purchased it.
Me: So do I Stewart, so do I.
Obviously Stewart is not very up to date with the sotware Dell pre-installs on their computers.
Stewart then explained that he would no longer be able to assist me with my problem. He indicated that I would need to contact software support services for help removing the spyware that Dell installed on my machine. Oh yeah, and he indicated that they would charge my credit card for the call. $49, specifically.

Righi's vow to not only never buy another Dell computer, but also to not recommend them, is matched by others. The Pink Chimpanzee agrees:

"One of the posts I saw was from someone who tried the same tactic and was not happy to find that the program put itself back into the control panel after a reboot, minus the 'Remove' button that would allow uninstalling it again!

"They were right - it did replace itself in Add/Remove Programs and no longer had a 'Remove' button.

"Up until today, I was a big fan of Dell's computers. No more - I will never again recommend a Dell to anyone. I hope whatever money Dell got from MyWay will offset all the business they're going to lose once this starts getting around.

Like corporate IT departments don't already have enough spyware problems without vendors PRE-INSTALLING the @!#%$&*!"

Back in July, Dell rejected the assertion that MyWay was spyware. Even so, many are peeved (to understate it) that they would package software that seemed deliberately almost impossible to remove and then charge loyal customers for instructions on how to remove it.

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About the Author:
Jason L. Miller is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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