Sony drops its $49 "no crapware" fee

Sony drops its $49 "no crapware" fee

Summary: The blogosphere is buzzing today with contempt for Sony, which just outlined its Fresh Start program and immediately ran into a buzzsaw of criticism for its plan to charge $49 for the privilege of getting a crapware-free PC. Guess what? Hours later, a Sony Senior VP tells me the $49 charge is gone. Over. There will be no extra charge to order a clean PC from Sony. Read on for the full details.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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The blogosphere is buzzing today with contempt for Sony, which just outlined its Fresh Start program and immediately ran into a buzzsaw of criticism for its plan to charge $49.99 for the privilege of getting a crapware-free PC. The echo chamber at Techmeme is working overtime, led by Engadget: "Sony has the nerve to offer a $50 'Fresh Start' option, which 'scrubs' the machine clean before shipping it your way." My colleague Adrian Kingsley-Hughes has a typical reaction:

To get a craplet-free Vaio TZ2000 I’d have to pay Sony an extra $50 just to remove all the junk software that it installed on the system that I don’t want in the first place?

As it turns out, I’ve been working closely with a pair of Sony notebooks for the past two weeks, both of them offering a truly miserable experience, due in no small measure to the amount of crap/trialware installed. This morning, I had a previously scheduled interview with Sony’s Mike Abary, Senior Vice President of the VAIO division. In what must be the fastest turnaround in corporate history, Abary told me that the $49.99 charge is dead. “We didn’t intend that to happen,” he said, blaming the snafu on an internal miscommunication. “We’re removing the $49 charge,” he told me. Beginning this spring and rolling out to all products through the end of the year, there will be no charge to order a custom-configured Sony VAIO computer, and you will be able to opt out of every trialware application, without exceptions.

“We heard the message loud and clear,” Abary told me. “VAIO is the poster child for negative experiences people had [with trialware]. We recognize that, and we acknowledge it. We’ve been really beat up by this issue. We’re listening and we’re taking action.”

I’ll have more on my experiences next week. I’ve also arranged with Sony to be one of the first to order a PC through the Fresh Start program, so I can tell you exactly what it’s like.

Update: Wired received the same report from a Sony spokesperson this morning, around the same time I did.

Topic: Hardware

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46 comments
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  • And ...

    ... the fact that this is only offered on Viusta Business? Another bit of "internal miscommunication?"

    Also, the Sony store is still taking $50 off people for this option.
    Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
    • Jusrt reporting what I was told

      As you know, Adrian, it takes time for a giant corporation to get changes onto its website. Sony assures me they will not charge this $49.

      We'll see what happens next.
      Ed Bott
      • Thanks to both of you!

        It's great to have both of you working on this and other issues! Keep up the good work!
        salane
      • "takes time" is total crap!

        I am a webmaster and I work on a small and tight budget. If one of my customers calls me up and urgently wants something taken down from his website. I do it right then and there while I am on the phone with him. Time, my ass!

        Just because they are a large corporation doesn't give them the excuse that they need more time. If they are incapable of having some guy in a managerial position pass down to whomever runs their website specific instructions to remove the offending page immediately, then this looks like a great place to start cleaning house and trimming the fat. This would be a far more intelligent way for the company (any company) to increase the bottom line rather than trying to hose customers out of an extra $50 for the privilege of having a clean PC!
        cppsolutions
        • The website was changed ...

          I checked 18 hours later and the Sony site had been changed.

          And yes, I can make a change on my personal website in 2 minutes. But I have maybe 1/10 of 1% of the traffic and hardware infrastructure that ZDNet does. If I want to see a change there, I have to request it from the engineering department, and they have to decide whether and when to make that change.

          This change was made in well under 24 hours. For a large site, that is fast.
          Ed Bott
        • Its people like you.........

          @cppsolutions --> I really appreciate your point of view. However as I work in a large company myself with a rather varied and LARGE internet presence (and several large datacenters, etc) I can tell you that we just do go make willy-nilly changes to our systems (including our websites) on the fly. Changes are carefully planned and tested. I would expect no less from Sony, though, I would hope that by this evening this charge would have disappeared from their site. Obviously there are emergency changes and we handle those but everything is done out of hours to avoid downtime during the day. So be happy where you are, its obvious you're doing well in the small to medium sized company environment and there's more than enough work there to keep you happy!
          @Mr.Bott and Adrian -- Thanks very much for your reports. For the most part, I never use a vendors OS I always use my own copy and load by hand. While time consuming in some cases, this is one of the benefits of being an MSDN member! Of course the average consumer is not an MSDN member and therefore this is a hot issue. I've been doing it this way since 1995 when I bought my first Dell (before that I always built my own PC's and sometimes I still do).
          -S
          seannj427
  • RE: Sony drops its $49

    Rule of thumb: don't buy a Sony in the first place.
    shaycardinalli@...
    • That's a good rule...

      Among all the computers out there, Sony is waaaaayyy down on my list. I flatly don't trust them.
      shawkins
      • When it comes to crapware, Sony is the new Dell and HP put together

        and this is why if I want to spend $1400 on a laptop that costs $900 elsewhere, I'll get an Apple.
        nix_hed
        • Your Information is Dated

          I guess you haven't bought a Dell recently. They no longer include crapware and even give you the option to not include the "free" MS Works and trial internet ISP and virus services.
          Billb33
  • RE: Sony drops its $49

    "What About SONY"
    rhaynesus@...
  • RE: Sony drops its $49

    I work in Dell Community and people are constantly telling us they would be willing to pay extra for no bloat ware, apparently not. Sony was probably just trying to give customers what they wanted without losing the little bet of revenue they get from venders to install that stuff.

    Dell-Jimmy P
    Dell-Jimmy P
    • Yeah

      It would seem that the "pay extra for no bloatware" experiment has ended in failure.
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
      • Maybe, maybe not...

        [i]It would seem that the "pay extra for no bloatware" experiment has ended in failure.[/i]

        It was the "extra charge" thing that got them in trouble.

        If they had simply removed the crapware from ALL of their PC offerings and increased the price on each by $50, I doubt you'd have heard a single thing about it.
        Hallowed are the Ori
        • You got it.

          The offering probably wouldn't have even made the news.
          b.bob
        • I agree

          they would have just attributted the price difference to "inflation", while praising the company for offering a "crap free computer", well worth the price.
          GuidingLight
  • RE: Sony drops its $49

    It's Amazing what a Company will do to extract cash from individuals that are not Tech-Savvy. This is almost as bad as saying: "We will install your Operating System for $99.00 dollars".
    rhaynesus@...
    • Isn't that what Geek Squad is for? <nt>

      [b]
      nix_hed
  • RE: Sony drops its $49

    My next laptop will doubtless be free of crapware, if that is possible. I've had it with that annoyance, and will do whatever it takes to avoid it in the future.

    Actually, I was prepared to pay a premium for the convenience, as I can understand that there is a real cost to the manufacturer losing the offset revenue from the crapware providers.

    The good news I think, is that they are starting to recognize that some of their customers really don't want to have to cope with that unwanted junk software.
    vicw926a4@...
  • RE: Sony drops its $49

    That's like a nightclub with no cover charge but it's fifty bucks to leave.
    hilldoc