Dell charges United Kingdom a premium for Linux PCs

U.K. customers get a raw deal as they face paying more than a third extra compared to the United States for Dell computers with an open-source.
Written by Richard Thurston, Contributor

U.K. users will have to pay a premium for Dell's Linux PCs, despite Dell's claim to the contrary.

Customers who live in the United Kingdom will have to pay over one-third more than customers in the US for exactly the same machine, according to detailed analysis by ZDNet.co.uk.

The Linux PCs--the Inspiron 530n desktop and the Inspiron 6400n notebook-- were launched on Wednesday. The 530n is available in both the UK and the US, but the price differs considerably.

Comparing identical specifications, US customers pay US$619 (£305.10) for the 530n, while UK customers are forced to pay £416.61 (US$842.14) — a premium of £111 (US$224), or 36 percent. The comparison is based on a machine with a dual-core processor, 19" monitor, 1Gb of RAM and a 160Gb hard drive. The same options for peripherals were chosen.

Adam Griffin, Dell's spokesperson for the Linux PC launch, said on Wednesday that UK users would definitely not be asked to pay a premium compared with American customers. "We have very aggressive bundles in Europe," he said. "They are not more expensive."

The revelation is the latest insult to UK computer users, following price discrimination by a range of hardware and software vendors. Adobe was the last IT supplier to be exposed, after it emerged that the company would charge UK customers over £1,000 (US$2021) more than their US counterparts for some versions of its creative software.

But Dell may yet win a reprieve from customers, as it emerged that it is selling the Linux PCs at a discount compared to machines with Microsoft's Vista operating system. Taking almost identical machines--the only difference being the graphics card--the £416.61 (US$842.21) Linux desktop compares favourably with the £504 (US$1018) Vista model. If Vista users want to run Microsoft Office, they have to pay an additional £104.57 (US$211.39).

Dell does not sell an equivalent to the 6400n in the US. All Dell's Linux machines come installed with the Ubuntu distribution.

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