I recently purchased a new Dell computer. Previously I made a promise with myself to never purchase a Windows based computer again, but due to work-related complications I had no choice. The Dell arrived three days after I ordered it, which was great considering the shipping was free.
Fearing that my computer would become infected with a virus within 12 minutes, my first line of order was to purchase and install anti-virus software. Once that was finished, my next task was to delete the unnecessary programs that come pre-installed on the machine. Having purchased a Dell before, I was well aware that Dell computers ship full of bloat. I anticipated to find garbage such as AOL coach, Dell Picture Studio and Internet Explorer. What I was shocked to find, however, was My Way Search Assistant.
For those of you recently in a coma (or those of you that use a Mac or Linux), My Way is a spyware program that claims to block pop-ups and provide other nice features for users on the web. In reality, My Way spies on your browsing habits and reports this information to a central server so that customized ads can be delivered to your machine.
I’ve been a fan of Michael Dell for about ten years since I read an article about him in Reader’s Digest. Not wanting to believe that my friend Michael would allow this garbage to be installed on computers that bare his name, I assumed that somehow a virus had snuck its way onto my machine in the ten minute window where my computer was without anti-virus software. Sadly, Google search after Google search revealed that in fact Dell is being paid to pre-install this filth on their machines.
I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Michael Dell, how could you allow this to happen? It really hurts to see a former hero *sarcasm* falter like this. Now I know how fans of Tom Cruise must be feeling. Michael, I thought I knew thee so well!
After spending an hour in shock and mourning, I gathered myself off the floor to remove the program from my machine. I opened the control panel and selected “Add or Remove Programs.” After removing My Way, I was told that I would have to reboot my computer. A quick reboot later and I was back in the control panel. At this point I was ready to forget the entire ordeal and move on with my life.
Looking back on it, I should have known there would be more problems. If only I had paid more attention to the screeching violins that could be heard in the background. That’s right, My Way still appeared in the “Add or Remove Programs” window. However, this time around there was no uninstall button. My Way appeared to be permanently on my machine.
Having read that Adaware can remove My Way, I downloaded, installed and ran Adaware from Lavasoft. Perhaps because My Way had already partially removed itself, Adaware was unable to detect My Way on the machine. It was time to call Dell support.
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. If anybody doubts that Dell has a relationships with My Way, one only need visit http://www.dell4me.com/myway
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.
What Dell is doing should be illegal. They are being paid to install spyware on new computers. They are making it difficult for customers to remove the spyware on their own. Then, they charge $49 to teach you how to remove it. This would be like a doctor being paid to infect you with a disease and then charging you for the antidote.
I’m responsible for the purchase of eight Dell computers for myself, friends and family in the past few years. After this ordeal, I will never again purchase a Dell. I will never again recommend that anybody else purchase a Dell. In fact, from this point forward I will go out of my way to recommend that people looking to purchase a computer avoid Dell altogether. I doubt that I’m alone. With practices like these, Dell shouldn’t be surprised to hear its customers say, “Dude, you’re getting a boycott.”