Mozilla investigates Dell over Firefox installation fees

Browser maker anger as Dell charges £16 to pre-install its software.

Firefox

The Mozilla Foundation has launched an investigation into claims that Dell had been charging its customers 16 to install Firefox on its PCs.

The browser is open source and free to download and install, however, one Dell customer discovered that the PC maker was running an "installation service" with the browser. The customer alerted the Register and sent them a screen grab of the charge.

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Our trademark policy makes clear that this is not permitted and we are investigating this specific report.

The browser is one of the most popular on the internet and boasts around 500 million users worldwide.

Dell said that the charge was not for the software itself but the time and labour involved in installing the browser. The browser typically takes at the most, ten minutes to install.

"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," said a Dell spokesperson.

"Dell Configuration Services, including the application loading service, ensure customers have a complete, ready to use product when it arrives."

However, in a statement to the press, Mozilla's vice president and general counsel, Denelle Dixon-Thayer said that there was "no agreement between Dell and Mozilla which allows Dell or anyone else to charge for installing Firefox using that brand name."

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"Our trademark policy makes clear that this is not permitted and we are investigating this specific report," she said.

The service charge appears not only appears to apply to users in Europe. There are reports of US customers being offered the same service.

Investigations into Dell's practices are in their early stages, according to Mozilla. 

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