Help! I Bought A Pirated Copy Of Windows!

Emily bought a very “high quality” pirated copy of Windows from an Amazon seller and didn’t realize that anything was amiss for an entire year.

Now she’s trying to find some way to get a replacement copy — or her $225 back, but is having no luck.

Emily writes:

I purchased a copy of Windows XP Pro from Amazon.com’s marketplace in 2007. I’ve gone a FULL YEAR without any sign that my OS was pirated. I have been able to get all updates, all normal interaction with microsoft’s website and I passed the Genuine Windows scan.

That is, until Dec 10, 2008. My computer installed updates overnight, and in the morning I discovered it had rebooted and was now telling me that my version of Windows may be pirated. (Long story short here: I verified that it was pirated by scouring microsoft’s website and comparing the items that came with my copy with what’s described there. It really is pirated.)

My first stop was to dig up my emailed receipt and contact Amazon.com’s support. I explained that the purchase was made a year ago, and they told me to contact the seller first, and if he/she does not resolve the issue, it will be on my file and I can be issued a refund.

I contacted the seller through Amazon.com’s “contact seller” feature. I received an auto-reply saying that the seller’s account had been closed.

I contacted amazon.com’s support again, and eventually, the support person assured me that the Billing Department would email me in 24 hours and that I would get a refund.

I received an email from their Billing Department at last, but it said that because the sale was after 90 days, I cannot receive a refund.

At this point, I started researching Microsoft’s programs to protect people from piracy and resolve issues of piracy. I found their Genuine Advantage Kit program, and believe I am fully qualified for the program and should be able to receive a free copy of Windows in exchange for my pirated media except for one tiny detail: my receipt from Amazon.com does not include the merchant’s address, and I am required to send a receipt that has an address.

I can’t contact Microsoft support to ask for an exception about this address-receipt issue without paying their $60 fee because my copy of Windows is illegitimate.

I googled for further help and found posts on consumerist.com that included the advice to contact ecr@amazon.com if I’m having trouble gaining traction on a support issue.

I have written to them to ask for one of two resolutions: 1.) refund my purchase, or 2.) provide me with a receipt that includes an address so that I can take advantage of the Genuine Advantage program and replace my pirated copy of Windows with a legit copy.

I have yet to receive any reply from ecr, and I honestly don’t expect to. I’m sure their privacy policy protects merchants from sellers and they won’t give me the seller’s registered address. If they decide to give me a refund, then I’ll be satisfied, but I don’t expect that they will.

I don’t really know what else to do except accept the fact that I’ve been a victim of piracy and I have no recourse. I’d love to find a way to contact Microsoft support without paying their fees so I could get clarification on the receipt issue.

My last resort will be to try and mail in my media and my receipt to Microsoft without an address and just hope that Microsoft does the right thing and replaces my copy. I have nothing more to lose at this point, I suppose… considering that my copy is now detected as pirated, it’s not really worth much to me anymore. I’m just out the $225.00 I spent to use Windows for a year. (it’s more like renting my own computer! haha!)

I feel that there should be some protection for consumers from “high quality piracy” like this where the piracy was not detected for a full year. i don’t plan on ever purchasing anything from amazon.com’s marketplace ever again because purchases do not come with enough protection.

Yuck! What a mess. We suggest trying to kick your complaint to the top — all the way to the CEO. It seems that your issue just needs a little TLC. We suspect that if Amazon’s Marketplace has sellers who are (or were) dealing in pirated copies of Windows — Microsoft will probably want to know about it.

As for Amazon’s lack of response from their executive customer service team, that’s unfortunate. We’d suggest cc’ing them on the email you write to Microsoft. You at least deserve a response.

Here’s some Microsoft contact information for you.

Has this happened to anyone else? What did you do?