Ask LH: Can I Get A Refund Because Presto Doesn’t Work On Linux?

Ask LH: Can I Get A Refund Because Presto Doesn’t Work On Linux?

Dear Lifehacker, I was recently in hospital and wanted to try out some streaming services in Australia. I have a Linux laptop. I tried out Stan on the free 30-day trial but then realised it uses Silverlight so I cancelled that straight away. Then I wanted to try Presto which has no free trial.

I signed up because it was only 10 bucks and on the supported devices it lists PCs and Macs, with no qualification, but much to my dismay the service doesn’t work on Linux machines. Foxtel refuses to give me a refund. Is this false advertising, and is there any way to submit a complaint about them? Thanks, No Light At The End Of The Tunnel


This is a tricky one. The Presto website plainly states that the service can be enjoyed on “any PC or Mac computer” on its compatible devices page. This could be construed as misleading to Linux users.

However, the minimum hardware requirements that appear further down the page are restricted to Windows/Mac OS. This information is presented clearly and not buried in small print. All you had to do was scroll down a bit to confirm Linux wasn’t supported.

To further muddy the waters, “PC” has become synonymous with Windows-based computers, as you well know. This is especially true when the term is used in conjunction with Mac, which is the context used on the Presto website. The assumption that Foxtel literally meant any personal computer – from the Kenbak-1 onwards – obviously isn’t reasonable.

With that said, we agree that the initial statement on the website could have been spelled out more clearly. Simply adding “Windows” to the sentence “Enjoy on any PC or MAC computer” would have eliminated all possible confusion.

In any event, we think it’s a bit mean of Foxtel to not refund your $10. This is poor customer service, especially when such a small sum of money is involved. We contacted Foxtel about your issue and a spokesperson replied with the following statement:

It is correct that Presto does not support Linux computers. We are very transparent on the devices that Presto supports and these are clearly outlined in detail on the devices page, which is linked to from the home page, the disclaimer at the bottom of every page on the site, and a similar list of supported devices and operating systems is contained in a devices FAQ in our community section.   These pages make it clear that Windows and Mac OS are the only supported Operating Systems on personal computers, and also provide the detail of which Operating System versions are supported as well as supported browsers and other system requirements. Presto also needs to adhere to industry standard DRM mechanisms that the major studios support in order to allow us to stream their content, and support for industry standard DRM is not fully supported on Linux computers.

In short, Foxtel is sticking to its guns. If you feel the promotion was misleadingly vague, you can contact the ACCC or your state consumer affairs office. This is a bit of effort to go to over a measly $10, so it really comes down to principle. The chief lesson here is that it pays to do some actual research before slapping down money for a software subscription service; especially if you require Linux support.

Cheers Lifehacker

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  • They might stick to their guns but they’ve lost me too. I’m sure these people at Foxtel have read every EULA they’ve ever received…

  • A few months ago, Netflix changed to support streaming on Linux using HTML5. It works great and yet still provides them with their required DRM. I’ve been able to completely remove Pipelight from my Linux Box.

    So Foxtel, the need to provide DRM is not acceptable. I call BS! Netflix can do it, so can you.

    And Stan, for a new service, I can’t believe you launched with Silvershite! It should be HTML5 like Netflix.

  • I don’t know, the use of the word “any” adds a lot of ambiguity. Even if we forget about Linux, the service does not work on “any Windows PC or Mac computer”. For example, I have an old netbook running Windows 7 that meets all the requirements except the screen resolution (1024×600) and wouldn’t work. A lot of people that bought this netbook wouldn’t give this limitation a second thought when signing up for an online service, and would sign up because it works on “any” PC.

    Technical requirements aside, surely Foxtel can tell if the account has been used and refund the access fee if it hasn’t?

  • I think that if I were a Linux user I would be a bit more vigilant to ensure that products were compatible with my O/S.. like scrolling down on a webpage to see that only Mac & Windows are supported.. at this point it’s a user error, sorry you’re out $10, but hopefully you learn to be a bit more cautious next time with your freak O/S.

    • Yes, when a Linux user is looking for installable software I completely agree. For a web service like Presto, not so much. Any decent web service should work with a modern web browser on any operating system and not need another framework to be installed.

  • I may have narrowed it down to a flash issue. The current support version is 11.x while windows has 14.x ,etc. It really shouldn’t be the computer’s OS stopping you from playing content it should be an unsupported browser. And I still for the life of me can’t understand why Stan would launch with Silverlight.

  • You might want to add that contacting the ACCC or FT won’t actually achieve anything; they don’t take private legal action on behalf of individuals. So if you really want to achieve anything, you will need to start with a letter of demand and then pursue Foxtel in SCC for your ten bucks.

    Note: filing fee is about ninety bucks, plus another forty or so for notice processing. But hey, fight the power.

  • okay seriously you want a refund because you bought something that is clearly stated to be incompatible, um no how bout you stop being an idiot and actually read.

    I mean seriously you are using Linux an os that has loads of compatibility issues and you still just glossed over its system requirements, sorry mate you are an idiot and do not deserve a refund.

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