I have not yet opened the box of the new laptop I have bought and want to run Ubuntu on it instead of Windows. The laptop i bought is a refurb so i'm not sure where i stand with regard to being able to claim a refund. Is it possible in theory?
You can only reclaim the Windows Tax if it is a new notebook (not refurbed). Unfortunately, since it's refurbished, you will not be able to claim it - since the discount is already there.
EDIT : added article
For a good guide on getting a Windows refund, you can check this article from Linux.com. The article explicitly states that a refund can only be gotten from a new computer. Inasfar as I know, manufacturers don't consider a refurbed unit as a new computer.
You can try your luck, but what if the service rep says this : "Oh the refurb discount you got factors in the entire cost of Windows." How are you going to answer then?
It's refurbished, meaning it's used. Someone used that Windows licence (even if it was for only a minute). You can't get your money back from not using Windows because that Windows was already paid for.
That Windows licence cannot be applied to any other computer so there is no reason the retailer will discount the price of the computer because you don't want software that they can't resell.
I drive a car that has a cigarette lighter, and I don't smoke. I didn't get a refund for the cost of it simply because I don't use it. You purchased a system that came with Windows. It isn't up to the retailer if you use it or not. It really is up to you as the buyer to purchase what you want in the first place. If it is that big of a deal, return the system and shop around for one that doesn't come with an OS.