In the PC market? Do NOT buy an HP!

Less than 2 years ago I needed a new laptop. I went with an HP mainly for the following reasons: 1) it was from Costco so the warranty was longer than the typical warranty, and 2) it was one of the only ones in my price range at the time. When I bought this laptop, it was about $900. Right now I could get an equivalent laptop for probably $350, but oh well.

I like laptops for the portability. I travel occasionally and I love to be able to bring along my PC. Another frequently used feature of any laptop is opening and closing it. A few weeks ago I closed my laptop and a small plastic piece broke off. As I mentioned, I travel some, but I take great care of my laptop. Mostly it just sits on my desk, open and ready to go. So the fact that something would break off when I closed it irked me a bit. It was a small piece, so I wasn’t worried.

When I opened it the next day, another piece broke off. Now I was a bit concerned. I opened and closed it again to see if anything else would happen, and basically the entire hinge broke. Now, I couldn’t even close the laptop properly. My laptop is still under warranty, so I contacted online support and told them the problem. They said I was covered under warranty and that a box would be sent. A couple days later, I get the box, pack up my PC and send it in.

Now it is a week or so later, and I get a few calls from HP. Their service hours were not working well with my work hours so I was unable to contact them for a few days. Finally, when I got them on the phone they said the hinge wasn’t covered under the warranty and that it would cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $420 to fix it?!? For a hinge? I told them to forget it and send it back. I was so angry I couldn’t even argue with them at that point.

About a week goes by and I finally receive my laptop back. When I open it I find HP’s “standard” customer refusal form included. I think any company that has a standard form has lots of practice screwing their customers. Anyway, the reason selected for not covering my laptop under warranty is that electronic parts won’t be covered under warranty if they have had liquid spilled on them. Huh? The PC is a bit slow for my taste, but totally operational. I couldn’t let this BS fly, so I called in to dispute this rationalization.

Long story short, I get hung up on by a case manager (nice customer service!), and my subsequent call to ask if hanging up on customers is common HP practice yielded a very enlightening conversation with another case manager. HP gives their service reps no capabilities to override anything, thus eliminating their ability to actually help customers. The reps cannot give out any contact information for the tech service department (which makes the decisions to not cover items under warranty), and no help with finding out how to dispute anything. This effectively allows HP to operate much like an insurance carrier. I guess they figure if they give customers the run-around enough they’ll go away? Normally, I would, but I was quite irate with the situation. What is the point of a warranty if the company that makes the item won’t fix/replace normal wear and tear? I could have pumped ridiculous voltage through my PC and fried everything and they’d replace it, yet they won’t fix a hinge that broke because I opened and closed my laptop?!? Next thing you know I’ll want to turn it off an on…

I started doing some web searches, and it turns out this must be common practice. I found a Yahoo! Answers question from someone in the exact same situation as myself. I found other stories of how HP help product until the warranty expired then attempted to charge the customer, and I read yet another story of HP claiming Amazon sold a woman a fake PC with a mysterious motherboard.

Ultimately I found contact information for a VP of Customer Service at the headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. I sent an email and actually received multiple email responses and numerous calls. Now, I have been on vacation for the past week, so nothing has come of it, but I imagine in the end it’ll be the same old, same old. They won’t cover the repair and I’ll tell them again, as I am telling you and everyone else I know: I WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER HP PRODUCT AGAIN. EVER.

Even if they offer to fix it, I am going to tell them it is too little, too late. I went on eBay and bought 2 hinges (1 for each side) for less than $20 shipped! They wanted me to pay $420, and I got the parts for less than $20? No thanks, HP. I’ll buy from a company that stands behind their products and doesn’t try to screw their customers.

One other thing: I contacted Costco and told them of my story. I told them if the continue to sell HP products they’ll be losing my business. The service rep apologized for not being able to do anything, but said she was glad I called to voice my displeasure since Costco would never know any better if I didn’t. So, if you have ever had issues with HP (or anyone else for that matter) don’t let them walk on you. Tell everyone. tell the store you bought it from. Start a blog just so you can tell the interwebs. Speak with your wallet. Scream it from rooftops. Whatever…

Just know you don’t have to take it.

If you are interested, here is my email I sent to the VP:

From: Tim Hobbs [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Friday, August 07, 2009 8:53 PM
To:[email protected]
Subject: Poor support and poor business tactics

Mr. Bulnes,

Unfortunately, my experience with various support reps (including the case manager that hung up on me) has set the bar rather low. Perhaps that is fortunate for you as I fully expect the “company line” from you as well. Anyway, her goes…

The right hinge on my Pavilion dv9000 series laptop recently broke. It simply crumbled under normal use (most likely due to a defect in materials or workmanship). I contacted live chat support, was told I was covered under warranty for a broken right hinge, and sent a box with FedEx shipping prepaid.

Per the email below, I was told that the hinge I was not covered under warranty and that it would cost approximately $420 to replace the hinge. I believe the retail of the laptop was $899. I am expected to pay almost %50 for a part to be replaced. Ridiculous. I told the rep to send it back since I was too furious to try and reason with him.

Today when I finally received my laptop I found the HP_NB_Refusal_of_Repair_Service_RevB standard company form in the box. The reason for refusal was electrical components won’t be covered under warranty if liquids are spilled on them. Explicitly stated on the form is the following:

“Your HP warranty protects you against defects in materials and workmanship.”

Feeling cheated I called the number provided on the form for “Award-winning HP Total Care”. I had 2 nice reps and waited about 20 minutes before I could speak to a case manager. As I told him of my frustration, he proceeded to ask me if I read the warranty when I bought the PC. Anyone who expects users to read warranties and/or user agreements is a fool, and I resent the implication that it is my fault that I did not read the fine print when the issue is an obvious materials issue. Admittedly I did lose my cool a bit and raised my voice (which isn’t acceptable), but what is even more unacceptable is that without any warning the case manager hung up on me. I expect that isn’t part of the “Award-winning” experience.

I immediately called back and just happened to get a manager that answered. He was  very understanding and helpful, and basically told me exactly what I was told before, and what I have subsequently read repeatedly on various internet sites. In the end, I hope for the best. I hope that you will recognize the poor customer service. I hope you will fix the hinge on my laptop. However, I doubt it will happen. If you are interested in making things right my case number is included below.

What I know is that I will never spend another dime on an HP product again. (I am a geek. I buy a lot of gadgets.) I will tell everyone I know about my experience. I will make sure when my employer buys new hardware for the office that they are never HP (I am in the tech department so it isn’t just an empty threat). I am my family’s tech guru, so they won’t be buying HP either.  I’ll post it on my blog and comment on others. I’ll tell everyone I know to avoid HP. Individuals  and businesses alike cannot rely on HP to back their products and do what is right, so they can’t afford to buy HP if they value their money.


Tim Hobbs