Load Linux onto your HP PC and you void your warranty

Load Linux onto your HP PC and you void your warranty

Summary: Load Linux onto your HP PC and you void your warranty - everything that's wrong with tech support.

SHARE:
47

Interesting story over on Linux.com:

Laura Breeden bought a new Compaq Presario C304NR notebook in January. She bought it because she wanted to get rid of Windows and all the malware that surrounds it and move to Linux, and her old laptop lacked the memory and power to run Ubuntu Edgy. The salespeople assured her that the C304NR was "Linux ready." But they didn't tell her that running Linux would void her warranty.

Things were good until the system started to display keyboard problems:

Until recently, she's been happy with it, and with Ubuntu Edgy. But a couple of weeks ago she began having keyboard problems. The keyboard is misbehaving when she begins to type quickly: keys are sticking and the space bar does not always respond when pressed.

OK, it's pretty obvious to anyone with even a a handful of brain cells that this is a hardware issue.  Everyone that is, except HP tech support:

When she called Compaq -- the unit comes with a one-year warranty on the hardware -- they asked what operating system she was running. When she told them Linux, they said, "Sorry, we do not honor our hardware warranty when you run Linux." In order to get warranty service, she was told, she would have to remove Linux and reinstall the original OS.

Now, this story pretty much sums up everything that's wrong with PC tech support.  Anyone that has the occasional contact with tech support knows the kind of hoops that need to be jumped through in order to get a problem solved.  Support personnel follow a script and there's little or no scope for deviating from this script.  Tech support is a tough job and there are good reasons for taking people through the process, but there are times when the support technician goes on auto-pilot and ignores the obvious.  Like in this case.  What does the OS have to do with a sticky key?

Now, what's really interesting about this story is not that HP has some kind of weird support clause that means that you have to have Windows installed, it's the fact that both Dell and Gateway refused to comment on their own support policies under such circumstances.  My guess is that this means that their policies are pretty much the same.

Yet another reason why it'll be a long time before OEMs offer widespread support for Linux.

Thoughts?  Have you had similar poor tech support experiences or have your tech support experiences all been good?  How do you think the tech support process could be improved on?

Topic: Operating Systems

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

47 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • So what's the problem?

    HP sold a system, not just a piece of hardware. The warranty covered the system.
    Change a major component of the system, and it voids the warranty. This the same
    as any other product warranty on planet Earth.
    jsprat42
    • Not so

      [i]HP sold a system, not just a piece of hardware. The warranty covered the system.
      Change a major component of the system, and it voids the warranty. This the same
      as any other product warranty on planet Earth.[/i]

      I beg to disagree. If this were true the aftermarket for auto parts would be zero. IANAL, but IMHO if HP could prove that the OS caused the problem, then the warranty would be void, otherwise it is still in effect.
      bryantrv
      • Is so

        Using the auto industry to compare to the computer industry is flawed in most cases, but in this one they do have some common ground. If you take out the stock ignition control chip out of your cars on board computer and put in a mod chip to get more power you void the warranty. If you flash the on board computers rom chip to get more performance or functionality you void your warranty. Just about anything from the high performance after market parts industry other than rims, tires, and stereo equipment will void your warranty. Most non-highperformance parts are not installed until after the warranty has expired. If you install a none factory approved part during the warranty period you can void the warranty. Depends on if the dealer wants to look the other way.
        bka1959
        • Not really

          Well, while I agree the comparison is tenuous at best, I would be willing to bet that a court of law would find that under the US Magnuson-Moss act, installing another OS would not void a warranty, unless the OEM could prove that the installation was directly responsible for the failure, and the only times I have heard that this would even be a possibility would be in software controlled cooing fans.
          In the auto industry, the OEM has to prove that the installation caused the failure (I know a bit about this as my business is dealing with OEM and aftermarket parts and their installation).
          bryantrv
          • You are joking. You buy the package deal.

            The other poster is correct. If you install aftermarket parts on your car even by a competent tech that is not on the approved list, your warranty is gone. The answer is not to change anything on the product until warranty expires. We know that linux did not cause the keys to stick. She should do a system restore, return it to the factory and get it fixed. Of course save your work. Companies will use any loophole to avoid responsibility. Don't give it to them.
            osreinstall
          • Again- not so

            [i]The other poster is correct. If you install aftermarket parts on your car even by a competent tech that is not on the approved list, your warranty is gone.[/i]

            That's just no true. Google Magnuson-Moss. The OEM must prove that the aftermarket part caused the failure, which would be impossible with an OS and a keyboard.
            If auto companies acted like HP did in this case, people would be required to use {example}Motorcraft oil, motorcraft spark plugs, motorcraft filters, motorcraft gasoline, motorcraft tire, etc.{/example} on their Ford vehicle.
            bryantrv
          • It is true

            Those auto parts you just mentioned met SAE standards and are approved for automotive use across the board. Put a untested chinese spark plug in even if it works it will void the guarantee. Has to meet SAE standards and approved. Otherwise the expense of litigation would be high and keeps dangerous product off the market. Linux was not approved for the laptop because they were not ready to support it for whatever reason.



            "In order to get warranty service, she was told, she would have to remove Linux and reinstall the original OS."

            Like I said, just reinstall the OEM disk and give it back to them. They just offered her a way out and will guarantee it. Not all the shortcut keys will activate under linux in their repair center. She just doesn't want to restore. You are buying a package deal from the OEM and are not allowed to modify it if you want support or warranty. It is amazing how many folks will claim otherwise. This article was written a little too fast.
            osreinstall
  • Tech non-support

    I've found that most tech support people are actually good, but they do not tend to actually read the first support request, rather they tend to fire off a canned response.
    Case in point- I had a recent problem with my Internet connection, with DNS lookups taking a long time, so I ran a traceroute to my ISP DNS servers and included it in my support request (along with the required OS info).
    The answer I got was that I would have to get a Windows computer hooked to my network so I could run a traceroute and send it to them!

    Arghhh....

    I suppose a lot of it might have to do with a requirement for support folks to deal with a set number of complaints- if they can deal with one by saying "we don't support that OS", then they can add to the numbers with no work.
    bryantrv
    • ISP DNS servers are notoriously bad

      At least that has been my experience with Brighthouse/Timewarner. That's why I switched to OpenDNS and have not had a problem since. Just point your PC or router to it rather than your ISP's DNS servers and away you go. Their DNS servers also protect against phishing attacks and automatically correct spelling. Why is it that the free services always go the extra mile and the guys you pay do as little as possible?
      msmitchel
      • Funny you should mention that..

        That's exactly what I did, though I set up a local caching nameserver and pointed that to opendns.
        Now it flies ;).
        bryantrv
  • what is problem?

    I agree - reload windows and send pc in for service - get over it.

    I run ecomstation not linux - easier to use, plenty of software no virus or adaware etc.
    dpshea
  • A U.S. problem perhaps?

    If I understand the story correctly, she asked HP about buying this to run Ubuntu and was told "Sure - it'll work". Nobody [i]at that point[/i] mentioned the voiding of the warranty.

    Now, IANAL, but AIUI, in the UK HP would find itself in a difficult position. If it knowingly sold a system with the knowledge that the warranty would be void [i]and failed to mention it at the point of sale[/i] then either the warranty would be deemed to be in force or HP would be liable for mis-selling and either the Trading Standards dept or the Courts would be after them.

    Surely it would not be unreasonable to expect them to say [i]"Sure - it'll work with Ubuntu, but your warranty will be void"[/i]. Losing the sale would be a lot cheaper than the bad publicity they are getting now.

    In any case, I'm amazed she phoned up. It's only a keyboard and you'll get a replacement for way less than ?10. It must be the easiest hardware replacement you can do.
    bportlock
    • It's a laptop

      So it isn't a user replaceable item. HP doesn't have a leg to stand on. Secret deals with MS notwithstanding, if a keyboard breaks, it breaks, and if it is under warranty, they have no recourse but to fix/replace it. I'd be off the small claims court where any Judge is going to simply tell HP fix or replace it, period.

      Aside: Yes, the DOJ settlement did wonders freeing up the OEMs from the wrath of Microsoft.

      TripleII
      TripleII-21189418044173169409978279405827
      • Sry,

        A laptop kb IS user replaceable. In fact i have 2 spares for my dell 5160. Pop a plastic strip, remove 4 screws, lift out, replace ribin, slide in, reaplce 4 screws, replace plastic strip. whole routine takes 4 minutes.
        Troll Hunter
      • Ah! I missed that.

        [i]"It's a laptop"[/i]

        Since most users plug the keyboard in when assembling the system, I admit I was puzzled. However, I still think it is encumbent on teh vendor to inform the purchaser if they know that the sale will void the warranty.
        bportlock
  • RE: Load LINUXZ onto your HP PC....

    The PC technical support script mentioned comes from large call centers hiring practices. They think PC Support can be done by anyone who speaks English (or at least broken English) and can read what?s in front of them to the caller on the phone. I work Corporate I.T. Support; the script mentioned does not apply here Thank you. We are able to get down to the nitty gritty with our Corporate clients to resolve what ever problem they maybe experiencing. I got out of Retail tech support (frys) after 5 years; I?ve learned that the best place to purchase high dollar electronics is from COSCO. They will do want it takes to resolve Any issue you have with the product you purchased without manufacture involvement as long as you are a member. This is not an Extra charge either; it comes with your membership.

    ***********
    Putting SUPPORT back in I.T.
    satxpepper
  • Warranty cover what?

    ASK HP to help you figure out why and how to get the OS to connect to a network. They tell you they do not Support the OS only the hardware, call Microsoft. The most they do is tell you how to reinstall the Image.
    satxpepper
  • How to Circumvent SUPPORT

    Let tech support talk thru the script. Answer the questions yes yes yes untill the point where the hardware test questions come and answer NO, not working. Instant RMA issued.
    satxpepper
    • It's not an OS issue

      Even if you have your own ghost build of XP techsupport will often ask you to wipe the system with their OEM disks.

      Not great for a customer point of view but not unreasonable from a tech support issue
      mrjonno
      • Good point.

        This is true... I sould have titled it How a TECH circumvents Tier 1 tech support.
        satxpepper