Sitting "Shiva" For My Dead Laptop

My laptop's screen died during 4th of July weekend. I sent it back to HP for warranty repair, but then they wanted either $89.

My laptop's screen died during 4th of July weekend. I sent it back to HP for warranty repair, but then they wanted either $89.00 to send it back without repair, or $440.00 to replace a $99.00 OEM part due to "Accidental Damage".

I love the 4th of July. Hot dogs, fireworks, and destroyed LCD screens.

So I'm out food shopping on the 4th of July, when my cell phone rings. It's my wife.

"Jason.... don't kill me."

"What did you do now?"

"I think I killed the laptop"

"What do you mean you killed the laptop?"

"I was using it in the bedroom on my laptop desk, I moved it, and now the screen is all messed up."

Suffice to say that the stream of obscenities that left my mouth in the middle of the condiment and sauces aisle at King Fung Asian Supermarket made even the most salty of Chinese stock keepers blush. I was royally pissed, and my shopping experience trying to determine which unreadable brand of Taiwanese chili black bean sauce was the best for my purposes was now completely disrupted.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

I took a few deep breaths and calmed myself down. "Fine". I told my wife. "You get to go on the phone with India and see what it's like. I'm not spending my evening on the phone with these people."

I had heard a number of nightmare complaints about HP's technical support, particularly in the talkbacks of my last article where I recounted a highly positive support experience with Dell. So while I went upstairs and made dinner, Rachel got on the chat line with a technical support representative in India.

Now, as it turned out, the actual initial support experience with Hewlett-Packard turned out not to be so bad. Rachel used the "Chat" option on HP's web site instead of calling into the tech support line, because she didn't want to deal with trying to understand an overseas English speaker. Unlike myself, she doesn't work with Indian people all the time. Enclosed below is the entire content of the support chat session, with some personal information redacted. The photo at the top of the article was the picture that was sent to HP and was used by their staff in India to determine the problem and decide what to do about it.

Attachment: hp-support-chat-jason-perlow (PDF)

The Indian support technician on the other end of the line was courteous, and after sending her a photo of the malfunctioning screen and verifying that the computer functioned when connected to an external display, it was determined that the LCD screen was broken. Ok, we knew that, but I understand they need to go through a remote diagnostic process. It turned out the machine had a 3 year warranty, was almost brand new, that based on the diagnosis the repair would be covered, and HP had two different ways of me getting the computer to them, either bring it into a local support center, or have a FEDEX box sent to me so they could pick it up at my house. Turnaround time on FEDEX would be 5 to 7 business days based on parts availability.

We chose the FEDEX option. A box came in the mail a few days later and it was picked up. I thought I would get the computer back in about a week and that would be the end of it.

July 13th, 2009. I get a call on my voice mail from Hewlett Packard's service center. They've now decided that the laptop is not a warranty repair, they've deemed it as "Accidental Damage" and it would cost $440.00 to have it fixed. This, of course, is complete and utter bullcrap, because the OEM 12" Taiwanese-made LCD part itself costs approximately $100. I had researched this beforehand in the event the Indian support technician decided it was not a warranty repair and I had to fix it myself.

There's no way they were charging me $340.00 plus parts costs for maybe 1 hour of work. Hell, our top systems architects at my company don't get charged anywhere near that much to a customer for an hour of work. What we're talking about here is effectively a part swap, let alone work that a junior grade technician could do. A $25 or $50 surcharge on top of a $100-$120 part, sure, that would be reasonable. $440 is more than half of which this laptop would cost to replace. Obviously, Hewlett-Packard isn't reasonable and they are a bunch of jackasses holding my laptop hostage.

And "Accidental Damage?". Good lord, the laptop was simply moved, not punched with a fist or dropped.  Ok, no big deal, I'll get the stupid laptop back and fix it myself. However, if I wanted to do that, Hewlett-Packard now wants to charge me an $89.00 "Evaluation Fee" to SEND IT BACK TO ME.


So now I am enraged. My laptop is being held hostage. Rachel calls into the support center number that is left on our voice mail. We end up telling the same story over and over again to four different support reps that the diagnosis was made by their folks in India that the repair was under warranty coverage, and if they weren't going to do the repair, they had better darned send it back to us at their cost.  Eventually after an hour of yelling and prodding, they  relented, and are apparently sending the unit back to us, without repairing it and for no service charge as a "One time customer satisfaction" thing.  That's a very perverse way of expressing customer satisfaction, HP. We'll see if these jackasses invoice me.

Based on this experience I will never purchase or recommend any of HP's personal or business computer products to any friend, family member or colleague. They've screwed the pooch on this one. I'll gladly say "Namaste" to Dell and Lenovo, but in HP's case, they've got me as angry as Shiva.

Has Hewlett-Packard support and repair "Ransomed" your laptop? Talk Back and Let Me Know.


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