A Hewlett-Packard Support Horror Story

Monday, January 4, 2010 , Posted by Johnny Fuery at 1:31 AM

Originally Published 2008-09-22 17:20:10

A friend of mine emailed me over a month ago and asked me to post this story for him. I promised to do so, then, naturally, promptly forgot.

My bad. He did finally get a replacement laptop shipped to him in the interim. After spending 30 hours of effort on it, of course. :-\

The following are not my words. I've copied and pasted this story directly from the source -- a less-than-happy customer who happens to be in my mobile phone's address book. I don't own (or have a short position in) any HP stock.

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I've always liked Hewlett Packard products. In the past, they've had good enough build and support to satisfy my needs. Lately however, the #1 company in customer satisfaction (who said this anyway?) has been causing nothing but trouble.

It all started around November 2006. Well that's when I bought the laptop anyways. A brand new shiny Compaq V3000 customized to my needs with a 1 year standard warranty. After playing around with it for a bit, I completely reinstall the machine due to all the bloatware HP just loves to install for you. Now the machine is finally ready for use.

Fast forward to the Summer 2007. My sound card dies on me. I mean the computer has the "mute" light on and it doesn't get detected at all...completely dead. After doing all the troubleshooting over the phone, the HP warranty kicks in and I send it off for repair. I do have to say the box to ship it off came the next day and within 2 weeks on the scheduled delivery date, I had the laptop back good as new. Of course, they had to re-image my computer but I let that go.

Fast forward to Spring 2008. The computer has now been upgraded with more RAM due to a gift and of course was completely reinstalled when I had gotten it back from repair the past Summer. By this time, the wonders of Linux have been discovered by me and I use Ubuntu as my primary OS. Now I get complaints from my friends that my computer is really loud (the fan is always on for some reason). I pay no attention although the computer does get pretty warm on the bottom. As I'm trying to burn a DVD, my hard drive dies on me. Neither Windows or Linux will boot and all my data is lost. I open the machine up and it's a Seagate drive (which gives a 5 year warranty on their drives if bought from Seagate). Of course it's not covered under any Seagate warranty and HP will make me pay for it. I buy a drive off of Ebay and install it myself. Once again, reinstall everything and get everything just how I like it. So far so good...

Let's fast forward to Summer 2008 which brings me to the real story. By this time, I had started seeing weird things happen with my wireless card. Sometimes it would get detected on boot but sometimes it wouldn't. Very random and no pattern to it. I decided to do a Google search and came up with something very interesting:

http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?docname=c01087277&dlc=en&lc=en&cc=us

Yes, HP has a recall on this and most of its mainstream laptops. Apparently the fan spins too fast or some other BS that HP wants to feed you and it makes the computer overheat and the insides melt and things die (yes, things really do melt). Usually the wireless card goes first and then the video card soon after which I hadn't gotten to yet. It's a free repair with free shipping so I decide to go for it. Let's delve into the world of the best tech support in the business.

First phone call on June 18th, 2008:
HP Rep wants to troubleshoot my laptop before sending it off. When I tell him I only have Linux installed (by this time I use Windows so little that I forgot that have a dual boot) and he says they can't help me. Great, the tech support people aren't trained in Linux so they can't replace a dying hardware part. By the way, Dell and other companies not only support Linux but also sell it on their machines if the customer wants to choose that option. I finally remember I have Windows installed and we go through all of the troubleshooting steps before the guys agrees with me that I can get my system replaced under warranty. I tell the guy that I can't afford to have my hard drive wiped or re-imaged (I really didn't want to go through the hassle of reinstalling and setting everything up again when this was obviously unnecessary). I am told that they will do what they need to and it will involve a re-image. After enough explaining to him that it's not necessary, I get nowhere. I call his supervisor and the best she can do is send a request to contact me if they are to re-image anything.

Box comes on June 23rd, 2008:
Enough time has gone by but the box is there as promised. I keep the battery and wish I had kept the hard drive too but I figured it would only cause problems if I had removed it. I also included a big note on 8.5x11 paper saying I don't need anything re-imaged and to contact me if they even think about it. Note is written in red and black sharpie in bold and is put inside the lid. If they open the lid, they will see the note. Off to HP it goes. A few days later I see online that the expected delivery date is back to me on June 31st. Awesome.

June 30th, 2008:
My laptop is supposed to come back tomorrow. I check the status online and the status is as follows:

Hewlett-Packard is awaiting the arrival of a part to complete your product repair. Once the part is received, Hewlett-Packard will expedite the repair of your product and its return to you. So that you may monitor progress, any change in status or expected delivery date will be posted to this web site as soon as possible.

Expected delivery date is still June 30th. Let's hope I get it but I'm not too enthusiastic

June 31st, 2008:
No package for HP. Still the same status as before. New delivery date changed to July 15th, 2008. Also get a call from a guy from India telling me a part is on backorder and the new delivery date. He thanks me for being a customer.

July 14th, 2008:
Day before I'm supposed to get my laptop. Status hasn't changed.

July 15th, 2008:
Same status. New delivery date is July 29th, 2008. Another phone call from India with the new delivery date and more thanks and appreciation for being a customer. See a pattern happening here?

First online chat on July 20th, 2008:
I come home from vacation this evening and first thing I decide to do is chat online with an HP rep. because I don't feel like calling. The only thing I get from the conversation is a phone number that I should call the next day to get support.

First call to customer support on July 21st, 2008:
I get a guy from India who I barely understand and who doesn't know anything. He wastes my time and reroutes my call to a guy in the United States. This guy is friendlier and more understandable and actually seems to understand my predicament. I need my laptop back repaired and HP isn't giving that to me. He says there's nothing he can do because he is too low in the chain of Customer Support but does assign me to a case manager. These are the people who can actually help you supposedly. I have no way of contacting the case manager so I have to wait for a phone call. While I'm at it, I send a nice e-mail to the CEO of HP through an online link. Of course it doesn't go to him but someone has to see my kind words!

Later the same day, I get a voicemail from my case manager. She sounds very rushed on the voicemail and I can't make out the correct phone number. I call the number that I thought was correct and get sent to the Case Messenger Voicemail. No hope of reaching anyone, I leave a voicemail on a machine that has an Indian voice saying the greeting that is barely audible. I call back Customer Support who tell me the number I have is one digit off. Finally, I can reach a case manager.

I get a hold of my case manager after being on hold for a little while. I've actually been on hold through every conversation so the music is getting quite annoying by this point. I talk to my case manager who can only tell me that “you need to wait for the 29th because your laptop is supposed to come then”. No matter what I tell her, she always says “I understand but your only option is to wait”. What about the option where HP can send me a replacement laptop because they're at fault in every way! They sold me a laptop that broke several times, they admit it's their fault and put a recall on the laptop, and then they push back the delivery date very 2 weeks by 2 more weeks. I don't feel like I'll ever get my laptop. The conversation ends with me requesting a new case manager which she doesn't want to do. I go ahead and file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and also have a friend file a complaint in the internal Hewlett Packard system (yes my friend is an employee there). I spend the rest of the day researching problems about HP and find dozens if not hundreds of users posting their own horrible stories online about HP support and the black hole that is their repair center.

July 22nd, 2008:
I get a phone call from the HP headquarters in Palo Alto who are concerned about my issues. I have a very nice conversation with the lady who is actually sounding like she is on my side for once. She thinks that HP is wrong in this case and tries to help me. In the end, she promises to give me a new case manager. I thank her and feel like I may have gotten somewhere. My new case manager calls me later and leaves a voicemail. It's too late to call him back so I will wait until tomorrow.

July 23rd, 2008:
I call my new case manager. He's actually an executive case manager so maybe he can do something? I explain my whole situation in detail one more time although he should have my case all in his files. This guy doesn't say he understands every sentence but throws in the word sir instead all the time. I rant and rant to him but all he can do is agree with my concerns and tell me to wait. They don't offer replacements on my laptop because it is 2 years old he says (really only 1.5 years old) and is out of warranty. The recall means nothing and it only entitles me to a repair of the laptop. Whenever I go on a rant and finish, he doesn't say anything for at least 30 seconds before following up with a “you have to wait”. I ask him if this goes on for 3 months, what will HP tell me then? He says that no matter what, my only option is to wait. This guy is getting me nowhere so I tell him that they are losing lots and lots of customers. People are having the same problem as I am and will never buy HP again. Companies are steering clear of HP as well now. And the first level support in India is horrendous. You can't understand them and they don't help at all.

July 24th, 2008:
I am going to call the corporate office again today and see if the only helpful person can do anything. Other than that, I feel totally screwed and at a loss for what to do. I need a working laptop and HP isn't offering a replacement although I feel I deserve one seeing as though I don't know when my laptop is going to come and when HP will actually receive the back-ordered part.

I'll keep updating this as new developments occur but I don't feel like there will be many of them.

Recap:
- HP doesn't support Linux and aren't sure what it is.
- HP has my laptop in for repair for over a month and a half promising to have it back every 2 weeks and not fulfilling that promise.
- HP doesn't know when they will get the replacement motherboards in.
- HP won't offer a replacement even though everything has been their fault from the start including the malfunctioning laptop.
- Every HP representatives solution is to wait it out.

As a side note, my latest case manager told me that some people have to wait for over 2 months and they just wait patiently. Does that sound reasonable to anyone?

Comments

On 2008-09-24 02:38:55 gWallet said:
Wow does this sound like DejaVu. I went through a VERY similar ordeal with my compaq a few years back. In the very end I managed to coax a replacement out of them, but not before I ended up going out and buying another replacement before the compaq was finally returned. In the end I ended up selling the compaq on ebay, and breaking (pretty close) to even. Sadly, I DID like HP products prior to this experience, but will NEVER buy another one ever again.

On 2008-10-29 02:14:42 Wholesale Sunglasses said:
That's a perennial problem of some big corporations. When they were small, they try to please you at all cost. When they become big, they become arrogant, believing that no one can beat their company. I had a similar horrible story from Acer. But I just moved on. I got help from a forum site instead.

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