HP Won't Fix My Laptop Battery Problem

UPDATE: HP has offered to replace Nathan’s laptop via warranty.

Nathan’s HP laptop battery isn’t working right, and he’s been running out of energy while trying to get the company to cough up a replacement. He writes:

I’ve spoken on the phone with HP support the last couple of days about a battery issue on my newish laptop (battery reads: plugged in, not charging). I’ve spoken to three different techs about this issue and they all have made it very clear that the issue is hardware, and none of them are able to give me any assistance. I was wondering there were any tips that you could dispense that could help me get my way with the support system :) I figure you guys like reading, so I made it a little descriptive. TLDR is at the bottom.

The first tech ran through the support flowchart as far as he could, and it was determined that the issue was almost definitely hardware. Unfortunately, I had upgraded to windows 7 retail, and he couldn’t make any more progress because they do not offer tech support for OS’s that are not their own. This was reasonable, and he said that I should call Microsoft and go through their tech support, and if they were unable to help me, I could call back and they would go from there in order to fix or replace whatever was causing the problem. He believed firmly that the issue had to do with the circuit between the battery and the AC adapter. He also suggested I test it on another operating system–vista, specifically. I asked if Ubuntu would work because I could boot into it and see what it had to say, he said that would probably be good too. I did both of these things, with no solution. The problem then is determined to be hardware.

The second tech was from India, or the Samoan Islands, I think. After an hour of running the same tests, albeit at a much much slower pace, she began to believe there was a hardware issue. She was pretty difficult, and despite how many times I tried to tell her, refused to believe that I had a version of windows that was NOT from HP. Mind, this is the extension of a ticket I gave her to begin with, so it should have been clear already. Her response was to run a battery test. This is sensible, of course. So I follow directions and go to start -> search -> “Battery Check”. Nothing. I’ve read all the FAQs in the world, and spent an hour zipping through the internet in search of answers on my own, so yeah, I’ve looked for this already. it. Its not there. I tell her that, and she says to look for “HP Battery Check” instead… What? I have a retail version, why would that work? So we go over this a few times. It got to the point where she asked to control my computer remotely. I thought there would be no sweeter way to end her confusion than to let her see why we’ve been having the discussion for so long. So we go through that whole process, and she spends about 20 minutes checking my battery meter, start menu, and operating system version. Finally I win that battle, so she tells me I need to buy a new battery or downgrade to Vista. This is the one mistake I did made; I didn’t make a backup of my recovery partition before upgrading/deleting it. Karma, I guess. To review, she understands this is a problem with my battery…a different diagnosis than the previous tech, but my first one seems much much smarter and more experienced than this one. She wants me to spend $15-30 to get them so that I can downgrade just to use a utility they don’t have to download on their website. As ridiculous as that sounds, I try to understand the issue at hand myself. I ask, “If we know the issue is without a doubt the battery, then why do we need to run a diagnostic tool to check if the battery is not functional?”. She needs the code that the diagnostic tool outputs in order for the computer to let her help me. I still don’t forgive her for giving me so much heartache and wasting all my time, but this problem isn’t her, its the system. Fantastic. I tell her I’ll work on it later because I was out of time.

Later, I call again. I got an American; this was going to be a great night. I explain my predicament, and tell him that whatever conclusion we come to, I’m not going to spend $15-30 to diagnose a problem that has been diagnosed and is covered by my hardware warranty. He put me on hold for a few minutes after saying that he’ll see what he can do. I’m excited. He comes back and says that theres no hole in the policy–they need the error code. I ask HIM what he thinks the issue could be besides battery, and he makes it clear that the issue is the battery. I give him pause by asking him the same question I asked the previous tech. He comes back and agrees with her, so I guess it was the first tech who wasn’t accurate. At this point, I clearly had his empathy, and I’m very appreciative of it. But I still was going to be charged $15-30 for the disks that had the diagnostic tool on them. This is when I realized I couldn’t keep calling and getting different operators in the hopes of finding one who would help me. I say my thanks and bid him farewell.

Now I’m checking with friends to see if I can use their HP recovery disks, and hopefully one of them has the battery check application that meets HP standards. The last tech said he couldn’t confirm or deny this, but that it probably would not work.

tldr; issue clearly diagnosed over the phone, and covered by warranty. techs dont have the power to help me without me buying disks from them first. I shouldn’t be paying money to verify and issue covered by a warranty. What can be done to assist me in seeking a just resolution in the unjust world of HP consumer phone support?

Does anyone have advice for Nathan?