HP Can't Fix My Laptop, Wants It Back For Another Try

Law Student writes in with an objection to HP’s repair service, which twice sent back his laptop even more broken than it was when he sent it in. Now HP wants another crack at the machine but he’s leery of giving the company another shot.

He writes:

I’m currently a law student in Houston and I bought the brand new HP DV6t core i7 laptop primarily for school purposes (but powerful enough to do other stuff too). The problems actually began during one of my final exams, when the USB port where i had my mouse plugged in actually shorted out, causing a massive spark. I decided to send my laptop in for repairs, since both USB ports had stopped working.

I also took this opportunity to have them fix the Blu-ray player that came with the laptop, what with it not working at all since I opened the box. As per your advice, instead of contacting the main repair line, I sent a message to the executive himself. A day later, I got a call from an executive response associate who took excellent care of me and promptly sent me a box to ship them my laptop for repairs.

About a week and a half later, I got the laptop back. HP had fixed all the problems I had asked them to look at, but they must have done something to it while they had it, because it had a host of new problems afterward. First, in their infinite wisdom, they completely reformatted my laptop, even though i had only sent it in for hardware repairs. Second, the wireless refused to work (i later fixed this after spending hours on several internet blogs after HP contacting HP was no help). Third, and perhaps most importantly, the laptop now randomly freezes for no discernible reason.

Be it browsing, typing an email, taking notes in class, and even during two different exams this last semester, the laptop has frozen up or randomly rebooted. Thus far, I have sent it in twice to get this problem fixed (both times going directly through executive support), but they keep telling me nothing is wrong. The thing is, the freezing/locking up has started happening more and more often.

As of now, I can get somewhere between 10 – 30 minutes of use from it before it freezes. I have repeatedly asked them to replace the laptop, even if they give me something cheaper (I spent $1,200 on this one), but the only thing they want to do is for me to send it in again. Having done this twice already to no avail, I’m at my wit’s end and now stuck with a $1,200 brick. What do i do?

If you’ve gone through laptop repair hell and have some advice for Law Student, submit your testimony.

Comments

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  1. Hi_Hello says:

    clean the fan, prolly overheating.
    disable auto-restart when an error happens.
    reseat the ram, just in case.
    If you can get access to the HD, I would reseat that too

    formatting is normal.

    • framitz says:

      And do a complete malware scan. Many infections cause this type of symptom.
      It does sound like overheating though.

    • 44Wadeable says:

      I would be wary to do this if messing with the machine yourself voided any kind of warranty (useless as it may be) that HP might provide.

      • Hi_Hello says:

        yea, but some laptops has easy access to the ram or hd without any of the void sticker on it.

        for some reason they put the void stick on ram compartment on netbooks…

      • s0s has a chewy nougat center says:

        Just check in the manual to see if the part is user serviceable. A lot of notebooks, you can get easy hard drive access these days, rather than having to completely disassemble it and practically crawl inside the damn thing. Both the hard drive and RAM are user serviceable parts on my MacBook Pro (I went in and swapped the 500GB drive for a 1TB, and the 4GB of RAM for 8GB), and on my little HP netbook, at least the RAM is accessible without voiding any warranties (went from 1GB to 2GB).

        Still, you should always check to make sure. And remember that even if you can remove it, you need to be careful unless you want to fuck it up yourself.

    • c!tizen says:

      Nope, I’m willing to almost guarantee that their “repair facility” (I use quotes cause they can’t do crap right) replaced the motherboard and in their hast didn’t apply the thermal paste to the processor, but instead tried to reuse the paste that was already on the proc. Core i7′s heat up fast, and they’ll shut themselves down before frying.

      I’ve been in an epic battle with HP over a docking station problem with a ProBook. They wanted me to ship the notebook to them to replace the motherboard, but I refused because I won’t let their “techs” touch the system. It’s not so much that they don’t know what they’re doing, but more that they have so many systems to work on that they either cut corners or forget small, yet crucial tasks… like thermal paste on the processor.

      After they sent me the board and I replaced it the problem persisted so I called back and the guy from tech support, with his HEAVY Indian accent insisted that once the motherboard was replaced he was “completely certain the issue will be resolved, 100%.” After I explained that I already replaced the board and it didn’t fix the problem he actually told me to send it to depot so they could “replace as many parts as they can until it works, I promise it will work, 100%.” (sound familiar?) This is a business system, mind you. We have almost exclusive HP notebooks here and this is how they treat us. Pitiful HP, absolutely pitiful.

      To the OP, good luck. I’m sure the problem is the thermal paste. And to everyone else… always remove the hard drive when sending your system in for repair, unless you think it’s failing and needs to be replaced. This goes for HP, Dell, Sony, Geek Squad, etc… They have absolutely no need for your hard drive during testing unless you believe it’s part of the problem.

      • Hi_Hello says:

        yea that’s a possiblity. what I listed are simple stuff. anything beyond, he should talk to a computer guy he trust.

        I wouldn’t tell a non tech person to take apply thermal paste or anything like that.

        I know that when dell tech come over to swap out mobo, they processor is already on the new mobo.

      • BobOki says:

        ALL DV series have a manufacturer defect which causes wireless to stop working, random reboots, and eventually total failure. HP will not, ever, fix it, as they cannot do anything but replace it with another defect mobo. The graphics card has bad thermal paste and you have to perform a “reflow” to correct this issue.
        Google search hp dv issues to see that HP has done nearly nothing about this and more so continues to make more laptops with same issue.

      • MrEvil says:

        Oh God, I hope my company doesn’t start buying HP Laptops. Lenovo’s thinkpad Tech support is pretty good and at least I know the caliber of on-site technician I’ll be getting. If HP’s business tech support is outsourced to the same bunch of nitwits that do their home system support I’m going to request a visit to our Bangalore office and go kick some ass.

  2. roothorick says:

    If you’re good with a screwdriver, fix it yourself. HP laptops generally use Philips #0 screws throughout the machine, and you can download a service manual that tells you exactly how to take everything apart right from their website.

    It sounds like a heat-related issue. I’d try pulling the heatsink off the CPU and cleaning and re-greasing the heatsink and CPU die.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      too complicated. all he need is a can of compress air and clean out the fan area.

      So far every person who has a sudden shutdown problem with a laptop is because of dust in the fan. I tell them to clean out the area and give me a call if it still shutdown. a week or two later they tell me they clean it and it’s been working fine now.

      • operator207 says:

        This is an i7 laptop, those are pretty new. I cannot imagine this law student being in an area where there is so much dust that it has already clogged the fans. Hell, I have a laptop in my garage, it has been there for 2 years running 24/7. The fans are barely dirty every time I clean it out. I have cleaned it maybe 4 times in that 3 years.

        • Hi_Hello says:

          there might a chance that when the ‘fixed’ his laptop, they just grab any mobo w/ heatsink and processor already laying around from another ‘repair’ job that has been collecting dust.

          buy a can of air can’t hurt. People with a computer or laptop will need it eventually.

          or the guy might shed a lot of skin, who knows, but it can’t hurt to give it a try before paying someone to look at it.

      • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

        complicated, yes, but more likely to help than a can of compressed air.
        you can’t clean out a laptop with compressed air without first disassembling it – otherwise, you’re just blowing the dust further into the machine, compounding the problem.

  3. ShyamasriPera2 says:

    Well, you are a law student… so how many tries do they get before “lemon” laws get effective? I would guess 3 times?

    Re. the HD being wiped, suck it up, the OS being re-installed is standard operating procedure.

    However, HP should have installed the drivers better as your network should have worked. I’m guessing that it’s the drivers since you were able to fix it by following instructions on a blog.

    Are you sure the lockups aren’t a software problem? Does it occur when you re-install the OS from your rescue discs? I’m assuming you made them…

    And yes, I have no idea why I’m addressing the OP directly…

  4. Amaras says:

    As a computer technician, Sounds like the OP still has the default “Reboot on BSOD” enabled.

    Disable it, and grab the error code, sounds like its bad drivers or bad hardware (Video card or RAM)

    If you want it to be professionally fixed, find a local technician. NOT GEEK SQUAD. It will be worth it in the long haul.

  5. oldgraygeek says:

    It is now overheating, which is often the unintended result of taking any laptop apart and reassembling it. (I fix home PCs for a living, but I do not replace internal parts in laptops for that reason).

    The only real solution is to demand a replacement, charge back the credit card, and/or go very public with the entire issue. I do not envy the job ahead for Law Student…

    I had one of the defective DV9000 models, which I bought direct from HP with a three-year CarePack. It went back four times. The fifth time it died, after 30 months, I requested and got a new dv7t replacement, which I’ve had for over a year (it’s out of warranty) and has been perfect so far.
    Without the care pack, I would have been S.O.L.

  6. Dover says:

    “As per your advice, instead of contacting the main repair line, I sent a message to the executive himself.”

    Isn’t SOP to go through normal channels *before* escalating to execs?

    • fantomesq says:

      And he’s surprised when he’s left with no further options after he uses the trump card as the first card from his hand… Good luck law student!

    • ryder28910 says:

      That actually annoyed me to the point where I don’t care about her problem. Jumping to what should be a last resort just makes things that much more ineffective for her and absolutely everyone else. This site’s always advocated an EECB a last resort when all other options have been exhausted, so I look forward to her lack of common sense and inability to read being the downfall to her legal career.

  7. kc2idf says:

    You’re a law student . . . why not take this as an opportunity for some practical experience? Send them a threatening letter, return receipt requested, and then follow through on any threats you make in the letter.

    • homehome says:

      as soon as you go to threats u better be ready to take it to court. many companies, if you go into threats of legal action they immediately shut down and send you to the legal department.

      But you’re issue sounds like more of a software problem, but honestly until you actually go and look all it is is speculation. Honestly, you should’ve returned it as soon as you saw the blu ray didn’t work correctly. That should’ve been your 1st hint.

  8. sirwired says:

    I will point out that going to exec contacts for the first go at getting service just makes those executive contacts less reliable. Despite all the stories here (and my own experience) first-line HP support does indeed get things right the first time the majority of the time.

  9. ParingKnife ("That's a kniwfe.") says:

    Sounds to me like a case of “needs a new laptop”. Mine’s an HP and has been giving me problems from the start too. I’m going to get a new one myself- from a different company.

  10. danmac says:

    In my opinion, the OP should continue sending in the computer through the correct channels, each time requesting a replacement unit under their “lemon policy”. At some point, it becomes more economically feasible for the company to replace the damned computer than to keep shipping it back and forth and repairing it.

    Also, and this is just my opinion, if the OP can afford it, he should invest in a netbook to use as a back-up while his HP is in the shop. They’re relatively inexpensive (~$200 when on sale) and operate fine provided you don’t load them with unnecessary apps.

  11. Mike says:

    As a former IT guy I have to agree with everyone saying it sounds like it is over-heating, you have the classic symptoms. Another clue is that you said you have the i7 processor, I am willing to bet it has a powerful video card as well, thus adding to the heat problem. Also, a common problem I have seen is that the computer gets so hot that the GPU comes loose, then the computer reboots.

    Here are common things I see people do to make this worse:

    -Have a habit of placing their laptop on their laptop case or something similar. Your laptop should always be an a hard surface like a desk or table.

    -Block the fan exhausts with their laptop case or something

    Here is what you should do:

    -Update the video drivers directly from the website of the GPU manufacturer. GPU problems can often be solved with this.

    -Have your loser computer nerd friend like me take your laptop a couple of days and lend you one of his spare ones to see if he can diagnose the problem without opening it up and voiding your warranty.

    -Try taking the battery out when you are plugged in, sometimes this can reduce heat.

    As far as law school goes, since my wife just finished I can tell you what you should do:

    -Put all your outlines and class notes on Google Docs and occasionally e-mail them to yourself so you are not dependent on any hard drive.

    -You might consider buying one of those $200+ netbooks for class. I know case books are heavy, and my wife had a 12″ laptop that was awesome since it was so light. You can keep your bigger i7 for other things like playing games and watching blu-ray movies, but for a law student hauling around those books, a tiny laptop is awesome, and can at least serve as a backup.

    In the end you just have to send your computer back to HP, but you can try some of these things in the meantime. Good luck with law school!

    • roothorick says:

      Removing the battery while operating the laptop is a bad idea. Many laptops will not function off external power alone, and even then, the power connectors aren’t made to support the laptop’s hardware — one little bump and whatever you’re working on goes kapoof as the CPU resets.

      • Mike says:

        If you are trying to overcome an overheating problem, sometimes it is an inelegant solution but it works for some machines. If this guy is already experiencing his laptop shutting down randomly he has nothing to lose by trying it. And besides, his model will work without the battery.

  12. Gravitational Eddy says:

    I am very happy with my HP product. That being said, the -only- HP product I currently have is a SCSI flatbed scanner from the early 90′s. It still works.
    I cant help but wonder what the hell happened to the quality HP products that used to be out there. I mean, they were like Apple products are today, extremely well made, and expensive to boot. And if you didn’t like it, go try to buy what you wanted elsewhere. SURPRISE!
    It doesn’t exist anywhere else… and it was still available only from HP.
    And then something terrible happened to HP.

  13. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    It’s awesome that she didn’t even try regular channels of support and just went straight to the CEO. That isn’t how it works people! EECBs are only for instances when regular customer service has failed. Otherwise, it lessens their ability to actually work!

  14. c_c says:

    Get a Thinkpad.
    HPs are notorious for being “lemony”

    • roothorick says:

      You must be thinking Acer. HPs don’t have any particular “lemon” reputation; they’re not the strongest laptops, but if you take care of them, they’ll keep going until the obsolescence cycle forces you to upgrade.

  15. dandadan says:

    Live and learn. I am a laptop tech. The only positive thing I can say about HP is they provide me with endless work. I would never, ever, ever purchase an HP product again.

    Do you remember the day when you purchased something branded HP and it was synonymous with quality? I do. I even remember recommending their printers back in the day. They were solid workhorses that seldom needed repair. Fast forward a few years and now HP is the laughing stock of the industry. Made in China, by the cheapest manufacturers. You can buy the same model of, printer, laptop, computer, etc, and it is made by one of dozens of manufacturers, with varying levels of quality control. What you are really getting is an ultra cheapo product made by whoever got the contract this month. You are better off purchasing a no name product than HP.

    Then there is the contentious customer support and denial. I could go on and on. Just don’t buy anything made by HP, it is crap.

    Want a decent laptop with good support and customer service? Purchase a Dell. They are about the only game in town anymore for a decent reasonably priced laptop that lasts beyond warranty.

    My advise to anyone thinking of plopping down nearly a grand or more for a laptop, talk to the guys that work on them, not the idiots at Geek Squad either (corporate minions for the big manufacturers who only know how to pack up the machine and ship it to them). A small private shop will give you better info than a franchise.

    I have nearly a pallet of HP DV series laptops that are being stripped for parts then junked. So do most laptop techs. They just don’t last and break horribly at the worst time.

    Don’t waste anymore time with HP if your time is valuable. Sorry you got snowed.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      i have a scanner from 10 years ago.. cheap little thing from hp. Still works!!
      Some of the old printer from them are still working.

      I remember the time I realized HP became crap.
      we had to upgrade our computers. about 400+ of them… from NT to 2k. At first everything looks fine… but browsering through the network was slow!!! standard test look fine, but doing a copy of the same file from the same new computer, one with a oem network and one with an old network card, the oem was slower. I”m about about 15-20 slower!!!

      but according to them, there was nothing wrong with their computer.

  16. chgoeditor says:

    In my experience, HP won’t replace a laptop until it’s been repaired unsuccessfully 3 times.

  17. perkonkrusts says:

    I vote to send it back and give them another try to fix it. Sometimes it just takes a few tries. I know it’s frustrating, and we all have different limits, but I would give them five tries before trying anything different. Some people think once is enough, more are willing to give a company two or three tries, I’m pretty patient.

  18. fantomesq says:

    Read your contract, law student. You shouldn’t have to ask what your rights are. They are spelled out in plain text. Put together a case for breach and pursue it. Sorry to hear that you already burned your bridges with the executive route. I can assure you that you did NOT get the advice here to START with an EECB. That is the last ditch ‘nuclear’ option when normal methods fail. Did you try following up with Executive Relations again?

    I would have expected a better written complaint letter detailing the specific steps you have gone through to rectify this problem and given HP every opportunity to make things right. Issue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion works in the real world too. If you are at your wits end now, God help you with the Bar…

  19. dosdelon says:

    Strange, since I had the same problem when I was in law school. I had to send my laptop in twice, each time it came back worse, and after that I spoke with manager after manager until they finally let me return the POS.

  20. Andy says:

    No Lemon would be prudent at this point, after the third repair if the problem isn’t resolved you should ask or be offered a replacement pc. If your computer is still under warranty, send that sucker in as many times as you can. Once you get it back the fourth time you should be asking for a replacement.

    Also as for HP wiping your PC, that’s standard policy, fix the hardware, reset the software just to be sure.

    ANYONE who sends their PC into any service without a backup and a way to restore the original operating system (Restore DVDs) to their system doesn’t read this site regularly.

  21. BettyCrocker says:

    Tell them you paid for a new computer that works – not one that has to be repaired over and over again. I hate HP. We had laptop issues and they eventually sent us a refurbed one of a better model.

    Whatever you do – don’t offer to have them send you one that’s not as good as what you paid for. Why would you do that? They should send you a better one for all the trouble you’ve had.

    Outline for that you bought it for this, this and that. Relied on the good reputation of HP (that’s a lie but whatever) and now you can’t use it for that purpose through no fault of your own. Bad enough you’ve been without it for this long and now they want to give you the run around. Ask for a supervisor and escalate.

  22. jimstoic says:

    I hate that the content of the drive isn’t safe when sending a computer for repair, but they always say that you should back up the drive before sending it in. I think they replace the drives sometimes. I’m tempted to take the drive out of my computer before sending it in for keyboard repair.

    As a former law student, I know how hard it is to be without a computer during law school. I’m starting my own practice now, and need to send my laptop in for repair. Ugh.

  23. AntiNorm says:

    As per your advice, instead of contacting the main repair line, I sent a message to the executive himself.

    And what exactly made you feel like you were entitled to do that?

  24. chux0r says:

    I have a dv6-2190 and it is doing the same thing. It presents like an overheat, but actually will do it at random – could be 20 seconds after booting, or 20 minutes. I dual boot Linux and windows7 – it does it in both. Latest nvidia drivers make no difference. Updated bios makes no difference.

  25. junip says:

    As much as I’d like to help, all I can do is sympathize. I had a compaq laptop that was still under warranty when HP bought them. After a long and painfully misunderstood phone conversation with their customer service/tech support in india, I sent my laptop in to fix a physical problem with the power jack.

    HP sent the laptop back without fixing it, and they sent it to the *wrong* address after I had been very specific about giving them my current one. Luckily it was my previous address and there was still a friend living there who told me my laptop was there.

    So problem not fixed, I called them again and again I sent them my laptop. These repairs are usually sent back and forth by fedex or ups or something like that. My laptop came back in a dirty, squished, dented and messily taped box by the us postal service. Needless to say when I took the laptop out, it was even more broken than before. I could hear pieces inside it moving around.

    This was 5 or 6 years ago, the laptop wasn’t that great at the time anyway, and the only way I knew to contact hp was to talk to the customer service people in india again who I couldn’t understand and who couldn’t understand me. I gave up. Now I only use macs. :p

  26. CommodoreWinky says:

    Working in IT, I feel for this guy, I really do. Warranty situations requiring depot returns can be incredibly frustrating for the consumer for a variety of reasons. This guy is pretty much at the mercy of the HP to eventually get it right. Depending on when and where he bought it, he might have some recourse through the vendor, but that’s unlikely.

    Word to the wise: The next time you have to buy a PC, consider Dell’s Small Business unit. Their Basic Warranty includes next business day on-site repair. Plus, you can usually use their online support chat (if you have another PC available) to avoid some of the issues in understanding support’s often heavily-accented English.

  27. dwm says:

    Hey dude next time go buy a Mac and get Applecare. You’ll be treated right. Recently a friend had a Mac in for repair four times – yes this happens even to Apple, but very rarely in my personal and his experience. As a result immediately in the store they handed him a newer model of the same system sealed in the box – do you hear that brand new and he was able to buy an extended warranty for it too. Don’t be sucker! You won’t get this kind of customer service from any other vendor outside of Apple, Inc.

  28. karlmarx says:

    Im in a similar situation. I have sent the laptop I have in for repair 6 times now. It has been with a notebook engineer who could not find anything wrong with it until I had to explain it to them.
    My DVD player/lightscribe burner
    My wireless
    Dim screen

    HP has now had my notebook for 63 days. I have already been through Jeff Utigard and Tim Metcalf we are at an impasse. They are wanting to repair it again and I do not want this notebook back. This is a dv6t-1200cto

  29. karlmarx says:

    I wanted to add.. That my notebook came back from service damaged and they are trying to blame that on me. The notebook looked like it had been shoved into a box.