Can Owning A Cat Void Your HP Warranty?

Chris sent his HP Elitebook in for repair, only to learn that he had done something to void the warranty, and it wouldn’t be repaired. What was his heinous offense against technology? He owns a cat, and there’s fur inside the computer, causing HP to declare his computer a “biological hazard” and send it back un-repaired. He sent along photos that HP took of his disassembled computer and used to make the case that his computer wasn’t repairable.

After 3 weeks of HP support-hell, I finally reached someone who could give me a little info on why my laptop wasn’t repaired. I sent an elitebook in for repair, which was sent back unrepaired, with no explanation. It’s been very frustrating trying to speak to somebody who can actually DO SOMETHING, let alone transfer me to someone who can.

The powerpoint attached is the powerpoint that support reps see when they view my case. Those are the only photos HP took, and that’s their basis for voiding my warranty. [Click here to see a PDF version of that slideshow.]

catfan.jpg

mew.jpg

catcompy.jpg

The supervisor I spoke to started with “So, you have a long haired-cat?” I in fact have a short haired cat. He then said “Wow, I’m surprised that fan turns at all.” I scoffed, and told him he was crazy, and that all the hair in the computer (the very tiny bit in there) was what I sent it in with. I never blew it out or cleaned it, but he seemed to think otherwise. I was looking at the powerpoint at the time, and the amount of pet hair in the vent was hardly enough to make it slow down even 1/1000 rpm.

Anyway, I kept arguing with him about how that was really not a lot of cat hair. He told me that it was “covered” and that he was positive that the computer had overheated (multiple reps told me the same thing). I knew it was all a lie, I was looking at the same photos he was, and there was hardly any hair in there. I kept saying that, and I told him the computer cooled itself fine.

He seemed to relent later, and he pretty much agreed with me, so he talked to his supervisor (to make an appeal). Then he gets back on the phone with me and says that the supervisor said that there was SO MUCH cat hair that it’s considered a biological hazard. That’s absolutely ridiculous, and he wouldn’t even give me the number for his supervisor or transfer me to him (why not?).

I probably have more cat hair on my shirt than what was in the laptop. Am I a walking “biological hazard”? I don’t think so. Why don’t they lock me up and throw me in jail for sending such a dangerous computer into HP’s service center? Oh wait… because that’s just an excuse to get out of a warranty.

Cat hair or not, I just want my computer fixed. It’s a manufacturing defect, and it just so happens that the laptop is sprinkled with a bit of hair.

I’ve pretty much called every number that was made public. I need to know where to go now. Small claims court, perhaps?

Other readers have gone above the level of tech support and had their warranties un-voided through the use of the executive e-mail carpet bomb. Try that tactic before going to court.

Comments

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  1. JonathanR says:

    I am extremely allergic to cats, so yes you are a biological hazard.

    • Floobtronics says:

      Word! I get within 20 yards of a cat, my eyes start itching. Cats == Evil.

      • El_Fez says:

        Boy, you are on the WRONG page. . . .

      • CubeRat says:

        I shall send my fuzzy wuzzy kitty to your place. You shall die, as shall all hater of the ‘furred’ ones.

        And my your home be infested with small creatures that avoid my home due to said fuzzy wuzzy.

      • DrRonster says:

        Only good cat is a dead one. Didn’t even go in my friend’s house with several cats and I had to pull off the freeway on the way home to down 150mg benadryl because my eyes were swelling shut.

    • smo0 says:

      The boyfriend is allergic to cats – so he took claritin…. and repeated exposure to my cat over the last 3 years has man him more immune…

      if you’re that allergic, look up exposure methods to “cure” you….

      • Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

        Yeah, and those kids should just start eating peanut butter so people can eat peanuts around them. I’m sure it’ll fix them eventually… I don’t care what they go through, since it doesn’t impact me.

        • Such an Interesting Monster says:

          Actually, there are recent reports that scientists are doing just that to help people with peanut allergies. Expose them to tiny tiny amounts in a controlled environment and eventually the body stops reacting to it.

          • planetoid says:

            That is exactly how allergy shots work.

            • smo0 says:

              And… they get it.

              Finally…. agreement on this site.

              Oh.. I forgot to say in my original response to the original post…. I find assholes to be a biological hazard too…..

              • Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

                I got allergy shots for five years, I know how they work. Allergy shots and controlled introduction are not the same thing as repeated full blown exposure like you were advocating.

                I don’t understand how people on this site can argue that fat people should be given special consideration (It might be a medical issue!), but then turn around and laugh at people with allergies, and say that they should just buck up and pay for years worth of allergy treatments.

                • rooben says:

                  Cats are cute.

                • smo0 says:

                  I’ve never laughed at people with allergies.
                  For extreme cases, yeah shots… however – the bf was more allergic to dogs and cats – in this particular situation, we tested how it would be with my cat… and over the years it went from claritin nearly every day to only needing it around allergy season.

                  I’m extremely allergic to dust but I can’t obliterate my fellow man for making dust, now can I?

                  If it makes you feel any better, I’m allergic to peaches. :)

        • Rhinoguy says:
        • Conformist138 says:

          Yup. My doctors did an insane thing to me- they tested me for allergies (I have a ton of specific plant and pollen allergies), then they took micro samples of each allergen, mixed them together, and injected that shit right into me. I had to carry an epipen to my appointments since they were basically “taking a person with a peanut allergy and giving them a peanut”. It’s not so crazy since millions of people each year undergo the same treatment.

          I didn’t even go through the full 5 years of weekly shots, I only made it 2 before I lost my insurance and couldn’t afford to continue. Still, my allergies were non-existent for 3 years and even now I barely sniffle in the springtime (7 years after the last shot)

        • Shouhdes says:

          I think they should be smeared in peanut butter. Not for any sort of reason. Just do it. Find out whos allergic.

    • DrRonster says:

      I’m the IT at several Medical and Dental offices. I’m always asked about fixing someone’s POS. If they own a cat, no way; anaphylaxis is not how I want to go. 200 mg diphenhydramine = 8 sominex and even that sometimes doesnt work for my cat allergy. If someone with a cat desperately needs a desktop fixed I always quote new power supply, all case fans, cpu fan, and if needed GPU fan. I use a 26 gallon compressor at 120psi in my garage to blow that dander off. I wear more crap than when I’m performing surgery, even with HIV+ pts. I will not enter a house that has had any cat presence. Dogs are a different story. I wrestle with Rottwielers, Chows, German Shepards, St. Bernards, etc. Never found a dog I didnt like and I guess they feel the same. I carry dog treats and gloves behind driver’s seat. Gloves are for filling the tank.

  2. midwestkel says:

    Anything to get out of actual work.

    • MeowMaximus says:

      1: HP sucks – never buy anything from them again.
      2: contact you’re friendly local PC repair shop, and they will be happy to help you.

  3. GMFish says:

    Can Owning A Cat Void Your HP Warranty?

    Merely owning a cat? No. Allowing cat hair to prematurely destroy a printer? Yes.

    Think of it this way… would merely owning a hammer void a HP warranty? No. Would hammering your HP printer into a pulp void the warranty? Yep.

    • Quirk Sugarplum says:

      This begs the question of warranty status if you hammer your HP device with a cat.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      yup.

      I guess OP is an expect. Too me that’s look like enough hair to mess up the laptop.

      OP need to keep the home clean . That cat need to lick itself more.

      • dwasifar says:

        Say what now?

      • Inglix_the_Mad says:

        I fixed computers, and that includes laptops, for years. That, in no way is enough hair to do that. I’ve seen plenty of disgusting crap in computers too, including dead animals, bugs, pet urine, et al. It’s ridiculous to think that’s enough to kill a notebook. Heck, I’ve seen dozens of Dell notebooks look worse after initial clean out work. Since HP doesn’t build their own notebooks (like many vendors), but buy them from companies like Bizcom/Compal, Quantic?, Asus, et al., I can’t imagine they’d be any different. Especially since they all buy from the same vendors.

        That’s how much HP values their warranty and customers? Glad I don’t own one of their notebooks.

        • booboloo says:

          there is no way you can say no way, the hair just has to get to the fan, and whether it wraps around the shaft is just a random chance thing.

        • katieintheburg says:

          I have a cat and I have an HP. Here is MY issue with HP laptops and almost all laptops really. The fan on my last HP laptop needed to be cleaned so my husband, who is good at taking thing apart and successfully putting them back together, decided to take the laptop apart to clean out the hair, fur and dust from the fan. Once we started taking it apart we realized you have to take the ENTIRE thing apart to get to the fan. Knowing the fans suck in all kinds of things (human hair, dust, pet fur, etc) wouldn’t it make sense to have a small removable access panel that allows direct access to the fan on the bottom of the laptop. Not to remove the fan, but so you can easily take tweezers and pull the stuff out regularly. Is that really so hard to do? Instead I have to remove all the innards of the laptop just to pluck some hair out and put it back together. All of which I’m SURE voids my warranty.

          That’s my beef.

    • sonneillon says:

      I think the real question is, is owning an hp going to void your cat warranty?

  4. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    If that well and truly is all the cat hair that is, and was, in the laptop then yeah…HP is whining about nothing.

    Pet hair is the #2 killer of computers though, especially laptops. Plain old dust is #1.

    The best thing you can do for any computer of any kind is to buy a can of compressed air and blow our your fans and heatsinks on occasion.

    • George4478 says:

      >>Pet hair is the #2 killer of computers though

      Next week on Law&Order:HP….

      *bong-bong*

      “Put down the Russian Blue and back away from the computer!”
      “No way, man. One more step and the laptop gets it!”
      “Listen, you flea-ridden dirtbag, don’t you know that’ll void your warranty?”
      “I don’t care. I asked for an HDTV for Christmas and got this instead. I got nothing to live for.”
      “Don’t say that. Didn’t you say your sister is getting married next week? Maybe they’ll have pork-sausage-and-rice at the wedding.”
      “I do like pork. OK, I’m putting down the cat.”
      “Slowly….slowly. Let’s both go home to our families tonight.”

      *bong-bong*

      • fischju says:

        You jest, but I do warranty repair for HP, the breakdown in preventable failures (not manufacturer defect) is thus:
        60% dust, the PCs are often on a carpeted floor, completely clogging the heatsink fins.
        20% hair or dander from pets, wrapping around and burning out fans or coating components and heatsinks with a nasty film that you have to scrub clean.
        10% knocking, pulling, i.e. somebody kicked it or knocked it over (maybe not technically covered, but I don’t call it in and void their warranty, I’m there with the part anyway)
        10% Software as in viruses, malware, or user stupidity, often where the MBR or Windows files are corrupted, the solution being a HDD swap and factory reset. (I’m not paid enough to sit there for two hours diagnosing every sector on their drive, but I’ll help them recover data)

        • micahdg says:

          Thanks for the stats!

          I’m curious though, is an owner of an HP laptop allowed to open up the case and clean all the dust and dander out themselves without voiding the warranty? Does HP offer dust removal services?

          • fischju says:

            For desktops I’m not sure if opening the case would void the warranty, but I doubt it because HP has customers self-install some things, and the manual comes with instructions for add-on cards. A can of air straight to the CPU heatsink/fan will obliterate all but the nastiest hair and grime. In that case I use toothpicks to dig it out.

            But laptops are a different story, there is serious disassembly to get to the above pictures, if I was working on a broken laptop that the customer obviously mucked about it (missing screws, screws in incorrect places, bezels not snapped tight, even internal cables unplugged) I might have to call it in, which would likely void the warranty.

            I always advise people with this problem, or who could have this problem, to blow their PCs and laptops out with a can of air every couple of months, which won’t void the warranty. On laptops air should be blown into the exhaust vent, with the system off of course. Laptops overheat very easily with just a little dust blocking the intakes. However, if the fan is spun up with cat hair and burns out, I can’t fault HP for not replacing it for free. Maybe a $50 “Your laptop was nasty because you let your cat lay on it and we shouldn’t have to deal with the issues that caused” fee. Replacing the heatsink/fan on a laptop is relatively labor intensive. I can’t really tell in these pictures if that’s the case. The emailer ‘Chris’ never mentioned the actual problem he was having.

            • Schmoozer says:

              That “blast of air” also causes the fan to spin faster than it‚Äôs designed to, causing damage to the bearings and eventually causes it to fail prematurely. I know you Mr. Expert an all, but just sayin.

              • fischju says:

                The fan damage caused by a couple of quick bursts are insignificant compared to the component damage of a laptop running near the point of TJ Max for any extended period of time, which is what happens when they get filled with dust. On desktops the risk is even lower, the fans are designed for higher RPMs and even if a fan burns out it’s trivial to replace. But certainly you shouldn’t hold the can of air against the fans and just let it go.

              • YouDidWhatNow? says:

                No it doesn’t. Lol.

  5. Olivia Neutron-Bomb says:

    HP support is a joke on every level. My last (ever) HP laser printer self-destructed at about 2300 pages. Try their support website sometime. It’s second in suckitude only to Microsoft’s.

  6. Jfielder says:

    Sorry… that IS a lot of cat hair.

    I’m gonna side with HP on this one. They simply cannot warrant their product against enviromental issues that may occur while you are using the device.

    • Sneeje says:

      Do you understand what you are saying? If you agree that it is reasonable to void a warranty based on something that is not written in the the warranty agreement (am looking at an HP laptop warranty agreement now) and allowing the service department to make these kinds of judgments, you’re basically accepting that business can void your warranty for any reason with no recourse from you. And can do so without ever even determining if the element under discussion actually contributed to the failure.

      For example, exactly what is the definition of “biological hazard”? Want to bet that there is not a legal definition of that phrase that includes cat hair?

      Here is what you’re agreeing to: Sorry sir, you have voided your warranty. It would seem that a 2 mm piece of paper entered the laptop enclosure. Because that may have shorted out the motherboard, I’m afraid you’re out of luck.

      You see, without explicit agreements in advance, you’re advocating for those with the most power to interpret an agreement however they wish and to their best advantage.

      • Jfielder says:

        Alright, you’ve convinced me.
        Boy, HP is gonna be PISSED when I EECB them after they refuse repairs just because I took my laptop to the beach with me to build sand castles! I mean, come on, that handful of sand in the laptop was totally DRY!

        • Sneeje says:

          Clearly you have no issue with the following:

          a) Your warranty is void because we found one hair in it.
          b) … because we found a piece of paper in it.
          c) … because we determined you shook it too much.

          Do you see the problem? The problem is that you’re clearly ok with an agreement that allows the other party to not only void the warranty at their discretion, but without recourse, AND without proving that their reason actually caused the damage at hand.

          But, I guess these kinds of agreements wouldn’t exist if there weren’t suckers who would accept them.

          • Such an Interesting Monster says:

            Warranties are to protect the consumer from manufacturer defects, not from their own poor handling of their devices. Why would HP be on the hook for a repair if the vents of a laptop get clogged with cat hair (or dust, or sand, or any other particulate) and it cooks? They’re not. It’s your responsibility to maintain your hardware, and that includes periodically cleaning out the vents.

            • Sneeje says:

              You’re missing the point. First, they didn’t even diagnose the issue, so we don’t know that the cat hair caused the problem.

              Second, exactly what is the definition of “poor handling”? For someone that has a cat in their home, their usage is “everyday use”, which is supposed to be covered. There is nothing in the warranty that says, “we’ll cover failures that occur during everyday use, unless you have a cat.”

              What if you live somewhere with heavy pollen and leave your windows open often. Are you suggesting that shouldn’t be covered?

              When that definition is left up to the party with the most power, that leaves a large amount of room for them to make judgments that are within their favor and do not favor the consumer at all.

              • Such an Interesting Monster says:

                So if I live in the desert and my truck overheats it’s Dodge’s fault? Or if my air intake gets clogged with sand/dirt I should expect that repair to be covered by my car’s warranty? Or do I accept that I am operating my machine in an out-of-the ordinary environment and need to take extra care to ensure proper functioning?

                If you own a cat, smoke, live in a pollen filled area, or live in a dusty house it’s still YOUR responsibility to properly maintain your electronics.

                Since we don’t know HP’s side of the story we don’t know the whole truth here, which I why I’m not discussing the OP’s issue directly. I can’t really make an informed opinion unless I know exactly what caused the machine to fail. If it overheated due to clogged vents, and they found an excessive amount of cat hair in the ventilation system, then yes, I would side with HP. The pictures are nice, but without having seen the laptop in the state it arrived at HP I can’t opine as to who is right or wrong here.

      • Round-Eye §ñ‰∫∫„ÅØ„Ç≥„É≥„Çπ„Éû„É™„ÉÉ„Çπ„Éà„ÅåÂ•Ω„Åç„Åß„Åô„ÄÇ says:

        I’m sure the warranty does not specifically say anything about cat hair, but there is probably wording to the effect of user-introduced elements that may affect the laptop are cause to void the warranty. In this case, the user-introduced element was kitteh hair.

        • Sneeje says:

          Again, that would be fine, except there is no clear objective criteria for associating kitteh hair with the damage under discussion. If you poured acid into the laptop, there would be little opportunity for argument, in a court of law for example, about whether the damage was related and not the responsibility of HP. But cat hair? That is much more unclear. Acid “per se” is a damaging material, while cat hair is not.

          In contract law, the standard of reasonableness is very often used, and so the question here is HP’s assertion reasonable. Among the commenters here, there is obviously disagreement, which would undermine HP’s case for voiding the warranty. What would make it worse is the fact that unless HP could demonstrate that there was a clear correlation between a certain amount of cat hair and overheating, they would be at risk of being held to the contract.

          • rob391013 says:

            …there’s an extremely clear correlation between pet hair and overheating. You’re just to lazy to look it up.

    • Jawaka says:

      If the hair was the cause of the failure then it isn’t covered under warranty. How is HP at fault that cat hair got into his laptop?

    • Harvey The Wonder Hamster says:

      So you’re agreeing that anyone who owns a cat simply does not get a usable warranty on their electronics?

      (I own neither a cat nor an HP anything, but this seems ridiculous).

  7. anime_runs_my_life says:

    Feh..that’s not a lot of cat hair. Just let the tech brush my medium hair cat for a few minutes and he’ll get the meaning of a lot of cat hair. We brush her 1-2 times a week and we always come away with enough fur to make a kitten.

  8. eirrom says:

    That is a lot of cat hair. Deny it all you want but not keeping your computer free of cat hair is YOUR problem. Would you buy a computer from someone if you saw all this hair inside the computer itself. If you are honest, you would not.

    You gave HP an excuse not to fix you computer. Most companies can find a reason not to honor a warranty, even if they seem wrong or unrealistic to you. You gave them every reason not to honor it in this case.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      …where, exactly, are you and the lad/lass above you seeing “lots” of cat hair?

      There’s barely any there. Not enough to have any effect on anything.

    • thanq says:

      That’s not a LOT of hair, that’s some cat hair. It’s not even in the blades of the fun but on the heatsink pipe. Frankly, it seems like there’s more human hair by the keyboard than cat hair.

      If they have only two scales: “no hair” and “lots of hair”, then yes, there’s “lots of hair”.

      It strikes me more as whoever did the damage assessment has decided not to fix the computer and point at anything small as being a defect. See that strand of hair on the bezel? Marked as big as a dent in the screen.

      Come on. You’re either OCD, never had any pets, or have not seen a fan so encrusted in dust bunnies that it allows no air movement whatsoever, in which case your treshold for “a lot” is off.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      How did it get in there to begin with?

      How does any HP device manage to not kill itself by sucking in all manner of crap from the environment?

      No one ever heard of air filters?

    • BD2008 says:

      Only those crazy cat people would say that is not a lot of hair. Just looking at it makes me want to hurl. Absolutely a biohazard.

  9. AngryK9 says:

    You should never let your cat use your computer to search for fish pr0n!

  10. t0ast says:

    I’d agree about the amount of cat hair shown being negligible. I’ve serviced and cleaned various computers in much, much worse (think smokers + multiple dogs and cats + unkempt house) shape, but still in working order. The odds of a few stray cat hairs here and there causing a hardware failure are astronomical. Just out of curiosity, what exactly was the issue this laptop was sent in for? Unless my reading comprehension decided to take the day off (it’s been a long week…) I don’t see any mention of the original problem in the article.

  11. Amp says:

    Been there, done that, though it wasn’t for cat hair. From what I’ve seen, I’m guessing HP repair techs will use any excuse that comes up to avoid working on a system.

    Google “HP CEO” and you’ll be taken to a form that someone higher-up will eventually respond to. When it was all said and done, I had a much-needed overhaul on my system, and an extension on my warranty to boot.

  12. Coffee says:

    Also siding with HP…my cat allergies are the worst of anyone I’ve ever met. If I had to work on that computer, the sneezing, asthma, and red, watering eyes that resulted would absolutely ruin my day.

    • DariusC says:

      Curse the person who sent it and hand it to your fellow non-allergic employee. I understand the cat hair being offensive to those allergic, but it certainly wasn’t enough to damage the computer. Unless the OP cleaned it out a little bit before sending it… hoping that HP wouldn’t notice..

    • humphrmi says:

      So employee’s potential allergies void the warrantee? I’d like to see that in the warrantee statement…

      I’m actually OK with HP’s position that the cat hair affected the performance of the fan, and yes the OP should have done a better job of keeping it clean. But to say “We can’t honor your warrantee because some employees have cat allergies” is redonkulous.

      • Coffee says:

        If they can reasonably argue that the cat hair is a biological hazard that endangers the employee, it seems like it could void the warranty.

        • Eyeheartpie says:

          That’s assuming they have no employees who are not allergic to cats.

          Easy fix: “I’m allergic to cats, I can’t repair this”. “Alright, hand it off to Employee Not Allergic and pick up the next laptop on the queue”.

          There, done.

        • little stripes says:

          Oh, fucking please. An allergy to cats is not life-threatening. It might make you uncomfortable, but it is NOT going to kill you. Talk about hyperbole. Blood is a biological hazard. Cat hair is not.

          • Coffee says:

            Did I say that cat allergies are life-threatening? No, I did not. I’d thank you not to put words into my mouth. I wasn’t aware that something had to be life threatening to be hazardous to someone.

          • BD2008 says:

            Cat hair is absolutely disgusting and full of germs.

  13. StupidSTUPIDLogin says:

    …that’s something in your environment that you’re responsible for. The fact that you have a cat dancing on and/or rubbing against your laptop on a daily basis is not an inherent problem on their end or their product.

    Owning a tub does not void your HP warranty. Playing Bejeweled on your laptop while in the shower does void your warranty.

    Having a toddler does not void your HP warranty. Having a toddler mash on it and be generally stupid with it does void your HP warranty.

    The examples are endless. It’s an obscure lesson to learn, and it comes at a high price, but to try to force them to honor a warranty due to cat hair…that’s going too far. YOUR CAT CLOGGED UP A LAPTOP. Accept it and move on, dude.

    • GadgetsAlwaysFit says:

      Well written and a clear understanding of the actual issue here. The issue isn’t owning a cat. The issue is that somehow, and I do wonder how, a very visible amount of cat hair and dander made its way into the laptop case. The headline for this story is inflammatory. PC cases are roomier unless you get the small form factor models and they can tolerate more dust and hair. Although the amount of hair a hard drive an actually tolerate does matter since the hard drive spins.

  14. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Would having popped open the case to clean out the cat hair voided the warranty?

    I’m used to just fixing/replacing computer hardware myself, so I never dealt with something like this.

    • JoeDawson says:

      This.

      I have a dog, my Fiance has a cat, we travel back and forth between each others homes whilst looking for a place together, and never in the last 6 years has a piece of equipment from either of us died due to cat or dog hair. And trust me, there is a lot of both.

      • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

        Well, I’m not going to say that pet hair can’t damage a PC. But, having pets…hell, having computers…I’ve learned to clean out the dust and such somewhat regularly. My mother, who has cats (and lots of dust) had so much hair/dust on her heatsink that I peeled it off like a sheet of wool. Her computer ran better after removing some of the feline insulation, but it wasn’t enough to jam up any fans or cause the CPU to overheat.

  15. Firevine says:

    HP is an awful, horrible disgraceful company that needs to die and burn in corporation hell, but ew dude, that is gross.

    I am highly allergic to every breed of cat I have ever encountered except for calicos. It boggles my mind too, trust me. That “tiny bit of hair” would cause me to have respiratory problems for at least a few hours, if not a day or so. That crap WILL kill your computer, particularly a laptop that has sensitive fans to begin with.

    HP sucks for sure, and I can’t stand them, and will never purchase an HP product ever again, but I fail to see where they should honor their warranty due to your neglect.

  16. maryjane says:

    Will house dust void the warranty? How about dog hair? Does the user guide recommend cleaning the fans and interior periodically? I clean my computer every few months as a precaution. Have had heat sink overheating due to dust cause my computer not to fail, but crash frequently. Follow up on the EECB emails, you should be able to get your computer fixed. (I had an HP computer whose hard drive failed 1 yr 1 mo (after warranty) — absolutely no fault of my own)
    But next time, CLEAN your computer often.

    • Kaleey says:

      Right. What about Human hair? I saw a bit of that as well. Does that mean you should wear a hairnet around your computer, lest you void your warranty? Does HP ship back EVERY computer with dust, hair, or residue inside? If so, I’ll bet they’ve never honored a warranty in their lives, based on it being a “biological hazrd”

      Depending on the original problem, I’m leaning toward siding with the OP on this one. HP just doesn’t want to honor the warranty. If the fan won’t turn, and removing the cat hair makees it turn, resolving the problem, then HP is in the right (marginally, but still). But it sound slike the issue wasn’t overheating, in which case cat hair in the fan (and not that much by my observations) shouldn’t have anything to do with it.

      And as for people with allergies who work on computers, I feel for you, but because one (or two, or five, or fifty) technicians at HP (out of the hundreds) can’t work on a computer, does not mean that no one can. Some cabbies in cities are allergic to dogs. Does that mean thaat dog owners can’t get a ride in a cab? No, that means that a different cab driver needs to be called. I see this as a hazard of the job: people have dust, and people have pets, and people smoke, and some of these people have computers, which means that occasionally a computer will come in for service with pet hair or dust or the like.

  17. emax4 says:

    Remember that a warranty does not cover every scenario possible. And cat hair can block fan ports and exhaust ports, which then cause the machine to overheat and shut down. You want examples? check this out:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/11/26/ventblockers_2/print.html

  18. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    The first company I worked for had a woolen mill. You want to see crap inside computers? Try opening one up that’s near the card room. Yikes.

    • Firevine says:

      You should have seen the insides of the computers at the Pizza Hut I worked at. I would go home every night with grease caked on me after just six hours or so, since they use SO MUCH oil on everything. Imagine computers that were on 24/7. Pulled one out one day, and the entire backside of the computer was covered in caked on muck and dust.

      • Dukebruno says:

        One of my customers was a mail-order cigar store. We replaced some computers that had spent years in a warehouse sized humidor. The store owner asked if I wanted the old ones. “Sure.” I took them home and opened them up. The insides were rusted beyond belief and anytime you turned one on the room filled with the spell of cigars.

        Next stop: the recycling center.

  19. kobresia says:

    Well, it IS hp-Compaq, so not all that surprising.

    But yeah, if you don’t maintain your stuff properly, it isn’t covered by warranty, cf., not changing your car’s oil, ever, and expecting them to fix the engine when it gets ruined.

    That’s a positively filthy laptop, I have seen worse though (having been a field tech in the past). Pet hair and a host of other things can easily clog heatsinks and keep the systems from “cooling fine”. I do wonder what the alleged defect is. I’ve also seen laptops that had coffee, soda, and other sticky beverages spilled into them in the relatively distant past (it takes several months for the corrosion to set in and destroy things), those are pretty unpleasant to work on, too.

    The only computers that made me literally gag to work on were in the homes of chain-smoking trash who never cleaned anything. They get that disgusting, sticky tar filth all over everything. It stains every surface of everything they own, and those were really the only repairs I came close to refusing.

    Crumbs, hair, and dust find their way into almost all consumer computers, it does need to be cleaned-out periodically. A blast of air from a can might be better than nothing, but nothing beats actually disassembling part of the computer to get at the heatsinks and fans to just clean them out correctly. It’s really the only maintenance computer hardware ever needs, is it really so hard to do that once or twice each year?

  20. PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

    Eh. I have seen far worse get covered by HP.

    And, I’d almost say that the hair in the second pic looks more like a human hair than a cat’s hair…

  21. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    Kitties are a biohazard — computer or not.

    They will rule the world someday.

  22. MrObvious says:

    You can’t own a cat.

  23. Dave B. says:

    HP is well within their rights to not honor the warranty, they aren’t the only ones to do this when they see a machine that has foreign matter blocking heat sinks and air movement.

  24. smo0 says:

    So I have a cat.
    I regularly dust the PC’s and my laptop… never had an issue.

    He’s also a short hair – and we have 6 running computers in this house.

    /shrug

  25. beaner603 says:

    Wow….good thing they haven’t seen our litter boxes!

  26. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    Any chance of getting around this by taking it to an HP Approved Service Center? Using the Google (Maps) for your area should show you some.

  27. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    Former PC Technician with 5+ years professional experience and long time hobbyiest builder here.

    That is one of the cleanest fans I’ve ever seen.

  28. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    OP does not explain what the problem was. Could it have been hair related?

  29. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    How does that much hair get inside a LAPTOP?

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      The fan. We like to think that fans just push air OUT of a laptop, but that air also has to get sucked in…

  30. jeni1122 says:

    I service HP computers at my work and we are an authorized HP reseller service center. I have had laptops come through that look similar and usually we will service them if we can. This is not the most cat haired covered unit I have seen, but it is important for people to know that they should try and keep their computers away from pet hair as much as possible no matter how long or short the pet hair is (I have a Siberian husky so I understand something about large quantities of pet hair).

    Use the laptop only on a hard surface and away from where the pets normally are (like a desk or higher table area). Blow the fan area out on occasion. The Elitebook fan vents are pretty small and it does not take much hair to clog them up (smaller/thinner laptop = smaller/thinner vents).

    Best thing to do in the future is the physically take the laptop into a service center if you can and NOT ship it to HP. HP reseller service centers tend to be a little more lax about things like cat hair, at least we are.

    I cannot give out internal HP numbers, but the best thing to do at this time is an email carpet bomb, and include as many executive level people as you can and state your case. Especially the regional VP’s, they have good internal assistants that are pretty helpful.

  31. brinks says:

    I have three dogs and two cats…I should just give up my computer.

  32. Exclave says:

    So basically, HP admitted to shipping a biological hazard through the mail.

  33. frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

    How does Floyd down at the barber shop afford the disposal fee for all that hazard he creates?

  34. The_IT_Crone says:

    The OP needs to learn to invest in some canned air, and just learn to blow the fan out every few months. That’s what I advise my users who keep coming in with busted fans full of fur. Works fine.

    That is a fair amount of cat hair- though I have seen worse. But comparing it to the amount on your shirt doesn’t really count, as your shirt is not expected to perform complex electrical feats and not overheat. (Although if so, bravo!).

    Sorry OP but HP is right on this one. I’m not sure I’d go the route of “biological hazard,” but I’d certainly say that amount of fur voids your warranty.

    I’ve had people complain that water shouldn’t void your warranty either. I hear “oh it was only a little water.” You can’t think of it as “omg that’s not a lot of cat hair compared to the rest of my apartment” because LAPTOPS AREN’T MEANT TO HAVE HAIR IN THEM.

  35. FrugalFreak says:

    pretty soon dust specks will void the warranty.

  36. superml says:

    That is quite a lot of cat hair, but it shouldn’t really void the warranty unless your stuck the cat inside it or something.

  37. nocturnaljames says:

    Owning a cat isn’t the problem, having cat hair all over sensitive equipment is. You say it’s a “manufacturing defect”, yet you don’t point out what the real problem is. Honestly clogged fans are the #1 reason laptops fail due to overheating. I wouldn’t be too keen being an educated laptop tech reduced to cleaning some idiot’s cat hair out of his computer.

  38. mcgyver210 says:

    It would be surprising if HP actually honored a commitment since it is well known they don’t stand behind their products I had two not so cheap LapTops that gave nothing but problems not counting the issues with their printers not lasting. One case in particular I purchased a new printer & it didn’t work out of the box so they said they would replace with a refurbished one. I laughed at the rep & returned it to store replacing it with a Canon.

  39. Geotis says:

    I own a wool rug. Would my warranty be voided If I purchase an HP?

  40. Not Given says:

    Not cat hair, and I know cat hair when I see it.

  41. Ivory Bill says:

    Enough hair of any kind can crater a CPU fan (or any other electric motor.) I deal with this stuff every day and frankly, this does not look like enough hair to make the fan die. Regardless, once the case has been opened, CPU fan replacement is a five minute repair with a two buck part. HP is remarkably shortsighted for making sure that a customer with a high-end laptop will get a Dell (or Lenovo, or ASUS, etc.) next time.

    Teh pownt heer iz dat HP haz made sure dat dis guy wif teh kitteh willn’t get a HP neckst time he bais a laptop.

  42. butundo says:

    I see this all of the time. I am a computer tech, and this is a common issue. It really isn’t the manufactures fault, but we still repair them under warranty. Dirt, dust, and hair are often pulled into the heatsink, and do clog the fins. Just because you can’t see a whole lot of hair, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. If you would pull off the fan from the heatsink, I bet you would see a completely clogged mess of dirt & hair. I explain to people on how to clean their machines so this doesn’t happen in the future. ALL machines will do this, it is NOT a defect. Should they cover this under warranty? The company that I contract with (DELL) does cover this, I don’t see why HP shouldn’t, but it’s their call. But, I can understand if they won’t, since it’s not their fault that the machine is being used in a dirty environment. If your engine fails in your car because of a blocked air filter, and you drive in the desert a lot, who’s fault is it?

    In most cases, all you have to do is remove the dirt, and the machine will work fine. Also, modern day cpu’s have built in overheat protection. If the cpu determines it is getting too hot, it will tell the motherboard to shut down prior to damaging itself. I believe that the manufacture should just put a note somewhere on how to clean out the fan, so these kind of issues won’t happen. But then they might lose sales of a new machine, or even repair bills.

  43. kent909 says:

    Every year many publications release reports that rate customer service for different companies. Just read these and you will know who and who not to buy consumer products from. For that matter read the posts on this site, and you will know.

  44. xjeyne says:

    OP never stated why he had to send his notebook in for repairs, which makes it difficult to pinpoint the diagnosis to cat hair specifically. It looks like that notebook could have used some more regular maintenance with some canned air, especially since it looks like the vents are clogged with it. Also, it’s not just cat hair. It’s human hair as well. Trust me, I understand. As a thick-haired girl and owner of two cats I’m constantly cleaning my own PC filters.

    HOWEVER, the first thing I noticed in the slideshow is the insane amount of thermal paste on the processor. Thermal paste should never run off onto the motherboard like that. At that point it stops doing its job (conducting heat) and you will run into cooling problems, even without the hair. If I was the OP I would focus less on sentences like, “why don’t they lock me up and throw me in jail for sending such a dangerous computer into HP’s service center,” because that just shows your frustration and sounds irrational. Focus on the problem of too much thermal paste, since you have proof of it. Research what a processor with the correct amount of paste SHOULD look like and provide comparisons.

    Good luck.

  45. planetoid says:

    I’ve inadvertently eaten that amount of cat hair today I’m sure (everything tastes better with cat hair).

  46. StevePierce says:

    After the fiasco with HP Palm WebOS and HP announcing they were getting out of the entire laptop and PC business only to get back in 4 weeks later. I gave up and quit buying HP computers.

    For this OP, time for an EECB

  47. Happyclam says:

    Warranties are there in order to protect the consumer against manufacturer defects, not to protect the consumer from themselves.

  48. SlimDan22 says:

    Smoking + Having Cats + Computer = Total Disaster

    I fixed my dads buddys computer that wasnt powering on. When i got it i could tell he was deffinitly a smoker and he either had a dog or a cat.

    The inside was just coated with fine brown dust that had a sticky consistency with the pet hair attached with it.

    I had to where a respirator to work on it lol

  49. shinazzle23 says:

    What’s next? Not repairing it because there’s a smoker in the house?

  50. APCO25guy says:

    here’s the deal, consumer computers are pieces of shit, designed to operate in clean rooms at controlled temperature and humidity levels IF you want them to last. Want a REAL notebook that can survive being dropped, liquid spills, smoke, grease, dust, cat hair? Two words: PANASONIC TOUGHBOOK. Be prepared to shell out a few grand but you’re cat hair won’t cause it to crap out. Why? Ever noticed they have no vents? They are engineered to operate in hell and not miss a beat.

    In all seriousness, consumer laptops are shit. Putting air intake vents on the BOTTOM is a design flaw. Even in a proper dust free atmosphere, the cooling of most of these machines is not adequate when used on a flat surface, let alone if you ever place on in your lap or on a bed. It’s what you get when you want a sub 400 dollar computer, cheap shit engineering made in China.

    I’ve got two notebooks, an IBM ThinkPad T40 and Panasonic ToughBook CF-29. Neither of which have bottom mounted vents, neither of which were cheap shit consumer turds, and both of which are over 4 years old and functioning perfectly after daily use in the field. The Panasonic has been dropped onto concrete and still functions, only a small ding on the corner. It also has MADE IN JAPAN on it. (all super rugged Toughbooks are still made in Japan, it’s part of the reason they cost what they do).

    You get what you pay for.

  51. Razor512 says:

    Whats missing is a view of the inside bent on the heatsink.

    The cat hair did not cause the fan to slow down but there is another issue which I am not sure if it voids the warranty or not,

    You are suppose to clean the heatsink regularly (I recommend at least once every 1-2 months)

    Due to the limited space in a laptop, the fin density is much higher in a laptop than on a desktop, this makes it easier for dust to clog the row of fins facing the fan

    In addition to that, laptops when new, run close to the overheating temperature of the CPU and GPU so a small amount of dust buildup can cause the laptop to throttle or do a thermal shutdown if run at 100% load for an extended period of time.

    Solution: Get a vacuum cleaner and use the host attachment and then stick it onto the air intake for the heatsink for around 5 seconds. do this every month or 2 and you will prevent dust buildup.

    If you have not cleaned in a long time then the dust will be caked on and you will need to take the laptop apart and get direct access to the fins, then clean them the vacuum hose and a toothbrush. (If the laptop has overheated multiple times in the past, then the thermal compound may also have degraded too much and you will need to remove the heatsink, clean the heatsink and CPU with 90% or higher alcohol, then apply some fresh thermal compound such as arctic silver 5.

    The reason why most laptop have hardware failure is due to users not regularly cleaning the heatsinks, not understanding one of the basic laws of physics of a spinning object becoming a gyro thus causing it to resist change in angle (but they choose to do things like close the lid, flip it to it’s side and throw into a bag, all while the hard drive is spinning (even worst it will be actively doing work since the system may be preparing to go into standby or hibernation).

    Other than that you get she people who place the laptop on a bed or other soft service that will restrict airflow.

  52. spazztastic says:

    What you can’t see in the pictures is the cat hair that wraps itself around the fan motor and bearings, thus destroying the fan.

  53. vicissitude says:

    Of course it voids your warranty, cats are evil!

    Also, buying an Acer, Compaq, Dell, HP, eMachine, or Gateway should already disqualify you as being too dumb to own a computer device and no warranty thus given. Just unplug it and let the cat pee on it, and / or chew on the cables…

  54. trudyjh says:

    This is par for the course for HP tech support(sic) and why I will never buy an HP product again.

    Two hours on hold listening to Bombay’s Greatest Hits until finally an idiot answers who’s response is always Reinstall your operating system. Refusal to transfer you to a supervisor, or if they do, it’s actually another employee at their level, “No supervisors here,” return of notebook sent in for repair untouched with no explanation (wonder if it was due to my having cats.)

  55. ecuador says:

    I use mainly desktops and I build them myself and I always install filters in the air intakes. So, by design my desktops are always dust-proof (and hair-proof). If a laptop is sold without an air filter, the manufacturer cannot claim you voided the warranty by having dust/hair in your environment. It was very easy to make the laptop dust/hair proof.

  56. SuePhi says:

    Would we accept a car designed without an air filter and then blame the owner for the dust and dirt that got through the air intake and ruined the engine?

    It’s amazing to me how readily people make excuses for bad design.
    A computer or laptop is, by necessity, going to be in areas in which dust, dander, hair, and every other imaginable thing is going to be – the normal things that are in a household, workplace, cafe etc. While I agree that care should be taken, the fact that a product cannot stand up to the normal demands of everyday use without specialized treatment means it was poorly designed in the first place.
    these machines should be designed to deal with the actual situations in which they live their ‘lives’ and should not rely on humans having to modify behavior or make great adaptations to normal everyday activity in order to work correctly. Yes, regular dusting, etc. should be expected, but good design means creating something that needs minimal maintenance in order for it to be in working condition.
    that said, I have a longhair cat. there is never any cat hair anywhere near my laptop. I’ve had a previous laptop open for a self repair before and there was no cat hair in it. If there is that much cat hair flying around the place, there is definitely a cleanliness issue, but that does not dismiss the fact that it is poor design implementation.

    Would we accept a car designed without an air filter and then blame the owner for the dust and dirt that got through the air intake and ruined the engine?

  57. friedduck says:

    I don’t understand why laptops don’t have screens if that sort of thing can kill them. I’ve seen far more dust inside computers without ill effect, and it seems to me that HP is just trying to avoid responsibility. (My HP support story was just as bad but not pet-related. I’ve learned my lesson.)

  58. booboloo says:

    Some poor tech has to open that laptop filled with cat dander and hair.
    Biological hazard? probably, i don’t think this customer is in the right.
    they should pay extra for this service.

  59. SabrToothSqrl says:

    I do on-site PC repairs…I wouldn’t touch it.
    Same with smoke damage. Warranty VOID.

  60. Jennlee says:

    Meh. Doesn’t look like much hair to me (the pics above are the worst – the other pics sent in the pdf looked normal/fine – I was laughing at the few white hairs on the outside of the thing that were marked with sticky arrows). I think they should fix under warranty.

    Having a cat is a normal condition. The laptop should operate under normal conditions. Yes, spray the thing with compressed air occasionally to keep the hair from building up, but even non-cat homes have dust and people-hair and stuff that would add up to about the same as this.

  61. atomix says:

    Go to a local HP repair shop. They’ll be more reasonable and can order the parts under warranty without giving HP the hairy details. They just get a more objective trouble code.

  62. 2 Replies says:

    A single employee’s medical condition does not excuse the entire company.
    The company has a contractual obligation to honor the warranty, even if this means finding a tech they employ that ISN’T one of the minority of people who happen to be allergic to a common household pet.

  63. katieintheburg says:

    I have a cat and I have an HP. Here is MY issue with HP laptops and almost all laptops really. The fan on my last HP laptop needed to be cleaned so my husband, who is good at taking thing apart and successfully putting them back together, decided to take the laptop apart to clean out the hair, fur and dust from the fan. Once we started taking it apart we realized you have to take the ENTIRE thing apart to get to the fan. Knowing the fans suck in all kinds of things (human hair, dust, pet fur, etc) wouldn’t it make sense to have a small removable access panel that allows direct access to the fan on the bottom of the laptop. Not to remove the fan, but so you can easily take tweezers and pull the stuff out regularly. Is that really so hard to do? Instead I have to remove all the innards of the laptop just to pluck some hair out and put it back together. All of which I’m SURE voids my warranty.

    That’s my beef.