HP Chat Rep Promises Free Warranty Repair; HP Disagrees

Elizabeth was having trouble with her HP netbook’s screen. She says that she didn’t drop it, hit it, or otherwise physically damage it – one day, she just couldn’t read the screen, and vertical lines appeared up and down it. Not to worry, though! Her computer was still under warranty. She started a tech support chat with HP, where a surprisingly helpful agent set up a repair for her, at a cost of $0. Yay! The agent even provided some unexpected life wisdom, typing to Elizabeth, “I am aware how inconvenient it can be when things do not happen the way we want them to be, I will do my best in this regard.”

Here’s the relevant part of their conversation:

A: Please do not worry, I’ve checked the warranty details of your computer and found that your computer is still covered under normal hardware warranty, so in this case what I’m going to do is, with your permission I will quickly go ahead and try to setup an order for taking this unit in for complete free hardware diagnostic check & repair.

A: This entire process will take approximately 7-9 business days. Is that okay with you?

Elizabeth: Yes.

A: A service order has been initiated to return your product to a HP for repair.
The cost of this service to you will be: $0.00

The free repair wasn’t to be. Here’s Elizabeth’s version of events:

As seen in the attached document, the screen for my netbook died on
its own power. There was never a third party damaging the screen or
anything such as that. After discovering that the warranty was still
valid for the computer, I used HP’s tech support chat program to get
the ball rolling. Eventually, the person at the end of the chat said
that the screen was a hardware issue and that the repair for it was
covered under my warranty for the grand total of zero dollars. After
sending out the computer for repair 2 weeks ago, I had yet to hear
from them regarding it and called them today. This resulted in me
being bounced around and disconnected for over 90 minutes. The
diagnosis, when I was finally able to talk to someone?

The damage was done by something damaging the screen and the repair
will actually cost me 280 dollars, not the earlier quoted (in the
chat) price of zero dollars.

I’ve requested that they send me the computer back (minus the 280
dollar repair job). Knowing how fantastic the Consumerist is, is there
anything I can do to get the computer fixed for free, like I was
already told? Thanks so much!

We don’t have HP voodoo powers, but have found the company to be responsive to executive e-mail carpet bombs in the past. Unfortunately, it does often take a small claims court case or other seriously hardball tactics to get HP to repair hardware in situations like this. Good luck.