I Can't Shut My Business Down For 3-4 Weeks While HP Repairs My Only Computer

Here is the lesson that everyone who telecommutes or runs a computer-based home business learns at some point: you need more than one working computer. Otherwise, when something goes wrong with that computer, you will be stuck the way that Meredith is right now. Her HP laptop needs repair for two relatively minor problems. Wanting to get it fixed before the warranty is up, she inquired about sending it in for service. Of course! She would just need to wait 15-20 business days to get her computer back. Shut down her business for a month, that’s all.

She wrote:

I received an HP laptop for Christmas last year (2011), and shortly thereafter noticed two problems–first, that the N key on the keyboard kept popping off. Second, that when a memory card was inserted into the reader, it would recognize the card, but then eject and then re-recongize the card at random (complete with the annoying sound blips frequently throughout the day).

The computer is still under warranty, so I contacted HP today and was told that I needed to send the computer in for service, which would take 15-20 business days. I explained that I can’t be without a computer for that long without a loss of income and asked for alternatives. I was told that my alternatives were:

- Pay for expedited shipping (which would result in my laptop being returned in 12-14 business days rather than the 15-20).
-Pay $49 plus tax for a technician to come to my home.
-Take the computer to one of their local approved service providers…and then I’d have to pay out of pocket for the repair.

So basically, as someone who works from home, I’m out either money or income to repair HP’s faulty product….while it’s within warranty.

(As a side note, I suggested that they just send me a new N key to fix at least one of the two issues, which they said was not allowed. I have to send the whole laptop in for one key replacement).

Well, of course. That would be too simple.

None of these options are very appealing, but that’s why a cost-benefit analysis is important. This will sound patronizing, but is $49 plus tax more or less than the income you would miss from three to four weeks of being computerless? How much would a backup computer cost: even a used one or a basic netbook to get through short periods?

I ask these questions not just as a consumer affairs blogger, but as a person who also works from home, and whose computers have put a lot of time in at the local Apple Store. Even one or two days with nothing to blog on doesn’t work for me, so I put together a cheap tower, borrowed a monitor from a housemate, and could get back to work even when my precious laptop was out of my sight.

Are there other options for getting through to higher levels of HP support? Sure there are. At most, they could waive the home visit fee, but warranties are what they are. The warranty guarantees a working computer, not a working computer with no disruptions.

Please note that “I repair my own computers at home” is not an option on the above poll, true as it may be.