Dear HP: It's Been 6 Weeks Since I Last Saw My Laptop Can You Please Return It?

Reader D misses his laptop. A lot. He hasn’t seen it in 6 weeks. Despite tirelessly working to escalate his complaint up the ladder at HP, he keeps getting shuffled back around to “Jim,” an executive customer service rep who just keeps repeating the same old story about a delayed part.

Yes, that’s right. It’s the Case of the Disappearing Laptop again.

I have (had?) an HP pavilion notebook that had a wireless card fail on me 10 months into the manufacturers warranty. I look in the HP business support forums via wired network, and find that it is a problem with the motherboard design and that replacements through HP service is the only way to fix. I call up HP directly and they authorize the in-warranty service repair and they send out a box for Fed-Ex pickup, telling me I will have it returned in 5 business days at no cost to me. Great!!! I think I can handle that. That was February 18.

They send me a handy little order status link to my email which I can monitor my repair, but in short order, the “Expected delivery date” turns into a moving target for which HP has been regarding as a vauge idea. Since the service order was opened, this date has moved back 4 times now, the latest “expected” date being 04/17/08. The explained reason for the delay:

Hewlett-Packard is awaiting the arrival of a part to complete your product repair. Once the part is received, Hewlett-Packard will expedite the repair of your product and its return to you.

Now, if there is a delay in parts – I can accept that excuse…..once. But not four times now. As I work in manufacturing, we hold our suppliers accountable to on-time delivery of parts and quantities. We issue purchase orders to them with expectations that they have to deal with. If they are beyond their due date – they expedite the shipment at their cost, even with parts coming from Asia, but I digress.

Calling the customer service phone number listed on my order status page, I enter HP Hell. After explaining the situation politely to the accent on the other line and how the delays have been unacceptable, the response was to repeatedly read from their scripted screen saying that “I should be happy to get my notebook back on [date]”. Again, I explain that it is unacceptable. Asking to speak with a supervisor gets me sent to a wide array of agents who hand me from one agent to the next. I feel like I am talking to an echo. Although the ever helpful tip of reminding me that my warranty was about to expire while not solving my problem was greatly appreciated [/dripping sarcasm]. After a few hours, I give up for the moment and decide to try again another day.

Calling back, I encounter the same runaround. No one has an answer beyond their screen. Several more attempts over various days, agents and transfers to who knows where, one agent offers to escalate my repair to a case manager based in the U.S. Perhaps now I can finally get some answers. I am given a case id # and a ‘direct’ phone number (877-917-4380 x94 the same which has appeared on Consumerist). My hopes for getting better answers were short lived.

The case manager assigned to my order is the “only one” authorized to act on my case. Others simply have to defer to ‘Jim’. I explain to Jim my frustration in that as the promised 5 business day return was extremely overdue. He again repeats the ‘delayed parts’ information saying they were due by [date] but would not guarantee that date. I ask him to check with their purchasing department to verify their purchase order and promised delivery date. I really need this notebook back with tax season approaching (yes, I did a backup but without hardware a backup is useless). He says doesn’t have access to that, so I ask to be transferred to someone who does. Little did I know that ‘Jim’ was also known as Mark Hurd, HP CEO & Chairman of the Board [/more sarcasm] as ‘Jim’ says that he is as high as it goes in the company. Yet he was powerless to do anything beyond echo his screen. Countless attempts have been made to get my case assigned to another case manager, with no success.

To add insult to injury, April 2 I get a notice that HP is issuing a ‘Limited Warranty Service Enhancement’ on the very issue my notebook was in service for, saying “After HP receives your notebook PC, HP will use its best efforts to repair and ship your notebook to you within 10 to 14 business days”. Oh joy, another “best effort” to the masses now.

To say I am livid is an understatement. Calling the Executive Customer Relations phone number (800-756-0608 option 7) to issue a complaint results in them simply sending me back to the case manager who is not empowered to do anything – let alone call back when he promised. Calling Mark Hurd’s office (650-857-1501) also lead to a dead end.

It’s been over 6 weeks with no notebook, and now I am missing the tax deadline. There has been no urgency on HP’s behalf to resolve this through reliable information or replacement and it appears no one at HP can be bothered to care. After reading previous stories on Consumerist about HP, it seems like the lesson in customer service needs further explanation to them. *All* I want is my notebook back in working order or a replacement with my original hard drive and memory upgrade so I can conduct my business in peace. Is that really too much to ask?

Is it too much to ask? No, we don’t think so.

Hey HP, can you shake loose another laptop for us?


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