Thrice Has HP Attempted To Fix This Laptop, And Thrice Has HP Failed

Despite three attempts, HP cannot fix the video vomit that is going on in Willy’s laptop. After Willy sent it in for the third time, describing the problem to HP as “Video Related Problem: Lines, Spots, Scrambled,” HP replaced the audio PCA and sent it back marked “Repaired.”

Screwed up video display is a problem dear to our heart. In Willy’s case, the video problem didn’t happen until HP had taken the first crack at fixing his laptop and charged him over $400. They didn’t fix it the second time he sent it in, so he sent it once more, again specifying that the video display “has lines, spots, and it scrambles.” HP diagnosed a faulty audio component–which Willy says worked just fine before he sent it in–and offered to repair it for $300 more. Willy sent HP an Executive Email Carpet Bomb and has spent hours on the phone with customer service, but it still came back unfixed–but with a shiny new audio PCA. So Willy is disputing the charges with American Express.

I have had this laptop for a good long while, about four to five years, and since then, migrated to a new one, but this one was still old reliable for a while as a backup. Well, as all good computers do no matter what, they eventually develop something, and this one developed an issue where it wouldn’t turn on.

Now keep in mind that yes, this is a somewhat old laptop (Compaq R3000) but I have been trying to get this fixed for a while. This has already been in repair three times in one month time. I understood the first time that I would have to pay for the repairs as it is beyond the warranty. At the time, I didn’t care; I’m one of those people that would like to see older computers running and being used. The unit does not turn on. I had also requested that the unit be –inspected extensively– and make sure it still runs properly, as I wouldn’t know if there was problems since it doesn’t turn on.

That was March 26 and I paid $417.90 for the repairs. The repair number for this is:

I get the laptop back on April 1st and immediately found that the computer was making unnecessary fan noises (as if the fan was hitting something inside the computer) as well as developed video problems; the screen was looking like a blur with vertical lines along the screen.

called again to have the unit sent in and the unit arrived at the center at April 7, and received the unit back on April 10. The fan noise is gone but the video is still having the same exact problem. Basically, dead on arrival. That repair number is:

Now I have the unit sent in for the third time (April 11, new repair number: ) over the last four weeks and now they claim that the AUDIO JACKS are broken and I must pay a cost of $312.90. Now I DO know that the audio jacks works as I’ve tried them through headphones when I had the laptop a second time before the video issue. Unfortunately, this so-called “repair” is not even related to the video problem that came in the second time, and I suspect that would not even get fixed. For the most part, that should have been inspected in the first place at the original repair.

I have been on the phone with HP Support ever since it has entered into the repair facility for the third time. I have asked for supervisors and managers, and they have instead just put me to agent to agent, with some of them even hanging up on me. I’ve been at my wit’s end trying to figure out why they have not repaired the unit, or even replaced it, and why they did not inspect the laptop the first time properly so I wouldn’t have been sending it in all the time.

The strange irony of this is that I MYSELF work for technical support for a competing electronics company which deal with EXACTLY THIS class of both technical problems and servicing problems. From my perspective of this and comparing it, you are doing far worse than I remember. I remember it used to be quite quick, snappy, and reliable.

I am sorely disappointed by the support that I have been provided for the notebook, and the difficulty of getting answers and a satisfactory resolution to this problem. Since I have made this charge on my American Express card, I have decided to also dispute the charges to this and halt payment, as I’m not satisfied at all at the quality of the repair and workmanship that you have done with my laptop and I have not gotten any resolution to this.

Guess that big tech support investment HP made last month hasn’t fixed everything. If Willy’s able to get his money back, it sounds like the best idea would be to find a different repair place. Below are Willy’s diagnosis form that he gave HP, and the repair log from his third repair.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Nytmare says:

    Video killed, star the audio PCA.

  2. Hanke says:

    It’s a flex issue. If the video is onboard, not worth fixing. If the video is an add-on card, worth fixing.

  3. nyaz says:

    More than likely it’s a built in video, he should just go by best buy and pick up at fairly decent gateway for the same prices they’re charging him.

  4. jdmba says:

    $400 for prior repairs + $300 for future. To justify the price of a brand new laptop, I hope that this one is super high end (but, then again, it does say “HP” so we know that isn’t the case).

  5. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    Even that initial $400 charge is enough to buy the same laptop off of eBay!

  6. ikimashokie says:

    I just finished having a problem like this, they replaced nothing, then the “system board”, and finally after my friend gave me the numbers to a case manager, they finally replaced the LCD and housing, I’ve had no problems since, which is good since I was more or less computerless for the first month of the semester…

    The number my friend gave me: 1-877-917-4380 ext 94, option 1.

  7. that laptops logic/system board is artifucked

  8. pine22 says:

    i would be irrate if they charged me 400 dollars to fix my comp, then proceed to not fix it, then ask me for 300 more dollars. they should have taken it back for free and fixed it because they already charged you quite a bit. good luck on fighting the charges.

    chances are they guy who “fixed” your comp had no idea what he was doing, so he just made some bullshit repair and tried to send it back.

    yea and dont buy a gateway….

  9. corvi_yallis says:

    your laptop probably has a motherboard with a built-in video card. that means they need to replace the whole motherboard, which almost the same as giving you a new laptop. and i don’t think they’d like to give you that.

  10. ARPRINCE says:

    Paid $417 dollars to repair? It’s not even cost effective especially for old laptops. You can have a new one for $499 (Inspiron 1525).

  11. Xkeeper says:

    @jdmba: while I appreciate the HP bashing, I have an HP laptop I bought new in July 2006 (if not earlier) and it’s worked fine since.

    $999 (comparable to other laptops I checked all over), and it has worked flawlessly for everything I’ve needed it to do so far, from gaming to programming to minor website design.

    In any case, I hope you get this fixed. At this rate, though, it’d be cheaper just to buy a new laptop.

  12. Aladdyn says:

    “I had also requested that the unit be -inspected extensively- and make sure it still runs properly, as I wouldn’t know if there was problems since it doesn’t turn on.”

    Not sure if you worded it in a way that made it sound like you were asking them to fix any problems they found in the inspection, but I think its a bad idea to say anything close to that to any repair place, like you never drop your car off at a garage and say fix whatevers wrong with it. You should tell them the problem, ask for an estimate than go from here. That aside, obviously they should be fixing the problem your asking to be fixed.

  13. Maurs says:

    Blaming the victim in 3, 2, 1… he gave them $400 for repairs? Should have spent it on an EeePC!

  14. Mike8813 says:

    I’ve had a Gateway Celeron (I know, I was poor) PC for over 6 years that’s still tickin’. I have a MacBook for most of my computing needs, and I won’t be buying a new desktop till my trusty Gateway passes on.

    (If they could make a decent Quicken program for Mac, I wouldn’t need a PC at all)

    Moral of the story: I heart my crappy Gateway.

  15. nicless says:

    Saying that he could have bought a laptop for his money misses the point in the letter where he says “I’m one of those people that would like to see older computers running and being used.” He’d rather have an old computer rather than fill up a landfill. I think that’s pretty nice of him. (Although maybe not financially wise but it’s HIS money to spend)

  16. Phreggs says:

    Whether its cost effective or not to purchase a new laptop, or to repair his old one is not the case.

    The case here is a computer company dropping the ball on repairing a fairly easy issue.

    Hopefully your CompaqR3000 has a VGA port, if so, you can hook it up to an external LCD and thus test the videocard. If it duplicates on the external LCD, its your video/mainboard. If not, its your LCD.

    I’ve seen issues magically become resolved when the customer knows specifically whats wrong.

  17. firesign says:

    my guess is that it’s probably not anything worse than either the ribbon cable to the display and/or the inverter board. it points to the absolute incompetence of most repair depots and their “techs”. you can only take a laptop apart so many times before one or both of those go bad, and either could cause that problem. be much better off checking around for a local competent shop to fix this (i.e. NOT geek squad, etc)than sending something old back to the manufacturer since it’s off warranty.

  18. firesign says:

    @Mike8813: if you have an intel based macbook, why not just run windows via boot camp or parallels or vmware fussion on it?

  19. Mike8813 says:


    I would love to do that… I just can’t justify spending close to 200 bucks to buy XP. All I have laying around is old XP recovery discs, so I’d have to shell out for a new one. I would’ve figured I’d see a price drop for XP after Vista came out… Joke’s on me.

  20. Mike8813 says:

    @firesign: I would love to do that. I just can’t justify spending 200 bucks on XP. All I have laying around is old XP recovery discs, so I’d have to shell out for a new one. I had assumed there’d be a price drop for XP after Vista… Joke’s on me, huh?

  21. TemplarKefka says:

    I know exactly what is wrong. That happens with any video card that is in the process of overheating.

    That’s why it takes a few minutes for it to pop up. And if it is done in a very cold room, like in a computer repair shop it might take even longer.

    the number one cause is the heat syncs generally use 3m heat sync application stickers. They will dry up and crack causing them to become less and less efficient over time.

    Let me see if I can find my pics of computers with this problem as a reference for you.

    This issue is 100% hardware, so that may help the fight. For proof take a screenshot by using the print screen button. Then open paint and Paste(ctrl-v)the image and save. You will see the lines in the graphic, on any computer you open the image.

  22. HPCommando says:

    Two ways of handling HP; one is to get the “Post Warranty Care Pack”. HP will support most of its products up to five years after manufacture and beyond the original warranty. At an average of $100/year, it’s a decent investment and has the HP warranty behind it.

    I’d say that the other way is a depot repair, but the last I knew, HP charged $85 to diagnose, and an additional $250 to repair. This is supposed to cover up to five (5) “major components”, excluding cracked/broken LCD or PCB. This may have been removed from availability, and from the sound of it here, it likely has been.

    However, a call to 650-857-7177 should get you some relief. This is the old “Executive Advocacy Line”, which has been renamed but still works. The next level up from this is Mark Hurd, and he really doesn’t like people calling to speak to him so the staff is supposedly empowered to deal with almost any customer situation.

    I think they call themselves “Mission Control” or something similar, but these are supposed to be the HP equivalent to a police department’s Internal Affairs…no one likes them, and everyone has to answer to them.

    If you know an HP shop in your area, see if they can check the Service Action Advisories for that model notebook. Several models of late have had manufacture defects which HP has been quietly trying to deal with, but don’t pass along to their telephone support people.

  23. adven2rous says:

    I had a similar issue with HP, after the third time of sending it in I just bought a new video card on eBay and installed it myself. Turns out I was good enough to start my own computer repair business. HP’s got serious problems with their customer service, cut your losses and move on because it will NEVER be done right.
    My suggestion would be to do what Phreggs said, testing the video card with an external monitor. If it doesn’t work, take your computer to a local repair shop. Use someone who you can trust (harass in person if they screw up). They should be able to install the new video card in a day (once they have the part). I charge $129 plus the part to do the job, it shouldn’t be much more than that.

  24. trujunglist says:


    Why not just run Windows on it anyway? You already own the XP software that you bought with your Gateway. You paid for the software whether you think you did or not, because that was rolled into the cost of the machine. I’d much prefer Boot Camping/Parallels on a new Macbook, but that’s just me. I’d download a backup copy at this point, since you don’t seem to have a copy of the software that you legally own.

  25. dogfoodpony says:

    I’m having the EXACT same problem on a dell. Had to move the screen around to make sure the distortion was part of that image and not just distortion from my own screen.

    As said above, this is the video card malfunctioning. If your card is built into the motherboard, you need a new motherboard. If video is a separate card, they need to swap it for a new one.

  26. 11hawkinst says:

    This is great! Well, not really, but my Acer is having the same exact problem! I’ve already sent it in last week and got it back. Did that fix it? No. Now what do I do?

  27. Mike8813 says:

    @trujunglist: I was under the impression that you needed a full licensed copy of XP to use these programs. How can I download a copy of my Gateway’s XP software as you’ve suggested?

  28. wesrubix says:

    I don’t understand why HP replaced the audio PCA (I’m guessing that’s a daughter board). They should have replaced the graphics processing unit (GPU) or the entire motherboard (if the GPU was soldered on or integrated). This failure on HP’s part just makes me shake my head again and again.

  29. Interl0per says:

    Idiots, does a doctor amputate your leg if you have a headache? Clearly an onboard video issue, they should have replaced the motherboard. Probably cheaper for them to just replace a non broken audio card…

  30. pzm436 says:

    I had a similar problem with my HP laptop. The LCD and AC port begin to fail near the end of the warranty.I had the typical problems with their consumer service. After sending it in for the third time, the LCD problem was fix by replacing the power cable. HP refused to fix the AC problem stating it was my fault. A few weeks later it wouldn’t turn on or charge the battery. Turns out the AC port burn off of the mobo. I was shock HP would ship back such a potential fire hazard.

  31. julianazor says:

    I had this same problem. After spending $400+ on fixing it, it still wasn’t fixed. I kept telling them that my video card was fried — they still seemed to think it was my hard drive. I just ended up buying a new computer, because replacing the motherboard/video card was just as pricey.

  32. BondJBond says:

    This computer is closing in on 5 years old, and is the target os a lawsuit.

  33. civicmon says:

    He can’t really be serious… $400 on a repair for a 4-5 year old laptop? When new laptops are $600, it would have been in his best interest to invest that there since he’d get a warranty and fresh components.

    I don’t really get it.. if it was one year old and a couple months out of warranty, understandable, but not for a 4-5 year old laptop.

  34. CompyPaq says:

    One number 877-917-4380.

    Don’t get me started with HP. Apparently warranties don’t cover issues caused in the repair center. I sent in my laptop for a hard drive failure, it came back with a broken battery case. I called them up, they didn’t apologize (I actually asked for one and they blamed it on FedEx,although they use about 10 pounds of padding to ship a 5 pound laptop), but had me send it back and said they would have it back for me within 10 days. A week later, I get a call from the repair center saying that the repairs aren’t covered under my Accidental Damage Warranty. I explained the damage happened in his repair center, but he said that he couldn’t repair the computer until I sent them $812.82. He also said he escalated the case to my case manager (This wasn’t my first run in). My case manager never called me back despite me putting in several escalations. I sent an email to Mark Hurd, the CEO, nothing happened. 20 days after I originally sent in my laptop, I asked my lawyer friend to help me write a letter. I sent it certified return receipt giving them 10 days from the receipt of the letter to send me back a repaired laptop, as I had been without one for 20 days. Seven days later, their system sent me an email stating that there had been a delay in the repair of my laptop and they would attempt to have it repaired by a date that was 15 days prior to sending me the email. On day 10, I decided that I was going to spend the entire day trying to get a hold of my case manager. I actually did so with ease, and after explaining the situation, she ensured me the laptop would be repaired in my hands in two days and gave me another 2 years on my warranty. When I noted it was easier to get ahold of her than it was on previous occasions, she said that her case notes from my previous complaints had come under audit, and HP reorganized their case manager department so that you could always get ahold of one. I thanked her. My laptop was returned to me with a fixed battery case, except my hard drive, the issue I sent it in for in the first place, still wasn’t returned to me. I called my case manager again and she repeatedly apologized, and said that because the repair took over 30 days in the first place, she would be glad to replace my computer with a new top of the line model. I had a dv2000 (Which was a free replacement courtesy of HP for another issue for my 2 year old presario, another long story), and she sent me a top of the line, all features included DV2700 which when I went to HP’s site to build, was over $2000. Long story short, HP has one of the worst customer supports in the industry, but always call the case manager line: 877-917-4380

  35. karlmarx says:

    If you ever get a Case Manager names Susan… Hang up, she will not replace your computer no matter how many repairs you have, and if after arguing with her forever, she decides she is going to do so, she replaces it with an inferior refurbished notebook. It took me almost three months the last time she wanted to help me with my notebook issues. I called yesterday to get help with my notebook again, and she answered, I am trying to get a new case manager, because she is not counting certain repairs I had on the notebook. I should be getting a replacement and she is insisting that I have it serviced again.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I have a HP Laptop and have had similar problems. I officially gave up and told everyone I know they suck and never to buy one cause they fail and you get NO SUPPORT. Im surprised they are still in business. Spread the word. They suck, PERIOD. Its the only way to get things done sometimes. Mgrs, customer service reps just dont care! And I spent $3900 on my laptop and they refused to fix it under warranty!

  37. mmeehh says:

    hp out of warranty repair costs
    the phone call 49.99 diagnosis/or 99.00 one year phone warranty
    the repair minimum 298.00 box that is for the box no hardware
    398.00 /698.00/998.00 and up have seen a 1100.00 repair bill for a 499.99 laptop
    other money grabbers smart friend for dumb people 69.00 up to 149.00
    pc tune up 59.00 to 99.00