Hungry HP Repair Dept Captures Another Laptop

You gotta hand it to Hewlett Packard—they’re able to improvise quickly when it comes to making up excuses. Dustin wrote to let us know that so far, over the three weeks that HP has had his laptop in for repair, he’s heard these reasons for why they haven’t sent it back yet:

  • laptop warranty voided because of dog hair under keyboard
  • repair placed on hold because they need to reformat the hard drive
  • hard drive needs to be replaced
  • OS could not be replaced because product sticker in back was gone

It may not surprise you to find out that Dustin sent in the notebook to have the AC jack repaired, because it had started to come loose and the power cord wouldn’t stay securely connected. The keyboard, hard drive, and OS were all just fine.

Here’s Dustin’s sad, familiar tale (emphasis ours, because we think Dustin’s mentioning of dog hair was used against him later by a lazy repair technician):

Dear Consumerist,

I am bringing you another HP horror story. On May 21, 2008 I started to notice that my AC jack on my HP Pavilion laptop started to become loose and my power cord would not stay in anymore. I didn’t see this as a big problem so I called HP and setup a repair and figured I would be without a laptop for a week. I also asked the CSR to note to clean where the keyboard is as there was some dog hair (I think I might be a little OCD and a spray can didn’t get all the hair out) she/he put it in the notes and I sent the box out the next day.

The next week goes by and HP has an estimated delivery date of June 3, 2008. So when June 2,2008 comes around I call HP to see if everything went smoothly. However I was greeted by some unpleasant news, the CSR told me my laptop warranty was voided because there was dog hair under the keyboard.(I have two big dogs and they just lay on my floor and are never by the laptop.)

I had come to the Consumerist and started to search for any contact information for HP. All I found was the HP Case manage line so I called them up and was greeted by Dan who gave me the case or transaction number 7500453987, he was baffled by how I got the number but the call went on. He apologized to me and requested picture from the repair center. The next day I called Dan to see how everything was going, Dan was at lunch so another manager read my notes and told me that Dan authorized the repair and I was feeling happy.

Waited a few days to see if there would be an estimated delivery date and still nothing, I call the normal HP support line to see what the hold up was. The CSR told me that my repair had been placed on hold because they needed to format the hardrive (I called earlier in the week and requested not to have the hardrive wiped if at all possible because I forgot to backup some data). I understood and told them that they could format the hardrive.

After a few days I called to see if there was an estimated delivery date and nothing so the CSR placed a request for an update. I called back 24 hours everyday for a week and each CSR put a request in. The last CSR made a request for the repair center to call me and they did today at around 10am MST. He told me that the laptop was not being repaired for the dog hair because it was customer damage he also said that my hardrive needed to be replaced and they found nothing else wrong.

I told them to check the AC jack because it was loose and the reason why it was sent in the Repair Center guy (I didn’t catch his name) told me nothing else was wrong. He also added that the hardrive could be replaced but the Operation System not reinstalled because the product sticker in the back was gone. GONE! Which is a total lie, the sticker was worn out but not gone. I had used the laptop up to the minute the Fedex guy came to the door.

I called my Case Manager and he said he would get this sorted out. The Case Manager has been nothing but helpful but something needs to get done. I’m using a slow 433mhz/256ram computer and using this thing is giving me a headache. I emailed some executives and they said they would look into this but never replied. I don’t know where to go from here I am really missing my laptop and if things keep going the way they do I will never buy an HP product again!

Confused and Lost,

It sounds to us like HP’s repair monkeys just glance at whatever notes are in the file, then convert what they read into a “reason this isn’t repaired” excuse. Someone should make up a false detail the next time they send an HP notebook in for repair—”there’s a piece of a parakeet feather jammed between the keys that I can’t get out”—and then see whether or not that made-up detail is used against you weeks later when you’re trying to find out where your laptop went off to.

On a related note, Dustin, you may want to contact this law firm and let them know about your AC problem and the extreme difficulty you’ve had in getting it repaired.

(Photo: jorritf)


Edit Your Comment

  1. BoomerFive says:

    Wow, just wow. Not surprised, but….wow. Something extremely shady is going on here.

  2. Pogue says:

    Seven business days after the due date and this is a horror story?

  3. GMFish says:

    Businesses and right wingers tend to hate pro-consumer legislation because such laws are viewed as being against the proverbial free market and anti-business.

    However, a friend of mine who does consumer protection law made a great point: Pro-consumer laws help business.

    People are more likely to spend money when they feel safe doing so. And when they’re afraid of being scammed, they’re less likely to spend. Thus a marketplace that’s fair to the consumer leads to more spending and more profit.

    When I read the horror stories here I certainly avoid shopping at wacko places such as Target or Best Buy who treat their customers like criminals.

    Hopefully the pendulum will swing back, consumers will feel safe buying, and retailers can go back making tons of money.

  4. Xerloq says:


    Couple of additional notes:

    1. Deal only with the Case Manager once you contact them. They have power to get things done.

    2. Get the Case Manager’s last name or at the very least their initial. There are multiple Dans – you want to talk to the same one

    3. Remind the case manager of their commitment in the warranty – a three- to five-day turnaround time. (Check your warranty for the specifics.)

    4. Ask that HP exercise it’s option to replace the defective unit.

    5. Call back daily until you get the resolution you want.

    Granted, it shouldn’t be this hard, but these are the steps I followed when my notebook was swallowed up. I got a new replacement notebook and my old laptop repaired. You probably won’t be this lucky. (BTW, I can’t get HP to take back the old laptop).

    Your conversation should go something like this (mine did):

    CASE MANAGER: HP Case Manager
    YOU: My laptop hasn’t been repaired and returned to me. The warranty says I should have had it in 3-5 business days. I don’t have it.
    C: Our target is 7-10 business days.
    Y: OK, I’m willing to wait another week, but if I don’t have the laptop back on the 10th day, will you replace my laptop.
    C: We don’t generally do that if we can repair the machine.
    Y: I understand, and it appears there’s a conflict in policies. The warranty clearly states 3-5 days. Would it be fair to expect if the laptop cannot be repaired in the 7-10 business day target that I should receive a replacement?
    C: I guess so.
    Y: Then let’s shoot for that. Will HP replace the laptop if it cannot be repaired in the 10 business days? Is that fair.
    C: Yes.
    Y: OK, Please note that I’ll call back if I don’t have the laptop in my hands after the 10th business day to order the replacement, alright?
    C: Okay.

    Be sure to be polite and courteous, and offer them a way to comply with both policies, and you should win either your laptop repaired or a brand new laptop!

    Not counting calls when my CM was out, I got a replacement in 3 calls and two weeks: The initial call to open the case, a follow up call where I got the HP commitment to replace, and a third call to order the replacement.

    Good Luck.

  5. nutrigm says:

    With DELL, they actually tell you “DO NOT INCLUDE HARD DRIVE” when sending a laptop in for repair. I had an inspiron 5160 laptop with the overheating issue (continuous rebooting loop) that got fixed and replaced PLUS they gave me a new power supply brick and cables FREE!

  6. seismic007 says:

    Remember the “good old days” before HP bought Compaq?

  7. Chris Walters says:

    @Xerloq: This is terrific info, Xerloq–thanks for posting it.

  8. easy2panic says:

    I would never send my Hard Drive in either. If they say you need an Hard Drive to power on the computer, they are F’tards. (Without a Hard Drive, you will still see something on the screen, usually BIOS or boot manager.)

  9. trillium says:

    And people wonder why I stick with Apple. Take dead computer to Apple Store. Told replacement will take 5 business days. They call two days later telling me to pick up my computer. Go to pick it up – they’ve scratched the glass on the monitor. Apple replaces it one week later (since they don’t stock 24″ glass panels in store) at not charge in 1 hr.

  10. HPCommando says:

    For the immediacy:
    HP – Executive Customer Relations Office
    (800) 756-0608 , Option 7
    Alternate: (650) 857-7177
    Variously referred to as “Mission Control”, “Executive Advocacy”, “HP Corporate Command”. The next level of action is Mark Hurd.

    For the hard drive:
    Doesn’t matter what you tell them; the odds are the
    Service Center will format your hard drive as a matter
    of course 95% of the time, even if the hard drive was
    not involved. It’s 100% if your mainboard has to be
    replaced. The reason that they do this is to “make
    sure” that you have the latest/newest updates and
    drivers for both HP and Microsoft, since their master
    disks are updated as each new update comes in.

    For the case:
    The case number indicates that you purchased one of
    the Consumer-grade systems (Presario/Pavilion). The
    common repair tactic on these is to exchange the whole
    unit only if necessary, but to deny any and all
    warranty if at all possible unless you have the ADP
    (All Damage Protection) coverage. It’s not a come-on;
    it makes it worthwhile for them to repair a laptop
    that now sells for under the cost of the parts being
    replaced (mainboard: $500/new laptop: $600).

    “Dog hair under the keyboard” is a new one on me; I’ve
    seen denied claims for Coke or coffee stains, but hair
    and dust are part of the “way of life” to a computer
    that have been accepted in claims I’ve processed (the
    cooling fan sucks in the crap, and putting a filter on
    burns out the fan and overheats the laptop, which is
    why it is typically never questioned).

    The “unspoken rule” at HP is that Consumer-grade
    support blows, while Commercial-grade is excellent.
    And, unfortunately, the adage “You get what you pay
    for applies to the warranty quality as well.

    I don’t know if they still use the term since the HP takeover, but…when you call the above number, mention that you believe that you have a “Silver Bullet situation”.
    If they don’t know what it is, don’t sweat it…

    But if they do, press the issue with the person you reach, and see if the “Silver Bullet” rules are still in play. I
    have not had to process one in a couple of years, but it is a good tool to have in your toolbox for dealing with HP.

    CAVEAT: I do not work for HP nor did I work for Compaq, but
    I know more than I should about both.

  11. chumleyex says:

    I’ve worked for Dell and Acer. At Acer I was the guy you talked to when things like this happened. I personly wouldn’t stand for this. Call the Case manager and tell him you will call him back after you finish your letter to the BBB, which should be about 2 hours. When you call back make sure he’s aware that your going to call him back every 2 hours until your assured that the notebook will be overnighted to you withing 24 hours. You can be nice and stern at the same time. If that notebook isn’t back withing 48hrs I would send the BBB Letter out and escalate things.

  12. dustincimino says:

    Thanks for all the advice guys, I am going to give HP till monday to have the laptop sent out then I will contact the BBB and file in small claims court.@HPCommando: Also I have already contact HP’s office they just told me they would look into the issue and never contacted me back.

    Thanks for all the advice guys, I am going to give HP till monday to have the laptop sent out then I will contact the BBB and file in small claims court.

  13. The_AntiVirus says:

    Another reason to add to my list on “Why I hate HP, Dell, etc…”

    They are so lazy. If you got even the smallest problem, the only thing you can do, according to the stupid CSR, is format the hard drive and hope to god the computer works again, if not, its a total loss cause.

    I rather do everything myself and if I got a problem, call my friend. My next door neighbor, poor guy, has a computer and he never checks it for anything. So one day, he gets a virus, his computer starts acting funny and he decides to call Hell… excuse me, Dell, instead of calling the guy would ACTUALLY KNOWS WHAT HES DOING from next door. Me for you guys that don’t know. He regrets doing what the lady told him cause he told me that he ask them numerous questions and the only things she told him was to format the hard drive.

    1. How do I get rid of the virus?

    Format the HDD

    2. How do I get rid of spy ware?

    Format the HDD

    3. Is there a way to save my photos, music, videos, etc…

    No, You have to format the HDD.

    I get rid of viruses and spy ware all the time and never had I had to format a computer unless the person doesn’t care and yes, I do explain to them their options and the consequences of formatting the HDD.

    Off topic: Geek Squad people are so stupid. I call a guy, playing the role of a person who doesn’t know anything about computers and they told me off the back that my computer is a loss cause. After half an hour arguing and telling him he was wrong, he finally admits, the only way to get rid of the virus is to format the HDD with a 250 dollar cd that he would have to send. I didn’t believe it and the guy TRIES to convince me to get it by saying he does it to his computer every week.

    Point to all this, CSRs are just lazy and don’t know what they are doing I guess. Some not all.

  14. consumerd says:

    433mhz/256mb ram, if you can get us the specs of the machine you are using we might be able to find some cheap upgrades that might get you by till the laptop makes a safe return.

    With 256mb of ram you could easily slip a 512mb stick or possibly even 1Gig to make it a bit bearable.

    I had an old PII 300Mhz/768MB SD-RAM (PC133) that ran better than some newer systems I hand and did a nice job as a web surfing and document typing machine. It didn’t do dvd burning very well, but none the less it was a good useable machine till it died.

  15. Breach says:

    Another reason to find yourself a good local repair tech instead of sending it off to these retards so they can promptly lose it and lie to you about it.

  16. dustincimino says:

    @david_consumerist: Well this computer is just a spare computer dont want to do any upgrades and im afraid if I open this thing up dust bunnies will cover the house lol

  17. darksunfox says:

    I would never send in a laptop with the hard drive in tact unless I had backed up 100% of the data first. Some companies tend to “go fishing” when you send in a laptop (probably because they don’t want it back before the warranty is up) so be prepared. Send in a computer with a bad power supply and it comes back wiped, even if the power supply smolders when they plug it in. Flat out ask if they require the hard drive to do the repair, and if they don’t, pull the hard drive. Most laptop hard drives are easy to remove and replace – ask the CSR how to do it on the phone.

    On a philosophical note, it’s just plain lazy to not back up someone’s My Docs, Desktop, any obvious folders on the root and restore them if you’re going to wipe a hard drive, especially on a non-hard drive related ticket. Most of the time, you’re talking about a few gigs of pictures, music files, and word documents, and there’s software that will automate the process and do most computers in a matter of minutes. I know it opens up a can of worms when it comes to data privacy, but people who have thousands of pictures and hundreds of dollars worth of music would probably be overjoyed to get that stuff back. It’s an absolute travesty that that’s not even an OPTION for warranty repairs.

  18. BondJBond says:


    Your problem with this, is there is no 3-5 day provision in the warranty

  19. mikells43 says:

    hp did a great job with my computer. they even replaced the lcd when i said i had no video. they pull that shit cause the standard repairs with the dv series computers are new hd, new mobo and other stuff new cause of the probs they have cause they relesed them too early and didn’t get the buggys out of them

  20. dustincimino says:

    @darksunfox: Doesnt opening the laptop void your warranty?

  21. BondJBond says:

    @dustincimino: No, the only thing that VOIDS your warranty, is removing, or damaging the COA and HPID labels on the bottom of the PC.

  22. Phreggs says:


    Unless you purchase a warranty/service plan that covers OS issues with Dell, you should not be helped with removing viruses/spyware/malware of any kind, assistance with 3rd party software, or configuration/use of any 3rd party hardware/software.

    The basic warranty will cover your hardware.
    Dell on Call is used for Software support. They have some pretty nasty rates for issues, but then again your calling a company that sells manly hardware/pre-built systems as opposed to a software provider.

    Viruses/Malware is a OS/User issue, thus not covered by Dell.

    Please bitch some more about policies you dont know, nor seem to understand.

  23. mikedt says:

    I had to send my HP laptop in for service three times within the first year of ownership (it’s been good the last 3 years though) and each time I removed the HD before sending it in. 2 screws and it’s out. None of the problems were software related and I figured it was just one less thing for them to screw up.

  24. Osi says:

    If they deleted your data, then you have a winning case in the court to recuperate all monetary losses. Arbitration does not save HP from willfully destroying evidence and private property.

  25. Susan8115 says:

    I guess I am lucky because there is a small computer repair shop near my house. The guys are fantastic. They have done work on a desk top (corrupted hardware) and a lap top (wine spill on the keyboard). Even though the computers were still in warranty, I wouldn’t dream of sending them off. The total repair costs from the shop were reasonable.

  26. dragon:ONE says:

    My laptop was sent in twice to HP. First for the AC connector issue, like Dustin, and then 2 days later a harddrive failure.

    My laptop’s gone through enough scuffs on its case to say “customer abuse” yet HP’s repaired it both times, even though the hard drive failure was due to a fist slamming over the hard drive bay.

    The first repair came back with an updated – and broken – audio driver. Had to roll it back to get it working again.

    Yet that second time was hellish for a week. I used the Support Chat to arrange a repair. They tell me my box is in the mail, yet didn’t tell me a repair status number or anything.

    Calls to HP resulted in nothing on the system, and chats resulted in “the box is on it’s way, the order number is on the box”.

    Cue call 5. They tell me a box was never ordered. Then they gave me my box and an order number. Repair came back with VistAIDS on it, but it was wiped when I got it back and I had XP running in 2 hours.

    And now my headphone jack is malfunctioning…

  27. The_AntiVirus says:


    I wasn’t taking about policies and FYI, I understand policies very well. He didn’t know that they don’t get rid of viruses. I call up people like this sometimes and they really don’t know what they are talking about.

    I called up logitech customer service once and I knew for a fact that it was my remote that was messing up (I dropped it and it froze) but the idiot CSR keep going to my computer and saying it was messed up and that I have no idea what I’m doing. She just didn’t want to help me and when I asked if I could speak to her manager, she hung up on me.

    Its not only that company but numerous others that give me the same kinds of problems. To sum it all up for you, I was talking about how lazy CSR’s can be sometimes.

  28. Mr. B says:

    @whoamiwhoareyou: That is not the case, the AC jack is almost always a singular piece that connects to the motherboard with a small removable plastic socket.

  29. Chrek says:

    It’s HP. I read articles here all the time for mere amusement. I don’t live in the US, but I can almost relate to a lot of these situations, no one gives a shit about the complaints here in China :-D

    I once bought a HP desktop, was partitioned C and D by default. C contained Drivers, D contains Windows. Why this is so is beyond me. So I contacted the HP service center to tell him that I wanted my Windows to be placed on C, because the Windows installation disc wasn’t in the packaging… Then they said that they can’t give me the disc, even though the cost of the desktop included the OS. Ok, fine, so I thought I call them up to find out where the location of the service center is. Then they proceed to get information about the model I was using. The model I had was a Pavilion w5XXXcn, the “cn” at the end states that it’s a China version. They said they do not carry such model. WTF?? Ok, so I contact the Global HP service center for information about it. Since they have the same model but without the “cn” at the end. But they can’t contact the Chinese office to tell them that the model exists…. So guess what? I had to buy a full copy of Windows XP and then download the drivers from the Global site, because China HP was just useless. That’s the last time I ever owned a HP product. More money spent but at least I didn’t have to deal with incompetent idiots. I own a Mac now and am happy.

  30. Meathamper says:

    This could all have been avoided if Dustin just used duct tape on the jack.

  31. jrubow says:

    I actually had the same thing happen to my work laptop, a HP. I sent it in to get repaired and after waiting 5 business days for a call or update I called in and asked what was going on. After getting the run around for about 1 hour they finally told me the serial number I had sent in didn’t match the computer I had sent in. At that point I lost it on the rep and asked why they hadn’t called me to ask me about this. he said he had no idea and I got rather upset and asked why it was just sitting there and what they intended to do with the laptop. Again he had no response. I asked what he was going to do to get me my laptop back fixed ASAP and he again had no response other than he would clear the misunderstanding. Well to shorten the story I got it back in another 5 days.

  32. hatrack says:

    @GMFish: @Xerloq:
    Congratulations if that worked for you. I wouldn’t count on getting most case managers to commit to any sort of timetable. If it was really that easy the problem wouldn’t exist.

  33. boston515 says:

    @nutrigm: I’ve almost sent my laptop into HP a couple of times. They also have instructed me to remove my hard drive before sending it in for repair. However, after all of these stories about HP Hell, I’m not sure I want to risk losing my laptop by sending it in for repair…