HP Offers To Fix Your Defective Laptop For Free, Then Changes Its Mind. Twice.

Reader Amy’s HP laptop is defective and HP offered to fix it for free–then changed its mind and wanted $800. Amy asked them to return the laptop, and when she got it back, she found that it was even more broken than when she sent it in. She contacted HP again and again they offered to fix it for free. This time, they let the laptop sit around for 3 weeks before calling her to let her know that they were voiding her warranty because of “liquid damage.” Amy says the first repair ticket has no mention of this mysterious liquid damage…

I am having a nightmare with HP and my brother suggested I contact you. There is a documented problem with the HP DV9000 laptop left hinges, and thousands of people are experiencing their hinges/lcd panels cracking because of this. I initially contacted HP and told them about my problem, citing the various websites.documenting this problem, and they offered to fix it for free.

I sent in my notebook and they took the lcd case off, breaking it further, and said it was customer damage. They gave me a quote of nearly $800 to fix the damage, or they would send it back as-is. I opted to have it shipped to me after having all in-warranty repairs done.

It arrived in worse condition than when I sent it. I got a new case manager who told me to send it back to be fixed for free. So, like an idiot, I sent it back again.

This time they took the whole thing apart and without calling me, let it sit for 3 weeks at the service center (I thought it was being fixed.) I finally called and was told they found damage inside the computer, so could not fix it or even put it back together because if someday the damage would cause the unit to spark or catch on fire, HP would be liable.

The damage is supposedly due to some kind of liquid spill but it was working perfectly before I sent it in, besides the hinge crack which was obviously not my fault. The initial quote I got from the service center the first time I sent it in did not include repair for any liquid damage. The computer is still under warranty and less than a year old.

My husband also has an HP with a fan malfunction (also widespread and documented) and was initially told it was out of warranty and was quoted $700 to fix, but when he decided not to send it in they changed their story and said to send it in, it was under warranty and would be fixed for free. Don’t worry we’re not quite that stupid.

I don’t know what to do other than alert others of this game HP is playing. I would file a small claim but I think they covered their a$$es with the “liquid damage liability” BS. I use my computer for work and have had considerable losses in addition to the loss of my computer. If you could give me any pointers on other steps I can take please let me know.

Well, you certainly are correct that this fault has been documented. Because you’re simply not the only one who has fallen victim to HP’s mind-bendingly f*cked up repair division, we’ve actually put together a list of 5 ways you can get your laptop back from HP. Obviously, you’d like them to fix it before they send it back, so why not keep pestering the case managers? Maybe you’ll find a good one?

If that doesn’t work, and, let’s face it, it might not — we suggest contacting your credit card company (we assume you did not pay cash for the laptop.) Many credit cards (and some debit cards) have extended warranty protection. If yours does, explain that HP is refusing to honor their warranty and ask that your purchase be covered under the credit card’s program.

As a last resort, you may also want to consider small claims court. The repair ticket that shows that HP examined the computer for the same problem and did not find liquid damage could give you a leg to stand on in court. And you never know, they may not even contest it. Good luck.


Edit Your Comment

  1. blue_duck says:

    BBB could help possibly. Be as detailed as you were here and they could probably give you a hand.

  2. What HP did was perfectly reasonable, dunking the computer in the toilet for a “swirlie” to scare it straight, then locking it away for three weeks of meditation.

  3. ageekymom says:

    Our homeowners insurance covered “liquid damage” when our daughter spilled Coke on her laptop. Not sure what your deductible is but, if all else fails and HP still insists that there was previous liquid damage, you might try your insurance company.

  4. Trai_Dep says:

    SO much better than Apple. Whose customers are sheeple!*

    * Yup: sarcasm.

  5. Trai_Dep says:

    (And of course, sympathies to the letter-writer – keep on them until they relent!)

  6. B says:

    I wonder if she got back a different laptop. That might explain where the mysterious liquid damage came from, not to mention the fact that it was more broken after it was returned.

  7. IrisMR says:

    Oh boy. You’re in for a big ride, lady. Keep your hopes up and keep fighting, you might actually get the thing back SOMEDAY.

    (By the way, I don’t dig the water damage excuse either… It’s easy to say that when the customer can’t see it)

  8. macinjosh says:

    @B: Yeah. Weird connection, but I use a Dunkin Donuts gift card and one day it stopped working. Had a balance when I checked it, but the stores showed it having $0.00. I eventually figured out that I had gotten some other card. I tried comparing the number online and it didn’t match plus I realized the scratchoff stuff was still intact. I would say a nefarious DD barista tried to pull a fast one but no damage had been done.

  9. poetry1mind says:

    Just this past Sunday, I called HP for my laptop (there’s always seems to be something wrong) because I needed either a new battery or a new adapter.
    Either way, on 7/14/2007 I purchased another warranty for $117.69 to cover for 1 year.
    Now these guys were the ones to kept pressuring me to get it. So, this Saturday when I called (I new I had 10 days before warranty expired) the gentleman wanted to charge me $169 for the battery and $59 for the adapter. Now, If I didn’t have a backbone, I would have easily just paid for what I needed.
    I decided to fight. I told them either they can honor the warranty they shoved down my throat or give me my money back.
    Their excuse was that the last digit of my serial number was different than what they had.
    Ok, I can understand that but it didn’t stop them from fixing it about 2 times last year.
    Once the tech realized he couldn’t use that excuse on me, he told me that once your warranty expires, you are not supposed to get a new one…
    Well someone shouln’t have offered me a new warranty.
    I am still going through a review to see if my warranty is valid. The tech wanted to see proof of purchase, but when I had it ready to send, he didn’t want it.
    We shall see what happens on 7/10-the day I am supposed to hear something.

  10. AnxiousDemographic says:

    I’ve been in the computer business for almost two decades and I strongly and urgently advise anyone sending a computer in for repairs to get a backup copy of your stuff. We all should backup up to an external drive every once in a while. (Great! Something else I have to remember to do!)

    If you find yourself needing to send a PC or laptop in for repairs, get a backup. Even a non-working computer’s hard drive can be removed for backup. Most people don’t know how to remove a hard drive to copy it, but it only takes one *trusted* family/friend expert who knows how to do it, so look and see if you have one in your social circle.

  11. AnxiousDemographic says:

    PS, and as the expert in my circle of family/friends, I tell them NOT to buy HP when they ask for buying advice because of the bad things I hear about HP’s repair division.

    Ya listening, HP?

  12. roadapples says:

    I have owned and run a computer repair shop for 5 years now and there three things i have learned about HP:

    1. HP Laptops are notorious for being crap
    2. HP Support is famous for for being crap
    3. Never buy a HP Laptop

  13. RevolutionSouljah says:

    I just went through the same issue with my DV9000. My laptop was very much out of warranty, 17 months to be exact. I had the same issue with the left hinge crack and it even broke the LCD screen. I went to http://www.notebookhingecrack.com and found some helpful info. To help anyone with this issue here is how I finally got my notebook fixed. Call the regualar HP support line and basically tell them whats wrong. Get a case number and request a case manager. After that they tell you someone will call you in a few days, they wont but thats fine. Then hang up and call HP Executive Case Management @ 877-917-4380 x95. This is a direct line to HP in California, open 9am to 12am. Give them your case number and insist this is a product defect and if needed mention the above listed website. Once I mentioned it they quickly changed their tune. Good luck to anyone with HP issues, they seem to be more frequent these days.

  14. Ringl says:

    My dad just recently had to send in an HP desktop for repairs. I warned him against it and he did it anyway.

    I was flabbergasted when he received it back in perfect working order in under 3 weeks.

    Is it HP’s laptop repair only that is maintaining this deplorable reputation, or did lightning strike?

  15. sashen says:

    And stay away from HP printers, too.

    I caught them in a lie — they had a KNOWN incompatibility between their HPL 7780 printer and the Linksys WRT54G wireless router that they would only tell you about after you’d gone through HOURS of useless tech support (e.g. move the printer to somewhere with “better electricity”) — and rather than FIX the problem, they refused to provide support and bought the printer back from me.

    MAJOR hassle that’s well documented at [hpl7780.mememememe.info]

  16. legwork says:

    I’ll give my thirdsies to the techs saying “avoid HP.” The last few years have seen their service devolve beyond the typical outsourced badness into a customer service nightmare. Bill and David have left the building. This is Carly’s version, and she was really pissed off about something.

  17. strife1012 says:

    **This is why you should buy Protection plan on a Laptop.

  18. joebobfunguy says:

    I love the small claims court idea. These companies have been screwing people over for so long, your bound to get a judge who has been victimized also. All buying a protection plan would do is entitle you to more crappy service.

  19. mewyn dyner says:

    All PC support is going down under in a handbasket (and I don’t mean Australia). I’m having a major headache with Lenovo right now with my Thinkpad Tablet. About 4 weeks ago the screen started going scrambled in the lower 2/3 when you moved it. Wonderful, bad screen right when my development work and school are heating up, both of which depend on this machine. Send it out for repair. They’ve had it for 4 weeks, and I just get it back today, with the wrong resolution screen installed. Now I have to deal with their “service” again to get the right screen. In the mean time, I’m losing money and notes from school. I had to take a test today without my notes because I hadn’t seen the machine in weeks.

  20. kretara says:

    The company I work for recently switched from Dell to HP. It is quite amusing watching the support staff going crazy trying to fix all the POS HP laptops we now have. Virtually everyone who has been issues a HP laptop is begging for a Dell. Hell, they are even happy to take a 4 year old Dell in place of a new HP.
    I also work on a multi-million dollar HP supercomputer and it is amazing how many problems we have with it. I swear that most of the computer has been replaced (due to part failures) in the 2 years I’ve been with this company.

  21. Thanatos- says:

    HP Laptop repair for my company is hit and miss, Though the last two times i had something NOT fixed by there repair facilities (multiple times) they offered a full replacement of a newer model so i cant complain about that but getting to that point was hell. Keep at it you’re bound to get a break somewhere.

  22. roadapples says:

    @strife1012: You can buy all the Protection Plans you want, they will almost always find a way to void them, plus you wont see your computer for a month if your lucky, but good luck with your “Protectin Plan”

  23. mon0zuki says:

    @B: I was scanning through the comments, and this definitely caught my eye – very good point. I hadn’t thought of it, but that scenario makes a LOT of sense – though then again, with HP, either scenario is equally likely…

  24. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    I purchased a fleet of 100+ Compaq Armada 100s Laptops in 2000 (2001?). Note that Compaq is HP now… we all know this right?

    Within months I was seeing the first damage from poorly designed hinges that caused the clam shell surrounding the LCD to crack at the hinge attachment points. First laptop returned for repair got an accusation from Compaq that the user had closed it with a pen in the laptop causing the damage. Knowing the user very well including how they work I was able to say not likely. Compaq sat on the fence until finally they repaired it out the goodness of their corporate heart (is that a contradiction?).

    Well bull shit… within weeks I had a half dozen machines with the same failure. They all went in for repair too. Same BS from Compaq.

    This went on for the better part of the first year following the purchase. All the laptops had been in for repair.

    I then started seeing the fixed laptops back with the same problem. So the repair was just a screen replacement with the same defective parts… At this point I was really happy to have bought 3 year CarePaqs for all the machines.

    Through connections I had access to their internal report network and got to read the engineering report on the Compaq Armada 100s hinge problem. It stated this was a known design failure and only those clients that sent their machines in through a certain support mechanism were to get it repaired “free”. All others were to be forced to pay for the repair. The root of the problem was their poor engineering of the laptop! Not the users!

    In the end all the machines went back to Compaq so frequently that I actually was able to get the complete process down to only a few minutes from first talking to their support people to being transferred to the courier to have a box delivered… I even had photocopied stacks of all the forms filled out so all I had to do was fill in serial numbers and case numbers… Sad… very sad.

    HP makes some good equipment… and some bad equipment. Unfortunately, they also have some bad policies about dealing with defective designs in their bad equipment.

    As a result of this experience I have very little brand loyalty when it comes to computer hardware… I look instead at the individual item and assess it on its own merits.

  25. Coles_Law says:

    HP seems very hit or miss. I have a seven year old laptop that runs just fine, and the one time I called HP they were very helpful. Sadly, my experience does not seem to be the norm.

  26. xipander says:

    Ok, I posted in one of the other threads what goes on in HP repair facilities in one of the other threads about hp laptops. (I emailed it in so it was under a different name) First of all. Let me say that just because the computer is working does not mean there there was no spill damage. You can dump water on a laptop and it still work for months before something breaks. It’s more of the oxidation and corrosion that causes solders to become weak and break and parts to overheat. What units are spill damage are also detirmind by no nothing underpaid techs that look at it and if it looks like there could be spill damge it gets taken apart piece by piece and everything that appears to have spill on it get noted and the unit put on hold til customer services calls and get approval to bill for the parts, only if the customer complains does it even get checked out by a senior tech to verify it’s a spill. If you ask they will take picutres and email them to you though.

    That model laptop was the last one I worked on before I quit. The screen on it is a lot stiffer then the rest of the modles, but that’s because on the other modles people complained the screen was to loose (if you rock it real hard the screen would open or shut a little) So you can’t please everyone… Also there’s another thing in hinge-up portion of the laptop, the inverter cable runs thru those hinges and will get pinched easy, if you put pressure on the left or right hinge (depending on the 4k, 6, ot 9k) the backlight will cut off on the lcd. Also, the lcds and plactics and hinges are pretty sturdy, there laptops are crap, but not _that_ crappy, if you hold lcd by the sides (which is how the hinges screw into the lcd, up both sides) and open it, you will never have that problem, just because it’s wedge shaped and hardly has a hinge latch, doesn’t mean it’s acceptible to open it with one finger in the middle, with the hinges being that tight you can cause the plastic to twist if they don’t open evenly.

  27. JollyJumjuck says:

    I almost bought a Compaq/HP notebook recently, but changed my mind because of the negative comments about HP on this site. Consequently I am the happy owner of a Toshiba instead.

  28. craiggers says:

    Excellent reference in the picture. But wouldn’t she have to try and figure out why she has a laptop in the first place?

  29. williehorton says:

    I have a DV9000 that has been back to HP four times: once for the hinge crack, twice for defective system boards (plus a bad DVD drive the second time), and once because they cracked the case the first time they replaced the system board.
    I purchased the three-year warranty from HP when I ordered it, which means they are stuck with fixing it for another 16 months (unless they tell me I spilled liquid on it, I guess).

    I fix PCs for a living… I have about 700 customers… and I tell ALL my customers not to buy HP computers.

  30. Ha! I just got my laptop from HP yesterday. I sent it off to them because the Wi-Fi didn’t work, then they called me to offer to repair the spilled liquid damage inside the laptop for $700 (about how much the machine cost; much less than it’s worth). I declined — the laptop still worked fine (excl. Wi-Fi, which was broken before) after a little beer spilled on it.

    Oh, and they’ve already fixed the Wi-Fi. So I told them to go ahead and send it back. They did, with a receipt that was not written on except for the initialism “RWR”.

    A few emails with HP Customer Service confirmed that “RWR” stands for “returned without repair”. And that they’d be happy to repair my machine, but it’s going to cost me from now on.

    Hey, maybe they actually did fix the Wi-Fi — it’s impossible to tell. Since it was returned to me, the leds around the display are now the only parts of it that turn on.

    I plan to write a letter of complaint to HP Corporate.

  31. Difdi says:

    @PhilVillarreal: Waterboarding!

  32. MBZ321 says:

    I bought a cheepie Compaq (HP) laptop in November and was impressed with their support. I have never had to send a PC in for repair (besides CompUSA before I knew what I was doing), but a key popped off the keyboard, and there is no easy way to reattach it. One quick online chat and I had a prepaid box shipped to me, and received the laptop back with a new keyboard not even 3 days later.

  33. Kay Bee says:

    I have a R4000 Compaq aka HP ZV6000. Sent in 3x. First was from crappy metal battery lock – it broke – battery would not stay in. Second was because Muskin ram was not compatible with the HP weirdo motherboard – they replaced the upgraded ram for free. Third was dead power supply ($130 new they wanted me to pay) – but I had extended warranty that I had to manually feed the repair girl (who spoke accent neutral english!) the number of my warranty “Oh, you do have 3 more days of warranty left… sorry, we’ll get that fixed right now” AH!
    H8 HP/Comcrap.
    It’s now a 3+ yr old laptop and the cpu fan is rattling – tried oiling but I believe it might be sealed. :/ I want a MSI Wind…

  34. geckospots says:


    *sigh* I was quite sad to see that I have the same laptop (for work) as the OP. I’m going to have to be very careful with it. If I’d had the choice I’d have bought something else for sure. :/

  35. mariospants says:

    I love my hp products, but don’t get me started on service. My new hp monitor is defective and it all started out nicely, promising to replace it with a new one but it’s getting on 2 months since they promised to call me to get my credit card info in order to send me a new one (I send back the old one or get a charge on my account equal to the cost of the monitor). I e-mail them every week and each time they apologize for the delay and yet… no call. Well, since I have a nice, documented e-mail trail with luck by the time they get their act together it might be a newer model. With luck.

  36. tsdguy says:

    My personal purchase of HP products is limited to inkjets – none have lived more than 1 year after purchase. However, at work I’ve purchased hundreds of LaserJet printers and these seem to work forever (with the exception of faulty HP Jetdirect cards).

    However, to rebut one of the comments on Lenovo I just sent my daughters Thinkpad T60 in for service (failed cooling fan) and it was returned properly repaired in only 2 days. This has been my usual experience with IBM/Lenovo service for dozens of Thinkpads that I’ve supported over many years.

  37. BoomhauerTX says:

    Buy a Dell next time with the super duper “CompleteCare Accidental Damage Service” warranty:


    You can drive off with it on the roof of your car and as long as you can return more than 50% of it, you get a new system.

  38. dweebster says:

    @blue_duck: I went through BBB years ago after failing with HP’s wretched “Executive Escalation” group. Never again. Complete waste of time, HP (at least the consumer division) has no shame in their willingness to screw a paying customer. They forced me over to Dell for nearly all personal and business purchases, and – in hindsight – for that I’m extremely grateful. Dell has their problems, but never have they pulled the kind of crap that HP/Compaq does to people.

    And as far as HP’s (consumer-level) hardware is concerned, it’s basically crappier than the drivel SONY puts out – that’s pretty bad. USB ports routinely die, hinges spontaneously break, LED indicator lights fail, I could go on. If you MUST buy a consumer-level computer, go with Dell all the way, but still make sure you have a warranty for the first year or two.

  39. dweebster says:

    @legwork: Carly’s got her nose out of screwing up HP, and now it’s up John McCain’s colon: [business.timesonline.co.uk]

    Hopefully she can screw up his campaign worse than she did HP.

  40. Tim Cooke says:

    Yeah, I ran into a similar thing with my HP via Fry’s.

    It’s a long story, as I normally don’t get an extended warranty, but through price negotiation (lower price on the laptop), I ended up getting Fry’s extended warranty (5 years).

    Well, after about using my laptop for 1.5 years, it appears that the main graphics chip died. I get vertical lines on the screen, and an external monitor only works in Safe mode.

    I took it over to Frys’ service desk, and they started to go over the thing with a fine tooth comb. I thought “crap, they are trying to void the warranty”, and sure enough, they did. I don’t remember spilling anything on it. If there was any spillage, it had completely dried up. There’s no evidence that the failure is from liquid, but the said that the warranty was void.

    They tried to blame it on HP, even though the extended warranty is with them.

    To top it all off, they took the laptop battery out and left it on the counter. While I was over talking to the tech, someone (accidentally took?) stole it. Fry’s tried to say it was my fault/loss bacuase I left the battery there (even though I didn’t touch it).

    In the end, I’m sure I cost them more money than they saved by voiding my warranty because I have spread the word.


    1) Don’t by an HP laptop
    2) Don’t buy a laptop at Frys
    3) If you buy an HP laptop or buy one at Frys anyways, don’t buy the extended warranty
    4) If your laptop needs repair, open it up and clean it out, because even if there is somehow some minor condensation (i.e., no real liquid damage), they will try to void your warranty if there looks like anything like residue.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Don’t feel bad. I bought a HP Pavilion dv2116wm in April of 2007, in March of 2008 the monitor blacked out. I found places all over the net that told of this same problem and HP would fix it for free (or replace) if it was still under limited warranty. They sent me a box, I shipped it to them and thru chat I had explained how I had found others with this same problem (and referenced their web page about the problem). I checked on their website for info on my notebook and it stated about a motherboard problem (like everyone else) and cost $0. I hear nothing for over a week and am told to just keep checking the website. On day 12 I check the website and find that now it states the problem as ‘liquid spillage’ and price is now $749.99! I called and asked for pictures of ‘said spillage’ since nothing was EVER spilled on it! The lady on the phone told me ok. A day later I log in and now it states that the unit was shipped back to customer! This is some scam of HP because I have found complaints of the same kinds of incidences all over the net, HP just states ‘liquid spillage’ so they never have to live up to any warranty!

  42. jlm1973 says:

    Same thing happened to me last year when sending my HP laptop in to have it’s hard drive replaced. I received a call from them stating that due to a “liquid spill” the computer was a fire hazard and it could be fixed for 785.00. I told them to send it back. They did. When I got it the display didn’t work and there was no audio. The hard drive is on the bottom there was no reason for them to even take it apart piece by piece but they did leaving me with a $1400.00 paperweight.