HP Returns Computer With Faulty Repair, Bonus Dust Bunnies

Marc thought he was being practical when be purchased a four-year warranty to go along with his HP desktop. After about a year, the computer failed. No problem. Just send the tower in for some of that stellar HP repair service. Except there’s probably a reason why you rarely hear the words “stellar,” “HP,” and “repair” in the same sentence.

He writes:

I purchased an HP a little over a year ago, and decided to go ahead and get the more advanced 4 year warranty (was spending enough on the PC, decided to go ahead.)

Awhile ago the PC would no longer boot, no bios screen or anything. After confirming it wasn’t a basic issue like a power supply going out, it was decided it appeared to be the motherboard. Called HP, they had no record of my warranty. Faxed them the information I was asked to (and told it could not be emailed, that it had to be faxed, and that I couldn’t simply give them the information over the phone.) This went back and forth for multiple days, with faxes being sent, being told that wasn’t the right information, and then finally their ‘executive’ service was called. They input the information in a few minutes and a box arrived a few days later.

A week later my PC came back. Screws were missing from the case, at least one expansion card wasn’t plugged in at all and was just rattling around in the case, and the wrong disk image had been loaded on the hard drive. Since I backup all my own material that specific one wasn’t an issue, and HP’s executive service told me and a friend, both relatively competent computer users who fix other peoples PCs that we could fix the problems ourselves if we wanted or they could send a box tomorrow. The list of fixes/changes made to the computer confirmed the motherboard was bad, and was replaced. The sheet also said my 750 gig hard drive was replaced with a new 750 gig… but my PC came with a 1 TB drive… and was returned with a 1 TB drive.

After choosing to make the small fixes ourselves, and reloading my personal disk image, everything seemed to work for a week or two. Then the exact problem again, wouldn’t boot. Called them again, box came again, sent it off.

Earlier today, the PC arrived again. Once again, screws missing. PC won’t boot, but the BIOS screen does appear, and we do start to get the Windows boot screen, then it turns black. Trying this multiple times (and changing boot settings in the BIOS that their tech seemingly setup improperly) led us to getting a mouse arrow once, and black screens every other time (and the one time the mouse arrow appeared was after sitting around for more than five minutes.) It should also be mentioned that despite having the same problem, the motherboard wasn’t replaced this time (after the problems last time, went ahead and marked it with a marker. )Hardware was also plugged into the wrong ports causing issues, which we redid which didn’t seem to fix anything.

There were odd dust balls in the computer case, and some sort of residue on the outside.

And because that wasn’t enough, instead of sending the sheet explaining what they fixed and what was done, they sent… instructions on setting up antivirus programs for Windows XP (copy-written circa 2004 by HP.)

HP has been called once again, and we are expecting a return call tomorrow, but since this will now be the third time this machine has been sent in in effectively 2 or 3 weeks, not much is expected.

We can understand his your bar might be low for HP’s service at this point. It’s probably time to launch an EECB, or cross his fingers and hope for a competent tech this time.


After Massive Runaround, HP Sends Your Laptop Back Filled With Viruses
HP Ruins Yet Another Laptop Repair-Three Times And Counting
HP Laptop Runs 200°F, Support Says “Buy A Cooling Mat”


Edit Your Comment

  1. dadelus says:

    This makes me feel quite ill. My wifes 2 month old HP laptop started having video problems last week. It’s currently sitting somewhere in the HP repair hell. Luckily I got them to agree it wasn’t a driver issue while I was on the phone with them and got them to agree they didn’t need the Harddrive to troubleshoot and repair the issue so I won’t have to worry about missing data.

  2. rambo76098 says:

    File a BBB claim (make sure you do it at the office closest to their home office in either WA or OR. That’s what I had to do to get my HP laptop fixed. This was after after four trips to service for the same problem, which one of those HP had the laptop for over a month. They then sent me a replacement that was no where near the same specs of the original. Got my money back after the BBB claim.

  3. pop top says:

    Who are you supposed to get laptops from if both Dell and HP suck now?

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      @squinko: Friend of mine got a Fujitsu for ~$400 and hasn’t looked back.

    • SybilDisobedience says:

      @squinko: I’ve had a Great Quality brand laptop from Fry’s for years now. Yes, Great Quality is really the brand name. No, it’s not really that great. BUT: it has been trouble-free since we purchased it. For a $400 investment, not so bad.

    • frari489 says:


      I don’t know if dell is so bad. I know from this site that their home service can suck, but their business side seems much better (personal experience). I just buy from their business site which is about the same price as home but doesn’t carry the cheap rubbish their home site does.

      HP on the other hand is a total load of rubbish and I would never buy from them.

    • bitsnbytes says:

      @squinko: Lenovo’s been OK for me, but my next will be an Apple (fed up with MS’ inability to resolve problems by phone).

    • Jfielder says:

      @squinko: Skip the fruit based computers, Like Pi said, the Lenovo’s aren’t bad, but I really like the Toshiba’s lately.

    • Difdi says:

      @squinko: I’ve long toyed with the idea of building my own. Small aluminum courier briefcase, expanded battery packs, like a shuttle computer on battery power. After reading horror stories about laptops, I’m sorely tempted to build it, now that I’m actually in the market for a laptop.

  4. heltoupee says:

    3x for same repair = Lemon Law, am I right?

  5. thisisasignin says:

    @squinko: Dell the company and their customer service might suck but their laptops are fine.

  6. TheTafkay says:

    Had a similar issue: HP’s service department is ornery, un-compromising, and generally incompetent. They damaged my computer instead of repairing it, didn’t repair it properly, then tried to blame me.

    Bought an HP laptop running Windows Vista “64-bit”, 4 MB RAM from Costco in late summer 2008, no extended warranty. 4 months later, the hard drive died. I called HP (via Costco’s concierge) and they assured me they’d fix the problem– still under warranty. They sent me a box, I sent the machine to them. 10 days or so later, the machine arrived– seemingly in working condition.

    A few days later, I realized it was running pretty slow– which was unusual for a machine with 4 MB of RAM and no particularly RAM-hogging programs running. I checked the Control Panel– it seems I’d been downgraded to 2MB of RAM, and my machine was now 32-bit instead of 64-bit.

    I called up HP, and the tech guy had me walk through a series of diagnostics (most of which I’d already done myself) and together we discovered, upon removing the back cover where the RAM DIMM modules are housed, that one of the modules was not in place properly. In fact, it appeared that one of the housing slots was damaged, so the module wouldnt even fit and be detected by the computer. In the 4 months I owned the machine, I’d never opened the RAM slot housings. The support guy assured me they’d fix the problem. It was hilarious to hear him try to explain how a piece of metal _inside the machine_ must have gotten bent while being shipped in a heavily-padded box.

    2 weeks later, the machine they sent back was still 32-bit. Apparently, what they did was repair the DIMM slot but they didnt re-load the operating system (necessary in order to make the machine a 64-bit again).

    Instead, they sent me the Vista re-install CD and told me to do it myself. Really! I called them back again– and wow, were they nasty. They made it clear they’d done more than enough to fix the problem– even when I explained that they in fact had created a new problem, which they were by any perspective responsible for fixing. They _firmly_ refused. The tech laughed when I asked to escalate to a “manager”. I asked to speak to customer relations, and a few days later I got a call. I explained the situation, and the representative was very nice and understood.

    Far, far too much hassle for a machine that runs a Windows product. Incidentally,at the same time I bought the $800 HP, I also bought a similarly-endowed Macbook Pro (priced at $1900). As you can imagine, that machine has been nothing but a delight and a privilege to use. Is the moral here that you get what you pay for? Further, given my experience with HP printers, rest assured I will never spend another dime on another HP product.

  7. axiomatic says:

    Is there two monitor connection types on this system? DVI and VGA? It sounds to me like Windows is remembering the last monitor type that was used on it.

    I ran in to this with my own PC once when I took my system over to a friends house to do some lan gaming and I didn’t bring my DVI LCD monitor because I know my friend had a VGA monitor that was good enough for gaming. I hooked it up on his monitor, played all night, then when I went home I got exactly this situation.

    I was able to resolve it by hitting F8 at startup, going in to the Safe Mode OS and putting my monitor connector back to DVI.

    This may not be your issue but it sounds similar.

  8. Deranged_Kitsune says:

    Well… at least if the 3rd repair for the same issue does not work it’s case management, and HP, policy to do an outright replacement of the unit. Remaining warranty should be transferable or refundable for that.

    That, though, is just ridiculous incompetence on behalf of the repair facility.

  9. snowmentality says:

    HP repair service is a joke. I had an HP laptop with a defective hard drive. I tried to get it repaired three times. Each time, after spending an hour on the phone “troubleshooting” the same useless things (with them refusing to listen to me when I described the symptoms and suggested the HD was failing, because it wasn’t on their script), they had me send it in. I was without it for a week each time, while they did nothing more than reinstall Windows and send it back. Of course the HD would immediately crap out again when I got it back. Frankly I’m surprised they were able to keep wiping it and reinstalling Windows. I finally got angry and spent an hour on the phone demanding that they replace or refund the laptop, which finally got them to send me a new hard drive.

    squinko, I’m sorry you have some kind of personal issue with Macs, because Apple’s customer service has been consistently great. No drama, no arguing on the phone with someone who barely understands English and can only read off a script. Just take it into the store and they fix it or give you a new one. And they know how to do something besides just reinstall the OS.

  10. yellowdragon says:

    HP’s quality has been going down lately… My own DV6000 laptop burned up a week after I purchased it. It was replaced under warranty but it died again just after the warranty expired (power but no boot, this is a widely documented defect). At my office we’ll soon be purchasing 50 PC’s between laptop and desktops and they will NOT be HP.

  11. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Odd up until a couple of years ago I was supporting a huge operation with all HP hardware; desktops, servers, laptops… The biggest support problem was simply getting their phone tree to let me talk to Canadian tech support instead of the US tech support based in India…

    I had not trouble getting them to send out FRU (field replaceable unit) parts (hdd, memory, wireless, screens, etc.). And, when I did have to send a machine in I don’t recall them ever screwing it up.

    Now it is true that two or three years is a lifetime when it comes to the turnover in large corporations, but could they have gone downhill so far so fast?

    I do feel for the poster as I have had similar experiences, just not with HP.

  12. kyl416 says:

    Heh, I’ve had the same thing with HP laptops returned with missing screws. And when I decided to say screw it and order the screws myself from their parts warehouse, they sent a bag of springs instead of screws multiple times. The bag was clear and the item name specifically stated “Screw kit” so that should have set off a red flag right there that perhaps the part was misnumbered in their warehouse since it was obviously springs in the bag. Perhaps the missing screws is a result of their crappy ass warehouse too.

  13. TheTafkay says:

    @snowmentality: Agreed.

    HP products are low quality (esp compared to even Dell) and HP service/ support is ornery and incompetent.

    I purchased an HP laptop from Costco (4MB RAM, “64-bit” Vista machine). 4-5 months later, the hard drive fried. They agreed to replace it, and in the process of doing so, bent the metal housing on the RAM DIMM slots. When I discovered this, they tried to blame me, tried to blame the shipping process; as if I’m so naive to think that replacing the hard drive (and likely they had to replace the motherboard, too) meant they could screw up the RAM slots and blame it on me, the consumer.

    I sent it back again, and they returned it– with working RAM this time, but only a 32-bit machine. When I complained, they _firmly_ refused to take it back and re-install the operating system with 64-bit configuration, claiming that because they sent me a backup Vista CD I should just to it myself. They caused the problem, then demanded that I fix it! They laughed when I asked to speak to a superior– the only option given was to complain to their Customer Satisfaction or whatever the oxymoronic name for their department is. Luckily, that person got the clue.

    Incidentally, I bought a similarly-equipped, but $2000-priced Macbook Pro at about the same time, which has been nothing but a pleasure and a privilege to use. I guess you do in fact get what you pay for. But rest assured I’ll never drop another cent on HP again.

  14. Xerloq says:

    This is too exciting, but I quit HP and am building my own computer at home on Saturday.

    If you fix other people’s computers why buy from a big retailer? It was cheaper for me to build my machine (by about $200) than I could get from HP, Dell, or any of them. All my parts have 3 or 5 year (or lifetime) warranties.

    In any case, the best advice has been given. Call the case managers. Be very polite and they’ll help.

  15. motoguy says:

    Sounds like an excellent opportunity for a Mac. The very capable Genius Bar service will transfer all of your docs and other files to a shiny new iMac. I recommend getting the AppleCare extended service as well. You’ll avoid all of this B.S. with H.P., and have a far better customer service. Best wishes.

    I used to have a Gateway laptop, which went through a lot of nonsense at their remote repair depot (I sent it in twice under warranty!).


  16. AdamBC says:

    Before my freshman year I bought an HP laptop and got an extended warranty. After a couple years the motherboard went bad. Had to mail it in. A few weeks later it comes back and works (yay!) but the new mobo only had USB 1.1 plugs (I paid extra for 2.0). I was pissed, but it worked well enough for another few years (screen went bad right after the warranty expired, bought an external monitor, eventually the replacement mobo went bad).

    After my bad experience, this story does not surprise me. Whenever my friends ask me for laptop purchase advise, I steer them well clear of HP (and Compaq).

  17. MamaBug says:

    Really wondering about the Mac haters out there. I used my dad’s MacBook for a year and never had a single issue – the only time i called customer service was when I needed to have it do the whole dual-OS thing for a class at school. Mac can run Windows AND its own OS (though you have to buy Windows for Mac, or something like that, i remember). Yeah, they’re more expensive. That’s why I’m saving up for one while I deal with my husband’s Dell desktop. Kinda a whole you-get-what-you-pay-for kinda thing.

  18. consumer2 says:

    I can tell you from experience that HP is not a company you want to buy from. I picked up one at Best Buy, yeah first mistake, for a seeming deal. It always ran really hot. In fact, it burned my leg once, and has warped the desk it sits on. After seeing a post on this site about the recall on the batteries running hot and causing burns, I tried to get this fixed. But HP’s site said I didn’t qualify, so I said fine, I guess I will just have to deal with the lava hot battery pack. When a while ago my battery totally crapped out I regained interest in the recall. I looked at some posts here on Consumerist and saw others were having problems with HP actually following thru with there recall. Needless to say, I am another who HP refused to fixed there fire prone product for.

  19. Jay Green says:

    “Rocky: Have you orderd any part online?
    Me : No
    Me : It’s under warranty
    Me : Why would I order parts?
    Rocky : Could you please cofirm the service order number?”
    (With my earlier post)

  20. Jay Green says:

    And the updated review of my personal adventures with HP (Got to deal with them today):