HP Happy To Fix My Computer For Free After I Took Them To Small Claims Court

Do you have a defective computer that the manufacturer refuses to repair? Emmanuel has some advice for you: take ’em to court. Facing a constantly rebooting laptop, he tells Consumerist that HP was only willing to fix it if he paid a $225 fee. Unsatisfied with this solution, he filed in small claims court, and the company offered to fix it for free. As long as he drops the case.

I took HP to small claims court, and HP now wants to fix a laptop for free.

Here is whats up, I got a HP DV6208NR laptop a couple of years ago from Best Buy. The wireless signal was having some issues but I didn’t think much of it. Then one day all of a sudden the screen wont turn on, and the computer restarts itself non stop. I did some research and found out that many if not most owners of the laptop have the same issues.

So I found a link on HP’s own website describing the symptoms my laptop was having. I call up HP saying I want my laptop fixed and they told me no, I can however pay a discount rate of $225 to fix it. I told them no, your laptop broke because of the parts HP used not from me breaking it.

After filing in small claims court, about a week goes by and HP legal team gives me a call. HP would like to fix my laptop for Free if I drop the case…..which I will do once my laptop is fixed.

Tip to your readers, fight them in court.

If you have an impossible consumer issue, consider taking the company to small claims court. Here’s how.

Suing Big Companies In Small Claims Court Is Fun And Easy
Before Suing A Company In Small Claims, Look Up The “Registered Agent”


Edit Your Comment

  1. Its_Miller_Time says:

    To me, this is a waste and a burden to the all ready saturated legal system.

    Good for him for doing it, but, I would have rather paid the $225 dollars because my time is worth more than that for doing all of the paperwork, etc…

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      If you’re earning 225 or 112 dollars an hour, I don’t think you would be complaining about costs like these.

    • Sockatume says:

      The whole point of the small claims court is that it unburdens the legal system at large of small matters like this. If you want to whinge about burdens on the legal system, whinge about corporations, governments, and special interest groups.

      • MrEvil says:

        Exactly, here in Texas small claims court is handled by the Justice of the Peace which is pretty much dedicated to these types of cases. That and traffic tickets that were issued by the highway patrol or county sheriff. Filing a suit in small claims isn’t burdening the legal system at all because that’s why there are justices of the Peace.

    • Hoss says:

      Small claims is not where they prosecute child molesters, it’s actually meant to resolve consumer issues

    • MeCatLikesMeHamSanwich says:

      No. You do not pay for something that is a well documented fault of their product. This problem started because HP and NVidia were using bad sauder on the mother boards. If I buy a product I expect it to work as advertised and the product to be properly tested. If it fails because of something the company did then they are responsible.

      And yes, you can fix it yourself. There are some unique fixes online including sticking the stripped motherboard in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees to reseal the bad saudering points. But I wouldn’t risk it.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      Sometimes, its not the money, it’s the principle. HP designed a faulty laptop and they should be held accountable when it doesn’t work as it should. Most places, it only costs $15 to file small claims paperwork. If you have a couple of unused hours to drive to court, pay $15, file the papers… then you are only out $15. Even if you took 2 hours off of work, making $15 an hour… its still much better than the $225 you’d be out.

      Sure, there are a lot of crazy claims going thru our “already saturated legal system” but this one, hopefully, will never have its day. Maybe, instead of telling the OP about what your time is worth and accusing him of essentially being cheap- you should sit back and think about people (such as myself) who do not have the $225 to fix something that should of never malfunctioned to begin with. The company should be held accountable as well.

      • Griking says:

        IMO HP (as well as other companies) designs computers and laptops and provide a warranty guaranteeing that it will work for a year or else it will be repaired at no cost. They make no promises that it would work for more than a year.

        • coren says:

          That’snot really your opinion ;)

          Although there is critical information missing here – like how long was the warranty v how long did he have the laptop

    • Its_Miller_Time says:

      Sorry for my irrelevent comment – I have not had my morning coffee prior to posting my rubbish.

      Good comments by all and I redact my frivolous remarks…

    • Chumas says:

      @Miller Time, and all the other folks who poo-poo using the legal system to get satisfaction:

      The courts are not there for the sole benefit of corporations and rich people to force the “little people” into doing things their way. They are supposed to be for all of the people to settle things without the need for kidnapping and execution of CEO’s.

      If by suing in small claims he forces HP to do the right thing instead of being a pack of profit guarding wretchs, then so be it.

      • Conformist138 says:

        When given those options… is kidnapping and execution a possibility? Are there any required permits?

        Maybe we can get a hunting party and head out to The Golden Parachute Executive Reserve and pick ’em off from a helicopter?

    • A.Mercer says:

      So your advice to someone who is being scammed is to say “Oh well, my bad luck. I guess I had better spend more of my money to fix the problem”?

      HP sold this guy a piece of junk and then ignored him. He had already spent hundreds of dollars for something that should work. You say that he now needs to spend a couple hundred more to fix it so that it will work like it should.

      This guy took a course of action that had a very high probability of success. Take the manufacturer to court. Small claims. Get it settled. HP was legally required to sell a working computer. They can’t sell broken ones and just walk away from it. HP did not want to do that. This guy took them to court to get them to do what they legally should have done in the first place.

      Also, why are you blaming him? You should blame HP for putting the piece of junk out there in the first place and then ignoring requests to get it fixed. They are the ones responsible for this going to court. If they had done what they were required to do then this would not be necessary. They were the ones who forced this to go to court.

      I hate whenever you read about a lawsuit, everyone starts to call it frivilous without checking the facts or putting some basic thought into the premise of the suit first.

    • peebozi says:

      As a proud member of the corporatocracy I applaud your decision! I only wish more of the little people looked at our methods in such a way.

      BTW – How do you calculate your time is more valuable than $225 and how long do you think it took him to file in small claims court?

  2. psyonn says:

    Not to mention that it costs ~$100 to file a small claims suit (I’m sure it varies on the state/county/etc..). So for his time and effort, he got his computer fixed for about half price….

    • tange1 says:

      I’m sure as part of the settlement (droping the case) HP would pickup the costs.

    • AllanG54 says:

      Only about $7 in NYC to file. And the paperwork is one simple form. You don’t go in front of a judge, just an arbitrator.

  3. Hoss says:

    The computer is a few years old and he didn’t buy a maintenance agreement? Seems the HP legal dept is being generous to avoid costs

    • Chumas says:

      Buying a maintanance agreement for a product designed and was known to have serious problems shouldn’t have to happen. HP built a POS, they should fix their POS.

      • Griking says:

        What part of ONE YEAR WARRANTY do you people not understand?

      • OSAM says:

        Who said HP acknowledged that there is a “known” problem? The OP pointed out that the issue could be found online from other users, and that HP offered him a goodwill discounted rate, but that doesn’t mean they assume any kind of culpability for their product.

        • MeCatLikesMeHamSanwich says:

          Do a little Googling. You will find hundreds of posts concerning these models and the same problem. I am surprised that a class action lawsuit has not yet been started.

          • RvLeshrac says:

            Do a little searching, and you’ll find thousands of complaints about *EVERY SINGLE LAPTOP EVER MADE*. Complaints on forums do not a real problem make

            The majority of people who claim to have the “common problem” don’t even understand what it IS. I constantly have to tell people that no, their unit is NOT covered under the service extension for Issue Y, because they have Issue X, completely unrelated.

            Toshiba, for example, issued a service bulletin for certain Satellite models, where they offered free DC jack repairs on units where the DC jack had been pushed into the unit. So now every single person that has *ANY* problem with their notebook, whether screen, motherboard, keyboard, HDD, ODD, yadda yadda, *DEMANDS* that their unit be repaired for free under the service extension.

            For these HP models, the first issue is that the wireless adapter *disappears* – it is no longer detected by the machine. The second issue, which occurs *well after* the wireless adapter stops working, is flaky or dead video.

            The issue here is *neither* of those things. The wireless adapter was detected in the machine, the signal was just weak (likely a power management issue [Weak wireless signal? Device Manager > Network Adapters -> $WirelessAdapter > Advanced, switch the power management mode to CAM]), therefore the second symptom (the dead video *after* the minipcie slot is shorted out) can’t have occurred. When these machines “restart (themselves) nonstop,” the issue is more likely a bad stick of RAM (Compaq and HP systems tend to just flash all the lights, rather than emitting POST beep codes, when they have bad or incompatible RAM installed).

    • Sumtron5000 says:

      If the HP department is offering to fix it for free rather than pay more money in legal costs, is that really HP being “generous”?

  4. ajlei says:

    I am throwing a high-five this guy’s way for actually getting some sort of desirable response from HP. I had an HP laptop with a fate eerily similar to the guy from yesterday or the day before, where it was 3 years old and the GPU fell to pieces.

    I called HP about a completely separate (but still to do with overheating) issue a couple months ago, and the asshole Roy who I was assigned to as an executive case manager threw excuses everywhere, claiming that HP did not make or sell my laptop model (even though it’s listed on HP’s website, complete with [poor] maintenance guides and other downloads) and that it was made by a “third party in Asia” which apparently absolves HP of any responsibility.

    The issue? My power cord had melted at the tip, and then broken apart. I was seriously at wit’s end with the guy, especially after he said HP didn’t make or sell that laptop (Pavilion, btw), and also after Roy claimed to be “the vice president here” and that there was nobody in the company above him. I gave up, bought a power cord on ebay for $20 (instead of the HP asking price of $100), and then the laptop died a month or two later from the GPU overheating.

    HP may have some area where they make a quality product, but laptops certainly aren’t it. Everyone I know who owns an HP laptop has had issues. I happily replaced mine with a Thinkpad, and I love it.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      Could you have purchased a grey market laptop? Maybe it was for sale only in Asia, so HP (USA) didn’t recognize it as “valid” HP machine. There was some story about some guy who brought an expensive Mercedes over from outside the US, and no Mercedes dealership would do warranty work on it, since the car was not meant for sale in the US.

    • penuspenuspenus says:

      I ran into a similar problem with my power brick but with a “US” model while I was in Malaysia. I still had full warranty coverage, so I went to find out what I could do. The HP store in the mall wouldn’t do anything for me other than give me a map to where the HP main HQ was located. By the time I made it there my speakers died and so did the videocard. They scanned the barcode and told me that I would have to take it to the US to get warranty coverage. By the time I got back home my warranty was expired by 3 days.

      Anyway, the kicker was that it was a known issue with the Nvidia card, and every model beneath and above mine was part of the recall. I had the same card that failed in those models, but for some reason I was excluded. After arguing for an hour with the guy about the $750 repair fee, I gave up and called Amex’s warranty department who kindly decided they would just replace the laptop.

  5. vastrightwing says:

    No, I agree with the OP. It’s HP who wasted the legal system’s time. The legal system is in place for exactly this reason. There’s a dispute between two parties. You can argue all you want, what is proper and not proper to go to court over, but I blame HP, not the OP if you consider this a waste. Yes, it’s too bad that HP is only willing to do the right thing when coerced, but then, this is exactly why I won’t buy anymore HP products. After Agilent and HP split, the company was never the same. Agilent is what we all knew and loved about HP.

  6. ThunderRoad says:

    As long as they pay the filing fees and such, hey, that makes everything whole.

    • dg says:

      Exactly – “I’ll drop the case without prejudice, so long as you fix the computer at no cost to me including shipping both ways, pay my filing fees, court costs, service fees, and time involved in this.”

      “Without prejudice” means that you reserve the right to refile if the thing’s not fixed.

  7. sirwired says:

    I’m confused; if it’s out of warranty, what exactly was he planning on telling small claims court if the case actually got that far? Limited time warranties last for a limited time, except for safety defects. I don’t see how he would have a case.

    I’m pretty sure HP settled because it would cost more to have somebody show up than it would to just fix the machine.

    • humphrmi says:

      IF it’s out of warranty, it’s still a known issue. HP built a defective product, and warranty or not, they should make it right. Enough cases like these, and maybe they will – I dunno – make a better product?

      • Griking says:

        There’s a difference between defective and the expected life of the product. If HP expected it to last for 5 years then they’d probably put a 5 year warranty on it. They don’t for a reason.

        I find it kind of funny that this blog is full of people that claim how useless extended warranties are and how they’re a scam but at the same time whine when a product that they could have purchased a warranty on but didn’t breaks. You can’t have it both ways, either warranties are useful or they aren’t. The fact is that an extended warranty would have covered this repair.

        • James says:

          I wouldn’t bet on extended warranties.

          I purchased a power brick for a HP laptop at a computer parts chain. The brick had the connector die due to fatigue. So I took it back, with receipt, with warranty paperwork, with original packaging.

          I was told that I had to call the 800 number on the warranty paperwork after I got to the store. (The warranty people had told me to take it to the store.) The store personal said the warranty didn’t apply. The warranty people didn’t want to honor the warranty. I called back the warranty people on the cell as directed by the poor csr drone.

          I asked for the manager.

          15 mins later I again asked for the manager.

          30 mins later I demanded to speak to the manager.

          45 mins later I asked for numbers for corporate.

          A manager phones to the CSR desk at this point, and ‘offers’ to honor the warranty, as a one time thing.

          They wanted me out of there as I made myself conspicuous. Not obnoxious (though I’m sure management thought so!).

          The CSR at the desk flinched when ringing up the new power brick she asked if I wanted the extended warranty.

          I’ll take my chances with manuf warranties only or buy replacements/refurbs on E-bay and shopping sites now.

    • oloranya says:

      Because it didn’t fail due to normal wear and tear, it was a defect that HP knew about and refused to fix.

      • Griking says:

        First of all where in the article does it say how the laptop broke? Second of all what does it have to do with the fact that it was out of warranty? I think that everyone here is assuming that when they purchase a laptop that it will work problem free for years. It very well may but you can’t just ignore the fact that they only come with one year warranties. And the warranties don’t come with special clauses in them saying that they’ll be covered longer if they find that there is a defect down the road.

      • Kitamura says:

        But then shouldn’t you be complaining about a known manufacturing defect, you know, while you have warranty coverage? I don’t disagree that HP should have fixed it (or issued a recall for repair) in the first place if it was that widespread of a problem on that line (keeping in mind that people who vocalize themselves online may be a minority that just talks loud).

        I guess the issue is how far does one go with this sort of attitude. Do you not complain about an issue while you have warranty coverage because it’s merely annoying, but you don’t consider it a big deal and then complain years after coverage is up because something more serious broke?

    • ludwigk says:

      Agreed. This wasn’t HP refusing to repair his computer, they were refusing to repair it for FREE.

    • Thyme for an edit button says:

      There are different theories you can use to sue. Breach of warranty is only one. There is also negligence and strict products liability.

    • bearymore says:

      So all those free auto safety recalls for out of warranty cars are just the car companies being generous?

  8. Mr. Pottersquash says:

    before you drop the case, ask about recovering your filing fee. And as for the saturated legal system, my city courts welcome small claims, high case volumes help maintain their operating budget and the cases are normally relatively simple.

  9. Hi_Hello says:

    he had the computer for a couple of years. The problem might not be the defect but that fact that his ventilation was clogged up by dirt causing his system to run a little hotter than normal, causing his mobo to act up. He’s fault for not dealing with it when he bought it.

    You’ll be surprise how many laptop issues were fix with a can of air and a laptop desk.

    • peebozi says:

      You’ll definitely be surprised by how many lemons are sold by corporations once you wake up!

  10. tweeder82o says:

    or don’t drop the case, the judge is going to rule in your favor and make them fix your laptop for free anyway

  11. Guppy06 says:
    • BuyerOfGoods3 says:

      This is EXACTLY why they want him to drop it. Big class action coming when the lawyers see the connection.

  12. Lotus STP says:

    Actually, HP has had several issues with a slew of laptops and they have quietly extended warranty service for several. I say “quietly” because if you didn’t register your laptop (which the user is prompted to do when the laptop is turned on for first use) you won’t receive any notices from HP about warranty updates.

    I looked into a problem a client of mine had with her DV9000 series laptop and discovered the information about HP’s coverage extension online; her laptop would have been covered had she dealt with it six months prior.

    Unlike Dell and other manufacturers, if you don’t register your product with HP, then you won’t get updated warranty information. Which means you’re SOL. One thing I’ve liked about Dell computers is that they include an agent that runs in the systray that periodically alerts the user about updates. You can also visit Dell’s website & get information about your computer’s warranty at any time. There’s an IE plugin you can download that will detect your service tag.

    This is why I recommend Dell over HP 90 percent of the time!

    • Griking says:

      Do you really feel that Dell is any better? I’ve seen just as many anti-Dell stories here on Consumerist as I’ve seen anti-HP stories. I wonder if it’s just a “grass is greener on the other side” thing.

    • dg says:

      Actually, you’re not SOL. Under Federal Law, you don’t have to register to receive the benefits of a warranty (Maguson-Moss Act). You might not get the notice in the mail, but chances are if it’s a big problem you’ll hear about it.

      And best of all? By not registering, you won’t end up getting on 500 junk mail lists and receiving all kinds of crap that they had the audacity to think you were interested in.

  13. pierhogunn says:

    Disclaimer: I am a big fan of HP, not fan boy, but I look to them first for hardware that my family and I use for our computing needs

    Now, the reason for this is that I have a Corporate Sales team on my side to help me wade through the various seas of red tape that HP seems to have built.

    HP has had some real hardware stinkers with poor engineering and such, and in many cases has not made much effort to resolve the problems…

    My Corporate sales team made a big noise on my behalf, and thanks to their efforts I now have a completely working dv9000, and thanks to their efforts, I saved some extra cash and got an envy 14 because I was so pleased with the way I was treated once I got infront of the right people.

    I for one agree with the approach to use Small Claims court for those folks who don’t have access to the same resources I did… and congratulations on getting your HP fixed… When they work, they work great

  14. Donkee says:

    I had similar dealings with HP a couple years ago.

    I had a DV9220us laptop and the left hinge was beginning to split apart. I did some research and found a website specifically dedicated to this problem. Apparently it is caused by the heat from the machine as it is ejected via the vent right under the hinge. I called HP and they were going to charge me $300-$350 for the repair, despite my claims that it was faulty design and evidence of the website (which had 1500+ people describing the same problem.)
    I eventually just filed a claim with the Better Business Bureau, which is free, and an upper-ish management lady called me the next day and told me a box would be coming and they were going to fix it for free.
    A couple months after that they issued a recall for the exact problem!

    I would definitely say the BBB is a better way to go than filing a case in court, at least as a first step. Business don’t want bad BBB cred as much as they don’t want to go to court…

    • Guppy06 says:

      I didn’t include the hinge thing in my list of prior Consumerist articles covering this issue, thinking they were unrelated. Still have the source of the information on overheating being the culprit on the hinge failures?

  15. Razor512 says:

    $225 is a ripoff
    Most of the laptops I repair are the hp dv6000 series.

    A replacement motherboard is only about $45-50 and thats after the retail markup

    The OP needs a motherboard replacement

    it would probably cost HP about $15-20 to fix it

    • James says:

      Wish I would have seen that a couple of months back. Had a HP Pavillion 9700 series I would have tried repairing.

      Loved the double HD, the memory and graphics on the thing. Didn’t love that it overheated and wouldn’t turn back on. At all. Called HP and there were known issues, but sadly, I wasn’t covered. (Go figure). I had a local computer tech look at it, and to verify the diagnoses of the problem, but he wouldn’t touch ‘the mess inside those things’.

      They offered to take my computer in, and then tell me after I paid to ship it to them, how much it would cost to fix. And if I didn’t want them to fix it, then I could pay to have it shipped back.

      I finally got someone through email who was pretty sure he knew what was wrong, and a quote of $50 short of a new laptop. (New laptop would have cost $550 or so. New motherboard install was quoted at $450-$500 plus shipping.) After getting the quote, took 4 follow up emails to tell them I didn’t want to repair the thing. I literally received 4 different people emailing me, wanting to know when I would be sending in my broken computer for repair.

      I’m getting a new laptop. Not from HP, and not for free. I knew I was out of warranty, but the orig laptop was 2 1/2 years old. And the extended warranty for past 2 years is pretty close to a new laptop. ($500 laptop has a near $300 warranty for 3 years today on HP’s site.)

  16. stock2mal says:

    Perhaps we wouldn’t have problems like these if manufacturers didn’t incorporate planned obsolescence into their product designs.

    • peebozi says:

      next you’ll want us to stop buying politicians and stop having them write legislation that favors us (those who bribe congress) and not the American people.

  17. milkcake says:

    Wow, I need to do this. I have the SAME exact problem. Wireless doesn’t work. So I bought myself wireless card. And then it reboots relentlessly now. Gonna put in small claim court. It’ll be a good learning experience.

  18. BettyCrocker says:

    I was an HP fan girl. Nearly every printer, desktop and laptop I bought for the place I work was an HP for several years.

    I refuse to do business with HP ever again.

    They used to have quality products.

    I bought 3 laptops – 1 was broken upon receipt (battery latches were lose in package) and the other two had mulitple hardware issues. Eventually they replaced 2 laptops once and 1 twice under warranty.

    I bought 3 printers at the same time and again – 1 was broken upon receipt. Another broke and was replaced under warranty.

    That’s only recently – before that we had similar issues with things having known issues that could have been fixed if only they had failed 1 month earlier.

    I now buy Thinkpad laptops and Canon portable printers instead of HP’s.

    I have so pleased with the tech support and customer servcie from Thinkpad. Imagine – I get to talk to someone in the USA when I need help. Not only can I understand them easily (which had been an occassional issue with HP) they help keep Americans employed.

  19. mrfantomhawk says:

    Its not tying up the legal system, this is exactly the type of thing small claims court is made for. You can represent yourself, in Florida its only 80 dollars to file a claim under 500, If you win, the person you sue has to pay the filing fee as well.

  20. Gladeye says:

    The fact that there is a popular website called hplies.com should tell you something. I have a dv9000 with a ruined videocard because of HPs poor engineering and sever overheating. MANY people have reported the same problem and their are class action suits in the works. I shouldn’t have to pay $350 more to them to fix something due to defective manufacturing, warranty or not.

  21. Fjord says:

    Once Dell decided to dissipate $200 worth of money from couple of gift cards of mine.
    They won’t budge when I asked for them to reinstate the cash and they refused. Talked to managers to no avail.
    Small claims told them that under Ohio law gift cards cannot expire….3 days later I received my money.
    I have used the system and it works well.

  22. sopmodm14 says:
  23. mmax says:

    I sued over a dv2000 and they settled for $700 (75% of what I paid). Don’t settle for a repair.

  24. TyLeR_v2 says:

    I just filed a small claim against hp on Friday for my overheating laptop. It was only $45 to file.

  25. Greg says:

    I had a similar issue with Future Shop, but in my situation, I did not actually file in small claims court…I simply mailed them a letter telling them I had “begun preparing my case for small claims court.”

    You don’t actually have to take them to court, you just have to threaten them with it…