EECB Gets HP To Replace Laptop They Tried To Pass Off As Water-Damaged

Charlie sent in his HP Mini for repair after the keyboard and mouse stopped working. They denied his warranty repair by saying that a loose tape was caused by water damage, which, while not only unlikely on the face of it, seemed impossible to Charlie as he babies his computers like they were Fabergé eggs. So he launched his campaign on HP upper management…

Charlie writes:

Nearly a year ago, I purchased an HP Mini 110 from HP for $300 plus tax and shipping. Nine months later the keyboard and mouse stopped functioning. I called HP because the netbook was still under warranty. The first person that I spoke to had me test a few things and then agreed to send me a box within the next few days so I could send the netbook for repair, free of charge. The next day, the box arrived, and on the sheet to be included I noted both the keyboard/mouse issue. I drove all the way to FedEx and sent the box off to HP.

I decided to check the online status of my repair every day. The day that I was expected to receive it back I did not, so that evening I called HP. The representative apologized to me for the delay and said that the netbook had in fact been repaired and that all they needed to do was install the operating system and they would send it back to me, that I should expect it within three days. I made sure to ask her “So, you mean that my netbook is now working properly and once the OS is installed it will be sent to me in good working order?”, and told me that it would. Satisfied, I waited for the next three days with baited breath, excited to get it back and be able to use it again. Instead, three days later I checked the online status again to see the expected delivery date was now gone and there was a repair balance due of over $300. I almost passed out.

Again I contacted HP, this time asking about the huge balance due and when I would receive my netbook. This representative told me that the tech had found some unknown damage inside the laptop and they had to figure out what it was and that was causing a delay, but that it would be repaired for free and the $300+ charge was a “system error”. I asked her how all of a sudden there was unknown damage inside of the laptop if they had already repaired it as I was told before and she said she did not know, she was just reading the tech notes. She asked me to give the techs three days to examine the issue and to call them back if I didn’t hear anything. I didn’t want to get them mad; I wanted them to help me, so I didn’t freak out. I waited yet another three days.

After the next three days passed, I called HP again to inquire about my netbook. Especially since the $300+ charge was STILL showing up on the online status. This time I was informed that the charge was not an error, it was there because apparently the techs found water damage inside the laptop and that water damage is not covered under my regular warranty; I needed a warranty for accidental damage. At this time I got aggravated because I am adamant about being careful with electronics and I baby them to the point where others probably think I’m demented. There was NO WAY that I had water damaged the netbook. I explained that to the representative and again asked her how it was all of a sudden water damaged when they had already claimed to have repaired it. She said she had no idea but could send me pictures of the damage. She tried to get me to look to a point where some tape that was holding a cable down had come undone. She said that was caused by water damage. That doesn’t even make sense. Seems to me like some tech accidentally pulled it and broke the tape or something similar, because water wouldn’t pull a cable out and I had never opened the netbook for any reason.

At this point, she refused to do anything other than tell me they would be able to go ahead and repair the netbook for $300+ and that was the most she could offer. I asked to speak to a manager, who basically told me the same thing. He also went as far as telling me if I purchased the accidental warranty for $150, I could then send it in to be repaired that way. I refused, I had already paid $300+ for the netbook. I asked to speak to his manager, and he said he would get one and he did. I spoke to the manager who surprised me by listening to the entire story again, agreeing with me, and then offering to repair the netbook for free. I thought I had finally won this battle! Alas, he told me that he would have to transfer me to a case manager because they were the only ones who could request the free repair. I asked the manager if he could please make sure to explain everything to the case manager so that I wouldn’t have to go through it yet again, and he said that he would make sure to do so. I waited on hold for approximately ten minutes.

Finally, a case manager answers the phone. I asked him if the person who transferred me to him explained my situation and he replied that he had not. After a vein in my neck popped out, I calmly explained the situation yet AGAIN and told him that the manager had agreed to repair my netbook at no charge. He said that he was not told any of that, and that whoever told me that did not have authority to promise any free repairs, the case managers are the only ones who are able to do so. After asking him if he would do so, he refused. Even after all the notes on my account (but how am I to even know what is there?) and telling him the whole story, he flat out refused to repair the netbook because of the supposed water damage. After arguing with him for thirty minutes or longer and finally realizing that he was determined to not help me, I finally ended the call.

This time, I did a little research online (and now wish I had found Consumerist at THAT time) and found a phone number for HP Executive Customer Service. I called and spoke to someone there who told me that he couldn’t do anything but have another case manager review the situation and contact me. This other case manager contacted me and after again explaining the entire situation, he tried to offer me a discount on the repair and I would still pay $200. I refused and told him that I would never again purchase anything from HP. At this point, I was done. Fed up. I told him that I did not want them to ship the netbook back to me, that I would refuse the package unless it was repaired. About a week later, after ordering something on eBay and waiting for it to arrive, a package arrived with no FROM: address so I assumed it was from eBay and opened it. Nope, it was from HP. Those sneaky little weasels made sure there was nothing on the box at all about HP trying to trick me into opening it instead of returning to sender. I could not believe this crap!

Once the box was opened, I was even more surprised. I immediately noticed that the battery they sent in the netbook was NOT the same battery I sent with it, it was an extended battery and protruding from the back of the netbook. My battery let you set the netbook flush on the table. Since that was an upgrade, it wasn’t so bad. Then I opened the netbook. One of the keys on the keyboard was missing, and it was present when I mailed the netbook to HP. I started to question if they sent the wrong Mini back to me, but it still had my Apple sticker on the outer shell. Now I decide to plug it into the wall and turn it on, and guess what? The screen doesn’t even work now. Great job HP!

I waited until the next day to calm down and call them again, speaking to another rep and telling her that I had to leave in 30 minutes (because she was long winded, and I really did have to leave in 30 minutes). I told her about the case manager apparently shipping my netbook back to me without permission and without being repaired, and also about the poor condition in which it arrived. She took so long trying to go through all the notes and consulting others that by the time the 30 minutes was up, I was still on hold and HAD to leave. I waited 3 more minutes or so hoping she would come back and she finally did and I told her I would call back later because I had to leave. It felt like she took so long so she wouldn’t have to do anything. Disgusted, I hung up and left. Finally feeling like I had reached the end of my rope, I decided to say to heck with it all and especially HP so I listed the broken piece of junk netbook for sale on Craigslist for $20. Someone bought it and took all the materials that it came with. I was actually glad to be rid of the problem, but still mad that I spent $300+ on nothing.

A few days ago, I discovered Consumerist and immediately started reading articles about similar incidents happening to other consumers. Reading about their success with EECB’s, I thought I would give it a shot and hopped on HP’s website to find some email addresses. That night, I emailed two highups at HP explaining in great detail my situation with their company. I also recalled the stories I read on Consumerist about consumers filing small claims lawsuits against them and receiving immediate resolution, telling them both how I wondered if I had read those articles sooner and filed my own lawsuit if HP would have noticed me and did the right thing about my netbook.

The very next evening, I received a phone call from someone with the executive office who called to tell me that HP had received my emails and wanted to know what they could do to remedy the situation. Explaining that I would be satisfied if they would replace my netbook, I never thought he would. Instead he told me that they could buy it back and all he needed was some information from the box. I explained to him that I finally was fed up after months of fighting with them and finally sold it for $20 since it was useless. I also let him know that they lost a big sale when I purchased an $820 desktop from Dell this summer because HP crapped on me. He explained that he was going to buy the netbook back but needed that information to do so and asked if he could check on a few things and call me back. He said he would either call in a hour or the next day, but he called back within ten minutes. He said that he would like to reimburse me for the netbook and would provide me with a HP gift card in the amount of $300. The same netbook I had sold for $299, I would have to pay for shipping. Since HP finally took care of me and compromised, I decided that I wouldn’t mind the shipping. It couldn’t be that expensive to ship a netbook anyway.

Last night, the gift card arrived in my inbox, an E-Certificate good at HP Shopping. I looked over their website and didn’t really need anything since I bought a new Dell desktop this summer, I decided to purchase an upgraded HP Mini 210 to give to someone special this Christmas. The order has been placed and I got a confirmation email, so we’ll see how that goes. At least I have 21 days from the date of receipt in case the recipient decides they do not like it, I can return it. Thank you to all the awesome people at Consumerist. Without you, HP would have never noticed me and stood up to correct this major problem. They also would not have gotten an additional $126 from me on this upgraded netbook I just ordered for Christmas!

That’s the way to do it. Trebuchet right over the warranty place and get your issue under an exec’s nose by looking up their emails. (The “EECB” in this post’s title refers to an “Executive Email Carpet Bomb“) Enjoy your new, functional laptop! Also, this goes to show that if you fix your customers’ problems, they just might reward you with more business.