Consumer electronics have this terrible, terrible habit of breaking down shortly after the manufacturer’s warranty is up. In Eva’s case, the battery of her HP laptop self-destructed just two weeks after her original warranty ended. She thought that perhaps since her battery had started failing during the warranty period, they might give her a break. Nope. Thus began her battle of wills with R., the HP call center supervisor who can’t help you, but answers to no one.
A month or a month and a half ago, my HP G-series laptop started shutting down suddenly. It was annoying, but I thought it was basically an exotic version of a computer crash, so I saved my work a lot and didn’t worry about it.
Enter last night, when, two weeks out of warranty, my battery status indicator informed me that “”There is a problem with your battery, so your computer might shut down suddenly. Consider replacing your battery.” My computer might shut down suddenly? Like it had been doing already? Ooooh. So what I’d been experiencing was a failing battery.
Well, the computer was only two weeks out of warranty, and the problem had manifested while I had a warranty, so it seemed reasonable to me that HP would agree that 1) one year and two weeks is the world’s shortest notebook battery life and not acceptable, and 2) the problem happened while the computer was in warranty. Off I went to call customer service.
I should say that the first two times I called the HP 1-800 number for help, I carefully went through the phone tree like a good girl, pressing all the correct options. After promising to transfer me to the correct department, the phone tree then hung up on me. Twice.
The next time I called, I just said “agent” over and over to the phone tree robot lady, like a demented parrot. This got me through to Rep #1, who told me to buy a new battery and wouldn’t (probably couldn’t) offer other options. I asked for a supervisor, and he put me on hold…forever. No one ever picked up the phone again.
After going through the “agent” routine with the phone tree again, I got Rep #2, who offered that I could pay $49 or $99 or perhaps $49 and also $99 (it was unclear) for technical support, after which I could buy a battery from him for only $99. I turned down this incredible bargain politely and asked for his supervisor. After 30 minutes on hold, he said that the supervisor was still busy, and the best thing would be for me to hang up and send a letter to HP. I declined this option, which sounded like a non-starter, and asked to wait for the supervisor.
After forty minutes, I got “R.,” the supervisor, on the line. R promised to check my battery to see if it was eligible for a recall and then to explore other options with me. He then put me on hold. When he came back, he wanted me to hang up with him and go check an HP website about battery recalls. I told him I’d already checked the website (I had) and my battery wasn’t on the list (it wasn’t). He then revealed he had checked the website and found the same thing. I’m not sure why he wanted me to check also, but I suspect it was an attempt to get me to hang up.
Anyway, then he launched into the same sales spiel the customer rep had already given me — my battery was out of warranty, but I could pay for this nifty service package! And then they could diagnose it! And then I could buy a new battery!
I declined. At this point, I was pretty annoyed. I reiterated that my problems had started before my warranty went out of date. I asked him if he thought 54 weeks was an acceptable amount of time for an HP battery to last. He asked me if I had called to complain during the warranty period. I said no, because as I’d already explained, I didn’t realize the sudden shutdowns were because the battery was dying.. He said that if I had called during the warranty period to complain, then he could have gotten me a free battery replacement, but since I hadn’t…
I pointed out again that the battery was only two weeks past this warranty, so even if it hadn’t been failing during the warranty (and it was), that would still not be okay. I said that at this point, I was planning on writing about my experience for publication. I asked him to give me his full information for the record.
He said his name was “‘R.’ [Common Indian Last Name],” and spelled it for me. I asked if he had an agent number or anything like that. He said it was HP policy not to give out any number identifying him. I asked him if he had a direct callback number in case someone needed to reach him to verify our conversation. He said that he had no direct number. I asked him if he would identify which customer service center or office he worked in so he could be contacted in the future. He said that there was only one HP customer service office in all of India, and he was at that one.
At this point, I said, okay, fine, and asked him if he was willing to comment officially for HP that 54 weeks is an acceptable battery life for an HP computer.
He said, “Without checking the battery or the codes, good or bad, we can’t comment anything. We can’t say it is the battery because it could be the software or something else. The policy is the warranty is one year.”
I said that, as I’d already told two customer reps, I could verify that the battery was the problem, because my computer’s battery status indicator said so.
He said that he would need to diagnose the codes.
I said, “I would be glad for you to check the battery or the codes.”
He responded with a spiel about the $49 or $99 I could pay for a year of support, and then he would check the codes, and after that I would still be on the hook for paying for a new battery. I said I would not pay for support for a problem that started while the battery was in warranty.
He said that there was no record of a service call from me during the warranty period. I reiterated that the lack of a service call does not mean the computer wasn’t having a problem. At this point, he said that my only two options were to order a battery or to pay for tech support and then order a battery. I said that was not acceptable to me. He said that “the tools” (I asked him if he meant his computer software, and he said “yes”) would not allow him to provide any other service options.
I said that was fine, and that I would like to speak to his supervisor, then. I asked him, “Do you have supervisor?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Okay, I would like to speak to that person, then,” I said.
Long pause. Then: “I do not have a supervisor [mumble mumble]”
“You don’t have a supervisor?” I asked.
He said, “No.”
I said, “You just told me you had a supervisor. Now you say you don’t have a supervisor. Are you telling me you are the top supervisor in India at HP? There is no one above you?”
For clarification, I asked: “You are the supervisor of all of HP India?”
He said, “I am the supervisor of this technical desk.”
“So,” I said, “you are NOT the top supervisor of all of HP India?”
“I am the top supervisor of this technical area,” he said.
I said, “Then I would like to speak to your supervisor.”
This got me more about how he had laid out my options. So I asked him again if he would be willing to comment on the record on behalf of HP that 54 weeks was the expected battery life for an HP notebook computer battery. He would not. I asked him again for his supervisor, and he said he would not make any comments. I told him I just wanted to talk to his supervisor. At this point, he ended the call.
So, in total, I have one defective battery, two auto-hangups from HP, three customer service contacts, and a supervisor who admitted his computer would not let him help me but who refused to transfer me to any person who could. Any suggestions?
If that doesn’t work, forget the service package and just order a new battery on your own. That must be possible, if the darn things only last 12.5 months, right?
It’s unfortunate that they can’t make an exception even though the problem started a few weeks before, but understandable. What’s to stop someone from saying, “Well, actually, my hard drive died six months ago, but I didn’t get around to calling until now”?
TALES OF VICTORY OVER HP:
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