Hewlett-Packard (HP) Service Center — bad, bad, bad!

James Ryan Jonas

HP sucks!

Rant mode alert!

Over a year ago, I bought an HP Compaq nc2400 laptop in South Korea. The laptop performed superbly during the first few months (no surprise), but starting on the 8th month, its battery life dropped considerably to half and processing became slower (for example, opening an MS Office file took 1 minute). These did not bother me much then because I thought these were the trade-offs for having a small, lightweight notebook.

Left-click malfunction

But in November 2007, the left-click function of the TouchPad started acting weird. Clicking the TouchPad’s left-click button also opened the right-click functions and this could not be rectified by simply adjusting the TouchPad settings.

How bad can that get? Well, for one, I could not shut down the laptop using a mouse because left-clicking on Start > Shut Down always gave me right-click options. The only way to shut down the notebook then was through the keyboard (how many of you know how do that?).

Also I found it difficult to open a file or program because double-clicking its icon always gave me right-click options. Just imagine how annoying it would be whenever you double-click on an icon to open a program only to get the right-click option “Open” then if you click on it, you get the same option “Open” again — and yet the file has still not opened yet!

Battery not charging fully

On top of that, I noticed that the laptop’s battery was not fully charging anymore. Although it’s been charged for several hours, the unit charges up to 60-70% only.

So on December 5, I decided to take the unit to HP’s Service Center in Buendia, Makati. The technical support guy first tinkered with the TouchPad properties but gave up after 10 minutes. He also noted the battery problem and recommended that I leave the unit so they can conduct inspection. I agreed.

Fifteen days later, on December 20, I received a call saying they could not solve the problem yet because they were still waiting for a few laptop components that they requested abroad. The guy who called also briefly mentioned that the battery may be up for replacement and they can prepare a price quotation should I wish to buy a new one.

Option to pull out

They also told me that If I wanted to, I could temporarily pull out the unit because they would not be able to work on it because they were having a one-and-a-half-week Christmas vacation and would be back only by January 3. I decided to leave the laptop with them.

Finally, a long month and three weeks later, on January 22, I received a call informing me that the laptop is ready for pick-up. I dropped by their office the next day and decided to test the unit while still in the Service Center to see if the problems were indeed solved. The left-click button did work well, but that’s the only thing to be happy about.

Problem solved? Not really

As for the battery, apparently it had already died — as in totally defective and worthless. They explained that when they called on December 20 saying the battery may already be up for replacement, they meant that the battery was already useless during that time.

Wait a minute, I left the laptop with them on December 5 with the battery still charging 60-70% and they’re telling me that within 15 days — while the unit was in their possession — the battery became totally defective? Wow, I don’t know what to say.

I was told: If only the battery was covered by HP’s 1-year warranty, it would have been replaced. Yeah right. But at the least, don’t I deserve to get the battery in the same status when I gave it to them? Do they expect me to simply accept their excuse that the battery became dead, useless, and worthless within 15 days while it was in their possession?

Oh, and they did give me the price quotation for a new battery. The cost? A whopping P8,700 (US$212.00). Nice.

Huh? Another problem?

Wait, there’s more. When I finally got to test the laptop, a “User Environment” error appeared whenever the laptop is booting. I then discovered that the original user profile would not load and when asked why this was the case, the tech guy replied that the original profile got corrupted. Uh ok, can you solve this? I asked.

An hour of tinkering later, the tech guy said they could not bring the original profile back and the only way to solve this is to reformat the laptop.

“We can do it for you, if you want,” he said.

“No, thanks,” I replied. “You might just ruin this almost-worthless laptop of mine.”

How Pathetic

A dead battery. Corrupted user profile. Tech support that took almost two months to solve.

Thank you very much, HP, because of this experience I am not going to buy any of your products anymore.

How Pathetic.

James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.