Monday, February 18, 2008

HP purchase in mind? Caveat emptor

With all due respect, I must say that my experience with HP has been utter frustration. I purchased an HP Pavilion pc and an HP pavilion laptop, both of which failed completely (unbootable) after several months of normal use, under a year and within the one year warranty period, 11 months and 7 months respectively.

It would appear to be, by the claims made by the off-shore “service” person, to be company policy to claim that a warranty has expired before it actually has; then, after demanding that you send in the receipt to prove your purchase date (the same receipt that you sent to get your rebate… no copies accepted) they refuse to send an email to summarize the Official Policy decision, claiming that email confirmations are against company policy. I now have no proof that they ever made such a claim yet I have no recourse for satisfaction.

Seeking clarification, I went to the website only to find that it is not possible to contact anyone at HP stateside, except if you want to chat with the CEO on some drop-down list of pre-selected topics, none of which have anything to do with total product failure or deplorable customer disrespect (the word “service” could never sincerely be used).

Going back to Circuit City, the original retailer, I was told by the person at the Service Desk as well as the in-house service tech (Firedogs©) that, according to their own personal experience, HP routinely claims that your warranty has expired regardless of the truth in the matter and then refuses to afford any service work without first charging an out-of-warranty service fee. The manager of the computer department confirmed that this was also his experience regarding a piece of HP equipment used by the store, in the store. He stated that after 6 months it had failed and the off-shore warranty claims person stated that the warranty had expired, despite the fact that they had the original factory invoice dated 6 months prior. That’s right. The retailer was made to call the same service number as the unsuspecting consumer.

In complete amazement that this had to be completely unique, I went home and on my Mac, Googled “HP warranty complaint”. Now I had wished that I’d done that before dropping $2500 on such oversized paper weights. Sadly I discovered that my experience was not unique at all. In fact it was rather commonplace. Momentarily pondering the situation, I came to realize that a company which has been convicted of Federal charges of illegally wiretapping their own Board Members would probably have little hesitation in deceiving the public for a fee. Considering the math: $30 Service fee (desperate to salvage one’s work at the time of failure, one would likely pay this amount) times 1 million consumers, produces a profit which justifies the legal fees of defending such behavior, should it ever manage to become a class action. Then I came to realize the motivation behind behavior so likely to alienate so many potential future customers: HP realizes we’re NOT future potential customers. If the product actually lasted, the user would be least likely to make another purchase, having no interest in doing so. If the product failed, the same would apply. Therefore, the best way to capitalize on the situation would be to profit from the loss, so to speak. And I think they’ve found just that way: charge you on the way in and then ... charge you again on the way out.

Out of self-respect, I could never recommend anything HP to anyone, not even an enemy. Out of moral compunction, I urge everyone to look elsewhere unless disappointment is something for which you have an insatiable appetite, since HP has a seemingly unlimited supply. The good news is, after sharing the details of my personal experience, I have successfully convinced a friend, the owner of a large IT firm, to avoid the HP product – they switched to Dell – and have further educated the IT department in my own company to cancel the HP order slated to replace all the in-house computers. Again, Dell was the winner in the re-selection process. I bought a Dell laptop for my son for school and have a Dell pc at work. I like Dell. And it works.