Saturday, April 03, 2010

Broken HP trackpad button may result in data loss

I have an in-warranty HP laptop whose left trackpad button broke today. I contacted support for repair options and they require me to send in my laptop. Estimated turnaround time is 7-9 business days! It gets worse.

I was using the button per design when I heard an uncharacteristic cracking noise. It appears one of the support pegs broke, leaving the button very loose and difficult to operate. I must push the button near the right edge. Pushing the button on the left edge or center raises the right edge far enough that I can possibly pry off the button with a fingernail. Very bad design.

HP's website says they have 24/7 chat and phone support. I try the chat first, thoroughly describing the problem and explaining that because I use my laptop for work, I cannot afford extended downtime. The agent says I will need to send my laptop to their service center and estimates I should get my laptop back in 7-9 business days. I said upfront I could not afford extended downtime. It should NOT take 7-9 business days to fix a trackpad button!

I ask if there is a local repair center where I can bring my laptop for a same day repair. The agent says the warranty will not cover such a repair and I will need to pay the repair center. HP's website also has a look up section to find "authorized partners". I enter my zip code and find such shops as Target and Office Max. Last I checked, these were retail outlets who sell HP products but do not have repair facilities on site. The agent eagerly asked for my zip code and apparently proceeded to do the same search, because his results were the same as mine. I explained these are retail shops and asked for actual repair shops. This was all the info the agent had.

Ok, fine, if I must send in my laptop, I at least need to remove the hard disk so I can use it in another machine while I wait for the unacceptably long repair. The agent tells me their policy requires me to ship the entire laptop intact. Absent a hard disk, they will return the laptop to me as-is. This is seriously impacting my work! The agent explains they do system tests to ensure the problem won't happen again and to find other potential issues. It's a trackpad button! You don't need my disk to ensure the button won't fail again. Besides, a repair center certainly has plenty of other disks they can use to run their system tests. There is nothing wrong with my laptop and I'm willing to waive the system test.

I also read in my warranty documents that HP is not responsible for my data. A careless tech could "accidentally" wipe my disk. Yet another reason to remove my hard disk before sending my laptop! Fine, what if I swap out my disk for a blank one? The agent again insists I must ship the entire laptop intact with the original parts or they will return the laptop to me as-is. The agent also could not assure the privacy of my data. That sounds like I have no control over a careless tech connecting my laptop to the internet and whatever "system tests" they run disabling my firewall, opening a free-for-all on my data. I cannot accept this solution.

The agent offers to escalate my case to a Case Manager, but is unable to provide a case number right now. He says the CM will call me in 2 business days. My schedule is highly variable and it is likely I will be unable to spend much time on the phone so I ask what number can I call to speak with this CM. The agent has no number I can call. If I miss the call, I will need to chat again to request another call. He promises to email me the case number in 2 hours. It has been 4 already. So, my case falls into a hole, with no way for me to refer to it. Tuesday, the CM will call at an inconvenient time and I'll need to start the whole support process over again.

Maybe I'll have better luck with phone support. I double check the website and yes indeed the phone support is also 24/7. After a surprisingly short hold time, I speak with a phone agent who informs me their system is "updating" and that I need to call back in 6 hours. That's not 24/7 support!

Considering my recent rapid turnaround with tweeting ATT and on my friend's recommendation, I search Twitter to find a relevant HP user to contact. I sent some tweets at HPsupport. Let's hope I get better service.

I had hoped for better support. I am a long time user of HP products, not just laptops, but printers (various LaserJets), graphing calculators (HP 48gx!), scanners and generally have been happy with their quality. The way this trackpad button broke is either just an outlier defect or the quality level has tanked significantly. Either way, HP has an opportunity to win back customer satisfaction in a reasonable way – find me a local repair center who can fix the button the same day, or let me remove my disk so I can continue working on another machine. If the latter, they better turn around the repair in much less than 7 because I am already unhappy there's no local center.

HP, I want to continue liking your products and services. Please help me.

1 comment:

  1. These type on incidents break the trust of even long time users. They must reduce the time taken for the warranty replacements.