Saturday, April 10, 2010

Renewed faith in HP, CompUSA, and Best Buy

My HP laptop's broken trackpad button story continues....

HP's escalated support department and Best Buy's Geek Squad have renewed my faith in both companies.

As mentioned in a previous post, the HP chat support agent referred my case to a Case Manager. The agent still has not emailed me, but a Case Manager did call and email me on Mon Apr 05, so I now have my case number and a single point of contact assigned to my case. Finally, a single person to deal with so I don't need to explain the problem to the next tech who can't read my file. I had been busy for the past few days but was finally able to call the CM yesterday, Thu Apr 08. I was unable to speak to my assigned CM, but the CM who answered the phone took over the case. We had a surprisingly useful conversation and he proposed some viable solutions.

He did reiterate the repair center's policy of needing the hard disk, but he understood my need to remove mine and ship the laptop without a disk. He noted my file to allow the repair without the disk. I also expressed concerns that 7-9 business days is too long a downtime so he tagged this as an express case, which reduced the turnaround to 3-5 business days. Still a long time.

I explained the chat agent said if I brought it to a local repair shop that the repair shop would likely charge me for labor. He recommended locally owned shops may charge less than big chains. Unfortunately, HP does not have repair shops everywhere and has only a few centralized shops by region. He did offer to ship me a replacement trackpad (not just the button) and I could either install it myself or have a local shop do it. Wow. I haven't had such service since the early 1990s when my Gateway desktop had a defective part.

Gateway at the time, without even blinking, offered to ship me a replacement part for me to install myself. Most manufacturers I deal with nowadays don't even want customers going inside the device and will additionally cover the components with "warranty void if removed" stickers. I know, I built computers for a summer job where we recorded all the serial numbers and tagged "void" stickers everywhere. I can understand this policy is to prevent customers from swapping in an already defective part and making a warranty claim. If we received a device for warranty repair, we would check >every< serial number to ensure nothing was swapped out. A bit excessive, I think, especially as someone with some repair expertise. Unfortunately, I have no experience replacing a trackpad and wasn't about to learn any time soon.

So, the next step was to at least get time and cost quotes from local repair shops. If they were reasonably priced, I'll take HP's replacement trackpad and just repair it locally. If the local cost was too high, I'll take a return shipping box, put my disk in another computer and continue working while HP repairs my laptop. I now had some viable options, much better than the limited option (singular) the chat agent offered.

I was near a CompUSA and Best Buy today, so I figure why not, I'll get price quotes. Find out just how expensive it'll be. CompUSA quoted me $100, but can turn around the repair in 2 hours. Worst case, end of day. Ok, that's impressive. Replacing a trackpad should take just a few hours, but I realize I'm not the only customer, so I expected they would need to keep my laptop for a few days. $100 is pricy, but I don't know what's involved in this type of repair, so ok.

My experience at Best Buy was mixed. They will service in-warranty HP laptops for free, but this shop was swamped with repair orders and quoted me a 3 day turnaround. They said the workload varies, so I can try calling ahead to find out how busy they are for that day. I don't know why HP's chat and phone support departments were unable to tell me of this Best Buy's repair center. Not sure if this is general Best Buy policy or if it was this particular location. Still, HP should know these things so they can direct customers to local shops.

Both repair centers did not need the disk. That's how it should be.

It's down to time vs money. CompUSA = $100, 2 hours to 1 day; vs Best Buy = free, 3 days, maybe less. Still better than shipping the laptop back to HP. That's ship time plus their 3-5 day repair time. Decisions decisions.


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