Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Hewlett-Packard Customer Service

Back in June, I purchased a laptop for myself through It didn't come from Amazon, though. It came from one of their partner sellers. The laptop was a great deal, as refurbished products often are. I bought a refurbished HP desktop back in 1999 and it was a great computer, so that didn't bother me. However, when I got the laptop, I noticed that the wireless function sometimes wouldn't work. In fact, it wouldn't even show up in Device Manager; it was like the comptuer didn't even have a wireless controller in it. Sometimes the wireless would work fine, and other times it wouldn't. As you can imagine, this caused lots of problems when calling HP customer service about the problem, as they would just have me restart the computer until it actually decided to work. One time it would'nt work, and they finally decided to send me a new wireless card. Of course, this required talking to a completely different group, which was busy at the time so they would call me back. Three days later they called while I was unavailable, and trying to get a hold of them again proved about impossible. And, of course, the wireless worked some of the time, so I just decided to put up with it and not worry about HP's desire to avoid actually handling my problem.

And then last week, I got an email from HP about a known problem with a few types of laptops, and mine was one of the specific types, and my serial number was in the list of potential problem childs. Sure enough, one of the potential problems was wireless not showing up in the Device Manager. They had established a special phone number specifically for those of us with these laptops, and I called that number and actually got good service. They had me flash my BIOS to the latest version, but that didn't solve the problem. So, they overnighted me a special box with special plastic holders to ship them the laptop (I was quite impressed with the holders: they expanded like an accordion to fit different sizes of laptops, and therefore were fun to play with), overnight FedEx pre-paid. So I packed up my laptop, dropped it off at a FedEx Kinko's on Monday evening, and yesterday afternoon I got notice that HP had my laptop, and I could go online and read that they found my problem as being a defective motherboard.

So, if you have a generic, intermittent problem that isn't easily solved by online technical guides, HP tech support seems designed to stick you in limbo and not actually solve anything. However, once I was put into a group with known problems, tech support was really great and seems to be doing all they can to solve the problem ASAP. I must admit it feels like dealing with an HMO for health care: if you have a standard, known problem (broken limb, knee replacement, etc.) then they already know what to do, you are put into a program for it, and everything is really efficient. If you have some weird problem, though, one that isn't easily diagnosed, then you are hosed because nobody knows what to do with you, since there isn't a pre-documented solution to the problem.

Hopefully this will end will with my laptop coming back to me in full, working condition. If not, I'll air my ire here for all to see.

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