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HP Care Packs Are A Scam

HP We Don't Care Pack Banner

As I have learned the hard way, HP is not a company that can be trusted. This is a very humbling experience after having strongly recommended the HP brand not only to friends and family but also to countless businesses that I have consulted for when it comes to their computer room configurations. I have literally purchased and/or recommended MILLIONS of dollars in HP equipment over the past few decades including dozens of server installations at bars and restaurants using a clients beer distribution system, a computer room for a local Charleston company that consisted of 28 new servers, and a computer room for a Boston based company over a decade ago that included a number of enterprise laser printers and network servers.

When it came time to purchase a new laptop just over a year ago I decided to stop messing around and spend $1500 on the best laptop HP offered at the time.   My biggest concern, as this would be my primary workstation at home and while travelling, was down time should it need to be repaired after failure or accidental damage.  Before making the purchase I called HP customer care and spoke to an HP representative about their extended warranty options.   She was very nice and immediately pointed me to the UN041A HP 3 Year House Call with Accidental Damage Protection Care Pack.   She proceeded to tell me that should the unit need repair that HP would send a technical service person to my house within 24 hours after diagnosing the issue to repair the unit at my home.   If they could not complete the repair on site I would get a loaner laptop while my laptop was sent out for repair and returned to me within a few days.    Sounded great.   I purchased the Laptop on February 29th 2012 from Beach Camera and a few days later, on March 5th, purchased that exact warranty directly from HP with the assistance of a phone operator.

Well it turns out this was the start of dealing with ineptitude and incompetence at Hewlett Packard.    While the sales agent had told me that I would get my extended care pack in the mail in 4-6 weeks, it turns out that isn’t the case.   After THREE MONTHS I called Hewlett Packard and asked where it was.   It had come up on my calendar a few times and I bumped it forward until I had an afternoon with some free time to make the call.   I was told it was “in processing”.  After several more calls over the next several months I finally received the Care Pack.

Fail #1 – HP Sold The Wrong Warranty

They sold me the wrong thing.   When I went to register the Care Pack that the original HP customer representative told me about and the second sales agent “forced into the system” (really, that was not a clue that something was wrong Ms. HP Sales Person?) it told me that the Care Pack did not apply to the HP Envy 17.     After many calls AND after being told by one HP representative “Well, sir, you purchased the WRONG item.  HP cannot be held responsible for that.  You are just going to have to purchase the right item.” I finally got an HP rep on the line with half-a-clue.    Mind you just half of a clue.   This person “converted” my incorrect warranty to the correct warranty and told me that if I had issues over the next couple of months I would have to call the escalation team directly because the extended warranty would not appear on my account until the regular 1-year warranty expired.

Fail #2 -No Such Thing As On Site Support

The unit failed and so did HP.   After a trip in January 2013 my laptop took a bounce off the back of the seat on a plane and started making a rattling noise.  That combined with the audio port static meant it was time to send in the unit.   So I call HP and guess what?  I am told I DO NOT have an extended warranty.  Again I go through the HP circus and finally find someone that can look up the confirmation number I was given with the “manual override”.   They find out that ONCE AGAIN the wrong warranty was applied.  They fix the warranty and then tell me “OK, I submitted an RMA so you can ship the unit back.”.

WAIT.  WHAT?  Ship the unit back?  I paid a premium to get the ON SITE REPAIR work.

Guess what?

HP ON SITE REPAIR DOES NOT APPLY TO LAPTOPS.   Not any of the newer laptops anyway.  Do you know what they consider on site repair?   Swapping a hard drive or replacing memory!  Really?  Any idiot with half-a-clue can do that on their own without needing a technical support person come out on site.    ALL OTHER “REPAIRS”, no matter how minor REQUIRE YOU TO SHIP THE LAPTOP TO HP.   The turn around time?  At least 3 days plus 1 day shipping either way.  That is ONE WEEK without the laptop

The entire reason I went with this laptop is because they had on-site repair and 24 hour response times!

What about that loaner system?   NOPE.   Not for laptops, sorry.  That is only for select desktop systems.

I opt NOT to send the unit out.  I can deal with static on the audio port and a rattling noise if it means no laptop for a week.

Fail #3 -You Have No Warranty, Again

Fast forward to September 2013.   I am in the middle of a major product release for Store Locator Plus.   My Envy 17 decides to die in the middle of a coding session.    The battery is no longer “present”.   Not in the laptop.  That is amazing since the reason they cannot fix my laptop on site is because the battery is NOT REPLACEABLE by the user.  It is wired into the motherboard.   (WTF?!?! Who designed THAT feature?  Wish I noticed that , but it is conveniently not mentioned on the sales info, I just ASSUMED a laptop battery could be swapped.  My mistake.)  So now I cannot use my laptop if it is unplugged, cannot move it, and better hope the power never goes out.

Time to send it in for another repair.

Again I am told I don’t have a warranty.  I once again send in all the info, but at least this time I have an email from HP with all the necessary info and a contact listed.   I get a new RMA issued and this time send back the laptop after spending 2 days moving my entire work environment over to an older (and much slower) laptop.

Fail #4 – Parts On Backorder

TEN DAYS after sending out my laptop I get in touch with HP.  Where is my 3-day turnaround on the laptop?   No answer.   Two days and 4 emails later I finally get a response… “Yes, we did receive your laptop last week.   Parts are on backorder.  There is no ETA.”.

A few more days go by and I get an email “I will be out for a few days, I will let you know about the laptop when I get back.”.

A couple more days go by and I send an email “What is going on?  Will I ever see my laptop again.”.

I’m still waiting for a response.

HP Care Pack Is Worthless

Over the past 48 hours, after being without my $1400 laptop for going on 3 weeks now I decided to do some research.  Along the way I have learned that the HP Care Pack is  a complete scam.    Why?

  • No On Site Repair : They are selling the Care Pack for the HP Envy 17 clearly marked as “On Site Repair”.   There is no on site repair for the HP Envy 17.   The product clearly says “in rare instances” yet ANY repair other than a disk drive or memory failure requires sending in the laptop.  That is NOT rare especially for a warranty that offers damage protection.  When is the last time you damaged your RAM?
HP Rare Instances
HP Rare Instances
  • HP Not Liable For Lack Of Parts : That’s right, if you send something in for repair and they don’t have the parts to fix it they are not liable.  You are stuck with a unit that cannot be repaired and you have no recourse.   Work will stop when parts or resources are not available and will resume when they become available with no limitation to how long this may be.
HP No Parts = No Repair
HP No Parts = No Repair
  • No Guaranteed Response Time : While HP tells you they “normally” repair units with in a few days there is NOWHERE in the contract or on the website where they guarantee a repair response time.  It could take them a few days, a few weeks, a few months.   You are without your laptop the entire time.  Who knows, it may even take a few years.  Once you ship the laptop to them you may NEVER SEE IT AGAIN with the only recourse being your ability to recoup the cost of the repair contract.
  • HP Can Wash Hands of Contract With No Liability:  In reading the “fine print” of the actual Care Pack contract, HP has limited their liability NOT to the value of the laptop that is supposed to be covered by the warranty but “the original purchase price of the extended warranty”.   In other words, pay us hundreds of dollars for the warranty.   If your laptop never breaks we keep the money.   If your laptop does break and we don’t fix it we will give you your money back.    HP is literally holding all the cards here.  They are in a position to never lose money as any repair that costs more than the cost of the warranty can be deemed “non repairable” and just refund your Care Pack purchase price. In other words, HP can wash their hands of any problem systems by simply refunding the care pack purchase price.

Go ahead and get a copy of the actual Care Pack contract.   Read it carefully.   HP limits their liability in every way possible and has absolutely ZERO guarantees of performance.   A genius piece of legal bullshit that they turn around and sell for hundreds of dollars.   It should be a crime.

Class action lawsuit anyone?  I’m in!

 

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Envy 17 17-3070NR Video Problems When Recording

HP Video Fail Banner

Environment

  • HP Envy 17-3070NR with latest video drivers & BIOS
  • 3x HP ZR2440w Monitors attached, 2 on display port, 1 on HDMI

Problem

Any time I access ANYTHING to do with recording, such as going to the windows sounds interface and clicking on the recording tab, the screen on ONE of the Display Ports flickers to the point of being unusable.

It shows flashing thin 1 or 2- pixels white lines in random patterns on the screen, then the entire display shuts off.  It turns back on and looks fine for 2 seconds, then does it again until I click on the Playback, Sounds, or Communications tab.  This happens with ANY access to “recording” from any app including my Skype call recorder or my Screencast recorder.

This did not happen before I upgraded to the 1920×1200 ZR2440w monitors, which I did after confirming with HP support that the Envy 17-3070NR would indeed support 1920×1200 resolution if I used display port connections.

The problem continues if I swap monitors, so it is not a monitor issue.

The problem continues if I disconnect/disable the 3rd monitor on HDMI, in fact the cycle happens even faster with that display disconnected.

This looks very much like an old-school video memory corruption issue like you would have back in 1996 on  a Windows XP computer with crappy video cards and/or poorly written video drivers.      If I had to guess I would say BIOS and/or AMD drivers need work.

Has any else seen this problem?

Any clues how to fix this besides “don’t use 3 monitors” or “don’t record screen casts”?

Customer Non-Support

The best part is that I am entitled to email or chat or phone support from HP with my extended warranty.  Yet HP completely fails in that regard.    First of all the website the checks to see if you are entitled for support looks up my serial number and product number, shows the right product in the sidebar yet the customer support form only allows for PRINTER options on describing what is wrong.

HP Consumer Division Incompetence A Laptop is Not A Printer
HP Consumer Division Incompetence A Laptop is Not A Printer

HP needs to hire some programmers.

HP Fails At Selling Customer Care Packs

Then, to make things more fun, when I contact HP directly they tell me I do not have a warranty.   I have a dozen emails back & forth from HP stating I DO have a warranty for 3 years.    I can understand why they are confused, however, since THREE HP employees over the past year have screwed up my extended warranty so badly that nobody can figure out what the hell is going on.  Not even their escalation team.

The first person sold me the wrong warranty.

The second person “fixed” the warranty and attached a DIFFERENT, but still incorrect, extended warranty.

The third person, in the HP Escalation Division, fixed the problem again but did not properly attach the extended warranty to my serial number so nobody can find it.

Unfortunately there is no online form or interface available to the mundane every day HP Customer Support people that allows them to “enter the personal email sent from an HP manager ensuring the customer has an extended warranty” box.    Since my case falls completely outside of their scripted responses they are completely baffled.     Customer Support lemmings are not trained to think, just click the boxes, recite the words on the screen like Obama reading a teleprompter, and move on.  No thought required.    Come to think of it, maybe HP is training everyone to be the next POTUS.

 

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HP Care Pack – Buyer Beware

HP Support Assistant

I love HP equipment, especially their servers.   My HP Envy 17 laptop rocks, very “apple-like”.  However I am FURIOUS at HP for blatant mis-representation of product when it comes to the HP Care Pack.

My laptop is my lifeblood.  I use it for home and business EVERY DAY without exception.  It is how I earn a living.   Last time I sent an Asus laptop for repair they lost it for 3 months.  I had to buy a new laptop and when they finally sent mine back I didn’t need it any longer.  That was a $1200 mistake I vowed to never make again.

As such I opted for the $400 on-site extended warranty with accidental damage protection.   The on-site repair has a guaranteed 6-hour turnaround and they send a technician to your house to do the repairs.  Perfect.

From the HP website:

Description
 
Enjoy the convenience of having a technician come right to your home or office, if needed, to help resolve desktop or notebook PC issues with HP Care Pack On-site Service. You’ll also have access to 24×7 technical support and extended security while keeping your PC covered by the manufacturer that knows it best. Extended coverage begins the day you buy your HP PC. You’ll get the most coverage and value if you buy this plan when you purchase your PC. For example: • If you buy the 2-year plan when you purchase your PC, you’ll get coverage for 2 full years. • If you buy the 2-year plan 3 months after you purchase your PC, you’ll get 21 months of coverage only. Multi-year options are available. 
  On-site hardware repair
  24×7 remote support
  Replacement parts and materials
  Monitor coverage
  • Help improve system uptime. Convenient onsite support. Reliable response times.
  • • Reduction of incidents by anticipating issues through real-time monitoring of the environment and case history trend reporting Through the availability to purchase options, Proactive Care helps you by providing:.
  • • Increased accountability and personalization through the assignment of an account support team that will provide support planning and reviews • Maximize return on IT assets through performance and availability analysis.
  • • Simplified operations from fully utilizing management software • Flexible resourcing through access to skills on demand that can help with peak workload and project requirements.
 
 
 
Service and Support provided by:
Hewlett Packard
     
Technical: 800.334.5144

 

Yet today, after having damaged the HP Envy 17 while travelling last week, I had the “opportunity” to exercise the HP Care Pack warranty and see how well it works.  Well, in short IT DOESN’T.    The on site repair does not apply to ANYTHING other than replacing a hard drive or memory.  Period.   Damaged case?  Ship it away for 2 weeks.  Damaged screen?  Ship it away for 2 weeks.    Odd.   HP offers a standard damage protection warranty WITHOUT on-site service for $180.     So I paid a $220 premium to have them ship me a hard drive if it fails so I can replace it or have their tech do it, but I guarantee I can do it faster.   Everything else?  Good Bye Laptop… for 2 weeks.

Wow.   I’ve been had.    I damn well guarantee I’ll never buy an on-site warranty for a consumer product from HP again.   I feel like they completely screwed me out of $220 and NOWHERE is it made clear the on-site service or 6-hour turnaround does not apply to 99.99% of the cases where your laptop would be damaged.

HP just served up a huge helping of fail cake.

Don’t believe it?  Call HP and find out.

HP Customer Care:  1-800-474-6836 (1-800-HP INVENT)

HP Escalation Team: 1-877-917-4380ext. 93.

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Google Spam Filter FAIL

My favorite tech company has fallen off their pedestal and their new-found ego is going to give them a big ugly black eye.   The tech community is quickly becoming disenchanted with the ways of Google, thanks in a big way to the ultimate FAIL of the Google Spam Filter.    It turns out that Google decided the previously intelligent spam filter was not intelligent enough.   Obviously they decided that it needed to think more like a human.  And by more human-like we mean MAKING MISTAKES.  And big ones at that.

We started to realize about 3 weeks back (Last week of April, 2011) that some client emails were not showing up.   We assumed it was just an errant send from the other end.  You know, HUMAN ERROR.  Well it turns out that we had become so accustomed to Google’s spam filter being nearly flawless that we never thought to even check our spam folder.

Well we should have.  There was not only the missing client emails in the spam folder, but dozens… literally dozens… of other legitimate emails in there.  Sales leads.  Customers trying to contact us, and a LOT of customers complaining about not getting their product license.    Hmmm…  that’s odd.   We normally get one complaint/month about a license not going out.  A robot sends those out for us automatically when someone purchases a product.    But for some reason a half-dozen clients in less than a week did not get their license.

Then a client complained we never gave them a project update.  We did.  We sent MANY updates.   They were PISSED.   I resent the message.  The didn’t get them.   Then the lightbulb went off… “did you check your spam folder?”.    Turns out the client is using gmail and YES, ALL of our message are in their spam folder.    That was odd.  We are on their contact list & they are on ours.   Yet Google spammed us.

Then we went and looked at all the complaints about not getting a license.  Guess what?  ALL gmail people. Every one.    Then we noticed that any of our employees, customers, or clients that use gmail were not only getting legitimate messages put in the spam folder but that blatant spam was getting into their inbox much more frequently than before.

We are pretty damn certain that Google changed the spam filter across the board.  Luckily we have a paid Google mail account so we have support.  Or so we thought.  It turns out our contact refuses to admit they changed anything.  He has not said that they did NOT change anything, but after more than a week of back-and-forth he has pointed the finger at us EVERY TIME.  We have literally had to change or explain over a half-dozen settings, like why our MX records are on our server, the fact that the spam filter is turned off on our server, the fact that our gmail account allows for relay and incoming email from our email server IP.   Every time we tell him “GOOGLE CHANGED THE SPAM FORMULA” we get another “did you check <blah> answer.

Obviously Google didn’t do anything wrong.  There is no way they changed the formula, right?

Well HUNDREDS of posts on the Internet are creating a buzz that says otherwise.  Maybe we are wrong, but something smells of Google having just opened a can of rotten spam and they are going to have a bitch of a time getting that one back in the can.

Follow The Story Online

Twitter #GMAILFAIL

Google Spam Filter

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Asus Laptops – Half As Good

Tonight I was on hold for Asus Warranty Services for over 25 minutes. I found it quite humorous that at least 5 times while on hold I got to listen to the Asus marketing propaganda about how great their laptops are and how their laptops require repair at least “3 times less often than the competition”. Wow, someone at Asus really has no clue about appropriate markets. Someone somewhere said “yeah, run that quality of product commercial on our RETURNED MERCHANDISE HOLD LINE”.

If Asus ran a funeral parlor they’d be running ads telling people how their new vitamin water adds years to life, “buy a case today!” in an exciting happy voice… just what you want to hear while planning grandpa’s burial.

Someone literally thought “let’s run ONE AD on all of our hold music”, regardless of how inappropriate it is. Ok, I added that last part. However it underscores an important point. Asus may have half a clue, but HALF a clue is not good enough. This is just another indicator of how Asus thinks… or doesn’t think as the case may be. It is obvious that the people behind Asus spend virtually all of their time thinking about one thing… how to make the most profit by cutting the most corners.

Really Meaningless for Asus Numbers

This very same thinking has led to another interesting situation while dealing with Asus warranty repairs.    When you find yourself needing repair of your brand new Asus Laptop (which will surely happen sooner or later given all the cut corners),  you will learn that you MUST HAVE AN RMA NUMBER before you can send in your laptop.   They drill it into  you at every corner.  You can’t do ANYTHING without that RMA NUMBER.

OK, I’ve worked in computer support and return centers before.  That makes sense.  It is a great system.

So you put the RMA number on a box.   Asus sends you a FedEx prepaid ticket with that very same RMA NUMBER embedded right in it.    Wonderful.   You must put the RMA on the box, on a paper in the box, and on the return label address.    All makes sense.

Then the Asus repair facility gets that box with the RMA on it and all the paperwork.  But guess what?

ASUS CANNOT TRACK THE SYTEM BY THE RMA NUMBER ONCE IT IS AT THE REPAIR FACILITY!!!

Yup, you read that correctly.   As I was told by Andre, an Asus Technical Support Supervisor “somewhere in the Caribbean”, they could not possibly locate my laptop at the repair facility by using just the RMA NUMBER.   No way, no how.   They MUST HAVE THE FEDEX TRACKING NUMBER.

To be absolutely certain that poor Andre was not confused about what I was asking for, I made it very clear that someone told us on Tuesday afternoon (just 4 days ago) that they had in fact received the laptop and that it was being given to a technician.  I also noted that FedEx has the package listed as being received and signed for by someone in their Jefferson Indiana location.       I was confused why they needed that tracking number to get a “status update” on my repair.

I was told “We cannot track down your laptop with an RMA NUMBER.   It is much faster to find your laptop with the tracking number.”.    Again, I was CERTAIN Andre was confused as to what I was asking him.   I stated that I knew their repair facility had already received the laptop, that a technician was working on it according to ONE of the people we spoke with on Wednesday, and that I just wanted to know if they had an estimated date for having the repair done.

Again Andre made it very clear to me that Asus cannot locate repairs by the RMA NUMBER.    That is when I realized that RMA does not mean “Return Merchandise Authorization” but rather is “Really Meaningless for Asus” in every sense of the word.

Half Solutions = ZERO Business

At this point I can only pray that I once again see my $1500 laptop some day.    Now I feel like I spent $1500 on this thing that I may never see again.    I basically rented an Asus Laptop for $1500 for 90 days and there is no  guarantee I’ll ever get to use it again.

Asus focuses on HALF of the solution.   They have a system for generating an RMA and require it be adhered to by the customer.  Then they completely throw that system out the window once things are internalized.

I can only believe that this is exactly why that $1500 laptop failed in the first place.    I imagine they only put in half the screws, or soldered have the connections, or ran half the QA tests.

One thing is for certain, they got ALL my money on this purchase but they are going to get a hell of a lot less than HALF of my computer budget for as long as I am in the business.   I’ll certainly be recommended to ALL of my clients to spend 10% more and go with a company that gets the WHOLE picture.

Sorry Asus, but half the effort simply is not good enough for me.

Asus Fail Cake Update

In the 2 weeks since we shipped the laptop we have heard the following from Asus:

Day 1: “We have not received the laptop.” (we have proof of signature from FedEx)
Day 2: “Someone is looking at your laptop.”
Day 3: “We have not received your laptop.”
Day 4: “The ticket is not updated, we can’t give you a status.”
Day 5: “Please give us the tracking number, NOT THE RMA, so we can locate your laptop. We don’t know where it is.”
Day 6: “Nobody has updated the status.”
Day 7: “We did not receive your laptop.”… “oh wait, yes, we did”… “the technician has not updated any notes”.
Day 8: “The status has not been updated.”
Day 9: “The status has not been updated. We cannot tell you who is working on it. We cannot tell you when it will be fixed”.
Day 10: “We have not received your laptop”.
Day 11: “We have not received your laptop”… “we DID receive your laptop”…”status has not been updated”… Supervisor: “There is not status update. I HAVE NO SUPERVISOR OR MANAGER. We have 10-14 days to repair and get the laptop back to you. No, I can’t tell you when you’ll get it back. No, it may not be there in the next 4 days.”

Nice job Asus!

Fail Cake Ingredients – In Writing

Well, Asus finally put their excuses in writing.   The best part is this is more than TWO WEEKS after they have signed for the FedEx package.  Their online customer service agents are trained to give the same exact excuses as the phone agents.

Asus appears to actually be training their customer service people to deal in excuses and puts extra effort into avoidance techniques.  What a joke.

From: Trinity Sparks [mailto:tsd@asus.com.tw]
Sent:
Sunday, January 16, 2011 2:00 PM
Subject: Re:<TSD> Notebook G73JH [ID=RWTM20110112257317560-148]

Dear Mr. Cleaveland,

Please provide the tracking number and I will chcek on the RMA and see what is going on. As of right now I do not show that we have received the unit. Once I have the tracking number I will send the proof of delivery to the Indiana facility to get status and ETA of when the unit will ship back to you. Thank you and have a greta day1

Best Regards,
Trinity Sparks

———- Original Message ———-
From : lance@cybersprocket.com
Sent : 1/11/2011 7:06:33 PM
To : “tsd@asus.com.tw”
Subject : <TSD> Notebook G73JH

[CASEID=WTM20110112257317560]

Apply date : 1/11/2011 6:57:31 PM(UTC Time)

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