Thursday, February 12, 2009

Hewlett-Packard Craptop
This is the story of how my laptop came to look like this.

This past xmas (2008), I’m blogging when all of the sudden…poof…my internet stops working on the laptop. I didn’t consider this to be a big deal because in the 17 months that I’ve had this laptop, it has been nothing but a problem with every program it runs and every time I’ve connected to the internet. (Last year I even upgraded my router from a Belkin to a Linksys because I assumed the problem to be the router, not the high-tech $650 piece of equipment.) After rebooting the laptop, modem and router and getting the same “there is no internet connection” message, I do exactly what I don’t want to do on the biggest holiday of the season…call HP support. I figured they were going to be busy with the panic’d calls of those who received computers for gifts and yet had no clue how to use them.
I was right. For 60 minutes I was on the phone with about 35 of those minutes spent listening to the torturous sounds of muzak. First, of course, is the mandatory talk-to-a-computer segment of the call. Punch in your area code and number. Select or say 1 if you Want Help, Select or Say 2 if you wish you were somewhere else, etc etc. Finally, after the “this phone call may be recorded for training purposes” message, a rep picks up the line. Her name is…and I kid you not…Luv. She spells it for me: L-U-V. I check to make sure I’ve dialed Hewlett Packard and not HelpMePackHer. Luv takes me through the what is your name, what is your laptop issue, etc. Explaining the wireless issue, she lets me know that the warranty on my laptop had expired in August (2008), which was one year after I had purchased it. Because the warranty had expired, there would be a cost associated with getting this problem service.
Ummmm…excuse me? The wireless stops working and I have to pay for it? Excuse me, Luv, but the laptop is just over a year old. How can the wireless be broken all of the sudden? “Ah…one minute please and I’ll connect you to a tech.”
More waiting. Finally, a dude picks up (Damon) and with the excitement of a boyfriend who is forced to sit though another episode of “Housewives of Orange County” just to make his girlfriend happy, he says, “Thankyouforcallinghewlettpackardcanihelpyou?” So, I again go through the whole explanation process that I went through with Luv previously. This guy on HP’s help desk didn’t want to be working on a holiday any more than I wanted to be calling on a holiday. So I asked him where he’s from. He said British Columbia. Seeing my opening to get on this guy’s good side, I say, “You a fan of the Canucks?” In a much brighter and excited tone he says, “Yes I am! You like hockey?” That was the break I needed. As he walked me through some tech stuff to try to re-activate the wireless thingy in my laptop, we talked NHL. I was now on his good side. After all of the attempts to get the wireless working had failed, he conceded, “You know, the laptop model you have has been showing issues with the wireless system, so we’ll fix this for you for no cost.” Finally, the truth comes out – assuming it was the truth – and I’m getting my laptop fixed. A couple of days later a box arrived for me to ship the unit off to be fixed. After backing up all of my files onto discs, I sent the laptop off.
Within a week, HP had made the fix and shipped the laptop back to me. Yipeee! I wasn’t without internet for too long and was able to make due with my work computer during the laptop-repair period. For a brief period, I was impressed with HP's service.
So all is well, right? Unit comes back, wireless is fixed and it’s a happy ending. Ummm….no. While yes, the wireless system did now actually work again, finding the router’s signal and connecting to the internet, it was still just as slow as before. Having grown used to it, I didn’t really think much of it.
But then other things started happening about a week later. My Windows Explorer would just stop working. That didn’t happen before. Then my music files wouldn’t open. Hmm…that didn’t happen before either. Picture files wouldn’t open (another first), pdf files wouldn’t open (another first). So, I make sure I have all of my updates done, re-boot, and check again. Still the same problems. Then the straw that broke the camel’s back: the screen went black. It hadn’t timed out, it just went black. I jiggle the mouse. Nothing. I jiggle the touch-pad. Nothing. I close the cover and reopen it. Nothing. So, I re-boot, and after entering my password, the screen goes black again. I leave the system for about an hour, come back, and the screen is still black.
I do the only think left to do: call HP help desk again. After the whole talk-to-computer crap, I wait 10 minutes and George comes on. George also seems to be having a bad day. I run through the whole timeline of this laptop’s problems and how it just had the wireless fixed a week ago. I’m told that since the warranty has expired and the wireless was fixed for no cost, any additional work on the unit will cost me. I “ahem” into his ear and tell him that none of the problems I’m now experiencing existed prior to the wireless issue. He tells me, “well, how do we know you didn’t drop the machine?”. I stop and think about this. I’m sure it happens a lot, I tell him, but being that I have little to no money, it makes no sense for me to handle my expensive laptop in a way that would damage it because I don’t have the money to replace it. “But we have no way of knowing that. Everyone tells us that.”
Normally I’m a pretty calm person. I try to follow the Buddhist mentality of looking at both sides of an issue to understand the problem. So, I choose patience with George, and again explain that prior to this wireless issue that HP was so generous to fix for me, there were no issues with music files, picture files, pdfs, Windows Explore shutting down and the screen just going black. And again I get the “did you drop it?” line. Well, that’s it. I then decide to tell George what’s really been going through my mind about this: “Well, it seems odd that HP does a fix on a laptop that they made because of a service defect, and then when the laptop is shipped back, it has more problems than when it arrived to be fixed. That tells me that something happened on your end with the intent for me to have it send it back for more repairs. I’m not sure that’s legal and I would hate to think that an American company works that way.” George didn’t like that, and again finds a way to say “you dropped it” without really saying it.
A short break here to explain that while talking to this HP representative my mind was racing along. At this point I’ve already decided that there is no way in hell I am putting any money into this laptop. If HP has created a piece of junk, I’m not going to enable them to suck the money out of me with repairs that are required because they can’t make decent equipment. So, the laptop had no chance of being fixed and I was already set on putting my money away to save for a Mac/Apple.
With my mind made up, I opened up my cellar door while still talking to George and then said “hold on one moment, George”. I set the phone on the top of the stairs, grabbed the laptop, and then flung the friggin’ thing down the steps. The laptop skipped off the stair landing and right into the concrete basement wall with a nice loud thud. I picked up the phone and said “That is what a laptop sounds like when it’s dropped. Up until this point, my laptop had never made that sound. I am done with HP. Your product sucks. I hope you’re the next company that goes out of business. (Note: I didn’t really mean that part, but I was on a roll) I am telling everybody I know about your product being shit. I am buying an Apple laptop next so I don’t have to ever deal with HP or Microsoft again. Have a good day.” Then I hung up.
Now, I don’t have any idea if what he heard on his end was as awesomely dramatic as it was on my end, but it felt good. And as I said, I had already decided that I was not putting one cent of money into fixing a laptop that was obviously junk to begin with, so the thing was either going to not-work on my table, or not-work in a bunch of pieces. Which brings me to….
…after hanging up, I then went down cellar, double-bagged the laptop into heavy-duty construction garbage bags and SWUNG the thing into the concrete walls about a dozen times. I’m not sure how many, but I swung (smash!), and swung (crash!), and swung (insert crinkling sound of breaking glass here), and swung. The end result is the picture you saw above. I’ll give HP their due though…the keyboard stayed together.
I am not a rich man and this set-back of having wasted $650 on a piece of shit laptop from HP means it will be a while before I’ve put enough money aside for a Mac. Macs, as I’ve since found out, are more expensive than PCs, but I’ve started the collection and look forward to having one. Sure would love to go back in time and instead spent that money on a Mac in August of 2007 instead of the HP Craptop. Oh well. Don’t waste your money on Hewlett Packard, folks.
So, my posts may be fewer for a couple of months, but I’ll be back.
I still wonder if my phone call to HP was indeed recorded for training purposes...?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure you will hear all sorts of Mac related horror stories as well but from my own personal experiences, I will never buy anything other than a Mac. Case in point, I've had the same iBook for 3 years now, which in computer years is old. I was having some issues with it and took it to Apple last week, where in a matter of minutes they fixed it up at no charge. When you do buy your Mac, spring for Apple Care -it's worth it.

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Jason said...

I've had my issues with both PCs and Macs. But all in all, if you can afford it, a Mac is probably the way to go.

4:42 PM  

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