Readers sound off on HP, Android, and more

Readers weigh in on defective product policies, the future of the Android G1, and buying an extended warranty

The Gripe Line community is at it again, doling out advice and insights on recent reader gripes, including a defective service policy for defective hardware, the G1's laggard Android 2.0 embrace, and how to determine whether it pays to invest in an extended warranty.

The cost of a defective laptop

A recent post about a service charge added to the price of a defective laptop received some heated response.

To refresh your memory, Gripe Line reader John purchased a Thanksgiving special Compaq-Mini Netbook for $179.99, only to find it broken upon receipt. When he informed HP of the defect, he was told it would cost him an additional $20 to get it fixed.

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Some readers thought that, at the low price John paid for the netbook, he should never have expected it to work. But most readers saw HP's effort to charge him for the repair as an unfortunate trend.

"There is clearly a trend toward charging for support, replacement, and repair, even when the unit is unmistakably under warranty and clearly defective," reader Joel wrote in an email to the Gripe Line. "I guess the vendors have identified what they think is a new revenue opportunity. Hopefully, as consumers, we can try to punish them for this approach -- or at least make it cost more in support time than they get back with this approach."

T-Mobile G1 in Android 2.0 limbo

It appears I'm not the only one remaining hopeful that the T-Mobile G1 will get an OS upgrade.

"I'm a T-Mobile G1 owner and Android app developer," reader Jackcholt wrote in the comments section of "T-Mobile G1 owners left in Android 2.0 limbo." He continued, "I think T-Mobile is dearly hoping to be able to get 2.x onto the G1. Right now they are being dragged through the dirt by Verizon because -- to my knowledge -- T-Mobile doesn't have a handset that runs the best Android so far (2.1). Most of my new app users are Droid owners. So T-MO is trying to get Eclair onto their existing Android phones but, naturally, [the company doesn't] want to commit until it knows it can do it."

Extended warranty dilemma

Simply mentioning the term "extended warranty" around here is like ringing the starter bell at a boxing match -- as witnessed in the comments on "Stolen laptop, warranty refund woes."

Naturally, naysayers poked fun at anyone sucker enough to consider buying an extended warranty. Vonskippy weighed in: "Please have Jean contact me immediately, I have a can't-pass deal on Zombie Attack Insurance I'm sure she'll be interested in."

But cooler minds prevailed with some solid advice.

Bwomble wrote, "I bought [an extended warranty] for a Dell Inspiron notebook in 1999 and was very glad I did. The notebook turned out to be a total lemon and Dell eventually gave me a replacement notebook. If I had not bought an upgraded warranty, I would have been stuck with that $4,500 lemon." Though he agrees insuring a much cheaper machine might not pay off.

Philc suggests that it is wise to buy an extended warranty when "the cost of replacing the product early is more than the warranty (say within a year) and the likelihood of something bad happening or the product failing is high. My son went through three Blackberries in one year. The cost of the warranty and replacement charge was much less than one new phone."

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