HP holds firm on hinge recall deadline

Readers who discovered a defect in their HP laptop hinge after the recall deadline get no reprieve

I received quite a few letters in response to the post "On the wrong side of the HP hinge recall" that ran at the end of July. Most of the letters were from people who, like Lisa, discovered too late that they owned an HP laptop with the dreaded cracked hinge -- too late, that is, to get a repair for the problem covered for free under HP's recall.

But one of the letters was from Lauren at HP's public relations firm with an offer to look into Lisa's complaint -- and all of those I received after I ran Lisa's letter -- to see if there was anything that could be done to help. I waited and hoped. And Lauren offered frequent updates.

[ Also on InfoWorld: "On the wrong side of HP's hinge recall" and "Hung up on HP's hinge recall" | Frustrated by tech support? Get answers in InfoWorld's Gripe Line newsletter. ]

But today the official -- and disappointing -- response came back from HP:

An HP service enhancement program to replace hinges on qualifying consumer notebook PCs began in November of 2008 and concluded on May 31st, 2009. HP took a number of steps to notify customers of the program, including posting an advisory on HP.com and creating a dedicated web site on the HP support site with instructions and information. Registered customers were also notified via e-mail. HP has no plans to extend the duration of the program any further. Customers impacted are encouraged to contact HP customer support at 800.474.6836 for assistance.

I know there was some debate in the comments about registering computer in order to be informed of recalls such as this. This response at least clears up that registered users were, in fact, notified of the recall. This seems a good argument for taking the trouble to register hardware and keep e-mail addresses up to date with the manufacturer.

But I have a question for you, readers: What would you do if you were notified of a recall but found no symptoms of the defect in question? And do you have procedures in place for reacting to this sort of recall if you own a quantity of the same model of computer?

For example, Debbie wrote, "My HP dv9000 was fine until June 5th when I tried to close it and heard a horrible cracking sound." She took it to the store where she purchased it, and that's how she learned about the defect and the recall. But the recall had ended on May 31, so even if she'd known about the recall she would probably not have acted in time since her computer was fine then. "I have talked to several people at HP, she says. "The best they have offered is to fix it for $150. If this had happened a week earlier, the repair would have been free."

Would knowing about the recall in advance have helped in Debbie's case, or would it simply have added to her frustration when the cracking sound occurred -- less than a week too late? Perhaps there is something Debbie could have done to ferret out the defect in time. The recall notice stated that if your computer did not show signs of the hinge defect, no action was necessary. But what do you think?

Got gripes? Send them to christina_tynan-wood@infoworld.com.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.