On the wrong side of HP's hinge recall

A reader who missed Hewlett-Packard's deadline for getting a hinge defect repaired turns to the Gripe Line for help

Lisa wrote in response to the Gripe Line column "Hung up on HP's hinge recall" to report that she missed the deadline for responding to the recall on HP models with a defect that causes a crack to appear in their hinge and has been left out in the cold. "Mine may be the first letter you get after the arbitrary May 31, 2009 deadline HP set," she says. "But I'm going to guess it won't be the last!"

Lisa bought an HP laptop at the end of 2007. In early June, the left-hand hinge of the laptop case broke. "I went to the HP site to see if there was any information posted about this," she says. "There was. It said HP was aware of the problem, and would fix it for free -- until May 31, 2009." Lisa had missed that deadline by one week.

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

So she called HP and -- after being escalated up to case manager -- was told she was out of luck because the date had passed. "He offered to have pay for half of the ($400) repair," she says, "but I would have to pay the other $200."

Lisa didn't want to shell out $200 to repair a problem the company had admitted was a defect, and she told the case manager so. "Had HP notified me of the problem," she also told him, "I would have sent my laptop in for repair."

Lisa says the case manager then told her that the only reason HP was paying for the repair was that the court had ordered HP to do so. "But he said the court had not ordered the company to notify customers of the problem or repair potential," she says, "though he said this information had been on the HP Web site for all to see. I asked why any customer with a working laptop would have reason to go to the site to read that info, but he declined to answer."

The case manager told Lisa that her laptop had a three-year "expected lifetime" and that it was two years since it had been manufactured. "But I purchased it less than 18 months ago," she says. "HP is depriving me of enjoying a full half of the 'expected lifetime' of my purchase since I can no longer shut the laptop."

Lisa wrote to the Gripe Line hoping that I could help with get this situation resolved. "How can a company be aware that they have a manufacturing problem," she asks. "expect customers to pay full price for what is a damaged product, and then, while the product is well within its expected lifetime, refuse to fix the problem -- whatever date the defect shows itself?"

I forwarded -- several times -- Lisa's letter to HP, but I have had no luck getting a response of any kind.

And Lisa is right. Hers was not the last letter I received. I have since heard from several more people with the same problem, and I've had exactly as much luck getting their problems resolved.

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

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.