Q. I’m a nontraditional student, and I bought an HP Pavilion laptop for school last September. The laptop failed in January and again in March, and both times HP replaced the hard drive free under the warranty. Guess what? The hard-drive failed again.
HP wants to make another repair under the warranty. I would only accept a repair if the company extends the warranty and gives me an external hard drive so I don’t lose data. The company refuses.
Something is wrong with this laptop. My warranty is about to expire, and I have no faith this next repair will work. I need a reliable computer for school.
– Marcy Faler, Cleveland
A. HP sent you a brand new HP Pavilion laptop with more memory, upgraded features and a fresh warranty.
What’s more, when one of the executive team members learned that you were concerned the new computer might not fit into your ancient backpack, which was held together with safety pins, the company sent a sleek new backpack as well.
You were delighted.
“I would have been happy had you just replaced my laptop with the same model,” you wrote to the company. “But you went beyond what I expected.”
This just goes to show that, with a little thought, a company can take a rotten customer experience and turn it into a positive one.
HP spokeswoman Cherie Britt acknowledged the company fumbled.
The company, she said, has billions of customers and deals with millions of consumer issues.
“Our goal is to get it right on time, the first time, every time,” Britt said. “Despite our best efforts, occasionally HP does not meet its own standards for support. Ms. Faler is one such case.”
Was it ever.
Your laptop failed three times in one year. By the third breakdown, the company should have swapped out the laptop without additional prodding. The warranty says this is an option the company can exercise.
You were left with the impression that not only had HP misunderstood your complaint, it was actively ignoring you.
Here’s an example: At some point after the first repair, someone from HP called you to ask about your experience with its customer service. Your recap of that conversation: “I told her it was awful. She was like, ‘Oh, well.’ ”
That’s not really the response a disgruntled consumer wants to hear.
After the second repair, the company emailed you a customer satisfaction survey. You responded in detail, pouring out your complaints.
You never heard back.
Britt said HP’s policy is to flag surveys that indicate dissatisfaction. “Customers who are dissatisfied with their experience are asked during the survey if they would like follow-up from HP,” she said. “If they say yes, HP will contact the customer to provide assistance.” She couldn’t explain why you didn’t receive a follow-up call.
Before you came to me, you filed a complaint against the company with the Ohio attorney general’s office. The company’s response to the attorney general was that it had offered you a repair under warranty and the executive team agreed with your case manager’s decision. Case closed.
HP did the right thing by reconsidering after I contacted the company and by getting you a new — and much nicer — computer with a fresh warranty. I give them props for arriving at a solution that renews your faith in the company.
But if this were a car instead of a computer, three major failures in the first year would have made it a lemon. Considering the expense of computers and phones, maybe it’s time the state considered a lemon law for electronics.
Follow Sheryl on Twitter: @consumerwriter
On Facebook: PDConsumerAffairs