What good is a warranty…UPDATED

if you’ve got to pay more than the inconvenience?  As a former marketing executive, I know that good customer service is more than just marketing speak.  Those who do it right are more successful for doing so.  I recently participated in HP’s Simplify My Life campaign and was happy to do so as a big HP fan.  HP’s are my PC’s of choice (I’ve got an iMac too for my graphics and photography). In fact the laptop I’m typing on now is an HP Pavillion Entertainment PC and I’ve owned many of their black and white LaserJets over the years.  Many years ago my printer failed at one point and I promptly gave HP a call.  The warranty was almost up, I believe within a weeks time too.  They quickly accessed the issue and sent me a brand new replacement at no cost to me.  I remember this all because it was such an amazing customer service experience.   From that point on, I always remembered HP and their amazing customer service.  Whenever I needed a replacement printer or scanner or wanted to purchase a new PC, it was always an HP.

So I was definitely burned this time around after purchasing an HP Mini following my participation in the Simplify My Life campaign.  I didn’t receive any endorsement, free product or discount for doing so.  I bought it of my own accord.  My husband had hinted at wanting a netbook and I was already in love with the Tord Boonje HP mini I had promoted.  It appealed to the designer loving side of me but just was too girly for my manly man.  In spite of my friend recommending that I get an Acer Netbook with HD and HDMI capabilities, I kept gravitating towards the HP Mini.  I looked for the closest specs possible to my friend’s recommendation and settled with the HP Mini 210 HD Edition.  Even spiting my husband’s love of his stable XP, I opted for the new Windows 7 starter, buying into my own campaign.  When it arrived, we stared at this thing of beauty.  My husband gruffed a bit about the Windows 7 starter, but it was a gift from his darling wife.  Off he went to customizing it and playing with it like every other tech loving geek.  When the screen started to display color distortions, I wanted to shake it off.  I told him to restart it and it would be fine.  He did and it was fine.  But he still insisted that I call HP and fix the problem in case it later became a bigger problem, after all it was only 3 weeks old.  A little premature to be showing signs of defect.  Murphy’s Law dictates it occur more along the time your warranty has just expired.  Has that ever happened to you? So annoying isn’t it?  Being the ever obedient wife… okay, trying to be a better wife, I did call the very next morning.  I spent almost 2 hours on the phone with a nice lady, uninstalling and installing BIOS, running through her diagnostics where she determined it was not a hardware issue but a software issue.  She wanted to wipe out the entire computer and recover it to it’s factory settings.  I was dreading telling my husband this, knowing that he had just finally customized it perfectly, had all his software installed just the way he wanted, etc.,  I knew this was going to be a major inconvenience to our already busy schedule — juggling a toddler and newborn.  It was what it was and I accepted it.  I got my husband on board since this was what he wanted… to rectify the problem.    The technician and I agreed to speak again tomorrow morning approximately 9-10am EST, giving my husband the evening to back up his precious data before performing recovery in the morning.

The next morning I carried the phone around with me everywhere and finally around 11:40am, the technician called me back to begin recovery.  I wasn’t even upset that she was almost 2 hours late from our appointed calling time, just happy that she called back as promised.  When I went to open up the computer, the color distortion had returned.  It wasn’t around yesterday during our initial conversation.  After running through diagnostics again, she realized it was indeed a hardware issue and it would need to be returned to HP.  I would have to pay for their shipping there (they would send me a prepaid box to send it back in that I paid for), but they would cover the cost to return it to me because it was under warranty still.  It was then that I expressed how upset I was.  Knowing this wasn’t the technicians issue, rather a customer service issue, I told them I was unhappy that a defective product that already inconvenienced me by not being a fully functioning working computer that is a gift for my husband, is now physically costing me more money.  It’s brand spanking new! Tech toys are like fine jewelry in my house, we take precious care of them.  It was never dropped or mishandled, kept out of tiny curious hands.  $16.34’s later and I’m distressed.  I can’t even bring myself to tell my husband and fear him thinking badly of me for buying him a defective product as a gift.  Okay so that’s more my own issue, but don’t you want to give a gift that doesn’t cause problems?

Taking my distress to twitter as I often do, I gave them a #fail.  I was happy that @Frostola messaged me back and sent a message to @HPSupport on my behalf.  I want them to redeem themselves.  I really do.  I love HP and I don’t want to say I LOVED HP.  Stay tuned…

UPDATE & GIVEAWAY: I finally connected with a Customer Service representative through the power of Twitter.  He did agreed it was rather ludicrous that I had to pay for repair shipping on a brand new product.  He was unable to credit me for the shipping costs unfortunately but offered me a $25 gift card to HP.com.  While some of you might think why didn’t I hold out for more or what can you buy with $25 at HP.com — that’s not the point, nor do I want to make something off of this situation.  It was simply the principle of things.  I did think initially I could buy a cover for the HP Mini when it did finally return in working condition but it slipped my mind that we already got one… MOMMY BRAIN!  But that’s okay.  The point is that they are a company that is trying to connect with their customers and right their wrongs.  It was only $16.34 but Thank you HP for righting this small little wrong.  While I wish I had the $16.34 back in my bank account, it’s going to be SOMEONE’s lucky day today… I’m giving away the $25 Gift Certificate to HP.com.  I’m going to close comments for this post.  Thanks for all your comments and feedback.  I tripled my monthly viewership in one day thanks to all my fellow HP Moms.

To ENTER, from now until March 31st, fill out this FORM and tell me what you would get with the $25 Gift Certificate to HP.com.  Get up to (two) bonus entry if you follow me on twitter @momconfessional and re-tweet this giveaway (Win a $25 Gift Certificate to HP.com @momconfessional http://ow.ly/1rrj4) as well as becoming a fan on Facebook. DON’T FORGET to let me know by leaving a separate entry for each action. Giveaway only open to those with U.S. addresses. Giveaway ends on March 31st at 11:59 EST. A winner will be selected randomly by Random.org and notified by e-mail.