HP Care Pack Odyssey

I would like to tell the adventure I had with HP support about a failure to my Probook 470 G3 notebook. Aware of the importance this notebook has for me, a few days after the purchase I decided to buy an HP Care Pack extended warranty for it, choosing the most complete option available which was 3 years On-Site Next Business Day including accidental damages.

I thought and I was hoping not to ever have to make use of it. However unfortunately on Thursday, November 17, 2016 I realized that the wired NIC was faulty. I made the usual tests, changing cable, changing switch, changing OS with one of the usual Linux USB dongles I use often. In short, the NIC does not react when the cable is plugged in. The NIC is seen by the OS, but the cable is always given as disconnected and the lights do not come on. I check that no contacts in the RJ45 socket are out of place, check here and there, but nothing to do. Then at 5:49 am on Friday 18 I open the call via the Web interface, specifying all the tests I did, which showed quite clearly a hardware failure and requiring the NBD onsite technical presence because of the Care Pack. At 8:51 I phoned the call center too, just to make sure that the case had been opened properly and to specify again that it was urgent: I explained that on the following Monday I had to go to Rome, but since I needed the notebook in full working order (I had to do some installation in data center, so the NIC is essential) I would have postponed the trip to the next day. This is why I asked explicitly if the technician would have been to my office on Monday, which was absolutely assured to me.

Well, I change the high speed train reservation and the Data Center ticket for Tuesday, November 22, and November 21 at 8 am I was in my office waiting the intervention (I’m not expecting that the technician is to me at 8 am, I simply want to make sure that when he comes, he finds me). Instead at 11:59 I received a phone call from someone who says he has to make the first diagnosis of the problem. He specifically asks how often the problem occurs and if I tried to change the Ethernet cable with a known working one. It’s quite clear he has not even read the notes of my case, which I see also on the web site, and I told him that I will do all the tests he wants, but that in any case I expect the onsite service the same day as agreed the previous Friday. He explains to me that he trusts my diagnosis and will arrange the onsite service, which in any case will not take place until the following day. I will not tell the grievances that I said at that point. But how is it possible, in agreement with you I delayed a trip. You assured me that the technician was coming to me today, and then you call me without even having read my case? But could’nt you call me last Friday, if you just wanted to be sure that I had tried changing the cable? If this is so, I told him, it is useless to speak about On Site Next Business Day intervention: if the NBD day you simply call me to make sure I was not wrong to open up the call, then an On Site Next Business Day intervention is simply impossible to happen. Sadly I ask him new assurances that the next day I would have the technician here. Then again I defer my high speed train ticket and the access in DC, to the next day. Unfortunately I did not know that this was just the beginning, though perhaps I should have started to suspect it.

The next day Tuesday 22 at 8 am I’m in office, but at 10:05 a phone call arrives. A kind lady tells me she is the person in charge of HP to schedule appointments for On-Site interventions. She can give me an appointment for the next day, Wednesday 23. And I am lucky too, because since the spare parts are not available previously but are ordered and shipped “at the moment”, they would still not be available before the next day, obviously if no shipping problems happen. More and more astonished because it was clear from wednesday 18 what was the piece of hardware failing, I’m only sorry that I was on phone with a lady because my curses have not been any ladylike. Anyway, somehow I explain that I had already postponed a trip twice and therefore they are giving me a tangible damage. Now that I begin to understand, I add that I do not intend to defer my trip a third time, so the next day I can not be there and consequently I wait the technical for Thursday 24. Finished the phone call, I disconnect the hard drive from my notebook, cast it into a USB enclosure, and Wednesday 23 I go to Rome with my wife’s notebook. At least this work is done. For who can understand me, “cacio e pepe” and “coda alla vacinara” at Trastevere. Nice.

Thursday 24 to 8 am I’m again waiting for the technician. Note that November 24th is San Prospero, Patron Saint of Reggio Emilia, my town. Therefore, I phone the call center to confirm that in case someone ever thought that in Reggio today is a holiday, I nonetheless am waiting for the technician intervention. They newly assure me that the technician will intervene today, and I’ll get a call from him before he arrives. Ok. At 16:02 the call comes in. Finally my technician. But he explains that he is in province of Parma at the moment, he has another intervention to do then he can come to me, and asks me until when I can wait. Answer: until you are here. Please call me when you finish your job in Parma, and you will see that I’ll be here waiting for you. At 17.49 instead a kind lady calls me, from the same number of Tuesday, explaining that the technician has now finished his working hour, so he will be with me the next day, ie Friday 25. Now I do not even protest any more and only ask if, being that the service request was opened on Friday 18, thus the onsite intervention had to take place on Monday 21, and now we were going to 25, at least she can schedule me as the first appointment in the morning. All right, she agrees.

The next morning around 9 o’clock finally the technician arrives. He looks a quick and smart guy. He changes the Ethernet/USB board, but unfortunately when dismantling the keyboard a key breakes off. He had put me on guard before starting the intervention: if the keyboard of this NB has never been disassembled, it can happen that some key breaks pulling it because in addition to the three screws and hooks, an adhesive is also applied in factory which can be quite tenacious to peel off the first time. Oh well, these things can happen but anyway in the end of the intervention I have the NIC working, and the keyboard without the End key. Better than before, but on Monday 28 I am as always locked in the office waiting for the technician to replace the keyboard. Finally in mid-morning, after ten days from the service case request, we’re done.

Now, frankly, all the people I spoke with were courteous, maybe with the exception of the first technician I heard by phone on Monday, 21; and each one gave me explanations for the delays (too bad they’re given only after waiting, calling and more waiting). However, my strong impression is that HP sells NBD service contracts, but then the underlying organization does not allow in any case to have the NBD performance promised by the contract. Maybe I was particularly unlucky to have to wait ten days, but if on the Next Business Day instead of intervening promptly you are only contacted by a 0-level technician whose only role is verifying that you are not a spammer, then on ‘NBD + 1’ day the intervention is scheduled for the day even after, which is ‘NBD + 2’ indeed, and contemporary you have to hope that the replacement parts come from the supply center without any delay, it seems to me that the intervention can never in any case happen sooner than three days. And this is true only if everything goes absolutely well.

Apart from this numerical count of the waiting days, the worst thing for me is being “de facto” teased by a support service that every day reassures you of the imminent intervention, making you lose entire days in a wait which reveals absolutely vain. If someone on Friday 18 clearly told me “look, you can put your mind at rest, we’ll do nothing before one week” I definitely would have complained hard, but at least on Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 I would have taken my train ad done my job; and Thursday 24 I would not have waited in office an intervention that would never arrive.

What can I say, until now I thought that the HP/Dell/IBM triad was a landmark for the pro market, mainly by virtue of an unquestionable service. Obviously now a name from this exclusive set has to be removed.
If anyone is ever interested, I can provide the transactions of this support case.

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