My HP Pavilion dv9704tx laptop’s hinge snapped recently and hence the lid couldn’t be closed without the back-cover and the bezel ripping themselves out from the broken hinge mechanism. Given my emotional attachment to my laptop, I was totally scared and panic-stricken. My previous experience with laptop repair still haunted me. My initial response to such situations would always make me look for instant solutions and since it was a Sunday, I had to wait at least a day to even take it to a HP service center.
The next day I bunked my office in the morning to take my laptop to a HP-authorized service center. I was expecting that the service engineer there would unscrew the hinge mechanism to check the broken part and show me the same. Reality isn’t that sweet, is it? The service engineer looked at my laptop like a curious child would look at a new object given to it, lifting it up and down, bending to look at it from different angles and declared that the panel, hinge and bezel need to be replaced. Since I was still not out of my panic, I didn’t dare question him or even ask him to open up my laptop and show me the broken part. Then he took my laptop inside to some room to confirm the parts are to be replaced. I was feeling more nervous every second and I feared that they might steal parts from my laptop and replace them with old or faulty ones (When the mind is panic-stricken, there is no limit to the pessimism it can indulge in 🙂 ). After a few minutes, the service engineer returned with my laptop and told me that I would be emailed the quotation for the replacement parts and that once the parts were ordered and delivered, the laptop could be fixed in a few hours. With some solution visible, I returned home with my laptop.
The dreaded email came the next noon. It had a quotation for replacing the complete LCD panel, rounded off to 19 grand inclusive of all service charges and taxes! I was totally shocked to see such a huge figure with which I could almost buy a cheap, new laptop or netbook. I decided to dig in and try finding some details about the spare parts for my laptop from the HP PartSurfer website. I found out the details of the correct replacement parts, noted them down and called the service center to ask about their quotation for replacing the whole LCD display kit just to fix the broken hinge. When I confronted them with hard facts, they were unsettled and kept giving ambiguous and contradicting answers. So I gave them the part details and asked them to give me a quotation for only those parts. They asked for a day’s time to do that.
The promised response never came and I kept calling the service center again and again. The answers got more ambiguous and non-committal with every call. After calling repeatedly for 2 days, I was told that the details for one of the parts was unavailable and hence I would have to replace the whole display kit. The murky thing there was that the part that they were asking me to buy was just the LCD display and my laptop’s LCD display was working absolutely fine. I tried to reason out with them in vain explaining that my laptop had just a broken mechanical part and that they were trying to order a replacement for some other electronic part which was working fine. The more I talked the more senseless their replies became. So I just ended the conversation abruptly out of frustration.
A friend at office had suggested taking my laptop to a non-authorized center and getting it repaired. The long-winded, futile arguments with the HP service center prompted me to see the problem from a different perspective. My laptop was more than 3 years old and out of warranty. I had spent more than 70K on my laptop already including the cost price and the previous repair. I didn’t want to spend more and more on an old laptop and make it even more indispensable.
The same friend recommended a laptop service center near my home and I decided to give it a try. A few days later, I took my laptop there with my fingers crossed. As soon as I explained the problem to the service engineer there, he immediately unscrewed the laptop hinge and display and showed me exactly what was broken. It was the left side of the hinge and he told me that it he would get it replaced and repaired in a couple of days’ time. The confident “I know what I am doing” attitude of the service engineer drastically calmed my nerves and I left my laptop with him for the repair. Two days later I got my laptop back and it cost me just 2.3 grand! Compare it with the 19 grand it would have cost me if I had got my laptop repaired at the authorized service center! Even that may not have been enough because I was asked to buy the wrong replacement part.
This incident made me think about the money lost by a lot of ignorant, unsuspecting people in getting their laptops repaired. It assumes even greater propositions considering how often laptops encounter hardware problems these days. I am tempted to believe that all this is an organized racket with the so-called authorized service centers and the authorizing manufacturers being partners-in-crime. What makes it even more atrocious is the fact that not all the service engineers in such “authorized service centers” are technically equipped.
The lessons I learnt from this experience that I would like to share with everyone:
1. When buying a new laptop, it is better to pay a bit more to get extended warranty due to the tendency of laptops to run into hardware problems just after the expiration of the regular warranty period.
2. Always check and verify the cost and the details of the repair before committing to it. The manufacturer’s website and Google could give you detailed information.
3. When the laptop is in warranty, take it to a service center where you could get it repaired for free on most occasions. If it threatens to burn a hole into your purse, just pause for a moment, analyze the alternatives before making any decision.
3. Once the laptop is out of warranty, it makes no sense to spend a lot on it. So do not hesitate to get it repaired at unauthorized service centers using parts not from the laptop’s manufacturer. It is better take it to a service center which some acquaintance recommended. It will save you a lot of money and will most likely not impact the laptop’s lifetime.