When I purchased a new laptop computer one year and eight months
ago, two salesmen really tried to talk me into buying an extended
warranty. I had always regarded these warranties as a gimmick, as
a way for office supply stores and electronics stores to make easy
money. One of the salesmen said to me: They only make these
computers to last one year. His remark both surprised and
repelled me. How far will a salesman go to sell a warranty?! Why
would anybody purchase a computer if they knew beforehand that it
had a lifespan of one year? What a lousy sales pitch. Did the
salesman think I was an idiot?
Well, the salesman
was wrong. My new computer lasted more than one year. It lasted
one year and eight months. Then, it died. Of course, it was out
of warranty. If I had purchased the extended warranty, I could
have returned it to the store. I just never dreamed that a Hewlett
Packard computer could malfunction so quickly and so drastically.
I have been so upset about it that I wake up at 3:00 a.m. every
morning and begin thinking about it. Unable to go back to sleep, I
get up and make a pot of coffee.
My Problem with
My HP Compaq
The problem first
manifested itself when I was uploading some pages to my website.
Uploading tends to exert a laptop computer--depending on how much
uploading is done at a time. The laptop becomes warm and the fan
comes on more frequently. Nevertheless, the laptop functions and
the task gets accomplished. I have used lesser computers for the
same purpose and never encountered any problems. However, on this
particular occasion, my laptop became hot--not warm, but hot--and
the fan kept running. I did not suspect computer demise because
sometimes the FTP server is temperamental and will not upload, or
uploads very slowly. So, I disconnected from the server, let the
computer rest a little, and went back to my task. Again, the
computer got hot.
The next time I
turned on the computer, it was hot from the moment I turned it on.
I hurried and did some necessary work and turned it off. Then, the
next time I turned on the computer, within minutes I got a blank
black screen. I was able to turn on the computer a couple more
times, quickly backing up recent work and deleting personal
documents which I would not want a repairman to access. Then, I
took the computer to a repair shop.
When the repairman
tried to turn on the computer, he got a blank screen immediately.
I left the computer with him and he began the diagnostic process
(the fan, the thermal compound, and then the graphics chip). Upon
taking the computer apart, it was concluded that the graphics chip
was the problem. He was unaware of the NVIDIA graphics chip
problem, although his partner had read about it. His partner told
me that Hewlett Packard and Dell laptop computers had been having
a problem with the NVIDIA graphics chip. I went home and did
research on the internet for the next two days--on my old Toshiba
laptop which I bought in 2003. Yes, it has lasted more than one
Problem Dates Back to 2007
It seems that the
NVIDIA problem was first noticed in November, 2007. NVIDIA,
Hewlett Packard, and Dell knew about this problem. Apparently,
HP and Dell notified registered customers who had the affected
computers. It seems that repairs or replacements, as appropriate,
were offered to those customers, and extended warranties were
provided. In 2008, a class action lawsuit was brought against
NVIDIA which was just recently settled. NVIDIA agreed to pay 2
million dollars in reimbursements to HP, Dell, and Apple customers,
and 13 million dollars in legal fees. Customers can file claims as
of December 20, 2010.
certain computer models sold between certain dates are covered by
the lawsuit. If your computer model is not on the list, you
cannot file a claim against NVIDIA. And, if your computer is out
of warranty, Hewlett Packard will not repair or replace it. My
model is an HP Compaq Presario CQ60-210US; so I will focus on HP
rather than on how Dell or Apple has responded to their customers.
I bought my HP
laptop in 2009, approximately one year and three months after HP
was aware of the NVIDIA chip problem. I had done a lot of
shopping, and could not find anything I really liked. I bought the
little Compaq to hold me over until I could find something nicer.
I knew when I bought it that it was a basic, no-frills computer.
Cnet had reviewed it as average. It seemed that rating was given
mostly because the Compaq lacked additional features such as an
HDMI port, and because it had a slow boot process.
Indeed, it had a
slow boot and shut-down process. But, it worked fine and it was
much more powerful than my old 37-GB-hard-drive Toshiba. It had a
great keyboard and touchpad--and, as a writer, that matters more to
me than boot speed, HDMI ports, and webcams. I was satisfied with
the Compaq, and decided I would keep it indefinitely. There proved
to be no need to get a fancier computer--the Compaq did everything
I needed it to do. Now, it's gone forever.
Computers, Quality Control, and Responsibility
What really bothers
me about my experience with HP is that they continued to
manufacture and/or distribute computers with the NVIDIA chip after
they knew there had been problems with it. In my opinion, there
should have been a total recall of all computers with NVIDIA chips.
Although NVIDIA finally accepted responsibility for the defective
chip in certain models, I must question how it happened that HP
put and apparently continued to put these chips in their computers.
Is there no longer
any such thing as quality control? Who assembled these computers?
Who inspected or tested them? How did these computers leave the
Hewlett Packard factory in such condition? My opinion is that HP
should accept responsibility for other HP computer models that
manifest the NVIDIA chip problem because HP continued to
manufacture and/or distribute them to the stores. HP did not put
any warning label on these computers. Customers unknowingly bought
potentially unusable machines. Customers were gambling, without
realizing it, at the HP computer casino.
Did the office
supply stores and electronics stores know about the NVIDIA problem?
I telephoned the office supply store where I had bought the
Compaq. They said they had not heard about the NVIDIA problem. I
spoke to someone in charge of computer sales, and then asked to
speak to the store manager. The manager thanked me for informing
him of the problem, and he said that he would check his inventory
and make sure he was not selling computers with the NVIDIA chip.
The next day, when I
went shopping at that office supply store, the salesman on duty
also said he had never heard of the NVIDIA problem. Then, I went
to an electronics store. I spoke to a couple of salesmen, and they
also said they had never heard of the NVIDIA problem. There were
a couple of other salesmaen, however, who told me that the AMD
processors had a tendency to run hot--although I never experienced
this with my Compaq which generally ran at room temperature.
How is it that
experts in computers--people who make their living by explaining
different computers to customers and making sales--do not know
about the NVIDIA problem which has been evident since November,
2007, and which resulted in a class-action lawsuit? Am I the only
person in my locale to experience a blank screen and to contact the
store about it? Were there not any defective computers returned to
the store, perhaps under their extended warranty?
If even one
salesman had heard about the NVIDIA problem, the word would spread
from there. That salesman would certainly talk about it on the
job, or consult with the store manager, and soon everyone in the
store would know. Let's pretend they all know. But, they continue
selling the defective computers. They cannot admit to knowing,
because that would make them liable. They need their jobs and not
one of them has a strong enough sense of ethics to act as a
I am not accusing
any salesman of lying. I am just saying that I find it
unbelievable that none of them knew about the NVIDIA problem. It is
their job to know. Have they not noticed that most new laptops
are being manufactured with ATI or Intel graphics chips? Do they
not wonder why? When I brought up the topic of the NVIDIA chips
with the salesmen, they did not seem concerned or even interested.
They just denied having knowledge of the problem and did not ask
questions about it or attempt to carry on a conversation about it.
laptops seem no longer to come with NVIDIA graphics chips, I did
find two manufacturers who continue to use NVIDIA (unless these
models are old and have remained in stock in certain stores).
Samsung makes a laptop with the NVIDIA GeForce 310M, and Apple
makes a MacBook Air with the NVIDIA GeForce 320M. Now, these
products might be perfectly good. Nevertheless, I find it
surprising that Apple continues to use NVIDIA, because two MacBook
Pro models contained defective NVIDIA graphics chips and are
listed under the NVIDIA lawsuit settlement. My impression is that
Hewlett Packard, for example, has severed all business with NVIDIA.
Are there not any
salesmen who are aware of these dynamics? I suppose it is possible
that some sales people in office supply and electronics stores are
not technology experts. I have come across a few salesmen who
seem to know less than I about computers. In order to answer my
questions, they have to print out a spec sheet. I had a terrible
time getting assistance at the office supply store--they had to
page the salesman twice (there was only one on duty) and he seemed
to want to hurry back to stocking shelves. If the salesmen are
basically what we used to call stockboys, then this might
explain their lack of knowledge.
If, and only if,
there was a concealment of the NVIDIA problem from the general
public, then that would indicate fraud and collusion among the
manufacturers and the stores. Currently, on the Hewlett Packard
website, there is no mention of any such problem. There is still
an old forum page on which people have posted remarks about the
NVIDIA problem. However, HP does not mention it or how they
resolved it for their customers. HP also does not refer their
website visitors to the NVIDIA settlement website. It is as though
nothing ever happened.
Address and Phone Number
Moreover, the HP
website does not provide a company address or telephone number.
The only way to contact HP is through Tech Support. I telephoned
Tech Support and asked for the HP headquarters address. The agent
told me that he did not have access to the address. However, I
googled Hewlett Packard address and found two results:
20555 SH 249
1501 Page Mill Road
If all computer
salesmen really are not aware of the NVIDIA problem--just as I was
not aware; but I am not in the computer business--then it would
seem that they have very little dedication to their work. When I
purchased my HP Compaq and the two salesmen tried to push an
extended warranty on me: maybe that was their conscience speaking.
Maybe, they knew.
[NOTE 1: The
Hewlett Packard company was made aware this essay would be
published on this website by 12/31/10; Hewlett Packard was provided
with the URL of this website; Hewlett Packard was invited to
respond to this essay.]
[NOTE 2: This essay
is based on personal experience. The author is not a computer
expert. The author does not accuse any individual, company, or
store of malicious or illegal intentions or actions. This essay is
not intended to serve as advice regarding computer or related
purchases, but only to expose a specific problem and to share a
personal experience that seems to be based on that problem. The
author has relied on a computer repairman's assessment of the
computer in question, and on the symptoms of NVIDIA failure
which include: sudden overheating, no video, black screen. The
author does not intend any generalized statement on the overall
quality of any computer brand or model. This essay is subject to
error.] (Written 12/16/10: bibliography available.)
Until we meet