The wireless NIC in my laptop failed a few weeks ago, which led to engagement of technical support and a warranty claim. Following are some reflections on that experience.
The machine is an HP Pavilion DV9292eu. The problem occurred with the Broadcom Wireless NIC BCM 43xx. This has always been a problem because firmware is not released by Broadcom so integration within a system is not as polished.
As a linux user it requires another step in installation. The driver must be installed using an emulator, ndiswrapper, but once done all is fine. Then using network manager allows quick switching of networks and fast networking.
The warranty claim with HP was serviced OK, but not as well as my experience with Toshiba, which replaced a system board on a machine out of warranty by 9 months. (That was the machine that I used while the HP was off-line.) And as a general rule any servicing is going to return a machine not quite as expected – it might get a little scratch or a slightly different part etc.
The warranty claim was handled poorly by HP in 2 respects: initial problem evaluation and then service preparation. The initial evaluation was problematic because I was asked to reseat the NIC and upgrade the BIOS. I did not mind the DIY, but later I was told that opening the machine might invalidate the warranty! I was also told that I would need to return the machine to have teh NIC replaced – a minimum 5 day turnaround without my main business tool – instead of just being sent a NIC ($30) in the post. Prior to sending in the machine I was asked to backup my data, which I duly did. However, I did not realise that they would reformat the hard drive! That meant a bit more hassle setting up the machine again with the dual boot and 5 partitions that I use, not to mention a whole range of software and user settings – all for a $30 NIC.
In the end, their policy is appropriate: If they take in the machine to replace the small part, they can test the system to ensure that that is the problem. And if they wipe the hard drive there is no worry about exploited data on the drive. However, the concern is that there is far less effort on clear communication by the service part of the business than on the sales. That made me wonder whether brand name machines are worth the premium since they have very little proprietary hardware – it is all sourced through sub-contractors. Perhaps next time I’ll look at an Acer Aspire which has better specs and lower price, or even an OEM machine (I still have my OEM desktop bought in 1994!) since the after-sales service is likely to be similar.