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HP printer problems, extended warranties and a complaint with a happy ending

Posted by Mitch Lipka  July 3, 2012 06:33 AM

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Q. In December, I purchased from HP Direct a new desktop computer, monitor, and printer and signed up for the three-year extended warranty with house call service. I reported a problem with the printer last month and was told by HP that the printer would be replaced with a reconditioned unit. I rejected that and asked for a new printer- not a used, reconditioned one. I also have no problem with HP repairing my printer. I have talked to many HP case managers and sent an email and letter to the company’s CEO with zero satisfaction. Can you help?

Bob Cavanagh, Bourne

A. It’s more than frustrating when a relatively new product fails. That’s just exacerbated when you pay for a special protection plan that you think has you covered. And the idea of getting a “reconditioned” replacement can seem shady.

But, it’s actually quite common. And, in this case, it doesn’t appear that HP failed to uphold its end of the deal. Their warranty states: “Any replacement product may be either new or like-new, provided that is has functionality at least equal to that of the product being replaced.”

Sometimes the issue is communication. Clearly, the company didn’t make you feel as though you were getting a fair deal. HP spokeswoman Cherie Britt said this is the company’s policy: “HP representatives offer whichever replacement is most readily available at the time of the request. If there are not like-new or new products available we send a different printer with matching or better specs.”

In this case, they agreed, as a gesture of goodwill, to ensure that your broken printer is being replaced with a brand new one.

This situation shows the difference between expectations and the terms of the deal. It’s best, particularly before you buy a costly product, to understand the terms of the warranty. You also need to give extra thought as to whether you should invest in any sort of extended warranty, weighing whether the added cost is worth it.

What is covered in these plans varies. In addition, the typical one-year warranty will often be doubled when you use certain credit cards.

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About the author

Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at


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