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By Anita Devasahayam

Monday, October 4, 1999

HP acts on Pavilion complaints, discontinues line

IPOH: Hewlett-Packard Sales Malaysia Sdn Bhd discontinued a line of Pavilion personal computers after several customers who bought the machines complained about hardware problems.

The PCs that were taken off the shelves were Pavilion models 8120, 8130, 8201, 8155, 8130, 7400, 3216, 7360 and 6306.

Sharon Yeoh, HP Sales commerical marketing programmes manager, said the machines were no longer in production from November, last year. The company detected a higher than normal failure rate in the PCs in the middle of last year and took remedial steps.

"Once we determined that they (the problems) were (caused by) hard disk failures, we swapped the hard drives (with units) from another manufacturer for free," Yeoh told In.Tech last week.

Several groups of users had complained to In.Tech recently about having defective Pavilion computers. They reported encountering continuous problems with the built-in modem, CD-ROM drive, hard disk and system compatibility. Some users said they were also unhappy over the way aftersales support staff handled their complaints.

"What irked me was that I was given the run-around when I called them up. I made 10 phone calls and was routed from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore to Petaling Jaya and was finally told that the warranty had expired," said Ric Lim.

Lim was helping a friend whose Pavilion PC was giving problems. He claimed the support staff at HP Sales did not seem interested in helping and that they had not even bothered to ask which Pavilion model he had.

The matter was finally resolved, Lim said, when HP Sales replaced the hard disk on the computer and it worked without any more hitches after that.

Company clerk Shepherd Goh reported that the CPU on his Pavilion had system failures within the first three months of purchase.

Although HP Sales replaced the processor unit, he claimed it failed again nine months later. "The CPU was replaced yet again but processing speed was compromised. By then, I was totally fed-up and upgraded the CPU myself," Goh said.

He added that it was an unsettling experience for him because he did not expect such problems with a product from a reputable company like HP.

Another user, who asked not to be named, complained that he has just sent his Pavilion PC which was not working properly, back to HP Sales -- the fourth time he's had to do that after buying the machine last year.

Yet another, a treasury agent who wanted to be identified only as Fong, does not intend to buy HP products ever again. "We paid a lot of money for a branded product ... the problems and inconveniences it brought us has put us off," she said.

Several HP Sales dealers and resellers that In.Tech checked with, claimed only a small number of Pavilion PCs was faulty and that aftersales support was normally speedy and efficient.

"The failure rate is low and HP Sales is quick to respond, with a turnaround time of three days on each complaint," said Z'Tronic Computer Sdn Bhd managing director Khoo Kay Teong. The company is an authorised HP reseller in Penang.

A dealer in Malacca, Microhouse Sdn Bhd, said most users have faith in HP's aftersales support. "Many of my Pavilion customers pay the additional RM299 to extend the one-year warranty to three years," said managing director Chu Seng Wah.

Bernard Yeo, head of the Pineapple Computer Group, also reported a low failure rate in the Pavilion PCs sold through the company's computer stores nationwide.

The Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca) urged HP Sales to recall all affected Pavilion PCs from customers.

Its president, Prof Hamdan Adnan, said that although the complaints were sporadic, this should be done to restore consumer confidence.

"It does not matter whether the PCs are old or new, if they give problems, they must be dealt with," he said.

The Pavilion line of PCs was introduced to the local market more than two years ago. When first released, each retailed for between RM7,000 and RM9,000. Today, a Pavilion PC costs from about RM4,000 to RM7,000.

Published in In.Tech, Star Publications (M) Bhd.

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