Wednesday, July 17, 2013

HP Envy 17t-j000 laptop (1) (flaming HP)

Update 10/28/2013: A guy contacted me by email claiming that the correct parts to install a second hard drive are  720237-001 'HDD Hardware Kit' and 720260-001 'Screw'.
Wow.  Wow.  Wow.
It's really hard to express my experience with HP and their customer support without cursing.  Picture a torrent of drill-sergeant profanity in place of all the words of this blog post, without any repetition.  I used to like HP a lot, but I swear this is the last time I will ever buy anything from them.

I ordered a new laptop on 7/2 using my employee discount.  It arrived on 7/15 (they build them in China).  One of the selling points of this hardware for me is the second hard drive bay.  I wanted to use their HP-supplied drive in one bay and my own SSD, purchased separately, in the second bay.  Or, if that had been one of their options, I would have totally bought it configured that way from HP, but it wasn't.  Weirdly, for this otherwise high-end performance hardware, all they sell is 5400 RPM hard drives.

The computer arrives, and it is lacking some hardware, mainly a cable, to connect up that second hard drive.  If this were a desktop, it would be a standard SATA cable, but this is an HP proprietary cable that you can't just buy at Micro Center for $10.  I had read some reviews of this PC, or probably a similar model, stating that the computer did not come equipped to hook up a second drive, and that you needed to purchase a kit from HP to allow this.  I was kind of incredulous that they would do this, but I went ahead and started trying to order this component to make it possible to hook up a second drive.

So, I call HP Parts Store, tell them what I want, and they sell me a $70 part.  The part arrives (665909-001 'Hard Disk Drive hardware kit'), and it's the wrong part.

I get on the phone with HP Parts Store again, RMA the first part, and discuss with them what is the part I really need.  We are being more careful this time, but after some discussion we think we have identified the right part this time, and I order that (603772-001 'SPS-HDD hardware kit').  The ($90) part arrives, and again it's the wrong part.

Again I get on the phone with HP.  I spend quite a long time this time, 90 minutes or 2 hours, speaking to various people at the parts store and tech support.  Everyone assures me that the part I have is the correct one.  I don't work on laptops much but I'm 99% sure that this SATA cable simply doesn't fit the connector on the laptop.  But there's a tiny speck of doubt in my mind that there's some secret way I just can't see.

I call up a local business that has worked on my HP laptops in the past.  (Incidentally, if you are local to the Denver area and need service for business or personal computers, check out ProTech, they rock).  They tell me, sure, we'll look at it and get this sorted out.  So I drop the hardware off with them.  A few hours later they report back.  Yes, the part they sent me is wrong.  Their technician who actually called HP is very frustrated because now he's spent hours on the phone getting the runaround from HP, too.  To make a long story short, HP does not sell a part to allow you to install a second hard drive in this laptop if it was assembled at the factory with a single hard drive.  The option they offer me is to RMA the whole laptop, buy another laptop configured with a second hard drive, remove the second hard drive and replace it with my SATA drive.  I've lost over 2 weeks and I'm loath to consider this at first, so we went back and forth a bit, but in the end this seemed like the only option.  So now I'm waiting on another 2 week cycle for them to build almost the identical computer in China and ship it back to Denver, to get a $10 cable.  So, about 6 weeks (and many hours of aggravation) from the original purchase I'll have my computer, if all goes well.

HP customer support is the absolute pits.  I constantly would call one number (e.g. parts store), they would badger me with a bunch of personal questions like name, address, phone, email, then forward me to someone else (e.g. tech support), they'd ask me the same questions, then forward me somewhere else (HP Home and Office), lather, rinse, repeat.  It took me over an hour to RMA one part.

I have a bunch of disorganized notes on technical issues like UEFI and Hybrid Graphics.  Details of getting all this working for Linux was going to be the topic of this post before this issue with the drive blew up in my face and overrode all other considerations.  Check back around mid-August, I guess.