Brenda's Nature Photograhy - HP Compaq Presario Notebook - Serious Fire Hazard

Posted on Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007 at 9:04am CDT by 3c1f21ae

Product: Model #R4010US

Company: Brenda's Nature Photograhy

Location: 713 Hinton Ave
Charlottesville, VA, 22902, US


Category: Other

Purchased Compaq Presario notebook new August 2005 as mobile unit during recovery from surgery when I would not be able to access my desktop system. Unit came with only 1 year warranty. Up until the near catastrophic event several days ago there had been no problems with the unit. Battery always charged ok and I continued to get approximately 2 hours of use on each charge. On the evening of October 13, 2007 I was surfing the web with laptop on my lap and running off the battery. The "low battery" warning popped up and I quickly connected to the ac power adapter. Approximately 15 minutes later, without warning, the unit went into hibernation mode. I initially thought the ac power adapter was not connected properly which turned out not to be the case. The power adapter felt slightly warm and certainly nothing indicating it was overheating. None of the components on the exterior of the laptop were overly warm. I did smell a faint "acid-like" odor but at that moment did not associate it to the laptop because husband was in next room cooking dinner. I unplugged power adapter from outlet and took unit upstairs to troubleshoot. I opened the battery compartment and removed it. It appeared fine. With battery removed, I plugged ac power adapter back into the unit and pressed the power button. Unit would not power up. However, on front end the "lightening bolt" symbol was flashing amber and then I noted a small puff of smoke exit from the ethernet connection and a blue spark. I immediately pulled the power adapter away from back of the laptop. By then I could definitely smell the "burnt plastic" odor. Even then none of the exterior components except around the ethernet port felt overly warm. (Ethernet connection never used.

In conferring with several computer support techs, including one who builds his own, they all concur the unit was fried. However, on a more serious note, had I left the unit unattended it could have easily caused a fire.

I contacted HP tech support to file a formal complaint. First, I acknowledged the unit was out of warranty. However, a unit that's less than 2.5 years old should NEVER be a safety risk such as what happened to my unit, a unit that was used as a backup and was well-maintained.

Hp support offered to replace key components (motherboard, ethernet connection, and power source) for less than $400 and only a 90-day warranty. The tech support seemed disinterested in the fact my primary concern was NOT to get the unit fixed but to report a very serious fire risk with one of their products. The individual I spoke with did not have a command of the English language and appeared to be reading from script and could not process anything beyond that.

Note: I previously owned a Compaq notebook, purchased in 1998 that was still running fine when I sold it to a student August 2005. After my recent experience and HP's lack of concern, I informed them they just lost a loyal customer (high end scanner & BP9100 printer, HP Photosmart, etc.). As for the "fried" notebook, I removed the hard drive that luckily was not destroyed.


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