Problems With My HP Envy 15 Battery Semi-Solved

I’ve been having problems with my HP Envy 15 laptop slice battery. The battery is a unique one, as it fits fully across the entire laptop on the bottom.

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It’s a really cool looking thing, but the way it attaches to the bottom of the laptop is, well, stupid. I’ve had lots of problems with the two slice batteries I have. The little latch things either break easily or don’t hold the battery on tightly or for very long. There’s no obvious solution to the latch issue (Superglue? Duct Tape?), but I was having a different issue as well.

imageFrequently the slice battery was showing a 100% charge, yet clearly it wasn’t fully charged, as the laptop only lasted about an hour and a half on the main battery charge. Other times, it showed a lower charge level (today it was 61%), yet the battery meter said “plugged in, not charging”.image

This seems to be a problem not just with my specific machine, but with lots of machines running Windows Vista and Windows 7, based on all of the complaints I read on the Web.

I tried everything I could think of and everything I read about on the Web. Yet there was one more last thought I had, and it seemed to work.

I was leaning on my laptop reading something on the screen and I noticed that the battery meter was showing the little charge animation. When I stopped leaning on the laptop, it stopped charging. It occurred to me to pry up the little prongs on the battery to increase the likelihood of a connection with the bottom of the laptop, and it seems to have done the trick.

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I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ve finally hit on a solution, but I’ve also ordered a new main battery and a new slice battery just in case. I can’t afford to waste time with a down laptop if I can avoid it.

Letter to @HPSupport re: My HP Envy 15 Battery Odyssey

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Unfortunately, no matter how many times I try sending my email to Jeff after his kind offer to try to help, he isn’t receiving it.  I didn’t want to just flame HP on my blog. I’d rather assume that this is a one-time SNAFU. However, I’m posting this here so that Jeff can read it!

 

Hi, Jeff.  I appreciate your offer to look into my issue.  I’d call it a classic customer service screw up, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.

I own an HP Envy 15 laptop that truly may be the greatest thing since sliced bread. I loaded it up with just about every option so that I have a massively powerful machine. It cost me almost $4000.  This machine *is* my office; I own my own small consulting firm, specializing in collaboration and Microsoft SharePoint.  I’ve had the Envy since February and I love it.  See my blog post which talks about how much I like it. I know for a fact that HP has sold quite a few laptops based on my recommendations.

The “slice” battery is not as great. It’s fully functional, but it often falls off the laptop when I move it, requiring me to reattach it and relock using the sliding latches. It’s the one badly designed piece of what is otherwise a beautiful design, so I’ve let it slide (literally, unfortunately). *Many* other people have problems with it, as you’ll find if you read through posts on The Next Bench, the site I found a while back that HP runs for Envy owners, among others.  It can even cause the laptop to freeze up or shut down then the battery detaches.

So, what happened to me that was this customer service problem? The little latch on the slice battery broke so that I couldn’t attach it to the laptop securely.  It’s probably a $.05 piece of plastic at best, but without it working, the battery detaches even more easily, which is clearly a problem.  Here’s what the latch looks like attached (on the top) and broken (on the bottom).

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The battery actually still works just fine; it just won’t stay on the laptop.  No big deal, I figured, the whole kit is still under warranty, so I fired off an email to HP Support.  Now I’m not at all prejudiced or averse to outsourcing, but the replies that came back from the people in India on this were a) not at all helpful, b) grossly uninformed, and c) grammatically horrible. No matter what I told them, as politely as I could, they had no idea what I was talking about. Their only answer was to send the entire laptop in for repair, which would take 2-3 weeks. Now remember, this machine *is* my office, and it’s working absolutely fine. (I’m typing this on it.)  I can’t just send it off for some indeterminate time when there is nothing wrong with it.

So the next emailed suggestion was to call HP Support.  So I did. Right back to India.  After navigating the unintelligible phone tree, I finally got a person on the phone…who told me that I had called the wrong person.  And that he couldn’t transfer me.  So back to the phone tree a second time, and I got the “wrong” person again.  I was answering the questions based on what *I* knew.  That’s all I *could* do.  So this guy at least was willing to transfer me to the “right” guy. After a few minutes of hold music, I got on the line with the “right” person…who told me that the first person was the right person, and I would have to go back to them.  This time the hold music was over 15 minutes (I timed it) because he couldn’t jump me in the queue.  Back to the first guy (well, not the first guy, but you can tell where I was) who told me he couldn’t help me.  *He* transferred me to a very nice woman in the States, who clearly was going to take this bull by the horns and help me out.  So far I’ve sunk well over an hour of my time into this, at the very least. Keep in mind that this is a battery that costs $135 on your site right now. At this point, I’m losing money versus my billing rate.  But wait, there’s more…

The very nice woman in Texas (I think) managed, through hook or crook, to set me up with a return for *just* the battery, which is the only thing which is broken.  HP would send me packaging materials, I would send the battery in, and after 1-2 weeks of “diagnosis” (she knew as much as I did how stupid that sounded) they would either send me a new one or repair the broken latch.  This whole process took another 45 minutes or so, as she tried to put many square pegs into round holes on her end.  When I asked if HP could just send me a new battery and *then* I could send in my broken one, she just laughed. Not at me, but at the ridiculousness of it all. She and I discussed the fact that this is what any normal customer-focused company would do, but no.

So, a few days later, the packaging arrived.  There was nothing in the box which contained any of the information I had already given to at least 5 or 6 people, just a blank form asking me to describe the problem. Believe me, I looked for something else. Nada.  I figured that someone on the other end would be matching it up with the actual file on the HP end.  The form as I filled it out is attached, Exhibit A.

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So I sent the battery in, dropping it off at Fedex on July 7th, I think.

In the meantime, I didn’t feel that I could live without the battery, so I placed an order for a new one.  Yup, $135+.  I figured I could return it after I got my “real” one back. No big deal.

On July 15 or 16, I received a box back that I assumed contained my fixed or replaced battery back.  I didn’t open it for a few days because I had a working battery and I was fine.  When I finally did open it, the battery was in there all right: still broken, with a note that says:

Dear Valued Hewlett-Packard Customer:

Hewlett-Packard does not service this product.

For this reason, we are returning your product to you.

We regret any inconvenience this may cause you.

Information regarding current products is available on the world wide Web at www.hp.com.

Sincerely,

Hewlett-Packard Service Center.

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So now I’m right back where I started, except that I’ve spent $135+ on a new battery and I feel shafted. I don’t want to dive back into the phone tree mess or the email black hole, so I thought I’d try Twitter. At least you replied without saying “No” at the start.  I know this is a longer story than you wanted to hear, but it shows what can go horribly awry when a big company loses focus on the customer. Yes, I’m just one guy with one laptop. But if HP treats many of us like this, it’s going to be a problem for the bottom line.  All I wanted was to get my battery, which is under warranty for crike’s sakes, fixed.

Can you help me?

Thanks a million,

M.

My HP Envy 15 Monster Laptop Specs

HP Envy 15 12I’ve been tweeting and crowing about how awesome my new HP Envy 15 laptop is.  There are some good photos of the laptop and its packaging over at notebooks.com (this photo is borrowed from the site).  Quite a few people have asked what I put in it, so I thought I’d post the specs here.  I went pretty much full boat with this laptop.  It wasn’t cheap (a little under US$4k), but it is blindingly fast.  I figure I’m good for the next 3+ years of this Microsoft product wave, no matter what I need to do.

As an example of how great it is, I can have a MOSS VM running (4Gb), an SP2010 VM running (8Gb), and all of my usual desktop apps up and running, while listening to streaming Web radio, and the thing barely hiccups.  And that’s with everything installed on the same SSDs: OS and all of the apps and VMs.  (One thing to note is that the two 160Gb SSDs come set up as a single 320Gb drive.)

I can’t recommend this laptop enough!

HP ENVY 15 customizable Notebook PC

  • Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-820QM Processor (1.73GHz, 8MB L2 Cache,1333MHz FSB)w/Turbo Boost up to 3.06 GHz
  • 16GB DDR3 System Memory (4 Dimm)
  • 320GB Dual Solid State Drive Flash Modules (SSD 160GB + SSD 160GB)
  • 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon(TM) HD 5830 Graphics – For i7 Processors
  • 15.6″ diagonal Full High Definition LED HP Ultra Brightview Widescreen Display (1920×1080)
  • External Tray Super Multi 8X DVD+/-R/RW w/Double Layer Support with 2 USB Ports
  • Webcam Only
  • Intel Wireless-N Card with Bluetooth
  • HP QuickWeb, Corel VideoStudio Pro X2, Corel Paintshop Pro X2, Stardock My Colors
  • HP Color Matching Keyboard
  • One 6 Cell Lithium Ion Polymer Battery + One 9 Cell HP Envy Slim Fit Extended-Life Notebook Battery

UPDATE 2001-05-29: One thing that I realized was missing from my monster laptop right before a presentation: a VGA port.  Spring for the HP HDMI to VGA Display Adapter if you think you might be doing any presentations with a projector.  Mine’s on its way.