Lawsuit claims HP PCs suffer constant lockups, crashes

Seeks class-action status, charges HP with selling "inherently defective" quad-core PCs

A Colorado man has sued Hewlett-Packard, saying that its Pavilion Elite desktop computers are "inherently defective," and constantly lock up within 10-20 minutes of use.

The lawsuit, which was filed with a California federal court last Thursday, seeks class-action status that, if granted, would open the case to all HP customers who have purchased one of the allegedly defective PCs.

According to the lawsuit, HP's Pavilion Elite e9150t, e9180f, e9180t, m9600t and m9650f, when equipped with the "Truckee" motherboard from Pegatron Technology and Intel's i7 quad-core processor, crash or lock up soon after they're powered on.

Pegatron Technology is a subsidiary of Taiwan-based Asustek Computer, which is best known for its ASUS line of netbooks.

"After operating the [Pavilion Elite] e9150t for approximately two weeks, Plaintiff's computer began experiencing repeated disruptive failures including lock-ups, freezes, and blue screen errors, requiring him to reboot the computer," read the suit, which was filed on behalf of Michael Kent of Arvada, Colo. Kent purchased the Pavilion Elite e9150t in late July 2009.

"Since that time, Plaintiff experiences the aforementioned errors on an almost daily basis. These errors occur most frequently within 10 to 20 minutes after a 'cold boot,'" the lawsuit continued.

Kent's lawyers cited 20 messages posted on an HP support forum as proof that others have complained of the same problem. The lawsuit also included a link to a support thread that as of Monday ran 288 pages, and boasted nearly 2,900 messages submitted by customers. The thread is the most-heavily-trafficked of all those on the HP support forum dedicated to lockups and freezes .

On the Pavilion Elite e9150t lock-up thread, users said that they had tried several different HP-suggested remedies, including installing a BIOS update, a tack Kent claimed he also tried to no avail.

Others on the thread said that although HP had replaced either the CPU or the entire computer, they were still seeing frequent crashes or lock-ups of the Pavilion. "Even though HP is replacing the e9150t models with the upgraded e9180 models and including faster, more costly processors, the computers still exhibit the same defects," Kent's lawsuit read.

Users continued to post messages on the support forum today. "I hereby give up with HP 'support,'" said a user identified as "GaryJ51," in a message added to the thread Monday morning. "After dozens of calls to HP, and many broken promises, I eventually wrote to the CEO as suggested by someone on this site. Nothing. My unreliable PC is still ... here, waiting for a returns box. It's many weeks now since I began this effort to fix the thing. I give up. I don't know what else to do."

"I just received a call from a Case Manager Supervisor," added "Hanspuppa" in a message posted shortly after GaryJ51's. "I explained all my issues with the two systems I purchased, and requested the defective systems be replaced with new systems, and she denied my request. $US3,500.00 down the drain."

Kent's lawsuit charged HP with deceptive advertising, fraud and breach of warranty, and asked the federal judge to grant the case class-action status, as well as to force HP to pay compensatory and statutory damages.

HP did not respond to a request for comment.

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Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
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