HP provides multiple methods for getting assistance when your laptop is acting up. Along with a redesigned website, help can be found on social media, via web chat and on the phone. We tested HP's tech support by going undercover and asking questions to agents across its channels.
Unfortunately, HP failed to bounce back from a lackluster showing in 2019. The HP support site, while full of useful resources, could use some optimizing. Also, some of the agents I spoke to were uninformed and, in one case, rather pushy. That said, others were great and HP's social media team is excellent.
We asked HP a simple Windows 10-related query: How do I download the new Surface browser? We also asked two HP-specific questions about reducing the background noise of the onboard microphones and extending the warranty of the laptop.
HP tech support
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Web and social support
If you want to try solving problems without any human help, HP's support site is the best place to start. It could see some reorganizing — the search bar and link to the community forums should be more prominent — but the website houses tons of resources and guides with steps on how to fix common problems.
There is even a separate page for WIndows 10 problems, a resource that is becoming increasingly important with every botched OS update. If those pages don't help, HP's community forum members actively discuss the latest software and hardware problems.
I started my search by using the nifty "Let HP detect your product" tool. Once the application found my specific model, I was sent to a product page with information about my laptop along with pertinent updates and hardware diagnostics tests. It's all arranged neatly, and I particularly like the "one-click fix" section, where I quickly checked the health of my battery and speakers.
Similarly, HP's Support Assistant app was redesigned this year with cleaner interfaces and more useful links, including the aforementioned one-click fix. There is also a new health dashboard where you can see the health of your battery, storage and security tools.
Unfortunately, I had a nightmare of a time using the website to connect to HP's live chat. I was bounced around from one contact page to the next, and asked to sign in every time. By the time I found the correct link, I had signed into HP's website five separate times.
Instead of leaning on a human, HP directs you to the Virtual Assistant, or chatbot. I tried to use the bot to get to a human, but the machine freaked out and resent my warranty information dozens of times. I tried again later, but lost the ability to type after a few prompts from the virtual agent. HP clearly has some flaws to iron out with its virtual assistant tool.
You have to go through the Virtual Agent to get to HP's proper webchat — the one with a human on the other end. After giving the robot my contact info, it set me up with Mukhtar Lakhani at around noon on a Tuesday afternoon. He explained that I could pay $90 to extend my warranty for two additional years and that it would cover accidental damage as well. I was surprised when he explained that if my computer isn't sent in for repairs before the warranty expires, I could claim the money as a rebate at the end of the period.
Mukhtar was going to extend my warranty right then and there, but I told him I didn't have my card info on me. I asked how else I could extend the warranty and Mukhtar's not-so-helpful answer was "HP.com." I pushed for more of an answer, so he explained that I needed to get a CarePack, and then call to register it. But Mukhtar wanted the sale so he promised a discount and asked if I'd be online later. When I told him I would be, he abruptly asked "Anything else apart from this?" then thanked me and left.
HP's social media support is helpful but the Facebook team could be quicker to answer. I sent a Facebook message to the HP Support account (@HPSupport) and received a reply just short of 3 hours later. My question about how to reduce background noise picked up by my mic was adequately resolved, if not entirely. Jivan sent me detailed instructions on how to access the Windows 10 Sound settings to change the microphone sound levels and disable the sound effects options. Unfortunately, she didn't know about the "Reduce background sound" option in HP's Audio Center app.
I have only good things to say about HP's Twitter (@HPSupport) support team, which told me how to download the new Edge browser 3 minutes after I sent them a DM. The response from Akshay included the correct link to the Edge browser and assurance that I could reach out if I got stuck. Arshay was friendly and answered each of my queries within minutes.
You can reach HP's phone support by dialing 888-698-3762, or by calling the direct line for each product line: Envy (1-800-836-3963), Spectre (1-888-817-4633), OMEN (1-866-724-8628) and HP Elite (1-866-852-4865). Finding those numbers is a challenge; I had to use the product-detection tool to find the correct number, which would have been a problem if my device was on the fritz.
HP has call centers in the US, Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Philippines, India and El Salvador. The customer-support team is available between 8 a.m. and noon during the weekday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekend.
My first call to HP's chat support, made on a Thursday at 2:41 p.m., was, in a word, stressful. It started off well enough. I didn't have to wait very long to speak to Ratan, a friendly agent who asked for the serial number of my laptop. It took him several attempts but he eventually pulled up my device before transferring me to the warranty team so I could get help extending mine.
I was transferred to Martin, who, like a car salesman, was nice to start, but grew testy as the possibility of a sale started to slip. Martin did his job just fine. He described my warranty options and provided clear pricing. For the record, the options included a manufacturer defective parts warranty like the one that comes with any unit for $79 a year and software support for a one-time $25 fee, then $14.99 a month.
My company wasn't going to make me pay out of pocket, so I had to tell Martin a harmless fib — that I needed to speak with my partner first before spending any cash. Martin wasn't thrilled about my reluctance and pushed harder. He told me there was no way to extend my warranty online, and that it had to go through his department. The persistent agent then told me to call my fiancé and confirm right there on the spot. I deflected with another tale: she was at work.
Then things got a bit pushy. "I thought you wanted to extend it. The case says you wanted to extend the warranty. You don't want to do it now, that's what it is?" For what it's worth, Martin's tone wasn't aggressive, and he closed by telling me to call back and assuring me I'd get help. Still, I could have gone without that extra pressure. The call took 19 minutes and 4 seconds.
Things didn't get much better in the second call I made at 6:03 p.m. on a Friday. My elation from waiting no more than 2 minutes for Coman to answer was quickly tempered when she told me that only the SmartFriend department could help me download the new Edge browser. And because SmartFriend is a Level 2, or premium, support service, I would need to pay a fee of between $50 and $100.
I let Coman transfer me to SmartFriend to see if they would give me this super-simple answer free of charge. Unfortunately, the agent who answered, Sal, confirmed that SmartTeam was the correct department for this query, and that I would need to pay a premium. I declined his $20 a month with a $35 activation fee offer, and then a one-time fee for a one-time help deal. Sorry, HP, I'm not falling for that one — sending a tweet is so much cheaper. By the time I hung up, I had wasted 10 minutes and 38 seconds.
My third and final call was with Prodicto, who provided the best phone service during my testing. The call, made on a Saturday at 2:01 p.m., was answered immediately. I asked the agent how I could reduce the background noise of my microphone during conference calls. His instinct was to take remote access to my laptop. Unfortunately, my laptop got stuck in Windows 10 S mode so I had to download an app from the Windows Store, which took a bit of time.
Once in control, Predicto tried tinkering with the Windows settings but didn't get anywhere. As he was doing so, the agent noticed my laptop needed updates, so he went ahead and installed those. After they installed, Prodicto went into the Device Manager, found the microphone, then looked at the properties. He installed the latest driver, then changed some of the volume levels. Unfortunately, Predictor never touched the HP Audio Control app where there is a specific "reduce microphone background noise" tool. Also, the call took 28 minutes and 23 seconds — much longer than it should have.
Every HP consumer laptop comes with a one-year warranty on parts and labor with 90 days of software support. Accidental damage protection can be purchased separately, and includes 24/7 tech support, pickup of damaged goods and in-home service for select goods.
There are several options for extending or upgrading your warranty. If I wanted to extend the warranty of my Notebook 15, it would cost $79 for a year. HP also offers Care Packs for extended hardware support and HP SmartFriend for 24/7 out-of-warranty hardware and software support (phone and chat) for $15 a month.
HP will pay for shipping for any laptop that needs repairs. If a laptop can be easily opened, HP won't void your warranty for upgrading the RAM or storage. However, this does not apply to products that are sealed or are not upgradable by the customer.
HP's tech support is hit-or-miss. The redesigned support site looks great and has tons of resources, but I faced too many roadblocks trying to get a human on the phone and live chat. Some of those problems would be fixed by improving or relying less on the Virtual Assistant. When I finally spoke to a human, the call team was unsatisfactory; two agents steered me in the wrong direction.
HP's support had its moments. The social media support was a notable standout, and it took just 3 minutes to get an answer on Twitter. Wait times were also notably short — 5 minutes was the longest I was on hold for any call.
When the dust settled, HP delivered great support on social media and its website is a useful tool when it works. However, call agents weren't always helpful and the Virtual Assistant can be a nuisance. HP has all the tools it needs to offer top-class support — but the execution is lacking.