HP refuses to repair computer due to ‘biological hazard’ of cat

The Right Click

Most of us are familiar with the murky warranty policies that computer companies and tech stores have, which can often lead to products not being repaired because of something that we didn't even know we did wrong.

HP Elitebook owner Chris learned how tough Hewlett-Packard is firsthand when he submitted his computer for repairs while it was still covered under warranty. Unfortunately, it was sent back to him unrepaired and dubbed a "biological hazard." Here's a look at that bio-hazard, a few pieces of cat hair caught in Chris' computer fan:

According to Chris' story on The Consumerist, he went through three weeks of back-and-forth with HP before someone finally told him exactly what that meant. Here's Chris' story from The Consumerist:

"The supervisor I spoke to started with "So, you have a long haired cat?" I in fact have a short haired cat. He then said, "Wow, I'm surprised that fan turns on at all." I scoffed, and told him he was crazy, and that all the hair in the computer (the very tiny bit in there) was what I sent it in with. I never blew it out or cleaned it, but he seemed to think otherwise. I was looking at the powerpoint at the time, and the amount of pet hair in the vent was hardly enough to make it slow down even 1/1000 rpm."

You can see the PowerPoint slideshow of photos that Chris is talking about here. It shows the detailed photos that HP took of every inch of his computer once they'd opened it up, documenting damage that had been done by Chris' cat. Eventually, Chris managed to get the representative he was speaking with to talk to his supervisor, who said that there was "so much cat hair in the computer that it's considered a biological hazard."

If you give HP's warranty policy a quick read, it doesn't take long to realize the company has covered itself pretty well in terms of being able to back out of warranty coverage as it sees fit. Specifically, if you read through some of the exclusions on their coverage for desktop and laptop computers, they mention explicitly that they won't cover anything that stops working properly as a result of "accident, misuse, abuse, contamination, improper or inadequate maintenance or calibration or other external causes."

While I don't know if it was enough cat hair to cease the function of Chris' computer, HP's warranty policy doesn't leave a lot of room for pet owners to defend themselves if it does come in with any semblance of 'contamination.'

Do you think HP's warranty policies make it unfair for computer users to get full warranty coverage if they own a pet? Or is forfeiting some of that coverage just one of the sacrifices you need to make as a pet owner?