HP Failed Our Q1 Secret Shopper Experiment

HP Secret Shopper HP Fail Web Cover 1
HP Secret Shopper HP Fail Web Cover 1

Today we have the story of how HP’s online store failed our secret shopper experience. While many systems are being delayed due to the supply chain, our HP experience felt different. It felt like HP knew, or should have known that it could not hit its estimated ship dates when it took our order and funds. This is a story that needs to be told so that others do not spend their money based on HP’s falsely advertised “estimated dates”. We did not just order one unit, we ordered three so we were able to track HP not adjusting ship dates when it knew it could not hit them.

Some may have heard in our recent Project TinyMiniMicro reviews that topping my list for favorite units right now is the HP EliteDesk 805 G8 Mini with an NVIDIA GPU and a 2.5GbE option. At the same time, we do not have a review. The reason has been that the review has been muddied by a wildly sub-par ordering experience. To be frank, I have had trouble talking about the unit without also discussing how I felt like HP lied during the ordering process. That is what led to this piece, hopefully allowing us to move on.

HP Failed Our Q1 Secret Shopper Experiment

Overall, while in this process, something continued to feel wrong, across all three orders that we made. After going through the process, we pulled the e-mails and put the milestones on a timeline. That is when how bad the experiences were really hit home. We made three orders that are in the horizontal swimlanes 1, 2, and 3. All three were HP EliteDesk 805 G8 Mini’s. The first was a 65W TDP AMD Ryzen unit and the second and third were units with an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU. The third unit was specifically purchased just to test if the timelines being given on HP.com were unrealistic given what we saw with order #2 and to some extent order #1. Here is the overall timeline:

STH HP.com Secret Shopper Timeline
STH HP.com Secret Shopper Timeline

Since purchasing over $3000 of machines is not a cheap secret shopper exercise, we have a video for this one as well. As always we suggest opening this in its own tab, browser, or app for a better viewing experience.

The first unit was ordered on 2022-01-02 and was the 65W AMD Ryzen Pro system without the GPU. It was shipped nowhere near the estimated 18-day shipping window.

STH HP.com Secret Shopper Order 1 Order 2022 01 02 Est 2022 01 20
STH HP.com Secret Shopper Order 1 Order 2022 01 02 Est 2022 01 20

The second unit was ordered on 2022-01-10 and it also did not make the 2022-01-31 estimated ship date.

STH HP.com Secret Shopper Order 2 Order 2022 01 10 Est 2022 01 31
STH HP.com Secret Shopper Order 2 Order 2022 01 10 Est 2022 01 31

The third was our control. Once we knew the second was delayed, we ordered it on 2022-02-17 to see if it would actually arrive on 2022-03-10 given HP had told us the second unit was delayed. In essence, we ordered this one to document the estimated dates on the HP.com website were not being updated even as we saw our other two orders were delayed.

STH HP.com Secret Shopper Order 3 Order 2022 02 17 Est 2022 03 10
STH HP.com Secret Shopper Order 3 Order 2022 02 17 Est 2022 03 10

With that, we are going to go through the three orders in detail.


  1. Did you actually take the time to dig up all those emails from the orders just for this? I can’t believe you’d waste the time instead of just saying what happened

  2. Patrick has an axe to grind!

    Yeah, I’ve experienced the same with HPE online ordering as well. Unrealistic ship dates which never come. Even our supplier has had to deal with their nonsense.

    Oddly, Lenovo jas mamahed to deliver when they estimate, most of the time even a few days early. That leaves the false and valuable impression of better customer service. Go figure!

  3. I recently ordered a device From HP, when I tried to return it I was told I got a great deal and should give it away or resell it.

  4. I’m in a similar situation. Ordered a laptop from hp.com in April and they just pushed out the expected delivery date AGAIN to July. Very frustrating.

  5. Interesting article and good of you to write this up Patrick. Does make me wonder though, have you contacted them as servethehome writer/editor with a request for comment? I’m curious to see if they’d continue misleading customers or promise to do better in the future.

  6. Similar experience in terms of timeline.

    Though here’s the interesting tidbit I can provide: Before placing either of my orders, I actually called sales, knowing that the ship dates were impossible.

    Sales agrees. They’re very upfront about it. They set expectations with me of more realistic ship dates they actually were correct on (though yes, they were quite far out). Additionally I actually was able to successfully request if there were available discounts available, and they found meaningful ones for me (7% and 11%).

    So props to the salespeople based in the US, but I 110% agree with the article. The HP.com and email experience is terrible at best and sets nothing but false expectations.

    Shame, because I agree that they make the best x86 1L form factors in the business, hands down.

  7. Always remember that HP doesn’t make any of this stuff. Its all contracted assembly. Also know that corporate orders with supply agreements will *always* get priority over general SKU production or SKU’s from web sales. General SKU production is what gets shipped to distributors. These are made in batches in many of these assemblers.

    All of these contract assemblers don’t warehouse anything, its all JIT through the various suppliers and if just one misses their JIT deadline, the build orders will change in priority and timing.

    If a supplier (say Intel CPU’s) is late with the i7 CPU’s the line will continue to produce the i5 or i3 SKU’s.
    If a supplier is on time, but is short on quantity of I7’s, all of the corporate orders will go first, general SKU’s will go second, web sales will go if any I7’s are left. If what you ordered is exactly the same as a general SKU, then you are in luck.

    If an optional part is late or short in quantity (like a 2.5GbE module), again corp sales will be satisfied, general SKU’s then web sales.

    If the part for your specific order is not available when your production batch is ready to go, you will get pushed out to when that part is expected to arrive. If the part is not critical to it being used (like a Flex I/O module) you will be offered a credit, but you might get tossed into the next batch if you take too long to decide. But when the next batch is scheduled to go to assembly it might be a different part missed its arrival deadline, and you may get pushed out again.

    Because of cost cutting (warehouse nothing), outsourcing of assembly, expectation that JIT parts will always arrive in time, has forced the production decision trees to its limits. That doesn’t even include parts that might fail QA, final assembly defects, inadequate staffing on the exit or entry docks and so on.

  8. I have an HP VR headset, and if you spend any time in https://www.reddit.com/r/HPReverb/ you’ll see a continuous stream of customer service nightmares from them. They might just take your money and never ship, or keep your exchange, or ship you some random product. It’s literally safer to buy from the back of some van.


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