HP Failed Our Q1 Secret Shopper Experiment


Final Words

By ordering three units, we were able to do something that many people do not get to experience just ordering one unit. That is simply getting multiple data points in the process. As a result, we were able to see that there is more than just an upstream component supply chain issue at work here. Let us be clear, we have been dealing with these component issues across vendors for many quarters now so we are very aware that the supply chain issues are real, but there are deeper issues here, HP.com issues.

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

From our three secret shopper orders we found the following:

  • The HP.com estimated ship dates are not realistic, and HP knows or should know that these advertised estimates are not accurate when they induce customers to tender funds
  • HP’s failure to cancel the first order that was 28 days from shipping when the original estimated ship date was 18 days from the order, was silly
  • HP’s order management took our conditional acceptance of a $40 credit for the 2.5GbE NIC, and that was not the part that was removed from the system. We ordered additional NICs as a result of this at a higher cost
  • We have no idea what we did not get for that $40 credit at this point
  • With the failure to cancel, HP kept our $40 for order 1, and on order 2, for over a month. This was probably a configurator issue, but since HP had our funds, and no longer had the intention to ship whatever part that ultimately was, they effectively held our funds (paid at the time of order) without the promise of consideration

While ultimately, I do think that HP has the best 1L PC’s out there right now, ordering from HP.com is a nightmare. Of the issues outlined above, one could simply say supply chain but that does not cover all of them like holding $40 for no reason. Our third order clearly showed that HP was still advertising estimated ship dates that were unreasonable.

Ultimately, we hope that these secret shopper pieces help both our readers see what is going on in the industry. Also for companies like HP, these are not insurmountable challenges to improve upon, especially for a company of HP’s resources. We hope HP can take this third-party glimpse into its order management and use it to improve in the future.


  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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