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HP tug-of-war continues
HP laptop users with their defective computers protest outside HP's China headquarters in Beijing Friday.

Infuriated faulty laptop users protested loudly outside Hewlett Packard's (HP) headquarters in Beijing Friday afternoon, demanding refunds for computers that overheated and suffered from black screen errors. It was the latest sign of mounting pressure on the global computer maker in the ongoing effort by consumers to receive compensation for prob-lematic HP computers.

More than 30 HP customers gathered at the HP tower around 10:30 am to protest against the company's sluggish approaching in dealing with their complaints, but the HP executives refused to talk to them openly.

The laptops the protesters bought all belonged to the company's DV2000 and V3000 series, which China's quality watchdog ordered the company to deal with according to government regulations in March.

"Get out HP! Get out Xie Yun!" the protesters began to shout after five hours of fruitless waiting in the sun. They were referring to an HP customer service manager who earlier refused to sit down with protesters while a Global Times reporter observed.

"I am not authorized to speak to the media," Xie said, standing up to leave the table when six customer representatives were about to start a con-versation with him in a reception room at around 11 am.

The not-yet-begun negotiations came to an abrupt halt because the representatives insisted on the presence of media.

The organizer of the protest, a 32-year-old architectural engineer who would only give his Web handle, Guo Feng, talked with Xie separately but reached no resolution.

The representatives then left the room about 30 minutes later to continue holding out with fellow protesters downstairs.

Wang Zhu, an associate professor at Sichuan University's law school, said the Law on Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests does not obligate a company to accept a media interview, but companies that do not take interviews will be seen as lacking credibility.

Guo said although he had already received a refund, other customers who had not felt they were being treated unequally.

Cong Ming, HP's public relations manager, said later that day that the company would come up with a solution for each customer within three working days, and would treat them equally, according to warranty regulations.

The protesters lined up their faulty laptops on the pavement in front of the building, which attracted many passersby.

"If (Toyota) cars can be recalled, why not computers?" said a female onlooker surnamed Zhang, who also had an HP laptop that broke down twice within a year and a half.

About 3 pm, another dozen protesters went into the tower to talk with HP, without media accompanying them, but they soon stormed out because the company forbade them from recording the meeting while an HP employee was videotaping the protesters.

No agreement was reached between the protesters and HP as of 2 am Saturday, when most of the protesters left, except a few who could not leave because public transportation was closed. Guo said another protest was being considered for today.


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