HP e-mail, chat support to be free of charge

Hewlett-Packard plans to announce Wednesday that it will let out-of-warranty customers use its online support tools for free. The annoucement will have come along a few weeks after Dell expanded its online support options.

HP customers can enter into a chatroom with a support representative or e-mail questions through the company's Web site, although it won't be free for all customers until Wednesday. The chat services cover PCs, printers and other digital products sold by HP.

HP's free online tools aren't quite as extensive as Dell's, which allow technicians to remotely connect to PCs and run diagnostic software, make configuration changes or remove malware. But Dell's new DellConnect service applies only to customers under warranty.

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