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E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Dear Meg Whitman

More fun times with Hewlett-Packard. Last night we left this message on the web page of the CEO of that fine organization:

Dear Meg Whitman:

I am in Portland, Oregon. I have a defective HP 97 color ink cartridge. It is still within the warranty period. I bought it in a package of three at a Costco warehouse that does not sell individual 97 cartridges. The other cartridges in the package have already been used. I want to return this defective one to HP and get a refund or replacement.

I defy you to go onto the HP website and find instructions on how to do this. And having dealt previously with the utterly ridiculous people you have answering the phone in India, I would not waste another 10 seconds calling them. Within five minutes, they'll be telling me to uninstall and reinstall Windows!

So please, WHERE DO I MAIL THIS DEFECTIVE INK CARTRIDGE TO GET THE REPLACEMENT? I look forward to your response, which I will be writing about on my blog,; it is visited by several thousand people each day.

Ms. Whitman, you really have to be kidding with your customer "service" operation. Once the HP printer in our house dies, it is the very last HP product that we will ever buy.

Jack Bogdanski

Comments (39)

I feel your pain. I use numerous HP printers only because they are the only one who make a cassette feed color inkjet- I have space constraints. Other wise they are terrible. They discontinue their models every 12 months it seems. I am left with inks I cannot use because they change their printers so often. Build quality is terrible too. It's a shame to see a once proud company reduced to putting out garbage from a string of inept CEO's.

When this happened to me with a multi-pack I found Office Max willing to swap out the bad one. I would think Costco would do no less

Costco has one of the best return policies around. Why are you taking this up with Meg, when it's simpler and quicker to make the swap locally?

Take it back to Costco. They have a better return policy than Nordstrom.

Remember 25 years ago a big trend in business was to talk about doing things the "HP way," which included "managing by walking around." What happened to that company?

I typed this into Google:

"How do I return a defective HP inkjet cartridge?"

And got this as a result:

If a problem with an HP Inkjet product occurs, visit the retailer, call the regional customer support phone number listed on the product insert, or click Contact HP (***) on this page for more support options.

For ***, there was a URL that did not survive my copy/paste.

I'm sure you probably tried Google, but perhaps gave up too soon.

I recommend going back to Costco. That's what I would be doing.

Second on the return to Costco IF you have your receipt. I'm not a huge fan of Costco, but that is one reason to shop there (not a better return policy than Nordstrom, though).

Second also on your comment about "utterly ridiculous people" in India handling US customer service. Raise the prices and open call centers here.

Look at it this way. If things had worked out differently, you could be waiting for a response from Jerry Brown.

Three years ago was the last time I considered an HP product to be a viable choice, and I was an "HP person" through and through. From deliberately expired ink cartridges and failed laptops to inkjet and laser printers that just didn't do what they're meant to do (i.e. "work properly"), I'm done.

I say this with sadness and a gentle side-to-side shaking of my head as one of their major facilities is a neighbor in my town. I prefer to support the home team if it's a viable option, but for my new laptop purchase last month I would not consider any HP models (nor Dell's, for political reasons).

Be done with you, HP.

A small business owner.

Since you are a tax law professor I have a better one.

Went to the IRS website to ostensibly download a 1098 (not important, but what I did) form. Found said PDF and downloaded it.

However, it is in red ink partially and written all over it is NOT TO BE SUBMITTED WITH RETURNS - NOT SCANNABLE.

Apparently I need to have it mailed to me, which seems stupider than heck, even for govt.

You had an HP printer survive long enough to get to the last cartridge in a multi-pack? That makes it your lucky day, I've not been able to do it so I switched to Lexmark and Canon and have not had one lick of an issue since.
(Not to say that they dont have their detractors or problems, its just that I am 5 for 5 with them on top notch product quality both on the original unit as well as the consumables).
And India doesnt have a monopoly on call centers with poor english. A certain too big to fail bank has a call center in North Carolina that I could have made the exact same comment about...

Cheers, It's Mike

Lots of good HP comments and advice here.

In the news.... I think yesterday I read about the HP company possibly being broken up into bits and parts to be sold off. Too true with their stock price cut in half this last year.

Of course, the same was once said of both IBM and Apple companies as well.

I have been using this place for 4 yrs +
with no problems
much better on prices

Several months ago I had an absolutely horrid experience with an HP printer issue and their so-called customer "service" group. I won't go into detail, but it had me steaming mad, and I too went directly to Meg via email:

Boy!....did it get her attention!!! I had several phonecalls within an hour ...from her office as well as from one of the higher-ups in CS....very apologetic about how I had been treated.

Give it a shot.

Ditto the praise for Cost-Co. Their return policy is so good that they once gave me a replacement for an item my wife and I had accidentally left in our shopping cart when we loaded up our car! I didn't even have the item, and they gave me a replacement! I can't praise them enough.

This thread is reminding me of the "Thank You; You're Welcome" post. And the couple of decades where it was a virtual requirement to substitute or supplement whatever else was said with the ubiquitous "Have a nice day!"

Ms. Whitman: Have a nice day!

They refused to help me with an install problem a few years back. THAT was the end of my buying HP.

Plus finding out the their inc carts had an electronic expiration date!

It's been canon ever since.


Heh. Our local news outlets spent quite a bit of time getting nostalgic about the rise and fall of EDS, which is now a nearly forgotten part of the Hewlett-Packard empire. For years, EDS had a reputation for idiotic management overworking its employees; if I wasn't getting incessant calls from anencephalic tech recruiters trying to fill one position at EDS or another, I was getting queries from friends at EDS who would do anything, and I mean anything, to escape the place.

Well, here's the great part. EDS barely survived the days of the appropriately named "Dick Brown" (ever notice how anybody still going by the name "Dick" in this day and age is one?) as CEO. It says a lot that even the control freak managers who thrived in the Dick Brown days got the hell out of EDS after Meg Whitman became CEO of HP. The Aesop fable of "King Log and King Stork" was particularly appropriate in describing their plight.

Here's my Costco story: Several years ago, I printed copies of my sister's tax return. To show her appreciation, she gave me a couple of HP printer cartridges for my printer. I foolishly bought one of those refilled cartridges and used it before I used the HP cartridges. The refilled cartridge leaked and ruined my printer.

I took the cartridges my sister had given to me back to Costco. They were able to look up the purchase by my sister and happily refunded the money to me.

Steve: Went to the IRS website to ostensibly download a 1098

The IRS does not allow you to print for filing the following forms from the IRS website: 1096, 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922 or 5498 because of the scanning process. It was a surprise to me, too.

My 2 year old HP printer/scanner decided that my half used black ink cartridge is counterfeit

Never mind that I bought it at a retail outlet in the HP box with all the appropriate seals. Fortunately, for now, I can end run the problem by turning the printer off and on - then it tells me it needs to be aligned, but won't complete the alignment process. So, I'll ride this thing until it dies, which will be soon. Fortunately, I rarely print more than twice a day

I remember when that other female CEO took over at HP that they were losing money on every computer they sold and all their profit came from ink sales

My good Costco story:

Hard bound book purchased in Beaverton to read on plane ride to New York.

During the trip, discovered that a chapter was repeated, and a chapter was missing.

Visited the Yonkers Costco with book in hand, and no receipt. Took my membership card number to look up purchase history, and as they did not have the book in stock, provided me with a cash refund.

Kudos to Costco.

Give it a try, Jack.

"1096, 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922 or 5498 because of the scanning process"

If it helps, I'm going to print in mono and just submit anyways. I mean why even put the form up as a PDF if you don't people to use it?

A defective HP black ink jet cartridge puked black ink all over the insides of my HP photosmart 7760 a couple of years ago. I had purchased the cartridge from Staples so I returned it to them for a replacement. The sales lady was insistent in wanting to charge me for a replacement but I refused her insistence upon a new sale and asked to speak with the manager. I received a replacement for free. I would never have thought to inquire of Hewlet-Packard directly as I doubt I'd get to first base with them.

Why are you taking this up with Meg, when it's simpler and quicker to make the swap locally?

Because, as I told Meg, Costco does not sell single HP 97 cartridges at its warehouses.

I gave up on HP printers and scanners 20 years ago. Brother is the way to go.

The CEO has quite a fivehead.

I've been an HP printer guy for years, stil have an HP5 that has been to more than one desert and still prints just fine.
BUT... About a year ago we bought a big new HP printer for work here. It had network configuration problems form the start and the phone "support" ran us through a number of unlikely fixes before deciding we needed a new part. They shipped out a part, the wrong one.
So when the wife wanted a new printer at home we switched to a Brothers MFP and love it.

Jack, it doesn't matter that they don't sell singles. You received a defective item as part of a multipack. Bet they make it right. Give it a try. You can even call and ask them first.
They've always done more than right by me, and most others it sounds like from these comments.

Years ago I had to pretend I was reinstalling the windows version of their software on a mac in order to get a warranty replacement from those guys.... the printer was grinding and plastic bits were falling out.

I know firsthand what Meg Whitman did to eBay. I'm not surprised re. the HP situation and I sure as heck wouldn't want to be working there now.

Jack - you say in your email that your blog is visited by "several thousand" people each day. Now, is that some sort of Tri-met like accounting - or do you think several thousand DIFFERENT people check in daily? I've always wondered what the traffic was like here - most of the posts don't get more the 20 or so comments. When you do a poll seems like maybe a hundred votes max. I know I find Bojack pretty addicting and check in several times during the day. So, am I one of thousands or one of a few hundred with OCD?

Jack, we would be happy to return it for you. At Costco, we want every member to be satisfied with their purchases and will be happy to take care of you. Take it back to Costco and they will take care of you. If you run into any issues, ask to see a manager and let them know that I let you know of this. They can contact me if necessary. I am an Assistant Manager at the Warrenton Costco. You can email me with any questions.

PM -- My traffic is tracked here. I average about 3800-3900 "unique visits" a day. On weekdays it's more than 4000. Return visits within a couple of hours count as just one.

These results are corroborated by my other quite excellent and locally based counter, Even with lots of repeaters, I'd be shocked if the actual number is less than 3000.

I used to work for HP's printer support for a company in Beaverton, that I believe still contracts to do some of HP's tech support. Now I was doing this in the late '90s and early 2000s, before the whole India fiasco - in fact, I was even recruited to spend several months in India, essentially to train my replacement. (I declined - I was already relocated to Montana because we could employ folks making $10.50 an hour here in Portland, but only pay $8.00 an hour in Montana. And closer to $5.00 an hour in Canada...and well you get the idea.)

I'd like to say we - at the time - did a fairly decent job. We handled a lot of ink cartridge and toner cartridge replacements. The "official" process was to return to the place of purchase, but we shipped out a lot of cartridges. Only once was there any real pushback from our HP managers but even then it was more looking for ways to reduce the number of cartridges sent through the tech support channel and not the regular distribution channel. At the time HP had a very good management staff that cared about tech support.

However I would later work with other HP divisions that were more, let's say laissez-faire. We would rarely talk to those managers, and when we encountered product problems we were pretty much forced to deal with it. So of course, tech support suffered - we weren't highly paid engineers, we were $8/hour high school kids and college drop outs.

Eventually and leading to today, HP is no longer the brilliant engineering company it used to be. It's a marketing company. Very few products are designed by HP; virtually nothing is manufactured by HP; and most of the after-sale support, is not done by HP either. It's all outsourced. HP is just there to collect the profit and hire a few marketing executives. When I started there, all of the printers were designed in-house, or mostly in-house (LaserJets, in particular, use a Canon engine. But they were otherwise HP products.) Now the software is outsourced, the hardware is outsourced. When your product needs to be repaired, it goes to an outsourced repair depot where generally your product is not "repaired" but a refurbished machine is sent to you as a replacement. Supposedly, the refurb machines have more quality checks than a new machine, but who knows.

Sadly, I've had to call HP tech support once after I left that company (in a layoff, because we shut the center down and moved it to India). And sure enough I got someone from India, and while she was pleasant, not very helpful.

So to sum that have some good advice from the writers above. Go to the store first.

I might do that. But I will never buy an HP product again. It isn't this stupid cartridge so much as that passive-aggressive a.h. website, and the idiots on the phone from Asia asking me for my credit card number and telling me I have to reinstall Windows to get the crap HP software and defective HP hardware to work. Not to mention the worst desktop computer I have ever owned. And the ripoff prices for the ink. Meg deserves to get her chops busted, regularly.

I too had the same issue with bloated HP software...I found if I went to the "business" support site, however, I could find a driver that was much smaller and didn't have so much crapware on it. I use that instead of the CD that comes with the printer. You don't need to reinstall Windows...that was a common problem I saw with many less-than-seasoned tech support reps, they were too quick and happy to format your hard drive, rather than actually try and figure out the problem and solution.

Nothing like launching a nuclear ICBM, when all you need is a pistol.

HP actually loses money selling their printers, they make it back on the ink cartridges (hence the outrageous prices). Sadly though that company was ran into the ground by Ms. Fiorina. She value engineered the crap out of everything (hence the outsourced customer service) and spent the money on marketing--and of course, the the Compaq merger--all to rally the stock price not maintain the engineering excellence that built the firm. But this sort of hollowing out and value destruction is pretty common among republicans from Texas (where she was born).

Shadrach: it's not Texas Republicans. I watched a nice little manufacturing company with branches in a few states get bought out, and sold, and resold. And then to pay the shareholders on the bond issues of the (typically overly-leveraged) buyout, they dismantled the single most profitable branch of the whole company (in Washington County). It's international capitalism, I think, not that I'm advocating international socialism as a fix. But it's a helluva way to run a bunch of railroads.


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L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
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James Joyce - Dubliners
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Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
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F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
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Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
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Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
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