This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 12, 2006 12:59 AM. The previous post in this blog was Roy G. Biv. The next post in this blog is Says it all. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

HP customer service: Ain't nobody home

We were having another problem with the clunky software that runs our Hewlett-Packard printer-scanner unit tonight. I've never had any luck with HP software; the one HP Pavilion computer we bought about 10 years ago turned out to be a disaster, and I swear it was due to the goofball "shell" that they had installed around Windows to keep you from actually using Windows directly, because you are so stupid. The last time the drivers on our printer-scanner went out, I wound up on the phone with some dude in India for a couple of hours -- I kid you not. But if the thing won't work, what can you do? I called their technical support again tonight.

It was a hysterical experience, but I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. I'll put aside the fact that some of the people who serve this function for HP can't speak English very well. The real scream was the lengthy wait to which I was subjected after agreeing to pay $30 to talk to a human being.

I was put on hold for more than a half hour before I gave up. The robot kept coming on to tell me to try their free website instead, but I had already done that, to no avail, and hey, lady, they're charging me 30 bucks for this call.

Finally I decided not to stand for any more of this, and so I hung up, called back, and demanded that the call be canceled and my credit card not be charged. The second clerk's English was so bad -- or at least, that's what she was acting like -- that she could not quite comprehend that request. And so she put me on hold again.

Eight minutes later, I was disconnected, and so I called again. Got the same gal. The same elevator music while I waited some more. We're now nearly an hour into the process, and after about five more minutes of this, I hung up and called back for a fourth time. This time I got a man, who sized up the situation pretty quickly and told me he was connecting me to the "refund department."

Another wait -- just a few minutes this time -- and I got a technician who, after putting me on hold for about five more minutes, came back on and told me that I'll be getting a refund of my $30. Oh, and get this -- later today someone from HP's going to call me to verify the refund. I'm sure they'll be calling to try to talk me out of it, just as the first gal tried to talk me into a $55 extended warranty.

Excuse me, dudes and dudettes, but I don't need anyone from HP to call me back on this one. Just don't charge me the 30 clams when you never answered my question.

Given the sketchiness of the entire enterprise, I'm sure that that 30's going to be on my credit card bill. The chances of the last guy knowing how to issue me a refund, and actually doing it, don't seem good. And so I guess I'll have to tell the whole tale of woe to my credit card company.

HP brags about its "award-winning customer care." Unless we are talking about some sort of comedy award, it's hard to imagine what sort of recognition this sorry operation could actually merit. Hey, HP bigwigs, you want to snoop around people's phone records? Take a look at case no. 7334877187. And don't take my 30 bucks.

Comments (13)

Jack:We were having another problem with the clunky software that runs our Hewlett-Packard printer-scanner unit tonight.
JK: Welcome to the club. After several days of successfully scanning C&E reports at city hall, my computer refused to scan with my HP scanner/printer/fax that I take to such places to scan documents. I re-installed the software without any problem and it still wouldn’t operate. Got that: it installed OK and then wouldn’t work.

I went home and called HP. They demanded money to talk to me, even after hearing that it installed OK and refused to work. Since I had just re-installed everything on that laptop, I just wiped the drive and started over and it worked.

Later I ran into a HP sales person at Fry’s and told him the story. He asked if I was using zone alarm and mentioned that it can interfere with USB. That was probably the problem as I had installed zone alarm the night before.

As a result, when I bought my lap top, I didn’t even consider HP and will not in the future.

PS: Canon makes great printers and if you choose carefully you can get models with cartridges that are easily refillable. Their BCI-3e and BCI-6e cartridges are just tanks that you open up an existing hole in the top and refill. Costs about 1/10 what buying cartridges cost. (HP & others added a chip to their cartridges to prevent this) I have several Canon printers and have literally put gallons of ink through them.

When you cancel a print on these Canons, they actually stop printing, unlike HP.

HP burned bridges with me.
Who else won’t be buying HP again?


I think my problem had to do with the power failures we've been having in Portland during the heavy rainstorms of the past week and change. And given the hellacious wind that's supposed to bear down on us later today, there may be lots more of that coming.

I learned the lesson you are learning many years ago. It's not just HP.

Anyway, I've had great luck searching the net for sites and newsgroups discussing the exact hardware/software problems I have. Invariably, I find very detailed discussions and fixes for these sorts of problems allowing me to fix the problem and break out of dependency on the largess of the money grubbing corporations.

You are a smart guy, Jack, you can get to the bottom of the problem without HP.

You would think that with HP Ink selling at $1,800. a Gallon (in cartridge form) they could afford some better help.

Ahhhh I cannot resist the urge to use this as a counter argument to all the people who insist, "If government only ran like corporations...." THEN we'd be happy!!!

So, does it work NOW?

My sister (one of three) found love at HP.

Just let me know? Really. My goto guy can't help me make a Samsung printer work on Fedora Core 6 or write a program to operate a production Fujitsu scanner on an old, old Mac (like I can and did) but he can bring a smile and experience with loads of windows-printer anomalies, and perhaps a bottle of wine rather than whine.

HP has a java-based (not tied to windows) solution for managing printers (HP Web Jetadmin). I used it to help make use of an old auction-purchased laserjet with a funky old JetDirect card, where I had to change it's IP address.

Some folks are well suited, by temperament, to offer customer service. I would not be in that category. Perhaps they save the best for in-house fixes, at the beck and call of the important folks.

I had about the same problem with Dell's customer service after they moved to call centers in India. You would think that the language barrier (they barely speak English) would keep them from doing that, but in the end its all about money.

But, remember there are just about as many problems that they have with customers too. My dad used to work at a Visioneer scanners call center when it was in Klamath Falls. (they have since moved overseas as well)
He has just as many crazy stories about customers. (one that stands out is a customer who bought a scanner to copy old photos, but didnt own a computer!)

Don't worry Jack, just give those little girls of yours a couple more years and they will fix it for you. The kids are so adept at this stuff from networking about "cheat codes" to beat the popular video games, and reveal hidden features and shortcuts. When I run into problems I just call one of my teenage kids over. Just make sure you pay them or give them some reward so they stay interested, and you will never be at the mercy of HP again.

Oh great, just bought an HP printer. But it's a small b/w laser that does nothing but print. Simpler is better? We'll see.

Now going through another hassle with Earthlink - they lost all my favorites and the two Google search panels I've had on the homepage since August are still there... Their vaunted customer service system has been fairly worthless.

One improvement all these vendors could make would be to have, at the least, authorized local reps who knew the hard/software and to whom one could take the damned CPU and have it all cleaned up. Kinda hard to do a real time correction with a dial-up.

I have now fixed my latest HP problem. But it was no thanks to them...

I was sold an HP 1500 scanner/copier/printer by some hotshot at Office Depot a few months ago and though the thing works fine, it goes through ink faster than a frat house through a keg. I'm buying a new cartridge every couple of weeks and I never use anything but draft mode. Anybody wants a $79 printer, et. al, I'll sell it for about $25.

I possess an American Express card for the sole purpose of dealing with crap like Jack's $30 charge for talking to non-existent support. I've found Amex goes to bat for you. You dispute a charge, they check it out and the burden of proof is on the corporation. Several years ago, when my dial up ISP was down for a couple of days, I foolishly stuck in an AOL CD and signed up. Then after a month or two of not using AOL, I decided to stop the automatic withdrawals coming out of my Amex card. Though I signed up with AOL on-line, I had to call a special phone number to unsubsribe. And when I called, the phone was never ever answered. So I called Amex and they took care of the charges and gave me a differen phone number--not the one on the AOL web site--to call to get rid of the account.

Of course, now, I suppose, even Amex probably sucks. I haven't had an occasion to call on them again.

I just had the same problem. Gave them my credit card number, they gave me a case number and said they were charging my credit card $39, but I've been disconnected no less than 6 times and have never been able to talk to a tech support human being. Now it's after 5:00 and I'm supposed to call back in the morning. I'm usually not in favor of much government regulation of business, but I think this sort of thing is outragous, it is going to be a hassle to either get what I paid for or get my money back, and some draconian regulation of companies like HP is warranted.

I bought a HP DVD840v at WalMart a few weeks
ago. It worked fine for two weeks, then Windows XP Home stopped recognizing it. When
I inplugged the USB cable and re-connected it windows said it not recognized and malfunctioning. After a 45 minute wait on HP's customer disservice line I was told HP
had a special phone number ( NOT toll free ) for handling DVD840 problems (not good news). After a 30 minute wait on the new number, I got a service rep who walked me through a long series of registry changes. It cured the
problem and the service rep assured me it was a permanent fix. The next day it did it again! Same symptoms. Called the HP number for DVD840 again and after another 30 minute wait I was told to call back later when their California factory was open and they would put me through to a tech at the factory. Two more 30 minute waits. The tech didn't have a clue how to fix the problem. Asked me to uninstall system USB drivers, uninstall other software, try another computer etc. Finally gave up in disgust. Told tech I was not going to troubleshoot HP's problem on my time and on my phone bill. The DVD writer goes back to WalMart tomorrow. Will tell WalMart to reconsider offering HP equipment in their stores!

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