Here’s a good one. Change the cartridge on my HP deskjet printer this morning. I notice the cartridge light keeps blinking. I reread the directions. Yeah, looks like I did it right. I take it out and put it in. No go. I do this about 5 times, lest I should not be pushing it hard enough or something. Clearly this just ain’t gonna happen.
I call HP support. They’ve changed the number in their packaging. Call our new toll-free number they say cheerfully. Great, I’m thinking. Love that no-charge stuff. Call them. Voice-recognition answering stuff takes a while, tells me when I “speak” my model number that my item is out of warranty; some more rigamarole and at last I get to a person…
He wants me to give him the serial number. Where is it, I ask? On the back. I l say okay, I have to unstack my stuff (my fax sits on top of the printer quite nicely), pull the thing out from its cubby and turn it around. No. it’s not on the back. Then, juggling the phone while this guy waits I have to turn the thing upside down and hold it that way–I’m stretched quite ungracefully across my desk–to get him the S/N.
I give it and I ask him, so what do you need the S/N for? Oh, so we can confirm this is an HP printer and whether it is definitely out of warranty.
He then explains again that item is out of warranty and proceeds to launch into a lengthy explanation of my support options–several of which require payment. I don’t have the patience to let him drone on, so I say, you’ve heard this problem a thousand times I bet, you know the answer, don’t you, and they’re making you read this thing? He didn’t respond.
I ask what’s the website address? He gives it and I log on as I say my last words to him: Okay, Joe, I’ll see what I can find on your website but if I can’t solve this pretty quickly, I’m throwing the damn printer out because it’s not worth this hassle.
Fortunately, I find the answer to my clearly-well-known problem without too much trouble–though the instructions are not all that helpful–and finally get the thing working. That’s when I start telling a friend my experience in response to his email–when I realize this is something I should share with others so they can be prepared for this sort of encounter when they call HP for help.
This reminds me of a customer service experience I had with Dell two years ago. They asked me what programs I wanted on my new computer–and proceeded to sell me a copy of Microsoft Office that didn’t even contain PowerPoint!! It was back and forth before they got finished getting me what I should have had in the first place–all because they didn’t train their front line people to ask what the customer wanted to DO with their new Dell Computer.
I laugh now because a year later they’ve initiated their new sales campaign: “We ASK you what you want to do with your computer and make sure you get what you need.” Hallelujah. Guess it was costing too much money to take orders without thinking…