Hewlett-Packard in need of Repair

My stomach does a flip-flop whenever a legendary American company takes a nose dive. Hewlett-Packard Company dove deep in front of my very eyes. I am dumbfounded and so disappointed. I want good things for this venerable company.

Take a step back in time with me. In the ’70’s, HP designed and manufactured sophisticated equipment that I used at Rice and at Collins Radio / Rockwell International. This equipment was exquisite, reliable – the best in the world in my “humble opinion”. I interviewed at HP for a job as a design engineer at HP’s Analyzer Products Division in Loveland, Colorado in 1979, and I almost said, “OK – I’ll take it!”  I recall being walked past the manufacturing assembly lines in the factory there, and while the HR manager and the hiring manager were trying to tell me how advanced their manufacturing facilities were pointing continuously to my left, I was looking to my right at the spectacular mountains through the panoramic floor to ceiling windows – at that moment, I couldn’t have cared less about the manufacturing operation, and perhaps the HR manager knew precisely what I was thinking… I have a deeply held high regard for HP.

Now, back to the here and now.  My P3005dn LaserJet printer failed several weeks ago, and I am appalled at how HP has changed and how poorly I was treated by this company.

  • HP laser printer product reliability is poor – the lifetime in years can be counted on one hand – every HP printer my company has owned has suffered early failures or died;
  • Tech Support results can be wildly different; call #1 to Tech Support: “This is your problem at your expense – go to a a local repair center.”; call #4 to Tech Support: “There is a service bulletin about this problem and your printer. We’ll repair this at no cost to you.”
  • New repair parts could be refurbished parts – I paid for several NEW parts, not refurbs – but I received some parts that were refurbished parts;
  • Repair parts received were not always functional with a 50% DOA rate – every repair part should be tested 100% good;
  • Repair parts shipped did not match the part number ordered – the label on the board should match the label on the box should match the part number ordered EVERY TIME;
  • Tech support staff were not confident, nor were they knowledgeable or effective – save someone named Franco;
  • Static precautions were not practiced on site – I hope they are practiced elsewhere at HP;
  • Customer care organizations were silos isolated from one another;
  • No one wanted to own my customer problem except for Franco and a “mission-oriented” staff member named Paula;
  • Commitments to follow-up failed time and again – no one ever called me back regardless of the promises made;
  • Information delivery was consistently poor and inaccurate – bad case numbers, order numbers, RMA numbers, tracking numbers, etc…

I called the HP headquarters to complain, and I asked to speak to an executive relations team.  The person who answered in that group informed me that they were there to represent consumer products and not commercial products, and that my printer was a commercial product, so they could not help me. My assumption was that an executive would call HP with commercial product issues, and not consumer product issues – well, what do I know… And I guess a LaserJet printer is not a consumer product – well, like I said, what do I know…

HP’s customer service group that supports LaserJet printers is in Costa Rica. I like Costa Rica and the people there – they are happy and friendly, but they would not be my choice for front-line customer support for high-tech products. “I don’t know…” “Maybe…” “Ohhh…” “We can’t see those records…” “We are limited in our resources…” “We don’t have that authority…” “The supervisor is in a meeting…” “The supervisor will be in the office tomorrow…” “We can’t process a refund here…” “Oh dear, what is this? I don’t understand what I am seeing…” “I am unable to see your case number…” Nothing in these remarks gave me any confidence in the ability or commitment of these people.

HP made good on a no cost, on-site printer repair today – so far, so good.  But, I was appalled at how I was treated, at the lack or expertise, authority, and interest, and at the shameful slide of product quality, customer care quality and commitment to the customer. I expected much more from this legendary company. THEY are in need of repairs… I hope someone can “fix” this legendary company before it disappears from the American culture of high-tech garage start-ups and “can-do” spirit.

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