Beware: HP Does Not Care About Their Customers

I am going to rant a bit here…

I have always purchased HP products because I thought they were a reputable company, but my experience with them in the last week has proven to me that I could not have been more wrong about them.

We had a power outage here in Northern California which caused a surge to my computer (despite having a surge protector) and the power supply blew out. After consulting with my local computer store, I went on line to the HP site to try to get a replacement power supply. I entered the serial number of my computer and the HP Parts Store gave me a part number. I was not able to order the part from HP, however, because they said they did not have it in stock…instead I was directed to a re-seller to get the part.

The part arrived last week…and guess what? It did not fit in my computer. It was absolutely not the correct part. It was too large; not even close to being able to fit. I contacted the re-seller…who was very nice and asked me to read the part number off the old part (I had to remove the power supply from my computer to do this). Apparently the CORRECT part is not manufactured by HP, but instead of HP giving me this information on their site and having me order the correct part (which means another manufacturer would get the profit), they simply substituted in one of THEIR parts…which, as I note above, does not work.

The good news is that the re-seller is willing to ship me the correct part free of freight charges. The bad news is that the freight on the  incorrect part (which, remember, HP TOLD ME WAS THE CORRECT PART), both to get to me and to return to the re-seller, is my responsibility. And it isn’t cheap. It will cost me close to $40 in freight because of HP’s mistake.

I called HP. After being routed through three separate departments, I finally was able to talk to a snippy woman in their complaint department. Did I get an apology? No. Did I get any concession that HP was in the wrong here? No. Were they willing to compensate me in some way for the $40 freight charges I am incurring because of their incorrect information? No. Snippy complaint woman simply kept repeating over and over “If you didn’t purchase the part from us, we can’t help you.” Um…I wasn’t give the option of purchasing it from them…remember, HP told me THIS IS THE CORRECT PART, but you have to go through a re-seller. Interesting, isn’t it?

So here is the bottom line:

  • HP is subbing in their own parts so they can make money when a customer purchases their products, even if the subbed part is not a part which will work in that customer’s computer. Sounds like a scam to me.
  • HP will not take responsibility for giving false information to their customers. They are not even interested in correcting their on-line mistake…so there will undoubtedly be other customers, just like me, who will end up having to pay for HP’s poor customer service.
  • HP is rude and unapologetic to customers who get caught in this web of deceit.

Will I ever purchase another HP product? No way. And neither should you.

UPDATE: October 30, 2009 – There has been a satisfactory resolution re: this situation, which I have posted about here.

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    • Vasilly on October 26, 2009 at 10:11

    That’s awful! Thanks for posting this. I often buy HP products. I just about to leave and buy another printer from them. Reading your post has made me change my mind. Thanks again.

    • Wendy on October 26, 2009 at 10:57

    Thanks for your support, Vasilly – I was just amazed at the complete lack of caring…especially when it was THEIR site which is giving out incorrect information about products. They acted like if I didn’t buy the product from them, then I was somehow to blame. Whaaaaaat?!?!!?

  1. I had the same sort of experience with a major company that makes children’s clothes. I bought a pack of pajamas for the kid and they were terribly stitched with some holes so small that his arms couldn’t fit in and holes in the stitching in other places. I wrote them to suggest that their product quality was no longer acceptable and the woman offered me a coupon for free pajamas — IF I sent in the defective ones (at my own expense) and then they determined that they were in fact defective. This was like a $12 pack of pajamas. It would have cost me almost that much to send them in! What crappy customer service.

    I’m sorry to hear about your experience with HP. I haven’t bought anything from them for a long time only because they are quite overpriced. You can find the same quality (or better) products elsewhere for cheaper.

    • lenore on October 26, 2009 at 12:16

    I am a very loyal HP customer. Over the years I have bought 5 laptops and 3 printers from them. I am appalled at their treatment of you. I have to say, if you do not get an apology from someone at the company and compensation for their mistake, I will strongly consider taking my business elsewhere.

    Of course, usually it happens that customer service reps are not trained to deal effectively with customer complaints, and I am sorry you got such a snippy rep. When I worked in customer service in college for Viking Office Products, we were trained to KEEP our good customers, not drive them away by being inflexible. Oh how I wish the rep you talked to had been trained in the same manner.

    • Laura on October 26, 2009 at 12:16

    Aw man, I just bought TWO HP products in the past few months, because we have a nice employee purchase program where I work. Will have to keep my fingers crossed, I guess …

    • lilly on October 26, 2009 at 12:50

    I don’t buy HP because I actually did hear that they are not the best out there for the price they have. And I somehow always kept passing HP products by. Now I know why. Anyway, it’s awful how they treated you and I am never buying anything from them.

    • Teddy on October 26, 2009 at 13:56

    I am sorry for how they treated you Wendy. It seems like more and more companies are doing this now.

    • Wendy on October 26, 2009 at 14:31

    Kristen: Wow, that’s a horrible story. What is wrong with these companies?

    Lenore: You know, I would have been happy with a sincere apology and a coupon for a free ink jet re-fill for my printer…I was a bit stunned at the level of rudeness I encountered…and the customer service rep treated me like it was somehow MY fault that I bought the part through (their recommended) re-seller! This after I was told to do just that since they didn’t have the part! She was not even interested in knowing the part which is being wrongly recommended so they could fix their website…which means other customers are going to encounter the same problem I did. The fact is this is a huge company and they just simply do not care about the individual (me). I hope they lose more customers…

    Laura: Well, HP probably has dozens if not hundreds of contracts with businesses like your job…I think they are probably interested in keeping their corporate accounts happy, but if this rep was truly representative of their company, I can assure you they don’t give a s*$& about the average Joe Blow.

    Lilly: You’d think that a company that charges more for their products would feel obligated to give better service, wouldn’t you? Certainly not true in this case. I will happily give my money to someone else the next time I am in need of any electronic products.

    Teddy: Thanks – it is truly discouraging.

    • Staci on October 26, 2009 at 16:13

    Unfortunately the situation that you described applies to more than just HP. Many of these companies do this with their parts. I agree with Lenore and feel that these customer service reps are trained poorly and maybe you should speak to someone else higher in charge??

    • 3m on October 26, 2009 at 16:25

    So sorry to hear this, Wendy. Bad customer service can be sooooo frustrating.

    • Wendy on October 26, 2009 at 16:36

    Staci: Well, I actually started with a sales rep who then transferred me to a supervisor, who then informed me she does not deal with customer complaints and it was her who passed me onto the snippy complaint rep who advised me (when I asked to speak to HER supervisor) that she was the last person complaints went through. To be honest, I was on the phone (between pushing numbers for various departments, to being placed on hold, to being bounced around to all these people) for about 40 minutes. By the time I hung up, I was so annoyed and angry with the whole thing I had no desire to try to connect with anyone else. What HP is doing (and any other companies who also do this) is just bad business.

    Michelle: You got that right!

    • Lisa on October 26, 2009 at 20:36

    It is a very bad idea to make a book blogger angry! There are way too many of us and we all need computers/printers. I’m about due for a new printer. Guess who will not be getting my business?!

    • Jena on October 26, 2009 at 22:53

    Oh, that sucks. And here I was expecting a rant about their products. I’ve heard negative things about HP customer service, but have never dealt with them myself. I bought an HP printer just after I bought a new computer, because my mom had done some research and said HP was the best, and their HP printer had lasted 8 years at that point. But they were bought out in the time between my mom’s research and my buying a printer. My HP inkjet lasted 1 yr and 1 mo. And when I realized that all the problem printers at the school where I taught were HP, too, I didn’t bother calling to complain–I just switched to Epson. (I liked my Epson a LOT. Nearly cried when it finally died years later.)

    • lenore on October 27, 2009 at 04:00

    How ironic – my HP printer won’t work today. It turns on, it just doesn’t communicate with the computer anymore so I can’t print. I tried to install it on Daniel’s computer and nothing happens. USB printers are supposed to install automatically so you can’t even try to install it manually. I don’t know what the problem is. I guess my printer is too old for HP to care about (3-4 years old) because I can find no info about it, and when I put in model number and serial number in the site, they say they have no trained reps for it. I JUST WANT TO FIND OUT IF I NEED A NEW PRINTER OR NOT! How hard do they have to make it?

    Looks like I will be looking for another brand in the next couple of days…

  2. I have been caught in that same HP web, twice. I had a relatively new computer, and the motherboard failed. After arguing with me a bit, they finally replaced the motherboard–which failed again not even a year later. That time, I went through three rounds of shipping the computer back and forth between HP. They kept sending it back, either saying there was nothing wrong with it (nothing would appear on the screen correctly–not sure how that qualifies as “nothing wrong”) or that it was no longer under warranty. Finally, they agreed to send me a new computer to replace the old one. While appreciate the replacement, I went almost three months without a computer while we argued back and forth. My husband has it now. Me? I have a lovely little Toshiba!

  3. I had an HP printer that I adored. Even had to fix it once, and I’d still be using it except it was cheaper to get my new Samsung than it was to buy more toner. (Yes, we’ve become a disposable Brave New World society!)

    But I hope you guys all report them to the Better Business Bureau. You deserve to be treated better.

  4. Sometime, I don’t think companies realize the importance of customer service. I had an awful experience with Slumberland eight years ago and I still won’t buy furniture from their store. Their customer service was awful and their chosen way of compensating me (free delivery) was hardly worth the effort. Several years later, they sent me a letter saying that they were under new management and hope I would come back. Then they gave me a not so great discount off furniture (like 10% off). Excuse me, I don’t buy furniture every day and when I do, I expect great service.

    Good for you for getting the word out. I think one of these days companies will value customer service again.

  5. These are helpful rants so I am glad you posted it. Especially since I may be in the market for a new laptop soon!
    I just have to add that I had a similar experience with Dell last year, not so snippy but totally inept and the Dell that I bought my son for college had to be sent in and fixed before the warranty ran out and has since broken down again. Of course right after the warranty ran out. It’s basically a hunk of junk and it isn’t even two years old yet. I will never buy another Dell!

    • Care on October 28, 2009 at 16:16

    If you want, you may copy HP a letter that you send to your state’s attorney general… That SCAM word will get some attention. nothing may happen but you might feel better!

    • Liz on October 29, 2009 at 06:59

    We had an identical experience when it came to replacing the power supply to my daughter’s HP printer — she lost it when she came home for the summer after her freshman year. First, it was a nightmare even figuring out what she needed, then they gave the wrong info! More time lost without a printer.

    I am not an HP fan at all. I buy Canon printers. Period. And I buy Mac computers!

    • Jenners on October 29, 2009 at 16:12

    I don’t have any HP stuff and now I never will. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Kristen on October 30, 2009 at 07:30

    Why is customer service such a disaster? With people being more careful about where they spend their money, you would think that companies would care to try and help their loyal customers. Sure, some people out there are irrational but your situation should have been handled in a completely different manner, which would have made you a happy person and a continued customer. Courtesy and service seem to be a lost art (or failing that, a dying art). So sad.

    • Wendy on October 31, 2009 at 08:23

    Lisa: I agree – don’t piss off a book blogger…and it seems that HP has discovered this…they contacted me to make it right!

    Jena: I did a Google search on HP customer service and found a lot of people are griping about just what I was ranting about. Also, Dell seems to have the same issues.

    Lenore: Wow, that really sucks. And I don’t understand why it has to be so hard to get information!

    Priscilla: It really shouldn’t be this hard to get service, should it?

    Susan: I have managed to get some resolution…largely because of THIS post! HP contacted me (the executive office no less). Ah, the power of the Internet.

    Tracie: It always amazes me how little companies emphasize customer service…it seems that getting the word out has had some impact (check out my latest post about HP…apparently they decided the negative publicity was not something they wanted after all).

    Icedream: I’ve heard that Dell has issues…thanks for mentioning it.

    Care: Looks like HP has sat up and taken notice…thanks to Twitter AND the fact that this article now appears on page two of a Google search about HP and customers.

    Liz: Interesting you had the same exact problem I did!

    Jenners: You’re welcome…I think this kind of stuff needs to be out there.

    Kristen: I agree – customer service SHOULD be improving with our poor economy…but it seems worse than ever. I wonder sometimes if it is the disconnect between the people who are supposed to be helping, and the customer. Often we are talking to someone half way around the world. We don’t stand face to face with anyone anymore. Technology is not always a positive thing.

  6. The problem with HP now, as opposed to the days when they actually cared about Customers, is that they are run by a cost cutting sycophant CEO who really is nothing more than a corporate raider.

    The problem can only get worse as the priorities are 1. Shareholder profits, 2. Executive bonuses, 3. All of the above.

    Could Mark Hurd be the most toxic CEO in America?

    • Wendy on November 6, 2009 at 08:14

    Damian: I don’t know much about HP’s corporate structure…but I think many companies are driven by executive bonuses and shareholder profits…basically money…the problem with that focus is that customers are important in order to achieve those financial benefits. Moving away from customer service is never a good idea in a retail business. There are choices for consumers (especially in electronics) and consumers often “vote” with their pocketbooks!

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