Meg Whitman is one of my favorite tech executives, and HP seems to be making a recovery, but I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to look at an HP product again without thinking of my horrible experience with HP Customer Support a few months ago. I wrote thoroughly about it then, but I wanted to cover it again today in hopes that you will share your similar stories, which I will try and send to an HP executive all together.
“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.”- Ray Kroc, Founder of Mcdonalds
By the genius businessman Ray Kroc’s standards, HP shouldn’t be in business. It all started on one cold winter morning…
My HP netbook had been falling apart for months from when I bought it. My Macbook Pro which was four times as old didn’t have a scratch. My phone had never even been dropped. That’s how I knew it was HP’s problem, and not mine. So I called them…
…And of course they solved the problem right away correct? Wrong. The first time I called the employee was clueless and couldn’t even tell me what model mine was. The second time, the Indian call-center worker quite literally didn’t speak english. By about the fifth call trying to find someone intelligent enough to solve my problem, I called their corporate support line and got an American English speaker. Thank god. So I was set right?
Still wrong. The American informed me that my limited warranty had just expired, and that it would cost $150 to repair the $300 computer which I used as my secondary computer. I asked her to pass me on to her supervisor, and she refused. I was stuck in the bureaucracy of corporate America.
I was extremely frustrated, so I found the number of the office of the vice president of Customer Service for HP, and called it. I wanted to kindly explain to him how I’d called about 10 times, and only one employee had been mildly helpful, but the process of reaching someone who spoke english took so long that my warranty expired. The secretary answered, and said she’d pass along my message to the executive.
I got a message the next day from a customer service man on their “elevated case” squad who offered me 50% off repairs (bringing the total cost to $75). I called him, and asked how I could put my complaint through proper channels, because I shouldn’t have to pay to repair a poorly made product. Here’s the kicker. He said that if I called anyone else in HP besides him, it would be considered “harassment” and bluntly told me that it was the end of the line. Fuming, I walked away to weigh my options.
Finally, I emailed a far more connected and influental technology blogger than I, Chris Pirllo whose site (lockergnome.com) has been operating continuously since 1996. My cry for help was answered, and he connected me with someone higher up at HP who connected me with an HP engineer. Within a month I had a replacement netbook in my hands. Was that so hard HP? No.
Meg Whitman, If you’re reading this, take a lesson and fix the truck-sized holes in your customer service system, because a company that doesn’t respect its’ customers will soon not have customers. Support is a literal word. Open the channels. Offer an email address like CEOs such as Jeff Smisek of United and Tim Cook of Apple. You’ll see the issues.
Check out the original series of posts as I struggled for help: