Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard, roll

by francine Hardaway on August 3, 2005

Bill Hewlett, Dave Packard, roll over in your graves. Your company is finished. It may take a few years before it actually falls, but like an old tree it is rotten and already dead.

I bought my daughter�s boyfriend a laptop computer for his birthday. He�s a big gamer, and loves music, so I went to HP Shopping and ordered him a laptop specially configured for him. Lots of RAM, CD burner, the works. It didn�t arrive in time for his birthday, July 8, because after I ordered it I found out that its build date wasn�t until July 19.

So we waited and waited for it, and it finally arrived on July 22. We plugged it in, fired it up, and—it died.

We called HP tech support, which is in Bangalore, and I began the process of developing rapport with the guy on the other end. He was sweet and tried to help, and told us to plug it in and charge the battery overnight.

Another day passed. We fired it up again, and as soon as we put a CD in the drive � it died. This time my daughter got on the phone and went through all the levels of tech support. The man in Bangalore took her credit card and promised to ship another power supply, which he said was the problem. He wanted her to ship the old power supply back, and she wasn�t ready to pay for the shipping, so she kept it.

We waited a week. When the new power supply didn�t arrive, I freaked. After all, it was my gift to him. I drove fifty miles to the nearest CompUSA and bought a new one. $79.95 plus gas and time.

And then I plugged it in, and it didn�t fire up at all. Clearly the problem wasn�t the power supply. I don�t fool around with Bangalore. I call the guy who has to answer to the shareholders, because his office always has someone who gets things done for people like me who are fed up.

In Michael Hurd�s office, a very nice woman looked up our case. Clearly HP has very expensive CRM software, because every time I called it was simple for them to look up my name and find out what happened. She was very solicitous, and agreed that the machine should be replaced the next day.

Then she made a big mistake: she re-connected me to HP Shopping to execute the transaction.

It made me wish for Bangalore again. This man was on the east coast, here in the USA.
He gave me a refund on my American Express card, and then it deteriorated from there. Yes, he could sell me a machine, yes he could match the configuration, yes, he could get it there tomorrow, but I would have to pay $50 more. What the hell, I thought. I�ve gone this far. So we began the transaction. By now, I had been on the phone an hour.

I bet I gave him my credit card number three more times. He couldn�t see from screen to screen, so he had to keep asking for it again and again. He asked me three times for my address, and three times for the security number. Then he asked me for the issuing bank, so I reminded him it was an American Express card.

When he asked me for the customer service phone number on the back of the card I lost it. �What do you need that for?� I asked. He didn�t know. I gave it to him finally, worn down, blood boiling, trying to practice my yoga breathing.

He repeated the costs to me one more time. �And then it will be $82 for shipping to get it to you tomorrow,� he said at the end of the recitation. I abandoned my deep breathing. �Wait, you sent me a defective product, I have to pay more to replace it, I have to send it back to you, and you are also charging me for the shipping for the replacement?� I was stunned. This is the worst company policy I have ever experienced.

�Wait while I speak to my supervisor to see if I can get your shipping credited,� he said amiably, placing me on hold. I stayed on hold for ten minutes.

And then I hung up. If a new HP laptop does not arrive on my daughter�s doorstep this morning, I will be going back to CompUSA to buy an ACER. Goodnight Bill, goodnight Dave.

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