Most of us have had the experience of calling tech support at some point. We would like to think that the person on the other end of the phone knows what they are doing. Many times they do. But, not always. My most recent experience was with HP.

My Story with HP

Several months back, I picked up an HP Color Laserjet 2600n for the office. Nice printer. Gets the job done. Except for the fact that mine had an annoying issue. Whenever I printed something in color, anything with blue in it (the color blue, purple, and various other shades) lost color for about a one inch gap vertically all the way up the sheet of paper, starting about an inch from the right side of the page. In other words, for one inch of the page, the blue toner simply does not function. The printer is under warranty. So, I call HP.

irst call was mostly as expected. I talk with the nice lady who takes down the details, gives me a case number, then passes me onto some Indian guy for some real help. The Indian guy is obviously working through a pre-written troubleshooting flow chart. He guides me through some diagnostic tests with the printer, etc etc. In the end, he blames the printer. He says the printer is causing the toner not to be properly applied to that area of the page. I would have thought the toner was the more likely issue, but I went with it. Especially because HP offered to send me a replacement printer via Fedex at no charge. They would even pay for the return shipping of my original printer back to them. I had to secure it with a credit card to make sure I didn’t keep the new printer, but that’s fine.

Then the fun part began. First printer is on its way and gets “delivered”. Well, at least that’s what Fedex says. Problem is, I have no printer and HP did not require signature confirmation. So, Fedex says “we delivered it” and I call HP and said “I ain’t got no printer, dude.” So, they take it up with Fedex and, in the meantime, send me printer #2. Printer #2 DOES arrive. Much to my dismay, however, the printer is smashed. The front cover hinge is broken and the paper tray underneath the unit is in a few pieces. At this point, I’m more frustrated with Fedex. Can’t those ass hats deliver a damn printer correctly?! So, I call HP and tell them the SECOND printer arrived in bits and pieces. They tell me to email them pictures of the damage and send it back and they will overnight a THIRD printer to me. At this point, I have 4 laser printers involved with this thing: the one I bought, the one Fedex delivered to the tooth fairy, the one that got busted, and the one being sent overnight delivery.

So, I pack up the broken printer to send it back. The new one arrives. I set it up, put my toners into it, plug it in and run a test print. The damn thing does EXACTLY the same thing. Arrgh! So, I call HP AGAIN (BTW, their number is 1-800-474-6836….I have it memorized by now) and tell them the scoop. We start troubleshooting again. He asks me the weight of the paper I use. I didn’t know…its just Staples paper. What the hell. Next he tells me to unplug the printer from the surge protector and plug it directly into the wall. Problem is that that is a colossal pain in the ass since I have no empty plugs near the printer. Besides, the printer is ON! How the hell could the electrical cause this thing not to print blue! He insists. I accidentally unplug the whole desk trying to comply and end up powering off my phone while I’m talking with him! Good thing is that he called me back about 10 minutes later. He then has me run a new diagnostic test on the printer. It does the same thing (no blue). He says it must be the toner. Its nice of HP to go the more obvious route after running through three printers for me.

When all was said and done, the new toner fixed my problem. It was the more obvious solution, but we went through a lot of effort to get to that point.

My evaluation? Fedex, you got serious issues. One printer is off in deep space somewhere – I have no idea. The other one got all busted up, probably by some Fedex employee trying to play basketball with a laser printer. As for HP, their service was actually pretty good, however I think they misdiagnosed this thing from the start and the guy was going through some REALLY stupid potential causes before arriving at the obvious. And from a business standpoint, if this is any indication, they are throwing a huge amount of money out the window due to these problems. HP is out two printers (one missing, one broken) and may lose value on the third because it is now technically a used printer. Is this just cost of doing business?

Oh yeah….HP, meet UPS.

Some REAL Stupid Ones

This site has a collection of really stupid tech support stories. Some of them are real classics:

  • Me: “The ethernet card you supplied doesn’t work under Linux.”
  • Tech Support: “Have you installed the DOS drivers?”
  • Me: “I’m using Linux, so the DOS drivers won’t work.”
  • Tech Support: “Why not?”

Once I called my local phone company to see if they were offering ADSL in my area.

  • Me: “I am calling to see if ADSL is available in my area.”
  • Customer Service: “56k? Yeah, we offer 56k.”
  • Me: “No, no. ADSL.”
  • Customer Service: “Oh, no, we quit offering 28.8k a long time ago.”
  • Me: “No, I’m talking about ADSL.”
  • Customer Service: “What city do you live in?”
  • Me: “Dalton.”
  • Customer Service: “No, we quit offering 28.8k a long time ago.”

I had trouble downloading an operating system upgrade for a PDA, so I called tech support.

  • Me: “I can’t seem to get this download to complete. What might be causing it?”
  • Tech Support: “What operating system are you running?”
  • Me: “Windows NT.”
  • Tech Support: “Well, you have to be running Windows 98 or better in order to download it.”
  • Me: “Ummm, I am. I’m running Windows NT4, SP5.”
  • Tech Support: “Are you on a PC or a MAC?”

Yeah, these are some real doosies.

Got Some? Do Tell!

Got some stories of your own? Feel free to post to comments.