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Customer service, the wrong way

What is it with companies? Do no executives ever bother to try and use their own customer service departments? Kim’s having a problem at the moment getting anything like sense out of some big, big companies.

Take, for example, HP. With her new printer came a disc with around 400Mb of cruft on it. Exclusive offers, trial software, all kinds of stuff that, because she’s an experience computer user, she neither wants nor needs. The first sin was that there was no simple option to just install the drivers. But the second one was that when Kim emailed support asking if there was a place to download just the drivers – thus spending her own valuable time trying to fix this stupid problem – she go back the following.

Dear Kim, Thank you for contacting HP Total Care.

I understand that is there any other way to install just a limited set of drivers for imaging software.

I first appreciate your time for providing us an opportunity to serve you. However,I assure you that there is no need for any concern and I shall be glad to provide you complete assistance.

After massive research on the issue, I am sorry to say that there is no other possible way to install the limited software.As, all the software program for the drivers is linked with one another.

I am sure this should resolve the issue. However, please reply to this message with the results if it persists. We shall be glad in assisting you further with it.

Sincerely,HP Total Care.

There’s two things that are horrible about this. First of all, it’s clearly either someone with no grasp of English, or an automated “expert system” response. Either way, it’s crass. Secondly, it’s just plain wrong. My own “extensive research” on the subject turned up a basic driver package within minutes. OK, not entirely basic – it’s still 180MB, which isn’t exactly small for a driver – but better than 400MB.

So, basically, HP customer service provided patronising, badly-written gibberish which was also incorrect.

Customer service isn’t easy. Even when you get things right, you rarely get much written about it. But there’s no excuse for this kind of awfulness. Over the past year, I’ve probably bought close to a £1000’s worth of HP equipment – but this will be the last time I do. If the company can’t be bothered to do the basics of customer service right, I have little reason to think that they’re any less sloppy with product design or manufacture.

Doing good customer service, on the other hand, gets you loyalty from me. A few years ago, I ordered some memory from Crucial. At about 4.30 the same day, I had a call from a Crucial representative who told me that there’d been a problem with my order, read back all its details (so I knew it was genuinely a Crucial person) and then asked me if I could confirm the expiry date on my credit card. It turned out that, as the representative thought, I’d put the wrong date in – so the order hadn’t gone through. We corrected the details, and I recieved the memory first thing the next day – she actually upgraded the post on my order to ensure that I’d receive it when I needed it.

That’s why, even though they’re not cheap, I always use Crucial for memory, and always recommend them to people. They took the time to get things right, and for the cost of that phone call, they’ve picked up a lot of business as a result.

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  • James Wallis

    My latest experience with HP drivers, a couple of years ago, involved a ghastly suite of proprietary image-viewers, photo-editing tools, fax software, OCR and the like, none of which I wanted and none of which worked particularly well, but which were necessary to install to get the printer to work. These weren’t crippleware versions of commercial products from other manufacturers, these were HP’s own. Not only were they not as good as the tools I already had, they were so bloated that the suite takes thirty seconds to load on my PC.

  • http://www.recedinghairline.co.uk Christopher Phin

    Having reviewed swathes of inkjet printers recently, I can confirm that HP is the worst offender for this sort of thing. That said, on the Mac at least, there is a ‘customise’ option in the installer to weed the crap out.

    And Crucial will always get my business too; you’re right that they’re not the cheapest, but the price difference is usually negligible, and you can’t beat them for value for money. I ordered RAM from them after 5:30 at one point, and it was on my desk the next morning when I arrived at work. Plus, they’re based in Scotland and have very sweet PR girls…