Thursday, June 19, 2008

Why I buy HP

Hewlett Packard is the number one vendor of printers and scanners in the world; the number two vendor of desktops (behind Dell), the number two vendor of servers (also behind Dell)...

They're big stuff so to speak.

They also do a lot of trading on their name, and reputation; and as such, they charge a bit more than say Dell... which is why they are number two, to be honest.

Now, in terms of desktops and laptops; and sadly to an extent servers (since Carly Fiorina took over, HP service went WAY down hill); I don't think the superior reputation is entirely deserved, at least not anymore; but if there is one area of business where HP is still the top, is printers.

Honestly, I just won't bother buying a printer other than an HP, and here's why.

I've got this $499 super duper HP top of the line all-in-one printer, fax, scanner, and copier...

It's a great printer
... and it's a great copier
... and its a great scanner

Thing is though, I already have a great HP printer and a great HP scanner; and between the two, I have a half decent copier.

Unfortunately, what I don't have, is a working fax machine; because there's some kind of firmware problem on this particular printer; and you CAN'T FLASH THE FIRMWARE IN ANY WAY.

Seriously, it's a $500 network printer with its own Linux based print, fax, and web server(which is why I bought the thing by the way, so I could use network faxing) but you can't flash the firmware.

That makes absolutely no sense to me. It's insane; and with most vendors this is where I'd be telling you that it's the reason I won't be buying from them again.

From HP though, it leads directly to the reason I prefer to buy HP.

They're sending me out a new one, tomorrow morning, fed-ex, for free, with no hassle or argument.

That right there, is the reason I buy HP.

Even though I called at 9pm; I was on the phone with the support guy within minutes (actually, less than a minute after choosing printer support; but it took me maybe 2 minutes of IVR navigation to get there), and he was a native English speaker, talking to me from Portland.

The support engineer understood my problem immediately, and understood what steps I had already taken to attempt to resolve it. He agreed right off the bat, that the problem was almost certainly the firmware, and that he would probably have to replace the box; but just to get authorization he had me try one single maintenance procedure. When that one procedure didn't work, he immediately shipped me out a new printer, fed-ex.

It would be here Friday, but for the fact that I called after 6pm (I actually called them at 9pm); so instead it will be here Monday (though for an additional $30 I could have had it overnighted).

Note, I don't have to ship them the printer first, or drop it off at the depot; they're shipping me a new printer (ok, factory refurbished, but I don't care), and I'm sending the bad one back in the box they sent the new one out in.

Note also, that I didn't have to buy a special extended warranty to get this level of service; this is HP's standard "TotalCare" warranty for their printers (at least the ones that cost more than $100 anyway; I don't bother buying cheap printers, they aren't worth replacing the ink cartridges on).

Any other company, I would have been on hold for 30 minutes, only to be transferred to "Jeff", out in Bangalore...

... an aside to all those companies who offshore customer support like that: Telling the Indian guy to lie to us and say his name is "Jeff", when we KNOW he's an Indian guy in Bangalore who statistically is likely to actually be named Sunil, Rajesh, Kumar, or Muhammad (1/3 of all Indian males have one of those as part of their name. I work with a half dozen Sunils on a day to day basis); it doesn't make us feel better about talking to them, it just insults our intelligence...

Once I finally got to talk to "Jeff", he would completely ignore everything I had done, and my description of the problem, and eh would take me through his script. This isn't actually designed to SOLVE my problem, but to get rid of me in the most expeditious way possible. After being led through at least a half hour of useless BS, he would then fight me for 30 minutes, trying to get me to accept some solution other than replacing the box; or perhaps to accept that it wasn't their problem at all.

Instead, I spoke with a pleasant man in Portland, actually named Jeff; who sent me a new printer right away without arguing.

Personally, I'd say that's worth the extra few bucks.