Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hewlett Packard's throwaway world

To someone of my generation (baby boomer) today’s “throwaway” world comes as a bit of a shock. In short if something goes wrong you don’t repair it you replace it. Indeed in some case it doesn’t even have to go wrong – just be out of fashion or lacking in the latest features. Here’s a personal and to me a particularly damning example. About fourteen months ago my two-year-old Philips ink jet printer suddenly stopped behaving properly. The chap that helps me with my computing recommended that I junk it and buy a good quality replacement and the man at PC World recommended a Hewlett Packard (HP) “All-in-one” machine. It was £250, much more expensive than similar printers but it did a lot and was from HP, one of the global leaders in computer printers, so I bought it.

A few weeks ago the HP printer started to go wrong – after just fourteen months of use. PC World didn’t want to know - I hadn’t bought extended warranty from them so they washed their hands of it and they wouldn’t even look at it – at any price. The told me to get in touch with HP. I phoned the HP “help line” who gave me three or four numbers of “authorised” repairers to call. After an hour of fruitless phoning none of HP’s recommended companies would, like PC World, even agree to look at the printer. “We don’t do that model” was the usual reply. This for a standard top-of-the range printer that was only 14 months old! So I phoned the HP “help” line again and told them what had happened. “Try the Yellow pages” said the helpful assistant! Now at this stage I suspect that less dogged customers would just have given up and thrown the bloody thing away. But I decided to persevere and eventually found an HP repair specialist who agreed to look at the machine – in return for a diagnostic service payment of £52! A day or so later they phone back to tell me that the printer head was faulty and that it couldn’t be repaired at all.

When I wrote to HP’s UK MD to tell him the story (baby boomers don’t drop things lightly and we can’t bring ourselves to throw things away - especially when they are little more than a year old) instead of a detailed written reply I got a phone call from a oxymoronically named “Customer Service” assistant who informed me that as the printer was out of warranty there was nothing that they could do (I paraphrase, but only a bit)! He could give me some phone numbers to try…! Of course these were the same numbers that I had fruitlessly called a week earlier – as the Afghan proverb has it “Life moves in circles”!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home