19 December 2007

HP Customer Service - Some Rights And Some Wrongs

Two years ago, I signed a 24-month MaxOnLine contract at Sitex and got a free Compaq Presario PC. Well, it was not exactly free because I opted for better specifications, a bigger 19-inch LCD monitor, as well as a 3-year extended warranty.

That turned out to be a smart move because near to the end of the first year, the PC's automated SMART (pardon the pun but it stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology) reported that the hard disk was in danger of imminent failure. It further advised that important files should be backed-up and the hard disk be replaced as soon as possible.

As first-year service was on-site, I called the HP Customer Service Hotline and a service personnel was sent to my home within one or two days. The service was impressive and efficient. Ever since the replacement of the hard disk, the SMART message did not appear again.

However, two weeks ago, my PC gave this occasional error message on boot up:


Whenever that happened, the PC would shut down automatically.

As the PC was already 2 years' old, I had to "carry it in" for service. This I did on Mon 10 Dec 2007:


The service centre was quite crowded and there was an estimated queueing time of more than half-an-hour. Luckily there was a very thoughtful "quick drop" service so I deposited my PC there. I asked the counter staff how long it would take to repair my PC. She said that it would take 3 to 5 working days. She also said that HP would call me once the repair was done.

Hmm... so far so good. And to top it all, HP even gave customers who drove a complimentary parking ticket:


But alas! My good impression of their service did not last very long.

On Thu 13 Dec 2007, I called them to find out if my PC was ready for collection. "Not yet, we are still investigating" came the reply.

Alright, it was only 3 days. Maybe it was a complicated problem. So I called them again 2 days later. This time, I was put on hold and made to listen to music for almost 10 minutes until the line was cut-off. I called them again and another staff answered the call. She again put me on hold for a long time.

It seemed like the longer the wait, the shorter my temper became. I hung up and called a third time. This time I lost my temper and almost shouted into the phone, "Don't put me on hold again! Both times I waited until the line was cut off!"

"Sir, but it was a different person who took your call", came the not-too-apologetic reply. "You can call the desktop service department directly at this number xxxxxxxx."

"Why didn't your colleagues give me this number earlier?" I asked angrily.

I called the number given and to my surprise, I received a voice message saying "We are sorry, we are closed for the day. Our operating hours are from 9am to 12.30pm on Saturdays..." I looked at my watch and it was 12.40pm. Dammit.

I called the Hotline again immediately and spoke to the same guy who answered my call earlier.

"Oh ya, they are already closed. I will ask them to call you first thing on Monday morning," he said nonchalantly.

Monday came and no call was received by late morning so I called them again.

I said, "What's taking you so long to repair a simple fan fault? If I sent my PC to Sim Lim Square for repair, I would have got it back within half an hour."

"Sorry, we have a lot of repair jobs at this time. I will ask them to expedite the repair of your PC."

I called them again today and demanded to know the repair status of my PC. Again they promised to get the engineer to call me.

Thank goodness, this time an engineer named Bryan (or Brian?) did call me back. He explained that he tried switching on the PC for about 10 times but never encountered the said problem at all. I said that I encountered the problem about 50 percent of the time and have a photo (first photo above) to prove it. He said that he was not doubting my account but only called to clarify the matter. He said it was not necessary to see the photo and he would replace the CPU fan for me as a precautionary measure. But the next day was Hari Raya Haji and they were not working, so I guess I could expect to wait a few days more.

Sigh, 10 days on and I am still without my PC. This partially explains why I have been blogging infrequently during this period. I am using a 7-year-old slow and archaic Pentium III PC to blog this entry.

This bad service experience certainly negated all the good service previously provided by HP. And to make matters worse, I recently re-contracted my MaxOnLine for 28 months and they would be giving me a Compaq Presario laptop for $299. However, I will have another long wait until after Feb 2008 to get it because the stocks have run out due to "overwhelming response". I do not intend to take up extended warranty for the laptop as I now know that the word "extended" applies more to the waiting period for repairs than to the warranty itself.

HP, in a tie-up with Starhub, has been "giving away" many "free" PCs and desktops. It is inevitable that some of these hardware would need service and repair within the warranty period. Obviously, HP's service centre has not been beefed up to cope with the increased demand. It should rectify this critical situation as soon as possible. If not, its service level and reputation would surely suffer.

Could HP be biting off more than it could chew? Currently, it should not claim to have a turnaround time of "3 to 5 working days" for service and repair jobs, at least not in my case.

25 comments:

etel said...

Now I know why you are my GD, because my pc BROKE DOWN TOO a few days ago. (Am blogging with my sis pc now) But I'm worst off, my pc could not be repaired at all. Most prob the whole motherboard is gone. Sob.

Anyways, could have told me about this issue. Since its a small prob, maybe you can drop it at my side and I'll get VL to repair for you. Oops. Already treating him like a coolie =x

Merry Advance Xmas to you GD and family!

Victor Leong said...

Hi Uncle Vic,

I can understand your feelings. Being in the support line myself, speed + quality are always very important to customers. Of course, quality is more important than speed, if I have to choose. And we learnt to always underpromise and (sometimes) overdeliver.

I did call Panasonic Singapore in order to enquire about some industrial parts, and I got transferred and bounced at least 5 times by their customer service line. Not exactly the best service but I think I've set a benchmark quite high (from my own working experience) :P

Anyway, i think PC can self built ah. Next time ask your son to learn to service it. haha

Lam Chun See said...

Nowadays, in Spore, service people don't seem to be very keen to repair things. Usually they will take the easy way out and tell you to get a new one

But don't take their word for it! I have experience but story too long to tell.

My experience with Acer service centre is slightly better. But I think HP products are more robust.

Lam Chun See said...

For those who drive, HP Service Centre is really quite user-unfriendly. Once I forgot to bring a cash card and searched everywhere and could not find a shop selling them. In the end paid cash to the security guard and used his card. Acer is much better. You park free next to the guard house and immediately beside that is the service centre.

Hee .. no wonder we have to wait so long to see you Taiwan photo.

tigerfish said...

It is HP-Invent, not HP- Repair...ler!:P
But again, I thot they are quite "known" for their support and service.

That having to wait for customer service, and having a different customer service each time you call, wAHHH....sounds like in the States leh! Ha!

peter said...

Have u check out DELL? Some say product now so good in quality but I think kost brands are. The important thing is the service when things dont go your way.

I am very surprised at the "high standard" set by DELL. I got the usual 3 year warranty (on site). One call at the 1800 line, I was put to Bayan Lepas in Penang. The support people promised to come the next working day to my place and sure they showed up and even telephoned me to check whether I was at home at the appointed time.

Today I think their service is better than other vendors. Recently I got stuck with some software issues. Also covered under 3-year warranty. One call to their 1800 line, they askedm me for permission "to take control of my PC" by remote means. Huh? What's that I asked? Then I realised from far away in Penang the support guys were operating the PC as if I was the one doing it. They troubled shoot everything for me and took out all the bad files.....Best of all they stayed on the telephone with me all the time.

For the price I paid DELL for my first PC, I bought a second one and I do recommend DELL to people who are conscious of after-sales service.

Nowdays when you call anybody like a bank, mobile phone company, a hotel or a spa, chances are you cant understand what sort of English the operator is speaking.

I know some "English are better than others" but there's a kind of English now practised in Singapore where I cannot understand what the other person is saying.

It is not Filipina English (I still think Filipinos are better native speakers of English), nor Indian English but "Ah Lian Engrish" spoken by Singapore Chinese and Singapore Malays.

Nowdays I usually ask them whether the call-center is in the Philippines (Cebu or Subic Bay), Mumbai or Kuala Lumpur.

You should all try this and if it's from Philippines or Kuala Lumpur, you sure can understand the nicest and sweetest English ever spoken for a long long time.

peter said...

I dread the day when you call our civil service or the hospital and someone there cocks-up the whole matter!

Even PRC people speak better English than us; with a slang too (BBC or American).

peter said...

Why dont you goggle search for Talking cock.com and look out for RUBY PAN at the Old Parliment House. She is a good imitator of all kinds of English....BBC English to Singapore Ingrish

Victor said...

GNE - Gulp... the malfunctioning of your PC has got nothing whatsoever to do with GD, I assure you. But I would certainly like to strike 4D and Toto together with your lucky dad. Haha.

Victor said...

Mr VL, my namesake - How I wish I was served by someone like you at HP. I just called them again. I will be lucky if I could get my PC back by the end of this year.

Hmm... I am confused. My GNE says I can make use of your services but now you are telling me to ask my son to do it?

Victor said...

Chun See - I can't vouch for HP being more robust. Within 2 years, there are already 2 repairs. On the other hand, my Datamini PC is 7 years old now but it broke down only once - power supply kaput. It even lasted longer than the company itself. Haha.

Victor said...

Tigerfish - States also like that ah? Yah, I remember hearing horror stories of people who wanted to terminate their Internet connection but was put through a gruelling interrogation process. Haha.

I particularly hate those automated answering systems where you got to navigate through "if you are enquiring about ABC, press 1; if you want to XYZ, press 2..." and so on. Then they ask you to key in your mobile phone number but later, the operator asks for it again!

But that's another story.

Victor said...

Peter - Guess I will try out Dell the next time I have to buy my own PC or laptop. Right now they are freebies so I guess I will have to live with HP's service.

Your comments about the poor standard of English spoken by service staff here is indeed timely. Did you see Pg 32 of today's Today newspaper? There is a letter from a reader complaining about the same issue, except that she is complaining about the English spoken by foreigners.

Victor Leong said...

Uncle vic> my apologies, i think i missed that line in ur entry :P of course if im free i can help. no worries.

Victor said...

VL - Noted. Thanks for the offer. Next time I will look you up, hehe.

HP Customer Service said...

You are not the only one who has problems with HP customer service.

I will never in my life buy an HP product from HP again. If I want something HP makes I'll buy it from a reseller...let them deal with HP.

Victor said...

HP Customer Service - LOL, for a moment there, I thought that the real HP Customer Service commented, especially when what you said seemed to gel with the unsatisfactory HP customer service level we encountered.

I read your experience with HP. Yours does seem to be much worse than mine. Looks like this problem with HP occurs all over the world. (I am in Singapore and I believe you are in US.)

HP Customer Service said...

Victor, I am just trying to make sure everyone realizes what kind of "service" they can expect from this company before they buy anything. If I would have known I would have purchased from some other company...one that actually cares about their customers.

Victor said...

HP Customer Service - Yes, I can understand how you feel. Besides HP, I have also been a victim of poor customer service here and there.

Anonymous said...

I've just had the worst experience I have ever had with tech support for any company I have ever dealt with. I bought an In-Home service plan, which HP support "couldn't find". So my computer was not working for 2 months when I had paid for a plan that guaranteed service within 3 business days. I've taken this all the way to the CEO...answer: Too bad, we're sorry but we cannot compensate you in any way. DON'T EVER BUY AN HP SERVICE PLAN...BETTER YET DON'T BUY HP PRODUCTS PERIOD!

Victor said...

Hi Anonymous, I am sorry that you've had a problem with your HP computer but there's nothing we can do about it. (That sounds like a line from HP Customer Service, doesn't it?)

Just curious, are you talking about Singpore's HP Customer Service?

cheap computers said...

The construction on this PC is amazing, but with its $7000 price tag we’re not sure we’re ready to upgrade just yet.

Anonymous said...

yfredfish:

I have a complaint and I want HP to make it right. Here's my experience:

I bought the computer in Best Buy on March 9, 2009. The system worked for five months. In August I turned it on and it started to smoke. I called Best Buy and they told me to bring it in. On that advice, I packed it up in the original box with keyboard, mouse and instructions.

I went to Best Buy/Geek Squad (when?). They looked at it without opening the system case - the keyboard and mouse remained in the box. Best Buy Service/Geek Squad said that there nothing they could do and they picked up the unit and sent it to HP. A few days passed and I got a call to come in to pick up the system. When I got to the Geek Squad service desk, they said that the unit had not been returned, that I had to call HP service, and they gave me the number.

When I called HP service, they said that the service was not covered because the CPU was damaged and the CPU was not covered under the warranty. However, I never handled the CPU in any way. Best Buy Service/Geek Squad also never handled the CPU in my presence. So the HP service person lied to me. They also quoted the cost to fix the system as more than the original price of the unit. Of course, I said to not fix the unit but please send it back.

When I picked the unit up at Best Buy Service/Geek Squad, they showed me the damaged CPU. The CPU was clearly damaged physically and not by any electrical or thermal event (photo attached) - the pins were spotless but bent. As I mentioned above, the CPU was damaged since the time it left my hands at Best Buy and the time it was returned to me, and not by me. HP charged me for the shipping $35.00 back to Best Buy. The system was returned without the box, keyboard, mouse, or instructions! Geek Squad said they threw them away but then gave me replacements. Also, when I examined the system at home, I also noticed that the disk drive was loose and there were missing cables.

I was very dissatisfied with the service and called HP directly. HP asked me to send the unit to a different address. This time the system was held at the repair facility for a month. I was told that parts were being ordered for the unit. When I received the unit back again, nothing had been done except for more damage! The unit was not fixed, The CPU that HP service had damaged remained damaged, and the same excuse for not fixing it was used – that the CPU was damaged. Again, HP service had damaged the CPU and the cause of the problem – and smoking motherboard – was ignored. Now, there was a new dent in the back of the unit, screws that were missing from the unit and that the power supply was loose.

I've never heard of such treatment. It was unacceptable for HP to damage the CPU and then blame me for it. It is unacceptable for HP to charge me more to fix the unit that it originally cost. It is unacceptable for HP to intentionally damage the CPU just so you don't have to pay for the repair of the unit. It is unacceptable for HP to say they will not fix the unit and then charge to send it back. It is unacceptable for HP charge me to send back the system after they damaged it. Also, it was just negligent for Geek Squad to keep the box, keyboard, mouse, and instructions that came along with the unit.

I want HP to fix this unit, or to give me a replacement unit. If that is not possible, I want HP to refund the money that I paid for the unit because the unit is now not usable at all. I expect a response from your office within two weeks or I will call “7 On Your Side” to make my dissatisfaction as public as I can.

You also might talk to your service folks about how to conduct business to keep your customers. But it is too late for me. Unless you make this right for me, I'll never buy a HP product again.

Outsource Call Center said...

Oh' what a terrible experience was that. "If only companies realized how important providing good customer service is to their current customers they perhaps would strive to get it right." I believe that companies need to provide customer service for them to increase your sales and make the customer satisfied with your services. Anyway, thanks for sharing.

-fern-

HP Technical Support Number said...

Nice Blog ,Thanks for Sharing the information.Customer Satisfaction is very important to grow up the business.