Thursday, February 7, 2008


HP Customer Service is Horrible

My recent experience with the HP customer service department made me decide to put this site up to share my horrible experience and allow others who have dealt with HP's customer service group to do the same. I don't even think HP and customer service should be used in the same sentence unless there's a "poor" or "horrible" included.

My wife and I run a small tech company together. In December of 2007 we decided it was time to upgrade our laptop and printer and decided to spend about $3,000 with HP for a new laptop and printer. My issue here is with the printer so the rest of this entry will focus on that part of my buy.

I'll start by saying I like the printer, a HP LaserJet CM1017 Color Laser Multifunction (copy + scan) printer, but would never recommend buying it from HP direct like I did. HP treats customers like garbage.

I ordered the printer and it was delivered on December 26, 2007. The price, not including tax or shipping was $699.00. In mid January I happened to be on the HP site looking for toner for the printer and noticed the printer was now on sale for $449 - 35% less than what I had paid just a few weeks earlier. I was busy so I made a note to follow up with HP when I had a little more time knowing that things like this (credits/refunds) always take some time since they have to be done over the phone and usually involve speaking with at least few people + spending some time on hold. I also figured that like other major retailers a few days wouldn't make a difference, they would make sure to take care of their customers. Boy was I wrong.

I first called HP customer service on January 24, 2008. It was obvious the person I was speaking with was not in the US. He was hard to understand and seemed to have a hard time understanding me. That's ok though, I've dealt with dozens and dozens of customer service/tech support folks from over seas in the past 10 years and am used to dealing with the language barriers. I explained my story and asked what HP's price protection policy was. He proceeded to tell me - about 5 times - that the would issue a credit/refund if a customer contacted them within 31 days of the order date. He looked up my order and since it was January 24 I was outside of the window. I explained to him that the printer went on sale in less than 31 days, I just had not had an opportunity to call. He was adamant there was nothing he could do so I asked for a supervisor.

I was on hold for about 10 minutes before the supervisor picked up, listened to my story, and told me the policy was actually 21 days from the date the product was delivered, not ordered. I indicated the last HP customer service I spoke with told me 31 days from the order date (not delivery date) 5 times and if she didn't believe me listen to the recording. She refused to believe that was true and continued to tell me I must have misunderstood. I said fine, I misunderstood. Let's get past that and get on with issuing a credit. She proceeded with the "your past the 21 day deadline so there's nothing we can do for you" line the previous customer service rep had given me. I explained to her that the printer had gone on sale within the price protection window I just had not had an opportunity to call and assumed it would not be that big of a deal. I mean I'm dealing with HP, not Joe's local computer shop. Surely a company like HP takes care of it's customers and does the right thing, right? She continued with the "nothing I can do" line so I asked to speak with her supervisor.

That's when it went from frustrating to down right embarrassing for HP. She actually told me that she was the highest level person in the organization I could speak with. I was shocked and basically said that's impossible and I am not hanging up until I speak with your manager. After going back and forth for about 10 minutes she said she would try and find a manager but I was going to make here lose her job. Yep, she actually said that me asking for a manager and her honoring my request was going to cause her to lose her job. At that point I kind of went off on her and said maybe she should try and find a better company to work for then because if they would fire her for honoring a customer's reasonable request HP was a bad place to work anyway. She put me on hold and about 15 minutes later "Mike" came on the line.

I don't know if Mike was a manager or not but could tell his job was to get me off the line by telling me whatever he needed to in order to end the call and move things over to e-mail. He basically said he understood (and apologized for the unprofessional behavior shown by the supervisor I had spoken with) and gave me the e-mail address of the person (Susan) he said handles this type of issue and assured me he would follow up with Susan via e-mail and I should do the same. While he didn't come right out and say it he lead me to believe that Susan would take care of things and issue a credit as it was obvious I wasn't trying to game HP or get something for free.

The call ended and on January 24, 2008 I sent the following to Susan at :

After a lengthy conversation with two levels of support and then finally a manager named Mike (I never asked for a last name) I was given your e-mail address and told someone from HP would be in contact with me or my wife no later than Monday. Mike also indicated he was going to send you an e-mail summarizing our conversation so I'll keep this as brief as possible.

Long story short I purchased a printer (referenced in subject line) from HP that was delivered 12/26. Late last week - I don't recall exactly but let's say somewhere between the 17th and 19th, I noticed the printer I purchased was on sale for $250 less than I had recently paid. I was busy and just made a note to contact HP when I had some time to deal with it and that time was today. I was basically told, "too bad, outside of our price protection window", nothing we can do for you.

The account we made the purchase with is a small company my wife and I own:

Company name
Order # xxxxxxxxxxx

In addition to the printer we purchased some other items (separate orders) in the last two weeks of December - about $3,000 in total. I think it's reasonable that HP applies a $250 credit to our account or offers $250 in store credit or something along those lines. I don't know the exact date the printer went on sale but it was less than a few weeks after I purchased at full price.

I look forward to your response.

Finally 5 days (January 29, 2008) later Susan replies:

Thank you for your message. Our store has a price protection policy for 21 days from order date. Your purchase on December 21 was covered until January 11 for price protection. We are very sorry that you didn't contact us within the 21 days but regret that your call on January 24 was too late to qualify for price protection any longer.

We understand your disappointment and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused but we must observe our store policies to allow us to continue to equitably serve our customers. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.

Susan [last name removed]
Customer Service Manager
HP Home & Home Office Store

On Januray 30, 2008 I send the following reply:


How come everyone I've spoken to at your company tells me something different in relation to this "policy". The first person I spoke with on the phone told me it was 31 days. Check the recorded phone call if you would like to verify. He told me 31 days at least 5 times. The second and third told me it was 21 days from the day the product was delivered (not ordered) which was the 26th. I then inquired if it was 21 days from the date the product went on sale, or, 21 days from when I made the call. HP put the product on sale in less than 21 days from the 26th of December and should issue a credit for the difference to my account.

I can't believe that you would expect a customer to go back and check a product every day after they make a purchase just to make sure it didn't go on sale. That's something I would expect from a no-name company but not HP.

Quite frankly, this is the worst customer service interaction I have ever had with any company. Why?

1. The second person I spoke with on the phone was not helpful. When I insisted she transfer me to her manager she told me no numerous times. Finally she said she would try and find a manager but I was "going to cause her to lose her job". And yes you read that right - I was going to cause her to lose her job.

2. "Mike" gave me your e-mail address, said he was going to e-mail you personally and that someone would follow up with me no later than Monday. That obviously did not happen.

3. After waiting days and days + sending numerous e-mails you gave me the same answer the first person I spoke with did which is basically "too bad". Mike had assured me you would look into this and do what was right for your customers as I am obviously not trying to game or abuse the system.

4. Almost every person I have talked to at HP gives me a different version of the price protection policy.

The bottom line HP put a printer on sale for over 35% off less than 21 days after my full price printer was delivered to my residence. I spent over $3,000 with HP last December and believe that any reputable company should do the right thing and issue a credit for the difference. Having in business many years myself I can assure you that if I treated any of my customers like I have been treated by HP they would never do business with me again.

Susan, if you are not willing to do what is right for your customers I kindly request that you send me the name and number of your manager. I have to believe that someone at HP will look at this logically and see that treating a customer in the manner in which I have been treated is completely unacceptable.

I look forward to receiving the information that I have requested.

On January 31 I send the following message since Susan has not yet replied:

I would appreciate a response to my request.

Susan follows up later that day:

I have discussed your case with my manager. We understand your disappointment but he agrees with the decision that your order is not eligible for price protection. We are very sorry for any confusion you may have encountered with any of our agents with regards to the 21 day price protection policy. This has been communicated to our sales and customer service agents and the price protection policy is posted on our web site. Our price protection policy changed from 30 days to 21 days several months ago and our returns policy is 21 days from delivery. We have sent out a bulletin to our center to remind the agents of the correct policy to avoid this from happening again.

We would like to offer a free toner cartridge for your new printer as an apology for the inconvenience that occurred with our call center. If you are interested, please place an order for toner within the next 30 days and reply back to this message with the new order number and I will refund the cost of the toner cartridge. If you order more than one, the highest valued toner cartridge will be refunded.

Again, our apologies for the inconvenience this has caused. Thank you for bringing your concerns to our attention.

Susan [last name removed]
Customer Service Manager
HP Home & Home Office Store

On February 2, 2008 I send the following back to Susan:

I don't think you understand my disappointment at all. Not only did your customer service agents not know the policy, you didn't either.

In your first e-mail to me you said:

"Our store has a price protection policy for 21 days from order date."

Which is obviously not the case. More importantly, not a single person I've talked to at HP, yourself included, is willing to acknowledge that the printer went on sale less that 21 days from the time it was delivered to my house. It took me more than 21 days to call but that should not be an issue unless HP expects that after a customer makes a purchase they go back and check the item very day for 21 days to make sure it's not on sale. So let me say that again - the printer went on sale in less than 21 days after it was delivered to my house.

So lets recap.

1) I've communicated with 4 people at HP, yourself included, that don't know the price protection policy.

2) In your most recent e-mail you admitted this was the case - no need to send out reminders and post notices if everyone already knows the policy.

3) HP expects that after a customer buys something that they go back to the site every day for 21 days to see if the price has dropped. It's not HP's responsibility to protect the customer, it's the customer's responsibility to protect themselves from HP.

4) Despite the obvious lack of professionalism and clarity HP is still unwilling to do what's right - issue a credit for the difference in what I paid vs what the printer went on sale for. Offering me a toner is a clear acknowledgment that HP had made a mistake - why not just issue the credit?I'm not interested in a free toner, getting something for nothing is not what I'm looking for. All I want HP to do is stand behind their products and prices like Dell, Amazon, Tiger Direct, New Egg and Best Buy all do.

Susan, at this point I don't feel that you have the best interest of your customers in mind. As I requested previously, please give me the name and number of your manager as well as the full names of all of the people I have interacted with so far at HP. I spoke with 2 people in customer service as well as someone named "Mike" who was supposed to e-mail you a summary of my first call. Since you have thoroughly researched this issue you should have all of those names readily available.

Susan only takes 2 days to reply this time, I received the following on Feb 4, 2008:

The price protection policy is on our site. Please feel free to review the policy if you are still unclear on the policy. Your call did not come within 21 days of your order date so we cannot honor your request.

The HP Home & Home Office Store reserves the right to change prices at any time. Should we lower the price of the product you purchased, you may call 1-888-999-4747 within 21 days of your order date to request a credit for the difference between the price you paid and the current the HP Home & Home Office Store selling price.

Again, our apologies that you are disappointed in the decision with your request for an exception to our policy but the final decision was made by upper management. For the security of our employees, we do not give out full names or phone numbers.

The offer of the toner was not an acknowledgement that you were eligible for the price protection credit but as an apology for the confusion over the policy with any agents you may have spoken with. We are very sorry that you have declined the toner offer and regret the loss of a valued customer over this very unfortunate matter.

Susan [last name removed]
Customer Service Manager
HP Home & Home Office Store

On Feb 5, 2008 I sent the following:

I need the names of the people I spoke with in order to file a complaint with your company. I want to name those that were helpful and those that were not. I did not ask for their phone numbers. As I requested please send me the names of the employees I interacted with.

That e-mail was ignored so on Feb 7, 2008 I sent:

Please provide the information I have requested or put me in touch with your manager. The way HP has handled this entire situation is unprofessional and I intend to make sure the right people at HP are made aware of how HP customer service is treating customers.

Thank you,

[name removed]

ps - the e-mail you sent me on the 4th just validates that you and the other customer service people I have dealt with don't know the policy. According to the policy you e-mailed me it's 21 days from the order date, not delivery date as you previously stated.

That e-mail was also ignored so on February 8, 2008 I sent:

As previously requested please provide the information I have requested or put me in touch with your manager.

I have yet to receive a response but when/if I do I will update this entry. I think it's important that "upper management" at HP gets a first hand look at how the people who are paid to interact with and support HP's customers are being treated. At the conclusion of this fiasco I intend to send Mark Hurd, HP's CEO, take a link to this entry so he can see for himself how HP's customer service department is treating HP customers. I plan to do the same for HP's board of directors. At this point it's pretty obvious that HP's customer service department couldn't care less.

Feel free to share you comments, opinions, or experiences with HP's customer service group in the comments below.

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