Continuing Customer Service Disasters by Hewlett-Packard

I thought I’d write an update to this ongoing saga with HP’s terrible customer service department. If you need a refresher, be sure to read the whole story from the beginning.

So when I last updated this tale, I had been trying to get in touch with Iano, a Quality Case Manager at Hewlett-Packard. I had left him numerous voicemails, and even spoke with someone who appeared to be his secretary, but no luck. To this day, I still have not heard from him.

So after a few more times demanding that he give me a call back so I can learn how to return my $129.04 battery (now useless, since I have no more HP laptop, and will probably never buy another one ever again), I filed a Better Business Bureau complaint against HP. The complaint paraphrases the salient points of a letter I wrote to HP’s customer relations department. The letter reads as follows (identifying information somewhat censored):

To whom it may concern at HP’s Customer Relations Department:

I am, unfortunately, writing to express my frustrations over the recent service and (lack of) support I have received from your company. What is now months ago, I sent my HP Pavillion ze4800us notebook computer (serial number XXX, model number PC768AV) in for repair at one of your service centers due to consistently recurring system-wide crashes. This, after I had already been experiencing horrendously poor battery life (the notebook was less than two years old and was hardly giving me a 15 minute charge under near-idle load), a failure of the HP-installed hard drive, and a number of software issues caused or exaggerated by the default HP-installed system drivers and update programs. I got so fed up that I eventually uninstalled them all, which left my HP notebook (with all its special buttons) stripped of many of its bullet-pointed features.

Yet, I digress. After I called your TotalCare support line, the agent created a repair case for me (case number ### associated with order number XXX) and told me a box would be delivered to my apartment with instructions on how to proceed. I also ordered from him a replacement battery (order number XXX), because he said that was my only route for solving the issues of the extremely short battery life my notebook was experiencing. I was not pleased with spending an additional $129.04 on this in addition to my $322.96 computer repair, but ultimately ordered the battery anyway, expecting to replace my existing battery when my computer returned from repair. When the two boxes arrived I followed the directions and I placed my computer in the box, arranged for a FedEx employee to pick up the delivery, and waited.

A week went by without any word. Anxious, I checked the support web site for any updated information on the status of my repair, but there was none available. I checked again the following week, assuming the repair could take some time as the phone support agent I spoke with told me that may be the case. However, there was still no information.

I finally decided to call your TotalCare support representatives again. When I got through, I gave the agent my case number (mentioned previously), and was subsequently put on hold for over 45 minutes. As I did not have the time that day to wait for your phone agents to pick up the telephone, (I had already been on the phone for an hour by this point) I hung up and called again some time later. By now, it had been nearly a month since I had been without my computer (though much longer since the last time it had been working “properly”).

Suffice it to say that after several more phone calls that followed this pattern and after receiving yet another case number (this one was ###), and another week without my computer or any word from HP on what had gone so ludicrously wrong during this repair process, I was contacted by one of your Quality Case Managers, named Iano.

He explained to me that what appears to have happened is that FedEx never delivered, nor even picked up, my computer and that it appears to have been stolen. Fearing something like this was a possibility when I spoke to your TotalCare representative the first time I called, I had asked that agent directly, as well as each successive agent I encountered, what HP’s policy was in the case of such an event. Every single one assured me, without fail, that, and I quote, “Not to worry, HP will take care of the value of the laptop.” I must have heard that phrase more than 10 times during my phone calls, so I was fairly confident that Iano would be able to reimburse or otherwise replace the product.

Unfortunately, I was very upset when he told me that reimbursement or replacement was not an option because the laptop, according to all records HP had, was probably stolen, not lost. Frankly, I consider a laptop which may have been stolen very much lost, but this reasoning seemed to fall on deaf ears. His suggestion was to take the matter up with FedEx, with whom I am currently in the process of filing a claim.

While I can ultimately understand a company’s policies such as those Iano was explaining to me (I happen to work in the customer service and technology industries myself for another major OEM), this letter is about customer service, not policy. Iano, while polite, was extremely unhelpful, giving me no options to pursue other than to seek help elsewhere, and has since become completely unavailable to my multiple additional attempts to get in touch with him since that first phone call. I have left voicemail after voicemail on his line and have not so much as received a single call back from him or anyone at HP.

And why am I calling so insistently? Because I still have that battery I paid 129 dollars and 4 cents for sitting on my desk, for which I have no computer to place it into. The only time I managed to get through to a human when I tried reaching Iano (who had given me his direct line at 1-877-917-4380 ext. 94, option 1, and invited me to call back), it was a polite-sounding lady who seemed to be a secretary. Nevertheless, I took the opportunity to ask her about the situation with my battery. She told me I’d have to speak to Iano and that she’d forward me to his voicemail. So I left yet another message. It’s now been yet another several weeks since I’ve begun trying to reach Iano and I still have not received a single contact, phone, email, postal mail, or otherwise.

Let me put this bluntly when I say that this kind of non-response from someone who is supposed to be a “Quality Case Manager” is completely brand-shattering. It says to me in no uncertain terms that at least this department in Hewlett-Packard does not even care enough about its customers to return the courtesy of a phone call. I am bewildered, angered, and disappointed at the kind of so-called support such a company’s customer service department has shown, and will seriously reconsider any HP purchase I will ever need again.

In the mean time, I am still trying to reach Iano (or anybody at HP Customer Relations) and return this battery for which I have no machine. It seems HP is all too eager to sell me things like batteries and repair service, (the first phone agent I spoke with even tried to convince me my notebook was “definitely experiencing a hardware problem and needs to be sent for service” before even asking me a single troubleshooting question), but cares little whether or not I actually get any use out of these purchases. I have better places to spend my money and, more importantly, my time, and I am continuously growing more and more upset with HP for leading me through this incredible time-wasting ordeal that began with my purchase of the HP Pavillion notebook.

I ask now yet again, how can I return this battery and get my money back? It has never been opened; the tape around the cardboard box has not even been stripped. I would very much appreciate an answer to this remarkably simple question.

Additionally, please be advised that I am forwarding this letter to the following publications, as well as reporting these incidents to the Better Business Bureau.

1. ArsTechnica
2. Computer Reviews
3. CNet
4. AnandTech
5. PCMagazine

Thank you,
-Meitar Moscovitz

Finally, several days later, I recieved a call from a woman who identified herself only as Ginger from HP’s Corporate Office (apparently, either Hewlett-Packard employees have no last names or they’re afraid of some kind of retribution, which doesn’t surprise me anymore) saying that she would be willing to refund the cost I paid for the battery, but that’s all she could do. She asked for a proof of purchase to be faxed to her at her office fax number (which seems sort of silly, since I know they know I purchased and paid for the darned thing). No worries, I saved the receipt I was emailed so I faxed that, along with a short cover letter demanding my money back, to the number she provided. It’s now approaching another week later and I’ve heard nothing at all since then.

But wait. There’s more. I spent tonight going over my finances for the past month (something I routinely do to keep things on record and in order, a lesson I’m glad to have learned), when I noticed something rather strange near the end of August. I came across a charge (that is, a debit transaction) from my checking account paid to “HP RETURN REPAIR” for $107.28 on August the 21st. There was no more information other than that.

If you take a look at the timeline of these events, you’ll note that this charge was posted to my account well after my computer went missing and I had been calling in for status updates. Is this a repair charge? It doesn’t match the quote I was given by the agent on the phone. Is this a cancellation charge? If so, that’s outrageous. What is it? I have no idea. Naturally, with far less of a patient tone, I immediately picked up the phone and called Iano. I once again demanded a call back from him, an explanation of the charge, and a refund.

And that is where things stand. So that’s that. I’m pretty much a devoted anti-HP customer. Unless I’m buying a 6 dollar pack of paper (which seems to be about the only thing they can support properly), I’m never buying an HP product again.

8 replies on “Continuing Customer Service Disasters by Hewlett-Packard”

  1. I would’ve written a much, much meaner letter, possibly in blood. You are entirely too polite. My customer service experience has taught me that the angrier and more insane you sound, the more likely you are to get a complete refund. I wound continue to send them letters, continue to phone and email them. Eventually they will just want to shut you up. Also, go higher up the tree–find out who Iano’s boss is, and if he won’t help, who his boss is. An AVP isn’t going to want to deal with you and will usually just tell his secretary to give you whatever you want. In my experience.

    Good luck…! I’m so sorry about all this. God, what a nightmare.

  2. I feel your pain. I found your web site while sitting on hold, and looking for an avenue to file a complaint with HP. There isn’t a way to complain on their web site, and I have been sitting on hold for 45 minutes now, to try to speak with a supervisor. I don’t know if someone is actually trying to find a supervisor, or if they just put the phone down and walked away. Probably the latter.
    I have spent over 3 hours on the phone today, and I still haven’t gotten someone to help. After dialing the number for the first time, and speaking with a recorded call director that asks questions about your trouble, then sitting on hold for 20 minutes, I finally heard the phone ring to a technician. After no response, I asked several times if anyone was there. Finally he responded. It must have been his time for a break, however, becasue after giving him my name, etc, I had the funny feeling there was nobody on the other end. Sure enough I was talking into a black hole.
    I put that line on hold, just in case he was coming back, and called from my 2nd line. This time, after sitting on hold another 20 minutes, I received James, who I had so much trouble understanding, it was pathetic. (The first guy never did come back.) I called the number for the US, so I expected someone who could speak English. Silly me. I had to ask him everything he said several times, and got progressively aggitated. He was adamant I give him my phone number, as this was supposedly how they tracked repairs. I told him I would not give him my home phone, as it was unlisted, but would give him another number. He was insistent I give him my current home number, and I told him if it was only used to track repairs, it should not matter to him what number I gave him. He hung up on me.
    I called back, and after another 20 minutes on hold, received a woman I could actually understand. Unfortunately, even though the automated call-director confirmed I was calling about a printer, it sent me to the laptop department. She took all my information, saying the phone number was critical, because is how they pull up the report history. She did not have a problem, however, with me using a number other than my homne number. She told me she was transfering me directly, so I would not be on hold a long time, and to give them the phone number when they answered, as this would allow them to pull up all my information. Again I sat on hold for a long period of time, and Bruce answered. I again had a difficult time understanding him, and he said he could not pull up the information with the phnone number, but that I needed a case number. Excuse me? I asked to speak to a supervisor, and after being on hold another 37 minutes, I called back from my other line. Before I was answered, he actually came back on the line, and told me a supervisor was not available. He then asked what the trouble was, and after explaining it to him a dozen times, (not an exaggeration,) he said he needed to consult his manual. I sat on hold for over 30 minutes again before he came back and informed me he needed to forward me to someone more knowledgeable, as he did not know how to fix the problem.
    After being forwarded yet again, I again found out that he had transfered me to the wrong department. This would be comical if it wasn’t wasting hours of my time. Again, I had to give all the information, including name, model number, serial number, repeating it several times, because NOBODY SPEAKS OR UNDERSTANDS ENGLISH!!! Each time they asked me for a case number, and each time I told them nobody ever gave me a case number. I have been pulling my hair out,
    Again, I needed to be forwarded, and again I got someone who was going to TRY to help me, but was not the specialist I was supposed to have been transferred to two times ago. Could this be any more ridiculous??? I am still sitting here on hold, believing that this is a total waste of time, but something inside me refuses to give up. It is a quest now! I am bound and determined to find ONE person at HP technical support that is not totally incompetent. The guy I am speaking to now is even harder to understand than the others, and I have explained the same thing to him at least 20 times now. He asks me questions I cannot understand, and now he tells me since he cannot figure out the problem, it is under investigation, and I need to call back after 24 hours. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? I know this should be a 5 minute fix, as it has to be a simple software problem, but I have only gotten to speak with idiots. I am ready to pull my hair out.
    The last technician I spoke to transfered me to the “superior tech”, as he called it, but again I was answered by someone I could not understand. When I asked him if he was the technician who knew about the Phontosmart D7360, he asked me if that was a printer. That did it. I HUNG UP! I have spent 4 1/2 hours on the phone, and never spoke to anyone that had a clue. What a gimmick. I will not be purchasing any more HP products….EVER! Jackie

  3. I’m currently experiencing HP’s ‘total LACK of customer care’ right now. The technical issue is a zv6000 laptop that for the last 4 months has consistently malfunctioned catastrophically. But the professional, customer service issue is their total callous, never call back, attitude in dealing with me. The concept of customer service is unknown at HP, they are NOT a company to be trusted.

    It did not used to be like this. 10 years ago I had a problem and not only was it resolved quickly, but I actually got a call from Lew Platt!

    HP is a company who prides themselves on creativity, it says so on their corporate logo. Apparently not all inventions are good ideas, as whoever created the ‘screw the customer’ ethic has definitely got it wrong. They don’t even deserve credit for inventing the concept of ‘we don’t care’. Take a look at American auto companies, but you better look quickly, as the ‘we don’t care’ attitude is a big reason they are disappearing from the corporate landscape.

  4. I’m not surprised I’m not the only one to have had this experience. I hope you get your issues resolved as soon as you can, and that other’s heed these warnings about HP’s inept customer service.

  5. June 19, 2007
    I bought a new A1620N media center desktop in Jan 07, and it hasn’t worked correctly since it came out of the box. It has been back to Tx two times for repair, and I was sent and installed a new hard drive for a total of 3 hard drives.
    Computer won’t even boot up.

    So far I agree with all that comments here. I have received NO phone calls from HP, I can’t understand their support people, the “direct line” is direct to whoever is available. Email support just keeps saying “you will get an immediate call back”…so far this time it has been a week.

    I did find this site on that is a link to Mark Hurd CEO. The man who posted it suggests being short and concise and polite. And that it may take 2+ weeks to get a call back from someone in Corp. He also suggests making it clear you will not buy anymore HP products.
    This is the HP Link:

    I sent the email to Hurd on 6/14, and have had only an auto

    So far, I haven’t felt like spending hours on the phone. I think my big mistake was telling the last real person I talked to that I wanted to return the computer and get my money back. That probably sent up the flag, so now no one will call until the warranty has expired.

    And to add insult to injury, I am an HP stock holder thru gift, I would never buy more stock or HP products after this experience.

    Has any one found a number for the U.S. where there is an English speaking American, who can understand and actually take care of these problems?

  6. Hi Lillian. Good luck in your quest for better HP service. You could theoretically try calling the number I was given for Iano, but that didn’t help me much, and I’m afraid I haven’t got any better contacts than that. I posted the phone number for his office in my post, above.

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