A recent Gripe Line in which HP customer Stacy was made to feel "belittled, embarrassed, and ashamed" by the tech support he received elicited some strong responses. Several people wrote to declare that they, too, had gone away angry, frustrated, and in search of a new PC vendor after a dispute with HP. But one reader wrote in to report that Stacy's story -- as told in my post -- was far from over, and since then, it has made an about-turn, ending with a very happy outcome for Stacy.
But first, more proof that all it takes is a bad tech support experience to turn a loyal customer into a lost one.
"Your narrative about Stacy and his laptop rang a bell for me," Fred says. "I used to be a big fan of HP. I bought and recommended dozens of the company's printers. And when I replaced our home PC a couple of years ago, I got an HP tower and widescreen monitor. I could have bought another brand's monitor for less but figured I'd stick with quality. I had faith in HP."
But when the backlight in the system's monitor and the power supply in the tower both failed within 18 months of the purchase, Fred's faith was gone, and he no longer buys or recommends the company's printers.
For Bob, who also felt compelled to share a story in response to Stacy's plight, it was HP's request that Bob send in $450 to fix a system he believed should have been covered by a warranty that pushed him over the edge -- much as it did Stacy.
"In 2007, I bought my son an HP laptop to start college with. It worked well for about 30 days but then started to lose wireless connectivity," Bob says. "We sent it back, but it came back not working any better."
In all, Bob ended up returning the system for repair three times -- though each time the problem was a bit different. On the third try, the machine was no longer within the warranty period.
"A tech diagnosed the problem as the motherboard," he explains, "and offered to replace it for about $450."