It's annoying enough when you suffer a high failure rate on the PCs you're getting from a vendor. But, as one reader has recently experienced with HP, what can be vastly more aggravating is when you can't get them to tell you the solution, even though they apparently know it.
"I have some news for you regarding HP that, on one level, really isn't news...but it's still pathetic," the reader wrote. "Ten months ago one of my clients accepted delivery of 24 HP DX2200 desktop systems. We bought extended 3-year next-business-day onsite warranties for each system -- we only buy warranties because we expect a small number of failures. To date I've called in three bad motherboards, with a fourth call about to be placed later this week; plus two dead hard drives; and today, I found one hard drive on the brink of failure. That's a 25 percent failure rate."
The reader felt that such a failure rate should elicited some serious concern from HP. "A few years ago I reported to Acer that I was experiencing a four percent failure rate and they freaked out. Ever since Dell opened up more to the channel, all my major Dell problems either went away, or got solved at a pretty high level, and got taken care of pretty quickly. And Dell is ever so mildly racist in their selling 'North American' tech support for an additional $69/desktop system. There was not a hint of racism in the sale of HP's extended warranty product. Sadly, there's not a hint of competence in the people answering the phones at the HP tech support centers either. They are mostly either script readers (and their diction and elocution leave MUCH to be desired), or tech dispatchers."
"What I've described with the DX2200 failure rates happens to every computer manufacturer once in a while, right?" the reader wrote. "I understand that. It's how they FIX it that makes me determine who I'll recommend next. When we called for HP's onsite service, four out of the five times we've needed a tech for desktop PCs, they showed up at least one business day late. They were usually two days late, but not always. When we had a LaserJet 3800 with three years of next-business-day onsite service, the tech took FIVE business days to show up. I was ready to kill them. I let it pass because we'd had only one other hardware failure at the time."
Since the reader had recommended her client purchase the HP systems, the problems she was having with HP support was a real embarrassment. "I finally got the case escalated to a 2nd level engineer. Level 2 told me that support had a documented problem with a bunch of SATA cables for hard drives in the DX2200s. How come they didn't have a HUGE broadcast advisory? Why are we left to discover this for ourselves? There's nothing in their public knowledgebase that I could find about. I've been troubleshooting hardware for long enough that I really don't need to be searching knowledgebases to find out why basic PC hardware doesn't work. They're clearly going for the cheapest components money can buy, and it shows."
When the reader was unable to get anyone at HP to explain what the known problem with the cable was or how it could be fixed, that made an already bad situation worse. "I pointed out the high failure rate, gathered the list of serial numbers, and HP has been unresponsive. They told me they'd get an engineer on it who would determine what went wrong. I don't CARE what went wrong. I want HP to fix it, and I want my client to feel like they haven't been ripped off. I don't anticipate HP will come up with anything that'll make my client feel good about their HP investment. I was the one who brought HP in the door, so now *I* look bad. I really can't afford that, and I'm going to every channel I can."
The reader is quite persistent, and at last word she had succeeded in getting HP to send another onsite technician who seemed a bit more helpful. But she's not sure what they can do now to make her client feel happy about their HP investment. "What I'd to hear them say is 'We goofed. We're sorry. Next time we ship a product that could ruin users' data, we will make it public, and we'll take it upon ourselves to contact the users and the resellers, and fix it proactively.' Now, that'll never happen, but we'll see how close they can come. Of course, what I'm really upset about is the 25 percent failure rate. The HP SMB Sales center told me that they have other angry resellers yelling about high failure rates with the DX2200, so I'm not alone on this one. But the part that amazes me is that they've acknowledged they've done nothing to publicize a problem with their systems, one that they KNEW could cause data corruption."