Update on 07/25/2006:
I have now been formally billed 307.35 by HP for what they said will be free of charge. Turns out the person in HP Corporate (do they actually have Corporate folks...seems like they dont) and the HP Parts Store person who took my order (Charles at 1-800-227-8164 x 5559147) didnt promise me anything or atleast there is no record of it. So now HP says pay up or return the product for credit. We hear everytime we call Customer Service about "Your call is being recorded for Quality purposes". If this is not of use now, why have the recording. If HP revisits the recordings of my conversation with them, it should be apparent enough. But no. They wont do it. I am now returning the product. I have also lodged a complaint with BBB (#253027).
1. HP sucks
2. HP Customer Service is even worse.
3. Never buy anything HP.
4. Make sure you take down names of all customer service reps you talk to in any conversation.
5. Request that anything promised by Customer Service immediately be noted in the order Notes section (they have one that they never mention to you about unless asked for).
6. And finally, dont buy anything HP (I know I am repeating this but it should give you an idea of the inconvenience, lost time and effort that went into something that yielded nothing).
After a whole lot of time logged in phone calls with HP Parts customer service I decided to write a post my travails with them. This should tie in really well with how customer perception and the so-called awards and ratings differ and by how much. It also shows how impersonal the company is while touting their "The Pc is personal" compaign.
On the 3rd of March 2006, I ordered a 256MB graphics card for my desktop to play my games better. I got an order confirmation immediately. I waited eagerly for my card to ship. Hours turned to days and days turned to months. The status online didnt change. The seasons did. Winter was over. Spring came and left..and then it was summer. In the meantime, I had called HP Parts Customer Service multiple times (I called them between 5 and 10 times) to be told EVERYTIME that the product was backordered until recently and that it was going to be shipped in the next week. The next week never came.
When I checked status online for the Nth time on the 14th of July, I noticed that my order was cancelled. No warning. No reason. Just cancelled. By this time I had realised how much the company differed from what they claimed to be. HP is just another behemoth that cares two hoots about its individual customers. It likes the money we spend on its products. But just doesnt really care about how we suffer. I called Customer Service immediately and was sent from pillar to post (each pillar gave me a different reason why my order was cancelled - product unavailable to credit card denied) all the way upto Executive office. A lady in the Executive office started asking me stupid questions like what PC I owned and how old it was, that was completely irrelevent to the problem at hand and only outlined how removed the company was from reality. I could use the graphics card to stomp on. Why would the company care as long as I paid for it and knew what I was doing?
Coming back to the story, the Executive office lady redirected me to the Parts Customer Service section to redo my order and provide a VALID CREDIT CARD. Did I mention that I have been using this card for 4 years now and continue to use it on an almost daily basis?. Nevermind. I gave them a different credit card only to be told the product was no more sold by HP. The Parts store "expert" was unable to recommend a viable alternative from their store even after consulting other "parts experts". It took me all of 5 minutes to select an alternative from their store and a "new" order was created. I was explicitly told that HP would NOT be charging me for their repeated blunders. I figured this would be the very end of my ordeal. WRONG.
The new order confirmation came with a bill for 307 dollars. I called back immediately only to not be able ot reach the same Customer Service Rep. The other rep who handled the issue said that the new order or the old order had no notes saying that HP would be taking care of the bill. So now after 6 months of waiting and letting go of innumerable good offers on graphics cards, I am asked to pay 307 dollars for what amounts to multiple critical flaws in the famed and much ballyhooed customer service of HP.
I am at a loss of words. I figured as the helpless consumer who has spent hours wrangling to no use, I need to atleast let others know why companies like HP thrive. Its because suffering customers like us do not make the right kind of noise. The kind that gets noticed. If you have had a similar customer service experience, with HP or any other MNC, I would definitely like to hear about it.