National Review article mentions bad HP PC service...sound familiar?


[Link:]National Review article[/link]

"Going from 98 to ME back in February was enough of a headache.

Actually, it was mainly a hardware headache. When I tried to run the install for my trusty old Hewlett Packard 4100C scanner, it crashed ME so comprehensively I had to restore to factory defaults. I called HP. Oh, yeah, they said, there's a patch. Downloaded the patch, tried to install again: same crash. Called HP again: "Oh yeah, there's a disk you need." Bought the goddam disk. Ran it: Same crash. Called HP. They had me check the part number printed on the disk label. "Yep, that's the part number for the ME installer, can't understand why it doesn't work for you..." Meanwhile, I had been scrutinizing the disk. Burned into the inner ring around the center hole was a part number different from the one printed on the label. It was, in fact, the part number of the old install software. HP had just stuck a new label, with a new part number printed on it, on to the old ME-crashing install disk! I called them up and explained this. The seventh or eighth techie understood my point. I asked for a replacement. Got it: Same problem. Another: The same. Called them. I was shunted off to the Distribution Center, which sounded as if it was in somewhere like Bangladesh. After another seven or eight attempts, I got the problem explained. They would "research" it. Seven months later, HP is still "researching" how to get a label saying "part number X" on to a disk that actually contains part number X.

Furious with HP, I went out and bought another scanner, an Epson 1240U. No way I was ever going to buy HP again!


Instead of continuing on to the next sentence....

"Well, the Epson installed OK, but it was all downhill from there. It would copy only in black and white, and only at a uselessly low resolution. There was no light-dark control. When I could get it to scan without crashing, and had mastered the weirdly counterintuitive interface, I could get a scan into Paint Shop Pro, but I really need a machine that will copy without me having to scan first. I fired off some e-mails and called them up. Once I had got past their stunned amazement that I was trying to use an Epson scanner to copy to a non-Epson printer — who ever heard of a user wanting to do that?! — the techies were polite, keen, and ready to help, but a great weariness had settled on me. "Let's try a few things, shall we? First, reboot your machine..." Goodbye, afternoon. Why do I have to beta-test their frigging drivers for them? Shouldn't the damn thing work out of the box? Who's got the time for this stuff?

I was starting to hate the Epson machine on other grounds, too. It was designed, I had come to realize, by the team in the Dilbert strip, under the supervision of that pointy-haired boss. .... "

The rant is really more about upgrading Windows than HP or Epson though.

"No more: Qhat I have now works, more or less, after a fashion, and I'm sticking with it till I have absolutely no choice but to upgrade. XP? Only if Bill Gates himself comes and installs it."

Honestly, I think it's got to be hard and expensive for a hardware manufacturer to have to keep updating drivers for old products when someone else comes out with a new OS. I haven't yet dared to figure out what's going to break if I upgrade from win95 :-)

(PS there's no space between the [link: and http: like National Review article)


I have noticed the collapse of manufacturers caring about customers needs or opinions, some of them are very famous names that previously had a high standing in product quality (e.g. HP - which is why they get such a hard time). I have seen this in most of the hi tech products I have bought over the last few years. Examples are Video recorders, calculators, TV's, PCs and work stations, operating systems etc. etc.

Most of it seems to stem from penny pinching on product support and poor product proving before going to manufacture. Probable the result of shrinking 'time to market'. Also once the company has taken your money why should they care? (I know they should but if every maker has the same attitude so who you going to buy from?)

With short product life cycles why should they invest time / money on support? They just hope to iron out some of the bugs in the next release (while introducing some new ones) and poor old you and me have to suffer while we wait.

Share holders also seem to want a quick return on their money.

In other words, you and me (the consumer) appear WAY down the list of importantance.

PS Dilbert is so funny because it's TRUE!

PPS I design silicon chips for use in hi tech goods but please don't blame me when things go wrong, it's usually a case of preasure from marketing to send out un-proved products.


The customer also shares some of the blame. This group has generally bought Hp because of quality and support, but we are a small minority.

Most buy because of the cost, plain and simple. Does widget A cost less than widget B. If it does and the widget is supposed to do what the customer wants (never mind that it will not work out of the box or will fail within days or weeks, if the store demo works...)buy widget A.

This type of mentality is why we have such low priced goods, but it is also why the quality has degraded also.

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