Is HP tech support clueless ?



#32

I read this customer review of the HP 15C LE on the HP Home & Home Office webstore, and really have to wonder about the competence of HP tech support:

"Manufactured without a SELF TEST

boy finally a HP-15c......... everything seems great until I run the self test described in the manual for the limited edition. After an incredibly long ordeal on the phone with countless "customer service" people, I finally got a tech support guy who seemed to know what he was talking about and he said he had knowledge of several of the Limited Editions 15c calculators that did not have any of the self tests."

BTW, this customer gave the calc a 1 out of 5 rating because of this bad info from the tech support person.

Edited: 27 Sept 2011, 11:50 a.m.


#33

Hopefully someone from HP will delete that useless (and harmful) review.

One star because of a tiny mistake in the manual? Someone has some serious issues.

Eric


#34

Eric,

This would not have occured if the tech support person had provided the correct information in the first place. Just sayin'...

Michael

Edited: 27 Sept 2011, 12:09 p.m.


#35

That's true, but I'm just pointing out that the customer overreacted.

From what I've heard, the HP calculator support people are actually a lot more competent than most support people. It wouldn't surprise me if the 50g is one of the most complicated products, if not the most complicated product, that HP sells, and while the 15C is certainly simpler, it's still vastly more complicated than most HP products. So they got a minor detail about the self tests wrong. That's just a training issue, compounded by a mistake in the manual and a hidden function that wasn't perfectly implemented, and none of it has anything to do with the normal operation of the calculator.

Eric


#36

Quote:
That's true, but I'm just pointing out that the customer overreacted.

Certainly true.

However, I wonder if any HP website to which a customer might refer for problems with the 15C-LE contains a listing of the bugs that were quickly found several weeks ago, like this 'old self-test' issue. The answer right now seems to be 'no', and the question becomes "why not...what is HP waiting on?" These problems will not magically go away with the passage of time.

Quote:
So they got a minor detail about the self tests wrong. That's just a training issue, compounded by a mistake in the manual and a hidden function that wasn't perfectly implemented, ...

I reported the self-test failures here on Friday, September 9. Apparently, that was the first report of such. The HP calculator support staff should have been advised of this by Monday, September 12 at the very latest in order to be able to respond intelligently to the customer questions that were absolutely certain to be arriving shortly when customers attempted the self-tests described in the manual on their new 15C-LEs. The fact that this notification did not occur displays an organizational attitude that is at best half-assed, and certainly non-professional.

Quote:
...and none of it has anything to do with the normal operation of the calculator.

I'm going to disagree. I also reported on September 9 that 'ON plus *' or 'ON plus +' always fail and corrupt program memory. It is not improbable that someone familiar with the old Voyagers might pick up a 15C-LE and try one of these self-tests, and in the process disrupt subsequent normal operation of the calculator by corrupting program contents. There should be nothing that the user can do from the keyboard, intentionally or inadvertently, that causes this type of un-publicized pathological behavior. I suspect that HP calculator support hasn't been advised of this 'feature' either, nor of the other bugs that have been identified here.

Another issue is the old 'ON plus -' Pr Error reset. It apparently works OK, clearing the calculator completely. If the Owner's Handbook is simply revised to eliminate all mention of these old key sequences that would still actually exist, one might clear his 15C-LE by inadvertent actuation of that key sequence.

It is not comforting that old self-test issues are being treated as of negligible importance. I would like to see the 15C-LE respond in a manner similar to the 12C+ for both the old and new self-tests. There's no valid reason for there to be a difference.

As long as these firmware problems exist, regardless of text modifications to the Owner's Handbook, normal calculator operation can be affected. I hope HP's solution (if there is to be one) to 15C-LE firmware issues will not be limited to revision of the documentation.

Edited: 27 Sept 2011, 2:34 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


#37

Methinks you're not quite as aware of how big HP really is to think that a problem reported here on 9/9 would be in the HP tech people's materials by 9/12.

I believe we are lucky that HP support people speak English.

As an example, even a company with such usual glowing reports as Ap*le computer will have people reporting problems in their forum that are not even officially recognized for quite some time.

While I would like for things to work the way you suggest, I'm not certain in a complex world with such large complex systems that it is likely.

Otherwise, the US Military would not buy $500 toilet seats.


#38

Quote:
Methinks you're not quite as aware of how big HP really is...

Maybe not HP...I was once a senior engineer for a small firm called General Electric.

I think the 15C-LE is a pretty good product.

But obvious problems within its firmware and its Owner's Handbook guarantee customer support will be talking to customers. The manual says "try these self tests" and the calculator says "Error 9" (and corrupts any programming). It's a "what could we do to assure there will be calls to customer support?" situation. How can the support people do their job? Those unfortunate people can do nothing without organizational support advising them promptly of issues discovered by gamma testers (early paying customers) of this or any other new product. How hard can that be? I hear there's something called e-mail now-a-days. :-)

And what about the Support section of HP calculator sales websites? Three weeks afterwards...still no illuminating information anywhere unless one goes to hpmuseum.org before forum posts of problem discoveries have scrolled away.

I have great sympathy for the support staff, and the inquiring customer. Both are completely betrayed when known problem areas are not promptly communicated.

Edited: 27 Sept 2011, 3:06 p.m.


#39

Quote:
But obvious problems within its firmware and its Owner's Handbook guarantee customer support will be talking to customers. The manual says "try these self tests" and the calculator says "Error 9" (and corrupts any programming).

Certainly this must be true. And I fail to see how either the bigness of the company, or the insignificance of the product (from a revenue standpoint), is an excuse for not having a mechanism for dealing with such issues, or failing to use it.
#40

Ah, not to start a flame war, but Apple makes an art out of not telling it like it is.

Cheers,

-Marwan


#41

Quote:
Ah, not to start a flame war, but Apple makes an art out of not telling it like it is.

And they always have been that way, even with the early Apple II in the l970s. But Apple has west coast religious cult appeal that logic can't penetrate.

Edited: 28 Sept 2011, 4:35 p.m.


#42

Quote:
And they always have been that way, even with the early Apple II in the l970s. But Apple has west coast religious cult appeal that logic can't penetrate.

An old TI guy suggests that H-P with RPN has religious cult appeal that algebraic logic can't penetrate.

#43

Quote:
An old TI guy suggests that H-P with RPN has religious cult appeal that algebraic logic can't penetrate.

Yep.

Look at how short-lived the 27s was. That was a great design!

Imagine what a powerhouse it would have been if they had taken that design one step further and implemented a complete robust algebraic programming paradigm and complete advanced maths support (complex, matrices etc) in addition to the equations. IT would have blown everything away including the 42s, and it might have actually stolen TI buyers, maybe.

Looking back at the early HP computers that Dave describes on this website, one of them was Algebraic at the UI but stack-based internally, fully compiling from the algebraic inputs. Pretty sweet!

Edited: 29 Sept 2011, 12:13 a.m.


#44

Quote:
Looking back at the early HP computers that Dave describes on this website, one of them was Algebraic at the UI but stack-based internally, fully compiling from the algebraic inputs. Pretty sweet!

That sounds like the HP 9820A. Any algebraic logic machine, even a $1 calculator, must compile the entered values and operations into a internal stack representation as part of the execution process.

As far as the big machines go, the 1961 Burroughs B5000 was the ultimate stack machine, accessed using ALGOL-60. The old HP 3000 is also a stack machine.

#45

The manual error is minor compared to the support lapse. Unfortunately, that degree of tech support cluelessness is standard today. To be fair, in the 15C LE we have a product that

  1. is brand new (to tech support).
  2. contains a bug that doesn't prevent most users from using the machine.
  3. is used by a tiny fraction of a tiny minority of a marginalized subgroup of customers. (OK, maybe not marginalized. :)

Despite all that, nobody can be happy about losing a customer like that. It's a classic case of people doing what they feel like doing, rather than doing what you think they should. A Google search for "15C LE self test bug" yields this as the second link. The first link (starred!) points to the live forum index, which will at least get somebody plugged in to a group that can answer the question.)


#46

There's still no product support page for the 15C LE outside of a short description on the small business product pages. That part surprises me. A lot of ill will can be avoided by the company having a support page up and running when the product hits the shelves (or soon thereafter).


#47

I'm sorry to say that my recent experiences with HP Tech support have not been great either. I bought an HP laptop a few months ago and ran into problems with Tech support. It's not that their hardware is bad, it's the ability of their staff to handle customer problems in a timely manner.

Now, when I bought four 15C LEs and two of them had keyboard problems, I was lucky enough to be able to show them to Tim at the HHC conference and he has them for evaluation. I know that HP will resolve these HP 15C LE hardware and software issues, but from my experience, it will take a while for them to get the kinks worked out. The real question is when the software problems are resolved, will there be any new problems? I'm sure our group here will bang on them and find out real fast!

I should also mention that during one of the HP Q&As at the conference it was mentioned that if you have a 15C LE with keyboard issues, please contact HP's tech support to get the problem resolved. All I can say is Good Luck!

Gerry

#48

but is it really true? are there units of the 15c LE that DOES NOT have a self test? or that merely, the self-test described in the manual (ON-/) is just broken, and that a *real* self test exists (ON-g-ENTER)?


#49

troy,

I don't think there is a real self test on HP 15c LE. Ideally a real self test, tests CPU, RAM and other internal circuit components. If you have to watch the LCD to determine if a pixel is missing is NOT a self test, it is just a test.

As far as I can tell, HP 15C does NOT have a SELF test for checking RAM, CPU and other internal circuits, it only comes with a keyboard and LCD test. Also if you read other posts, there is a memory corruption reported by other users during this test.

Turn the calc. off
Press and hold 'g' and 'ENTER'
While still holding down 'g' and 'ENTER' press the 'ON' key
Release 'ON', followed by 'g' and 'ENTER'

The test screen will display ' 1.L 2.C 3.H '

Press 1 to perform the LCD test

Press 2 to display the Copyright/Checksum message (I don't think this checksum real either, (ChE-FFFFh)looks like a pre-recorded number and not a result of a self-test calculated checksum)

Press 3 to perform the keyboard test

Press ON to exit the test.


Edited: 27 Sept 2011, 4:30 p.m.


#50

Hello

Quote:
I don't think there is a real self test on HP 15c LE. Ideally a real self test, tests CPU, RAM and other internal circuit components. If you have to watch the LCD to determine if a pixel is missing is NOT a self test, it is just a test.

Actually, it does...
before you get displayed with the 1, 2, 3 menu, the memory and important parts of the CPU are tested (timers, speed, 6KB of RAM, ROM checksum...)...

it just happen that you do not see it as it does not err...

Cyrille


#51

Thanks for the info. So, basically, the calc does a silent POST prior to displaying the "test" menu.

On a separate issue, what is the cause of the Pause command problem, and how easily can it be fixed?

Also, assuming there is a future firmware revision, could a stopwatch/timer feature be added?


#52

Equal in importance to the pause issue, are the memory corrupting self tests and the 20ma continuous current drain when a key is pressed.

#53

Quote:
it just happen that you do not see it as it does not err...

Curious.. What do we see if it does err?


#54

Quote:
Curious.. What do we see if it does err?

That's a question I asked too. The new Voyager self tests are described only at the HP website for HP 12C support. There's nothing for the HP 15C-LE specifically.

That website contains this statement: If the calculator detects an error at any point, it will display an error message.

I would like to see a revised HP 15C-LE manual that describes:

1. What is actually tested when the new self-tests are executed.

2. What error messages can be generated.

This may have little real value to the customer, but the oddball customer base for the anachronistic HP 15C-LE would doubtless appreciate such information.

#55

Hi Cyrille,

I am not convinced that 15C LE is performing a self-test right before entering that menu: My reasons are following:
1- HP 12C P25AE also provides the menu and does not begin the test until #2 is pressed which takes about 25 seconds. On HP 15C LE the answers seems to be instant, no "running" display, etc.
2- Following a self-test with "running" display, HP 12C P25AE reports a check sum what seems like a number which has been calculated during the self-test. HP 15C reports FFFFh instantly. What are the odds having the checksum FFFFh as the very last bit in a 4 digit hex (next would be 10000h).

Edited: 28 Sept 2011, 6:17 p.m. after one or more responses were posted


#56

Quote:
I am not convinced that 15C LE is performing a self-test right before entering that menu...HP 15C reports FFFFh instantly. What are the odds having the checksum FFFFh as the very last bit in a 4 digit hex ...

The time that it takes to perform any self testing on a HP 12C Platinum model, using a Sunplus 6502-based processor, would likely take much longer than equivalent self testing in the HP 12C+ or HP 15C-LE, which use the much much faster Atmel AT91SAM7L128 processor.

Last week I asked the question about what appears to me to be a fake checksum result (FFFFh) on the 15C-LE. I didn't get an authoritative response. Add me to the list of those doubting the validity of the firmware checksum reported by the 15C-LE. Related to that is whether the 15C-LE actually calculates a checksum, or is the checksum reported only a value that was stored during the firmware load process.

Edited: 28 Sept 2011, 7:35 p.m.


#57

It is actually a 2 digit checksum value of 0-255. The first two should match the second two. FF==FF is good.

We have never seen any flashing issue or "bad" loads into the chip.

TW


#58

Quote:
It is actually a 2 digit checksum value of 0-255. The first two should match the second two. FF==FF is good.

Tim, HP 12CP 25AE gives a checksum "ChE--564Ah" so based on your description 56h(86d) <> 4Ah(74d) and therefore it is bad?


#59

This is confusing, I wonder if TW and company switched to a different checksum method at some point (around July 2009 ?). The old firmware (that the 12C 30th AE has) does not seem to follow the 2-byte checksum methodology nor does the 12CP 25th AE from years earlier.

BTW the 12CP 25th AE has a 4th "CPU" self test that returns a mysteries result, "3929188 h2". What's that?


#60

Quote:
BTW the 12CP 25th AE has a 4th "CPU" self test that returns a mysteries result, "3929188 h2". What's that?

Yes, I was wondering about that too, everytime you run it, you get a different result, a lower one. Almost like an internal timer counting down.
#61

Well, I assumed it worked the same way as on the 10bII+, 20/30b. Looks like I was wrong. Don't know what is going on there then.

TW


#62

Ok, I misread what was written earlier. My statement was correct.

On any ARM based calc (10bII+,20/30b,12c,15c) it is a 1 byte checksum. The 15c correctly comes out with FF==FF. You only have 255 options for the checksum there, so it isn't completely unexpected. Flash is very reliable. The more reliable the medium, the less critical the checksum. In every unit HP has ever built we have yet to see an issue with the flash.

The 12cp uses some other completely different method and it shouldn't be compared with any other unit.

TW


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