Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Customer Service?

Every playwright I know uses a computer. You may write a draft in longhand, but you have to type eventually. I received a new printer as a gift for Christmas. I am through with lame home office printers that have been foisted on me by eager Staples employees. Now, I have a genuine office laserjet, in a short of post-World War II streamlined Italian design. All silver and gray plastic.

I’d been thinking about what to do with the old printer; six months past its warranty, and guaranteed to die sooner rather than later. I decided to keep it, not so much as back up, but because it does pack better if I have to be out of town for awhile.

So the moment of truth arrives last Thurs. I hook up the new printer, and load the ink and the software. It works fine. Though it’s strange to me that no only did it arrive with no manual, it didn’t come with a physical warranty, either. Friday afternoon I try to print again, and it doesn’t work. I get an error message saying the print job has been stopped- not by me. So I turn the printer on and off; I try a different USB cable; I reboot the MacBook. Big fat nothing.

I call Hewlett Packard customer service. They keep me on hold for half an hour; I get a human at one point, but he won’t talk to me because I’m calling about a Mac. I get another human who tells me despite the fact the printer is new and worked fine yesterday, it’s an MS Word problem; I need to download four patches from the Microsoft site. I try that- nothing will allow me to install the software. My boyfriend comes over, and he thinks it’s the printer drivers. I admit that was my first thought as well, but I couldn’t believe that Hewlett Packard would sell a new printer that cost $200 and give you old software. I was mistaken: Hewlett Packard did exactly that, wasted a minimum of two hours of my life, the technical support was flat-out wrong, and Tom and I spent a half an hour trying to download the current printer drivers from the HP website, their server wasn’t responding.

I can’t help thinking that a printer manufacturer with better customer service could, as they used to say, “Eat their lunch.”

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