We order stuff online.  A lot.  Things go wrong.  You get the wrong item, it’s defective, you change your mind, whatever.  You call, they ask for your name or phone or credit card number, then you return or exchange it in 5 minutes.  Many times, you can take care of it easily online with a few clicks. Worst case, if it’s your own dumb fault, maybe you pay a restocking fee.  Maybe you have to make two calls or it takes 15 minutes and is a little more difficult.  99% of the time it’s only a minor hassle.

It’s that 1 out of 100 times that takes 60 minutes or even longer to do something that should take 5 or 10 minutes.  I’ve had bad service.  Representatives who are clueless.  Some who just aren’t nice.  I’ve dealt with the huge companies like Amazon.Com and Apple.  I’ve dealt with tiny manufacturers and retailers.  Of all of them, only one company stands out as having routinely horrible service. For me, almost each and every one of those 1 out of 100 is with Hewlett Packard.

I cannot express enough how absolutely awful their customer service is.  Whether you call or email, it is more painful and takes longer than a root canal.  Literally.  If you email, they do their best not to actually read your comments and you have to start over from scratch with every reply.  By phone, you have to be transferred around at least a few times before you’re ultimately told you need to call a different number and start being transferred again.  Each person who talks to you has to take all your information all over again.

I’m not sure what it is there.  It’s like they are specifically trained to do everything in their power to frustrate you so you will give up.  This actually wouldn’t surprise me.  The other issue is that they’ve moved almost all of their support to Asia.  That alone isn’t a big problem; some companies I’ve dealt with have adequate customer service that is based in Asia.  When the customer service is bad, though, the language barrier makes it even worse.

The only bright side of HP customer service is that there must be at least one call center left in North America.  If you get transferred around enough, eventually you get someone there who not only listens to you and understands what you are saying, but actually tries to help you as well.

My HP notebook computer spent the better part of its first 6 months being repaired over and over.  It’s made a couple trips back in years since, too.  Each and every call or email has been the same.   The only way I was ever able to get it repaired after countless hours on the phone and numerous emails was because someone in an online forum for the product gave me a special number for a “case manager”, who happened to be based in North America and was actually willing and able to resolve the problem.

Most recently, I ordered a recovery CD online.  They lost the first order.  No record.  I made a number of calls and even had to open a case number.  Each time I bounced around to different departments and phone numbers and no one could help me. Everyone had to start from scratch with my life history and demanded every bit of information before they could tell me that they had to transfer me to someone else.  After a couple days I finally ended up with a rep in North America who still couldn’t find the order, but at least was helpful and suggested I wait a few days and order again and they would refund one if I received two.

Well, I did reorder.  So far, only one item has arrived, but it was nearly folded in half.  I dreaded making the call.  As expected, I bounced around again and again.  Apparently no one was willing or able to deal with finding my order or processing a refund or exchange.  Turns out, the number I was told to call on the receipt was not the right one, of course, so they gave me another.  After about an hour, I landed with North America again after one of the transfers.   He was helpful, too.  Unfortunately, by that point, there was absolutely no way in heck I wanted an exchange and thus even a remote chance of having to call HP again if there was a problem.  He processed my refund.

I’ll never buy an HP product again if I can avoid it.  Well, not until I read that they are moving all their customer service back to North America and training them on what service should be.

What company is your goat in terms of customer [dis]service?