Kneeing Customers in the Groin — the HP Way


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Noted CRM consultant Dick Lee is no stranger to bad customer service — the man has flown Northwest. So when he says Hewlett-Packard’s customer service has hit “rock bottom,” well, one takes notice.

Briefly: Lee had a problem with an out-of-warranty HP monitor, got nowhere with the AVR menu, spent 25 minutes with somebody who spoke no English, finally transferred to someone who spoke enough English to say this call will cost you $60 whether your problem’s fixed or not, then was put on hold until he hung up.

Did this below-the-belt style surprise Lee? “Actually, no. HP appears to be abandoning the small business market, at least from a service perspective. And HP’s small business equipment lines have been disappointing from a quality perspective.”

Why, I wondered, would a company charge you $60 if they fixed a problem or not? What’s the thinking here? “David, you can’t see into a company’s mind if there’s plywood between the ears. HP either doesn’t get customers or doesn’t value small company business.”

But Lee’s a repeat customer — “time was when we were a nearly 100% HP office.” Why the upraised middle finger? “We’re not a high-value customer in the grand scheme of things. But small companies grow into large companies. And small company managers migrate up the food chain. Leaving bad impressions with companies like ours does not serve HP well.”

Surely HP learned something, Dick? “The case manager said they would check to see if the contact centers involved required more training. But hey, the check’s in the mail.”

“I was thinking about going back to HP,” Lee says in his blog. “Never, never, never, ever. Apply this incident across HP’s entire small business base, and it’s called ‘losing millions to save pennies.’ I’d call to complain, but I know in advance nobody’s home.”

There’s sort of a happy ending: HP called to apologize and refund the charge. But as Lee says, “they never addressed the inappropriateness of the policy. No mulligan here. HP meant it. I don’t believe they’d have contacted me if I wasn’t blogging about the incident.”


  1. I had the same very experience with HP. Language barrier and then told $60 to talk to anyone technical with no guarantees. I used to love their products and was a loyal. They have now lost me and don’t seem to care. Switch to Dell…so far so good.


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