09 Mar A Lesson In Customer Service – a.k.a. What NOT To Do
A Lesson In Customer Service – a.k.a. What NOT To Do
So a couple weeks ago I had one of my printers go down with a fairly common routine problem, the rubber drive belt for the carriage assembly wore out. No big deal, they only last so long and need to be swapped every couple years or so depending on use, and mine certainly gets a lot of use!
HP offers an exceptional on-site warranty service program, but it’s also an exceptionally large amount of money starting at several hundred dollars per year. If I was running the printer a lot more say in a dedicated production environment this would be a no brainer deal, sign me up! However I only print for myself and a relatively small selection of clients so I can’t justify that kind of expense, especially when I am capable of doing just about everything myself. For giggles I checked how much this one repair would cost, and it was nearly $1,000! It included an on-site HP tech, repair, replacement, cleaning and calibration and would take a few hours to complete.
The service manual is available online for free download so I grabbed that and started reading. Looks like it’s no big deal, let’s find the part. The replacement belt turned out to be only $50 so that’s not bad. While sourcing the part I found a site called LPS Computer that not only sells the belt, but also a ‘Replacement Kit’ that also gives you, according to the product page, ‘All the tools needed to do the job right’ including ‘calibration material’, oil, pads, a CD of the service manual and step by step instructions. I almost just bought the belt, but thinking if there’s just one special tool I don’t have that’s in this kit, or there is a calibration test I can’t do without this material, I’m in for a greater headache than the additional $50 for the kit is worth, so I bought the $109 to my door kit.
At the same time I decided it would be helpful to others if I made a how-to video of the repair, since it affects a great number of printers and plotters out there, and this family of printers is very popular. I was one of the very first in the world to receive one, and also happen to have gone through some beta testing with HP to design and redesign parts for it. Mine has about the longest service life of the general supply so many more people are going to be needing this repair very soon if not already. The idea hit me due to the fact I found no help whatsoever on the net about the repair, and I like to fill needs!
iPhone in hand to take video (love this thing!) I started the project with the arrival and breakdown of the Kit I had ordered a few days prior. It arrived and I was a little disappointed, in that it only included about $15 of actual stuff, for the $50. The Special Tools were nothing more than a $5 bit driver set and the Calibration Material was a 2×2 sheet of blank paper (I have hundreds of feet already here). OK live and learn – don’t buy out of fear, at least I have what I need, no big deal. Wrong.
There were two major problems with the kit, two truly special tools that were needed to complete the repair, and not included. In fact the company didn’t even know they were needed because at their own admission, they had never tried it.
The specific problem was there are two locations on the printer that require a dedicated T8 and T10 driver to remove some screws. They are located through very small slots in the printer itself and a bit driver such as was included is too large to fit, and reach the screws. Anyone that actually tried this would know this instantly.
Upon finding the first such screw I had to use another set of tools to get the job done. The next morning when they opened, I called LPS and told them what the problem was. I spoke to a very nice gal who immediately stated ‘Oh, I haven’t heard that before, let me go ask!’ OK. My first reaction, having worked in technical support positions for better than 15 years is – either she’s brand new, or this kit is BS. She came right back on the phone and before I could even ask, she says I would like to give you a $12 refund for the missing tool. I thought, great, that’s what I wanted, thank you very much! I hung up, the refund was credited to me within the hour and all was right with the world. Until 3 hours later.
When I reached another part of the process and found a similar situation, this time a different size Torx driver required, I again had to use another tool and called the company back. I requested the same thing, a $12 refund as obviously now this kit was NOT tested and it wasn’t an accident that a part was left out, this was falsely advertised, plain and simple. This time I got a man who was presumably the owner by the way he acted and later wrote. During the phone conversation he denied that the refund just hours earlier was for a missing tool, but tried to say it was a courtesy refund for the trouble! I explained to him that there is no way this job can be done with his kit, read him his description and he agreed that the kit does not work. He also admitted that his technicians there have never actually used the kit, instead use (his words) the ‘better tools’. AKA the RIGHT tools. After getting no where and being accused of trying to ‘work him for money’ I stated that I am aware that I can at any time go through PayPal for a refund, but am choosing not to as I want to work it out directly. That set him off on a tirade after which he hung up on me!
I then did have to contact PayPal (it’s a matter of principle at this point, it’s not about $12) and filed a dispute. I entered this same story and the facts, and entered that I would settle the dispute for $12 (I could have asked for a complete refund as the item was not described correctly against PayPal policy). Not one hour later this guy replies to the dispute, denies the refund offer and posts this:
“The tool kit sent to the customer has a value of $12. That was refunded. He tried to bully me into a second refund for his claim of another problem with the tools. I don’t respond well to bullying, whining or professional victims. He was made whole.”
Yes, he really did post that about a customer. Nice. So to recap, he puts together a product that’s not tested, it’s faulty, a customer pays for it and finds the faults, then points them out and that constitutes being the above. Yeah sorry, buddy, that doesn’t fly. I then called PayPal who promptly agreed with me and issues me the additional $12 refund. So I guess I should thank this arrogant jerk for running his business so unprofessionally, it helped prove my case with very little effort.
One last interesting note, just after I filed the PayPal claim, he pulled the product off his website. Unfortunately for him I had already done a screen capture for PayPal which came in handy to prove my case.
Unfortunately for this guy, what he didn’t have the chance to find out since he hung up on me, was that I am a professional photographer, and am making the how-to video, which will get quite a bit of exposure, and now this story goes along with it.