Thursday, September 27, 2007

More About Those Hard Disk Problems

I mentioned several days ago that I had a hard disk failure on my HP Pavillion dv5220 notebook--and while waiting for the extended warranty process to solve my problem, I am using my Linux box.

Today, the replacement hard disk arrived--a day earlier than I expected. But there was a problem.

Here's the hard disk that was in the notebook:

Click to enlarge

And the replacement hard disk:

Click to enlarge

Hmmm. Do you see anything wrong? Well, I suppose if I used a hammer, I could smash the round pins on the replacement drive into the flat fingers of the connector, but I rather doubt that it would work very well.

So I called technical support, figuring that perhaps some dv5220 notebooks used one connector type, and others used another type. Nope! They looked it up in their database, and this is the only type of drive they used!

Perhaps there was some way to remove something from either drive that would be an adapter? Nope? Both drives had interfaces that were a part of the printed circuit board.

The technical support guy found a picture online of the model that they sent me--part 430328-001. It sure looks like the drive that was in my notebook--but nothing like the drive they sent me--which was not only in a box that said, "430328-001" but had a sticker on the drive that claimed it was a 430328-001. Pretty obviously, someone put the wrong sticker on the drive, and in the wrong box. So, I'm sending this drive back, and hope that they get lucky the next time.

Three things that have me very upset with HP customer support:

1. Their IT systems are obviously in a shambles. No two parts of the organization seem to have access to information that should be shared. I had to repeat my story, give them warranty information, product numbers, and serial numbers perhaps fifteen to twenty times over the last three days.

2. I know that India has cheap labor, and I also know that there is not a bright line that divides "speaks and understand English perfectly" and "utterly useless with English." But there needs to be some serious effort at identifying those people who can speak and understand English, and those for whom this is going to be a struggle. I speak with a California accent---not Southern, or Texan, or twangy Midwestern, or Bostonian, or even Wisconsin Cheesehead. This should be the least difficult version of American English for them to understand. And yet "four" and "seven" seem to be identical to many of the people I spoke to over the last few days. Some of them had so little accent that I was not at first sure if they were Indian or Canadian (who sound Canadian, but we still understood each other just fine), but most of the people on the phone required me to repeat myself, and vice versa. This is not pleasant, nor is it efficient.

3. I have not lost my temper or even reached the point of being short on the phone with anyone--in spite of strong temptations. Why? Because most of the people that I talked to seemed to be doing their best with completely inadequate IT systems. But at least two of the many people that I have spoken to in the last few days have been rude--and they started out the conversation that way. I know from talking to relatives who have spent far too much time on the phone to HP customer support that there area lot of rude people working for them. Why?

Some company could gain a big competitive advantage in the computer market by advertising, "All customer support is provided from Canada, the U.S., and Britain." I know that I would be willing to pay 10% more for a computer, knowing that I wasn't going to be exasperated after trying to get customer support.

UPDATE: A reader points out that someone has taken up the challenge. Gateway advertises:
Now offering 100% North America-based telephone technical support.
I think that alone is enough reason to consider a Gateway next time I have to buy a computer. The reader who informed of this recently made the decision to buy Gateways for a business that he works for instead of Dell or HP for that reason.

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