The Most Excruciatingly Painful, Yet Typical, Customer Service Call Ever

Peter, who is the CEO of a company called Vocal Laboratories Inc. (they conducts call center customer service surveys for companies like Apple, Dell, and HP), felt compelled to add video commentary to a call to HP that was recently logged by one of their participants. Peter writes:

I was listening to a call recording from our Service Quality Tracker, and the call was so ordinary, yet pointless, that I was inspired to create some video commentary.

As Peter says, there’s nothing really horrible about the call except that it’s exactly like every customer service call you’ve ever had to make. It’s oddly infuriating. Listen for yourself. —MEGHANN MARCO

RELATED: Send Us Your Customer Service Calls And We’ll Mock Their Flaws

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  1. navitatl says:

    Wow, I’m surprised this doesn’t violate a contract or something.

  2. Munkeyhatecleen says:

    I wonder how the computer operator would have responded had he said “hardcore internet porn” as his primary use??

  3. Scazza says:

    Its amazing how efficient the follow up call was, yet they couldn’t get a system up and running that can provide basic support for the customer.

  4. royal72 says:

    “I was listening to a call recording from our Service Quality Tracker, and the call was so ordinary, yet pointless, that I was inspired to create some video commentary.”

    wtf do you mean ordinary. they fucking hung-up on the poor guy and you can here in his voice he’s ready to go postal on hp. perhaps shitty, horrible, or bullshit are better words than ordinary, regardless of how common this type of service may be.

  5. scoobydoo says:

    This call shows everything that is wrong with the current state of outsourced customer support. When the simplest of tasks take 5 minutes you really need to reevaluate how you think you are helping your customers.

  6. donnie5 says:

    I used to call into HP all the time to order parts and services (we have over 2000 HP machines, so this is common) and I used to wonder what the heck was going on. I would put the calls on speaker phone so I could do something else while waiting. My co-workers used to find the calls amusing when they could hear both sides.
    One day we became a HP “self maintainer”. Instead of calling in, we now order parts for ourselves. We log into a website using Active X controls and enter our own orders. This is the same website “Chris” is using. IT IS UNGODLY SLOW. It takes 15 minutes to order a replacment floppy drive! The long silence is “Chris” just waiting for HP’s crappy web interterface to figure out what is going on. The best part is, IT CRASHES AT LEAST 40% OF THE TIME. Then you start over…

  7. harleymcc says:

    wow, guess whose monitoring contract is going to get canceled?

  8. weave says:

    I too wonder how this isn’t violating their contract. If I hired a company to do customer satisfaction surveys and found my company defamed on the internets I’d be hopping mad.

  9. Brian Gee says:

    @Scazza: The followup call is performed by a company that reviews customer service calls, and does satisfaction surveys. Their business *is* customer service calls, so I’d expect their calls to be the best. On top of that, the followup call wasn’t trying to resolve a problem; they’re just collecting information on how dissatisfied the customer is.

    @royal72: If only that were one of the really shitty, horrible or bullshit calls… I think the submitter is suggesting that, as bad as it was, it was fairly typical of the calls he hears. I know its fairly typical of my experience calling customer service lines for help; I’ve been “transferred” to a dial-tone on many occasions.

    Surely VocalTec sends a report to HP summarizing the performance of HP’s customer service calls, probably with suggestions for improvement. My guess is that HP (and everyone else) flat out ignores the report but keeps paying VocalTec to do surveys and make reports, so investors think they care about customer service.

    Oh yeah… and so they can fire CSRs that don’t meet quotas.

  10. emax4 says:

    There was a statement in the video why the tech was asking for the serial number. Perhaps on an earlier call the first tech didn’t ask for it but gave the custy a reference number for when he calls back. Regarding the serial number, certain models might have been manufactured at a certain time when an error was discovered, thus prompting a recall or fix for particular models with a specific serial number within a range. Sorta like why they didn’t recall all of the Peter Pan peanut butter, only ones with certain codes.

  11. mattbrown says:

    fantastic advertisement. does vocalabs make pants? I need some pants.

  12. Yeah I work for a company that contracts with HP for it’s marketing in stores… I already bumped this post up to my supervisor to figure out why this was posted if HP is PAYING this company to help improve its customer service…….

  13. harleymcc says:

    No comment on who I am, but they can take HP off their list….

  14. Amy Alkon says:

    I have never experienced worse customer service from a tech company than I got from HP — and that was with their “extended service” plan for my 450ci portable printer, and with the involvement of some woman named Mary from the office of the president at HP. Even with her intervention, I didn’t get helped. I ended up stuck in Paris four newspaper deadlines to meet, and no printer. My boyfriend had to buy me a new printer (actually a floor sample from Staples) and bring it with him. I will never, ever buy another HP product, and this call is just another example of why nobody should.

    It’s so amazing how people who run big companies can be so utterly clueless about what it takes to keep a customer. How much do they save outsourcing to Calcutta? I bet they never call their own “help” lines. Here’s my assignment to the nimrods running HP: Buy a Mac, and then call Applecare and then call your own service dolts, and observe the difference.

    Applecare techs, in my experience (with Macs since 1985), are helpful, speak good old American English, know their product, and use common sense to solve your problem and get you off the phone…none of this four minutes of info-hosing, and all the rest. Apple computers and their techs might not be perfect — I’m sure there are those who have issues from time to time, but by and large, there’s not just a world, but a universe of difference.

  15. shdwsclan says:

    Ha ha ha.
    That capitalism for..
    I generally dont buy anthing that is outsourced to india, since the service is HORRIBLE. Some dont actually speak english, or really bad…..
    …and i dont buy my hardware form a company that has shiny stores and people that call themselves geniuses but are actually really stupid and dont know even what ifconfig is, or emacs…..[apple]

    I bought my laptop from IBM a while back…..
    Incredible customer service.
    You can actually use the website to have IBM call you and help you order a computer or solve technical problems.

    Also, your order is reviewed by a human, so when i made the mistake of purchasing the business warranty, they called me about it and they said they would fix the problem, and they did.

    They do have part shortages, but they did give me a discount.

    They were actually the first company to have have linux as an alternative to windows on their laptops…..redhat i believe…

    IBM was probably the best customer service I ever encountered.

    When you call IBM, even lenovo, guess where their call center is……
    NOT in Bangladsh
    NOT in Bombay
    NOT in Malaysia

    Its right here in New Jersey where it has been for the past century.

  16. not_seth_brundle says:

    @weave: Sure you’d be mad, and probably fire the company, but if you didn’t insist on a confidentiality provision in the contract, you’re out of luck. This isn’t defamation.

    @mattbrown: Indeed, a great ad for VocaLabs, probably worth losing a contract with HP (or maybe the contract had already ended before this went out).

  17. Anonymously says:

    He probably just asked for the serial # as a stall tactic to read the file, or load the website, or something.

  18. radioboy says:

    i hate customer service. hate hate hate hate hate it. any time i call a company, i never get a person right away. first it’s voicemail hell. then you get some guy in india. i wouldn’t care that much if they said hello this is babu how can i help you, but they americanize the names so it’s “Hello this is Chris” in a poorly disguised accent. The courtesy is so fake, they say please every other sentence and apologize profusely for every little thing. I needed a simple replacement part for a Motorola cell charger (the splitter to do a phone and headset, provided my phone and headset models) and had to sit there while the guy goes “OK sir please hold on I will be very happy to help locate the part for your HS820 and V557, I am going to put you on hold an go locate the part is that ok sir?” – YES! Just put me on hold and go find me the damn part. And I wound up being sent the wrong part.

    Called back, and the guy is giving me a runaround saying the part doesn’t exist – I know it exists because I HAD ONE. I hang up on him out of frustration, and keep calling back until I get a woman who doesn’t have as incredibly thick an accent – she took about 20 seconds to locate the correct part and overnight it to me.

    Farking ridiculous.

  19. Athenor says:

    Funny part is, as soon as the man started explaining the problem, I knew exactly what the tech should have said — because I waded through the same issue with Gateway. Basically, thanks to the MSFT anti-trust lawsuits, computer companies don’t ship out software restore disks with their PC’s. They have you create ‘em once they are in your posession — a step that I found on page 37 of my Gateway Media Center PC.

    I lost about a week and a half of work because Gateway needed to send me a full restore disk, from which I created the software restore disk. I basically went Media Center -> XP Pro -> wipe -> Media Center -> disk creation -> XP Pro -> software install. It was annoying, because the audio codecs were part of said software package.

    Buying a Media Center PC for a work environment is horrible.

    (Not to mention that Best Buy’s “professional install of XP Pro” that we were supposed to get from the local store basically amounted to them pulling an off the shelf computer off the rack, and shipping it to us with an XP Pro box. )

  20. jbohanon says:

    This customer service still sounds better than Frys. I ordered something from them around Christmas time and I would listen to music for 15 minutes before the phone abruptly hung up. It took seven tries to finally get through. They eventually fixed the hang-up problem, but that only caused even longer hold-times.

  21. PeterLeppik says:

    In response to the people who asked about why we can release the recording of this call, this particular survey was not commissioned by HP, so we have no contract or obligation to HP to keep the data confidential.

    We did this survey as part of our “Service Quality Tracker” program, which we run as a public service (and for the publicity, of course). If you visit the URL in the video (www.vocalabs.com/sqtrack), we also post survey data on HP and three other companies. You’re also invited to participate and add your own two cents worth. Instructions are on the web page.

    Of course every customer contract we sign has a strict confidentiality clause. We don’t talk about those surveys. But because we are a premium survey company, our customers tend to be the ones who take this stuff seriously.

    We did get the customer’s permission to release the call recording; that’s actually one of the survey questions not included in this video.

    Peter Leppik, CEO
    Vocal Laboratories Inc.

  22. jwissick says:

    Typical HP support. Pitiful and pointless.

    HP is a customer support nightmare.

  23. mantari says:

    Oh, this call was a delight, with the exception of the disconnection. I can’t count the number of calls that I’ve had that went far far worse than this. I really should start recording these for fun.

  24. LostinAustin says:

    This is why I love my new mac. Real people pick up the phone and do their best to get my system fixed. Oh, and if I want to talk to someone in person, I drive over to a store and talk to a friendly face. AppleCare’s worth every penny.

  25. moorie679 says:

    try this with dell, I had a hardware issue and it took me 30 mins to get a hold of Mark at Bangladesh at 2:00 am. 15 mins for him to find my case number and cpu info 15 more mins to go through some steps that resulted in the diagnosis of the problem which I already told him when he first picked up the phone and 10 more mins for him to explain to me that the rep i called 5 days ago gave me the wrong information about my warranty.

    Result 1:10 mins just for this second call, a busted laptop with a messed up power jack and me never shopping at dell.

    I have never shopped at dell since, I will refuse to buy a single product from them even if it is cheaper than new egg (which has great customer service). In addition I try to discourage people from buying dell. Success so far including my mom, cousin, uncle, 3 friends.

  26. coolcat_opee says:

    You know, one thing that you people do not understand about the tech support business is just what horrible place call centers are to work in. Most of these outsourced call centers are place in cities and towns where there is very little employment. (I’m talking about the ones in North America)

    That way they do not have to pay tech support agents very much. Try a little over min wage. They don’t have to give them raises. Or any real benefit. If they don’t like it they are free to quit.

    Most of the big call center companies in North America really treat their employees very badly. Because they know they can just hire a new batch. Being that there is little opportunities else where in town. They naturally always have applicants looking for work. I can personally tell you, I have worked in a few call centers. All in Canada, dealing American customers. All where equivalent to working in a sweat shop. And I have worked in a sweat shop before, so I know.

    Anther thing you people fail to see is that these tech support agents have to jump through hoops before they can help you with your issues. If you only knew the amount of paperwork these poor agent have to fill out before they actually deal with your problem, it would drive you nuts. Why so much paperwork … is basically so they can track how good a job the HP, Dell, Verizon of the work are doing at keeping their total cost down.
    So you can buy a $400 computer. Next time your sitting there frustrated with you tech support agent. Think about that fact they could be a single mother with little options for employment. Think about that fact that she never get to spent time with her child. Because you guys want $400 with free tech support at 4 am in the morning.

  27. Solo says:

    Even if you can get past the language barrier (the tech’s English sounded fair enough, but I’m good at listening through the accent of “Chris”)
    you still have a tech that does not listen to the customer, does not ask what the problem is, even though he could have all the info he needs from the case number previously assigned.

    A little more familiarity with phone conversation would help. Things like, “Please hang whith me a minute while I’m waiting for my computer to pull up your file” or things like that go a long way to make you feel comfortable. Long awkward silence pauses are just awkward.

    “Chris” is probably working under the pressure of answering 7 millions calls per hour, for $5/day, with a boss and customers screaming at him all day. Not that I’m making excuses for him, since after all he’s just a pawn under the huge HP organization.

    Finally I’d say HP tech support is really hit or miss. They have call centers all over the world. I found that calling the same number repeatedly did not always guide you through the same voice active menu, did not always end you in India and I found it practical to call until I could find someone I could talk to (read: who would listen to me, whose english was acceptable, who was knowledgeable, who explained to me what he was doing)

  28. riggs says:

    Further proof that companies don’t need to be cutting corners in the area of customer service. Pay a couple extra bucks an hour and give me someone who knows what they’re talking about, not some guy in New Delhi claiming to be “Johnny Appleseed.” All these outsourced reps are doing is reading from a script in the first place. As a general rule, not making your customers jump through flaming hoops to get something this elementary done is a good way to keep them.

  29. bokononist says:

    I would hope that the people here who are criticizing the posting of this video aren’t affiliated with HP. If you are, you are part of the problem. The lesson you should be learning from the video isn’t that a partner posted a bad support call to the Internet, it’s that the call happened in the first place.

  30. FLConsumer says:

    I’ve had excellent support from Dell, but I purchase Dell enterprise-grade products, which have their own group of real, live Texans to answer the phone. When you call, a real human f’ing being answers the phone, usually on the first or second ring. No phone trees, no defective voice recognition, a real live Texan. Even better, the real live Texan is a tech with a brain and knowledge! They fix my problems and ship out parts, all in under 5 mins a call.

    For the other companies, it’s gotten so bad that I picked up a second phone line so I can remain on hold while getting other business done. I was talking with a friend who works at a local hospital for medical billing and she says business-to-business (contacting the insurance companies) isn’t any better.

    When I can, I WRITE a snail-mail letter to the company, certified, return-receipt. Amazing how well this works and how painless it is. Quick, concise resolutions. No hoops to jump through, just a matter of patiently waiting about a week for a resolution to my problem.

  31. ungsunghero says:

    As soon as I read through the description of the clip, I was expecting all of the following to happen:

    1) The CSR would repeat information either already given to him or easily accessible (at least, we would be inclined to believe that such information was easily accessible).
    2) The CSR would have to transfer the customer to another CSR.
    3) The customer would get disconnected at least once.

    I’m glad to see that I went three for three with my predictions.

    Here’s one of my horrible tech support stories:

    I had questions about extending the warranty on my Dell laptop, so I started an online chat with a CSR. After 15 minutes of wait time, a CSR joined me, and I told the rep that I wanted to know how much it would cost to extend my warranty. The CSR made me confirm all sorts of info about my system. After all that, the CSR flatly told me that I could call some phone number to get the information I needed.

  32. hop says:

    i had to make 5 different calls to verizon about my dsl service…i am somewhat hearing impaired,and would notify the csr of this….4 of the calls were bummers….one woman mumbled so bad i couldn’t understand a word….another’s accent was so rough i had to give up on that call….two were hang-ups……i finally connected up with a very good rep….he walked me through the set up and configurations, he had an accent, but spoke slowly and clearly, i had no problem understanding his directions…….i hope i can connect up with him if/when i have other problems….

  33. Wasn’t it VocaLabs that posted the audio from another phone call that was posted here? The one where the woman kept trying to talk to the computer in full length sentences?

  34. MeOhMy says:

    These days when something goes wrong with just about anything, if I can’t fix it myself I’m more likely to just throw it away or cancel than deal with customer service or tech support. It’s ridiculous.

  35. Eric Crist says:

    @moorie679: I disagree with the comments regarding Dell tech support, at least on the business side. We’ve got a number of dell servers and whenever we need anything, disks, parts, whatever, it’s usually shipped overnight, at no charge. We even got Windows disks for a server we bought off eBay from a third party at no charge, even though the server was End-Of-Life with Dell.

  36. mistaketv says:

    This is eerily reminiscent of a call I placed to Buy.com yesterday to find out why my order hasn’t processed despite being the fifth business day after I placed an order on an item that is in-stock. First, after holding for 15 minutes and hearing the IVR repeat the same inane spiel about RMAs about 60 times, I had to explain everything to the first rep only to be transferred, of course. The second rep needed everything repeated, as she barely understood English. Of course, nothing of my explanation to the first rep made it past the transfer, so I had to start over. The second rep couldn’t even locate the order. She tried telling me several times that it was not in the system. I told her that it was and just to keep looking or perhaps to ask for help. After 5+ minutes of her checking in by chirping “Hello?” she located the order. She proceeded to tell me that the order was subject to credit card and address verification and was “processing.” After much more frustrating language barrier-ridden communication, I was assured that the order would be released within the magical “24 hours.” We’ll see.

  37. @bokononist: I am probably going to get flamed off Consumerist for saying this… but as working for a 3rd party that contracts with HP, 1) this video posting is unacceptable. HP is/was paying for their service to improve their services… and this company posts a particularly bad interview on the internet? That’s not helping… and 2) Every company is going to have some bad customer support experiences… I don’t like that HP farms out customer service to India, but thats the way things have been trending in the industry. I know HP values their customers because part of my job is to help retain customers and build loyalty. This was just a bad experience that got highlighted.

  38. Anonymously says:

    @Troy F.: That’s exactly what they want you to do.

  39. Athenor says:

    *follows the link to YouTube*

    Are you sure VocalLabs posted this? I mean, yes.. the director says VocalLabs.. but this is also their only video. And they joined yesterday.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if they shopped this video around to potential customers to show why their services are needed, and one of them decided to “get back” at VocalLabs by posting it on Youtube. It would be all the more sweet if said poster was a competitor to HP.

  40. MarcAnthony says:

    Hmmmm…I wonder if HP and AT&T are related….SAME BULL$HIT CUSTOMER SERVICE!!!

  41. moorie679 says:

    @mnslinky: DUDE business side is different from the individual…you are trying to compare apples to oranges.

    The phone number that you call and the support that you get is totally different from the one that I can reach.

    For more go to http://www.Ihatedell.net and read the horror stories then get back to me.

  42. proginoskes says:

    Hey, editors and readers: How about publishing a few GOOD customer support calls as well and explain what’s so good about them?

    Personally, I’m going to try recording my phone calls when I finally gather up the energy to possibly call Verizon for a TV, Internet, and TV+Internet quote and then when I call to renegotiate or cancel Comcast. Sorry to say, I’m expecting bad experiences.

    Since I’m in Massachusetts, I have to tel them I’m recording it. Would “I am recording this call for my records” suffice?

  43. SpyMaster says:

    If this only happened when you called HP, I’d say “Who cares?” But this is pretty typical of what happens when you call *any*where for any kind of help. It’s maddening…

  44. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    @AngrySicilian and others:

    Enough with the moral indignation already. The CEO of Vocal Laboratories has already posted a response to your unsubstantiated allegation that they violated some sort of contract with HP. They are not a contractor of HP, and recorded the call of their own volition as a way of showcasing their talents.

  45. seanjerome says:

    The only reason that call centers can get away with giving such poor quality service is that customers will not stop buying their products for that reason.
    When is the last time you researched customer service satisfaction ratings before making that large purchase?
    If you did, you are in the enlightened minority.

  46. a_m_m_b says:

    @coolcat_opee: Well said :)

    @ all: Factor in also that call centers here in NA also tend to be located in Right To Work/Anti Union/Service Economy states. Makes it too easy for employers to give in to the disposable employee concept. Plus people forget: if people will insist on a cheap product, they’re going to get exactly what’s paid for.

  47. boston515 says:

    HP has the most horrible customer service. No one knows exactly what they are talking about. You can tell them exactly what the problem is and they will retort that you are wrong. Their online chat support is just as bad as their telephone service. I keep my chats. They make me laugh because of how stupid the “technicians” are. My favorite interaction with HP? The time I wanted to use my 3 year extended warranty I purchase 7 months before and they told me they never received payment, even after charging my credit card. It took two weeks to get resolved. I got an extra free year for all of the trouble, though.

  48. Mariallena says:

    I’d say his call (and all the other pointless calls he said he made in the past) are typical HP behavior.

    A few years back I bought an HP laptop. The DVD burner NEVER WORKED. From day one. Never ever worked.

    After countless calls I got a label to mail the computer to the HP repair center. It came back untouched.

    I kept being transferred between India and the USA and not once two HP employees talked to each other.

    Finally, I took two mailing addresses from hp.com (they refused to give me a mailing address over the phone) and mailed two very angry registered letters.

    Miraculously, some Indian guy called and said thay have been trying to reach me but my phone (my work phone, which I use every day) wasn’t working and finally I managed to ship my computer and have it repaired.

    Of course, after that I swore never to buy an HP product again and I have kept my promise!

  49. White-Raven says:

    When I saw this on Digg, I just had to listen to it. Why? Well, because I work in HP customer service. Nope, not tech support, just regular customer service, where you call to return something, or bitch about how all our support is in India. I spent the majority of the time listening to this, shaking my head and laughing. I have to call these guys all the time, and let me tell you, tech support is, in a word, in competent. We often get issues transferred to us which are legitimate technical issues, and tech sends them over to freakin customer service, where we are not trained or equipped to handle the situation.

    So, what do I do? Well, unless the customer is going totally ballistic on me, I usually feel sympathy enough to call over to tech support for them, and try to get an issue revoled. Now, let me tell you, it’s just as bad for me as it is for the customer. They can’t get anything done right, it takes forty two transfers before I’m finally in the “correct” department, people put me on hold for 5-10 minutes at a time for no reason (Read: To do such menial tasks as look up an account), and then, worst of all, they will often say “This is a customer support issue, I will be transferring you to customer service now”, at which point I have to scream “I AM CUSTOMER SERVICE, DO NOT TRANSFER ME TO MY OWN DEPARTMENT”.

    Oh, the joys of HP tech support. I know you customers feel frustrated when you have to deal with them, now just imagine having to deal with them every day. I try to to my job well, I want to help people, but when it’s an issue that is out of my hands, I hate the helpless feeling I get by being forced to try to drag a resolution out of people that are completely incompetent in their work.

  50. @segfault: Mind posting a link to this statement? I believe you but it’d be nice to be able to read it too.

  51. mindslight says:

    The main problem with technical support is that it’s all grouped into one lump area. People with legitimate problems that just need quick resolutions (like a warranty exchange) are grouped with people that are having trouble understanding how to use or set up their computer and need a slow walking through.

    What is needed is the phone company concept of a demarcation point. If your phone line stops working, and you talk to the phone company, they will test your line at the box on the outside of your house. If the phone line works there, they are off the hook, the problem is inside your house. You can pay them to come in and fix it, or you can find somebody else competent to do the work for you. If the line doesn’t work at that box, then they are not providing you service and are required to fix whatever is going on behind those scenes. The interface between the customer and the provider is well defined.

    A ‘demarcation point’ for a PC would perhaps be a bootable CD which would test all of the hardware on your computer, and report a pass or fail. If the hardware failed, then you would clearly be eligible for a warranty return. If the CD reported success, it would be a software issue, which would not be the job of the base support that you get when you purchase a computer. (You would be able to purchase ‘software support’ where you would have to run all of their software, etc, and they’d answer questions and hand hold and walk you through)

    A similar point for internet access would be the ethernet jack on the DSL modem. If that was providing “internet” (probably meaning you could reach a variety of sites and sustain a certain speed), then the problem is obviously on the PC and tech support should not have to deal with that. This could possibly be done with a small tester device, or another bootable CD and a PC.

    This would serve as a well-defined spec of what the provider/manufacturer was actually providing. There would always be exceptions for things that did not get tested, but could somehow break. These would be rare, and would get rarer as this method progressed.

    This way, the base warranty or service support would be dealing with problems that were their responsibility to fix. There would be very little troubleshooting, and the ball would be mostly in the companies court to rectify it (warranty return or fixing your internet service). There’s not much arguing with a test CD which says XXX is broken.

    Those who need hand holding would be paying for it, either through phone support from their manufacturer or another vendor, or they could opt for somebody local to them to do it face to face. This would therefore be a money-making operation, rather than grouped with the money-cost department of warranty support.

  52. chrisfromnl says:

    I called HP around 20 times the winter regarding my girlfriends laptop that was sent in for repairs. Some calls lasted 2-3 hours. That hold music gave me shivers when I heard it again.

  53. kd1s says:

    I’ve been hung up on by the best of them. It’s all about predictive dialing, etc. They’ll send the call but the chances of having someone available to help you on the other end are pretty slim.

    Why? Because they’ve outsourced all the people that could potentially help you.

    And it isn’t just HP, but Dell too. I remember when I bought the SO’s laptop the wireless card died after a month. I went through several hours of calls with Dell, had to re-install windows on the damned machine when I knew damned well it was the wireless card.

    And then there’s Cox. When you have issues with Cox they let you talk to a computer that’s more infuriating than ever. I just sit there and scream “AGENT!” at it until it pukes and puts me through to a human.

  54. kmunoz says:

    Although I can’t possibly defend the quality of outsourced customer service in cases like this, many commenters are suggesting or implying that the Indian CSRs don’t know English. You should all be aware that India used to be a British colony and that, in fact, English is a major language in India. The Indian CSRs most people speak to are in all likelihood NATIVE speakers of English. Listen to it again: he’s not making on-the-fly translation mistakes the way non-native English speakers do. That CSR is a native speaker of English. He just has a regional (Indian) accent. It would be little different if HP had outsourced to Britain: same language, different accent. We may not be able to understand the CSR’s accent, but it’s not because he’s ignorant. It’s because we are.

  55. Heimidal says:

    AngrySicilian: The statement was made in a comment above. Scroll up to read.

    Also, the same video appears on their corporate site alongside an explanation of how this process works:

    http://www.vocalabs.com/sqtrack/

  56. KOURI says:

    I swear! Almost Identical to what happened with me and DELL, only I only had my irritation to support me in my frustration. I ended up just downloading a copy of the *cough “factory” system software (XP) …..someone’s gotta pay right……

  57. Android8675 says:

    Thank you VocaLabs! I’m buying stock!

    @KOURI: Trick to Dell support, tell them you run a small business. If you buy a system you’ll often get a Dell Rep calling you like a week after you get the computer asking if everything is OK, and he’ll give you his (or her, sigh) personal phone number if you need anything. ;)

  58. kevman says:

    I will NEVER buy an HP computer product after listening to this.

  59. MommaJ says:

    @kmunoz:


    I must disagree. It’s not just the accent. The CSR’s in India may be native English speakers, but their English is a formal, stilted version that is only made worse by the apparent requirement that they stick to scripted responses. None of us would mind speaking to someone with an Indian accent if only they spoke in American vernacular AND actually responded in a natural fashion to what is said to them. But what is most annoying to me is the total lack of individual personality or sense of humor in these Indian CSR’s. It’s impossible to joke around with them, tease a bit, chat about the weather or do any of the other stuff that makes normal human discourse tolerable. That’s why their apologetic language is so unsatisfying–it’s like getting an apology from a robot. I know there are some real people out there in outsource-land, and I’d love to feel like I’m speaking to one when I call. I often end up calling in the wee hours and just once would like to hear a Indian CSR notice my time zone and say “Wow, you’re up late tonite!” (like those nice ladies at Lands End used to do). It would change the whole tenor of the experience.

  60. gr00 says:

    As someone who has had to deal with HP (for replacement parts/etc) at my workplace over the years, I can only advise that some issues are best dealt via e-mail.

    Oh, but make sure to include the CPU Model, Serial #,Replacement Parts #, and shipping info. Also, remember sure to list all the things you tried that didn’t work — you know, to avoid such beauties as these (if you were to call):

    Customer: I need my hard drive replaced. It is dead and no longer powers up/spins.

    Support: Sir, have you ran our diagnostic software on the hard drive?

    Customer: The drive isn’t detected since it does not power up and yes it is plugged in

    Support: Sir, have you tried re-installing Windows?

    You get the point…

    Oh yea, one more thing — someone should do a survey across a range of companies and see how many of them actually use the answers from the automated system on the current call. My guess is that for many it’s just used as a statistical measure and nothing else.

    @ungsunghero: Live online support chats make me laugh — the best are the ones that force you to login with your on-file account login/password — only to proceed to ask you questions to verify your identity — you know, the same questions that that are clearly editable/viewable from the account profile you just logged into — retarded!

  61. Jordan Lund says:

    The reason the CSR asks for the serial number and model number, even though they are already in the file, is pretty simple.

    Many companies have multiple printers of the same class and model. They will buy one service plan and attempt to use it on every printer of that model.

    Verifying the serial and model prevents this sort of gamesmanship. The serial also tells HP when the thing was made, if it’s still under warranty, etc.

    /Worked helpdesk support for 3 years.
    //Yes, it should still have been handled in less than 2 minutes.

    1) Hi! Who are you?
    2) What sort of equipment are you using?
    3) What’s the nature of the problem?

    That’s all anyone needs to solve a problem.

  62. TurboFool says:

    What’s really sad is how HP has plastered all over their boxes what high ratings they get for their customer service. Either those ratings are bull, or their competitors are so much worse that HP looks good in comparison.

    I don’t allow HP products in my home. I haven’t been impressed with anything they’ve done for quite some time now, and garbage like this just cements that.

  63. Paul Irish says:

    Okay this must just be me—
    Anyone else think the followup call was almost as bad as the first? She hardly even cares what his reaction is, she’s just filling in the boxes on her survey.
    She could hav asked… “you wouldn’t recommend HP? why is that?” “how did this service not meet your expectations?” etc… Honestly I’m surprised VocaLabs is posting this here since their service doesn’t come across as comprehensive or helpful.

  64. Jiminy Christmas says:

    Wow. This could have been me. I had a very similar problem with my HP desktop. My hard drive died at the tender age of 14 months after I bought my PC. As I was troubleshooting I learned the drive was actually under recall from HP, meaning I get a free replacement.

    I learned about the recall from the HP website, but customer service in India didn’t know WTF I was talking about…they’d never heard of it. They wanted to charge me $120 for a new hard drive until someone figured out what the recall was about. Ultimately, my credit card was charged the $120 and I was sent two hard drives. I got the charge reversed and just installed the second HD along with the other one. They didn’y ask for it back, and no way was I opening that can of worms again.

    So, HP does this nifty thing, in order to avoid giving you install CDs, where they partition the hard drive and assume you can reinstall the OS from the partition if you need to. Sadly, if you need to reinstall because your hard drive died that software died with the drive.

    Ergo, I was on the phone again with someone in India to tell them I needed install CDs. They wanted to charge me for them. I spoke to three different people before I convinced someone I was entitled to the software. Happily, I got the software, at no charge, in a few days.

  65. omgyouresexy says:

    I recently used Dell’s online chat service (because I’m well past the point of being able to actually use the phone for these types of calls) to ask the simple question of “How big of a hard drive can my motherboard/BIOS support?”

    It took about 30 minutes to get my question answered, at which point the CSR began to go especially far out of her way to make sure that my computer was in “100% working order” to which I kept having to explain that “No, it’s not working now, but it should once I buy another working hard drive”. I eventually had to just close the chat after 10 or 15 minutes of trying to say thank you and explain that she had answered my question.

    I received a call from her a day or two later, making sure my computer was working “perfectly”. I had less patience this time, and after saying that everything was fine, I ended up having to say I was eating and had to leave. I mean, the CSR was too helpful, to the point of being obnoxious. I’ve never experienced anything like it before.

  66. Braid says:

    From the technician angle, there are several errors at all
    Too long dead-air time, especially the call was cut off and HP had no reply or explain for this issue!
    The tech interrupted customer’s talking, too rude…
    Not so sure about if the tech was doing something else for sounds a bit lost in call
    Any one call in don’t expect this service.
    HP need pay more attention to customer experience beside the product or solution. Customer satisfaction decide how far HP will continu to go.

  67. PrinterMan says:

    Ok so now its our turn to rant. I work for tech support on Laser Jet printers and actually I work for HP and further more I am outsourced. I sound American mostly cause I live in North America and in the next couple lines I am going to educate you the Customer. It doesn’t matter for what multi million/billion company you work for everyone has a job to do so when you call in and get the hold music and wait 15 minutes remember that while your waiting im not just sitting around doing nothing I am walking the last guy who called in on how to do the most basic simple steps like
    Plug in your power cable” then “Turn on your printer” or how about “No sir the printer doesn’t print in white thats the color of your paper” then I well spend the next 15 minutes FIGHTING with you to do the same set of basic instructions that i walked the last guy through while trying to get your information so I can do my job all while you bitch about how I don’t know what I am talking about and how you want a new unit. Then I well ask you to wait on hold to check into my recourses on this problem and why? because I support 6 Operating systems over 120 programs 196 different models of printers and everyone of them all with there own software and hardware and menu options and different issues after that I get try and narrow down the issue all in a timly manner cause you know troubleshooting computer issues are sooooo easy right. When i have the solution I well tell you your service options and then you well get all upset cause I cant send a tech out to fix it for you then complain how we don’t take care of our customers when really what your saying is you didn’t read your warranty that says no on site tech and you well bitch an moan and then tell me I’m stupid or an idiot or I am going to hell or you want to shoot me or your going to bomb my building OR better yet how you have cancer and are dieing and if i don’t send a tech you well beat your wife and shoot your dog in the head. I well then finally convince you to take it to the service center 10 min drive down your road, the same thing i have been trying tot ell you for 10 minutes while you told me you hate me and the company I work for (even though you know I’m outsourced and have no idea what company I work for) You well then hang up on my with out saying thank you not even realizing that all I tryed to do was fix your unit then I well take an 8 second breather to get over the fact that someone just threatened to kill me (AGAIN!!!) and hit my ready key to take the next guy who is going to do the exact same thing as the last one but with a different unite then after my 40 calls in one day working on a 10 hour shift (next excluding the almost guaranteed 2 hour over time I well get when that one CU calls in at the end of the day “Whats a network?” and all I want to do is tell him “If you are not smart enough to know how a computer works let alone turn one on or what a network is WHY HAVE ONE!!!”

    Anyway just remember when you call we are underpaid WAY over worked and have hundreds of process we have to do and get done on a call all while trying to keep you happy when your ticked to begin with. Tech support is not an easy job.

  68. Annoyed-NYer says:

    I felt this was a repeat of the phone call I went through the other week.
    This guy is lucky: I was on the phone for over 45 minutes, and I still hadn’t gotten what I wanted. HP customer service is TERRIBLE. Not only do their calls take forever, I can barely understand their Indian accents. If I brought the product in the US I should at least be able to speak to someone who speaks a Proper English.

    Thanx for letting me express my opinions.

  69. Bill_xyzzy says:

    Unfortunately, tech support in general is bad and HP tech support is awful. Why? Because (for reasons I cannot explain) tech support is not important to the customer. If tech support WERE important, then customers would be willing to pay a bit more for products with good support. They are not. If tech support WERE important, then companies like HP with truly awful tech support would go out of business quickly. This does not happen.

    Even if you value your time at minimum wage, it is pretty easy to spend more in time wasted on bad support than you have spent on the product purchase.

    Do you think a start-up company whose business
    plan was to hire competent people and treat them fairly, and provide superior tech support would get funded by VC’s? I don’t.

    Personally, I have sworn off HP junk since 2000. Until a lot of other customers do the same, nothing will change.

  70. Anonymous says:

    Ive been on both sides of those types of calls. Sometimes as a CSR you dont always have all the information you should in order to help the customer, and can appear to the customer to be ineffectual or incompetent at times.

    Having said that, not asking the customer what the problem is 4 min into the call is pathetic. And transfering the customer (or worse) when all they needed was a replacement set of recovery disks was inexcusable.

    Oh and dont assume that the CSR intentionally hung up on the customer, he may have, but call center routing software is so shitty it could have easily been the phone system that disconnected the call