HP Announces Big Fat Tech Support Investment

HP customer service has a bad rep and it seems they finally got around to noticing it. Here’s a press release announcing the completion of what they call, “the most substantial investment in consumer technical support in its history.” Highlights:

  • New customer support computer system
  • 8 new call centers, including three IN AMERICA
  • 1,000 agents getting new training on common and critical customer issues
  • More “technology tools” (whatever those are)
  • Remote desktop control (they didn’t have this before? whoa.)
  • The press release did not mention if customer service reps will be getting paid more, which we think is a key factor in attracting and retaining quality personnel.

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    1. theblackdog says:

      But are they taking it seriously?

    2. bohemian says:

      So they are going back to what all the computer companies were doing in 1995. I could have told them to do this, where is my consultant fee?

    3. Joedragon says:

      Will they push call times over customer issues?

    4. SBR249 says:

      They do have remote desktop control, I had it used on my laptop once by a service tech in India.

    5. Kounji says:

      3 in America, yay. More jobs! I’m glad they decided they needed more people who spoke fluent english. Outsourcing was the stupidest idea ever. Everyone knows you’re supposed to just lay off people who knew everything and shut down in one state and move to another. Its about time HP learned that.

    6. sleze69 says:

      @bohemian: But will they revert to the $35/incident to fix problems? I used to work for Compaq tech support back in those good, ole days and, unless your problem was a physical failure (which, unless it was a 7700, wasn’t often), you were charged $35 for each problem.

      At least you could speak to someone in English :/

    7. Nytmare says:

      @Kounji: 5 outside the US, boo. Less jobs! I’m unhappy they decided they needed more people who aren’t fluent in American language and customs. Outsourcing is still going strong.

    8. IphtashuFitz says:

      Back about 8 years ago a company I worked for invested in 200 or so HP servers. I don’t think we had any really unique support for these servers, but for whatever reason our support was from a call center in Colorado. It was apparently a fairly small call center because after a month or two they got to know me and some of my coworkers fairly well. Their support was top notch, in part because they quickly learned that we knew what we were talking about when we called in with problems. It basically got to the point where I could call in, they’d immediately recognize my name, I’d simply tell them that I had a faulty hard drive or stick of RAM or whatever, and they’d take me at my word and immediately put through an RMA. They were one of the few support departments that I didn’t mind actually calling up when I needed to.

    9. Xerloq says:

      @IphtashuFitz: Their call center is in Colorado Springs – I’ve been there – and it’s HUGE. You probably had support from one of their enterprise support groups that specialized in the type of equipment you had purchased. Enterprise support tends to be better than consumer support, and while 200 servers isn’t a small order, it’s not large either.

      It costs far less to support you with 200 servers than it costs to support 200 consumers individually, hence the more comprehensive support.

    10. Hedgy2136 says:

      @IphtashuFitz:

      The server side of that division always provided much better support than the consumer side. That was before Carly Fiorina of course.

      If these agents are HP employees, they will be well compensated and trained. If on the other hand, they are outsourced, you can expect more of the same.

    11. Moosehawk says:

      It almost sounded really good, but then I read 5 new call centers outside the U.S. If you can’t fucking understand the person the other line, how are all those new “tools” going to help?

    12. midwestkel says:

      Remote tools, they have had them but not using anything that is licensed to them. Microsoft had me using a program called TeamViewer.com which says at the end that it wasnt for commercial use but, oh well…

    13. Bladefist says:

      I’m a HP fanboy, and I own some of their stock. I am a bit disappointed about only 3 being in America. I understand its cheaper, but its also a great way to lose customers.

    14. y0shidono says:

      @Kounji: Don’t be too sure they’ll speak fluent english. I am currently surrounded by an entire floor of folks from India supporting the IT department for one of the companies here in this building. They are contractors, hired from India and flown here for a portion of their contract. They live in a temporary housing community specificaly designed for them and their work. When their contract is up, off they go.

      This is apparently cheaper than hiring non-contract workers in the area.

    15. dunkinbean says:

      Do I spy an Abridged Series in-joke here? :<

    16. juanguapo says:

      I’ve actually had really good experiences in dealing w/ HP, but I confess that calling Bangalore to get a repair setup is maddening. They’re generally nice and friendly, but equally untrained or inexperienced.

    17. tollberg says:

      Perfect timing. HP has had my laptop in the shop for five weeks now with no good explanation. I’m calling my case manager in a few minutes who forgot to call me on Friday like he promised and I’m asking for a new laptop, because they obviously have no intention of fixing my old one. Their customer service obviously still needs some work.

    18. Mayor McRib says:

      So does this mean that I can get passed off to 8 tech-support “specialists” instead of 6 before they realize that they can’t fix an issue. I can’t wait!

    19. char says:

      How much would you like to bet that the marketing campaign costs more than the retraining?

    20. WNW says:

      “Remote desktop control (they didn’t have this before? whoa.)”

      I’ve worked in tech call centers and they didn’t use remote control software because of liability issues. If a tech tell you to do something and it breaks a customer’s system it’s a lot easier to blame the customer than if the tech was the one futzing around in the system.

    21. tollberg says:

      So after being on hold for about 40 minutes in total…I have to call them back on Wednesday if they haven’t gotten back to me by then. Next time I’m buying a Toshiba.

    22. Corydon says:

      @Kounji: 3 in America, yay. More jobs! I’m glad they decided they needed more people who spoke fluent english. Outsourcing was the stupidest idea ever.

      The problem isn’t so much with whether the call center is located in the US or not, it’s more a matter of if you use an outsource company like Convergys (which has call centers both inside and outside the US) for your support.

      These companies typically get paid by the call. So they have absolutely no incentive whatsoever to fix the problem. On the contrary, if you get frustrated, hang up, and call back in again, most of the time they have doubled (tripled, quadrupled) their revenue stream.

    23. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

      I wonder if they are hiring? I need a job, badly. I worked for dell as an onsite rep for citigroup. Citigroup was losing money so they canned the entire office staff, and when they did that dell gave me the axe too.

    24. Dacker says:

      One of the new call centers in the USA is actually outsorced to a company called, “Stream” (www.stream.com) up here in Beaverton, OR. Stream has a solid reputation as one of the worst employers in these parts. A former employee (and there are MANY)told me they dictate how often you can go to the bathroom and for how long, among many other employee-friendly benefits. I don’t know about their HP tech support people, but their Adobe support people start at a whopping $10/hr.

    25. North of 49 says:

      Worse employer here too. They gave everyone on the HP contract a raise to 11.50 – from the new guy to the guy working for years on the floor. That pissed all the “oldtimer” employees off. A lot quit. Now, one of the contracts is gone from the local Stream and several of the others are suddenly back on mandatory overtime. Coincidence? I think not.

    26. upokyin says:

      To all you complaining about the overseas call centers: believe it or not, people buy computers outside the United States. Many of them don’t speak English but still have the gall to seek technical support. According to HP’s investor relations page, only about 30% of the company’s sales come from the US. So placing 3 out of 8 call centers here seems about right.

    27. Kounji says:

      @nytmare: There is a certain amount of cynicism here. I’m not happy that they didn’t build more of them here. Hopefully customer service gets better as a result in any case. I just want more americans to talk to who actually have some incentive to care about the job they do. I think that’s what most consumerist readers are looking for out of CS

    28. lr0405 says:

      Although HP says they will have 3 new call centers in America, give it 2-3 years and they will move the support to Bangalore or Costa Rica where they can pay the reps next to nothing ($6.50/hour, anyone?) They believe spending the money now will get their customer service numbers up – which could very well be true. Once they hit better numbers, they will move the business to more ‘cost effective’ countries, starting the cycle all over.

    29. pfeng says:

      Sorry, HP, too little too late.

      I tried your printers twice, your desktop PC’s once, and with all three purchases I was disappointed in various ways. I do still have my HP calculator from 1992, but no chance of getting any support for that is there?

    30. BrentNewland says:

      Maybe Canon should make Computers…

    31. TheSpatulaOfLove says:

      @BrentNewland:

      They did, and failed miserably at it.

      @lr0405:

      You are so right about that. And I have personal experience with this.

    32. azgirl says:

      Hey- I’ll take the 3 in America- at least there will be one place to work besides Walmart…

    33. Id_LQQK says:

      @upokyin:But is there some way I can be sure to get someone with more than the basic grasp of the English language, computer trouble shooting, good customer service?

      I have to call go through this yet again soon (been putting it off because of previous experiences w/ HP service). Should I call or go online to tech support at a specific time so I get a US support center?
      I would like to only loose 1 hour from my life instead of 4 or 5 this time before I have to ship the POS back off to HP. Yes, this is the last HP I will ever buy. I have the extended plan though so they are going to fix the damn thing or give me one that doesn’t need to be completely recovered every 3-4 months.
      Thanks in advance to anyone who can help me get intouch with a US support center.

    34. enine says:

      @IphtashuFitz:

      Servers are business products, thats why. Most any computer maker that has a seperate business and home product line has business tech support in the US. Its the near zero margin home pc line that call centers have been outsourced. I’ve always bought business machines and if I ever did have a problem have always called in to US based call centers, be it HP, Compaq, Dell, etc.
      Sure the business machines cost a little more but then you usually get a better warranty and less “free” software pre-installed.

    35. mmeehh says:

      1000 more people that will be required to try to sell you something,it is called rpc revenue per call the remote desktop is instant care and it sucks,and it is not training just more threats and reasons for the contractor to fire you,if someone could fix every customer that called and were very technical and could speak english but could not sell they would be fired for not selling,thats hp tech support.

    36. mmeehh says:

      1,000 agents getting new training on common and critical customer issues

      critical issue is that almost every hp dv6000 series dv2000 and dv9000 and a host of compacs with amd processors have defective motherboards that have to be replaced and will fail,is your wireless light amber?

      Training do not tell the customer that it is a recall and do not forget to charge the out of warranty customer for one time support to fix something that is defective.

    37. DomZ says:

      @nytmare: To be honest in this instance I believe the “outsourced” call centers aren’t outsourced at all. HP does a lot of business overseas (explains why they’re thriving with the falling dollar) so the call centers may not be in India after all.

    38. North of 49 says:

      Just to scare some people, but Canon is owned by HP.

    39. Mr. Gunn says:

      Quality support costs money, unfortunately. There will always be a ready supply of labor overseas, so the only thing we can compete domestically on is quality. How come no one thought of this sooner?

    40. f3rg says:

      Remote desktop control…

      Now you can sit there in horror as you watch them needlesly delete your entire Documents folder from somewhere in India.

    41. boston515 says:

      I’ve had many problems with my HP notebook PC. A friend borrowed my laptop for some schoolwork over the weekend. I ran the anti-virus software as normal before going to be. Woke up Monday to see that my computer wouldn’t boot. I researched the problem online to fix it myself. I couldn’t get the operation system restoration disc to work.

      I called HP. It took me forever to get through the voice prompts because my computer is a special addition model. That took about 5 minutes. When I finally got connected with a sales associate (Indian accent), they asked for my name. I told them. Surprisingly, I didn’t have to give my serial number and the names of my unborn children. “Are you calling about [my specific model]?” they asked. Once confirming that, they asked what the problem was. I explained that I’m not a computer newbie and wanted to speak with a senior support tech. Within 30 seconds, I was connected to someone who could keep up with the computer geek terms I used and received the information I needed within five minutes. It was a miracle considering that I’m usually on the phone with HP support for an hour conversation with me cursing them and throwing the phone at the wall in frustration afterwards.

      Big tip “Alan” gave me: the HP operating system restoration disks are for a FULL restoration, not repairs. You’ll need to pick up a full version for that.

    42. boston515 says:

      @Id_LQQK: US support is usually for people who purchase through a company who has a contract with HP. For example, if you pay the extra couple hundred dollars to purchase a laptop through my university, your support will go to the US because of how the account was set up. I opted out of this and put that money toward the extended warranty that I’ve used twice for major issues in the past two years.

    43. Shaneniganz says:

      Wow, 3 call centers IN America??! You mean I might actually have a miniscule chance of NOT getting that service rep in India named “Biff”?

    44. dougolasjr says:

      Well It will now be 2 centers in NA as one of them will be closing.