Why I hate upgrades
Ok. I said I was going to upgrade a bunch of stuff this past weekend, and I tried.
The first job I tackled was upgrading my Mac Pro (aka Novelty) to 10.5 (aka Leopard). My second goal was to upgrade the firmware in my HP Z3100. The third task was to upgrade an iMac to 10.5.
The upgrade of the Mac Pro seemed to go smoothly at first. The install went fine. Everything already installed worked, including (hold your breath!) Photoshop. Photoshop was important because the cross platform upgrade business when I upgraded to Photoshop CS3 left me with software where, if I want to reinstall it, I must go through holy hell with Adobe to get it re-registered. So having it run right off the bat is just a huge relief.
That relief ended when I went to install the printers. We have two laser printers, and both those installed fine. Installing the driver for the HP Z3100, though, turned into a major nightmare. I downloaded the .dmg with the Leopard install from HP, and dutifully ran it before trying to add the printer. The installer ran just fine, or so it claimed.
But now I am left with a machine where, when I try to install the damn HP 3100, it fails to find the driver for it. No amount of deleting things, running the install again, etc. has fixed this problem.
So Monday, I gave up and called HP support. I navigated their horrid voice recognition phone tree. After a certain amount of answering questions like “What printer are you having trouble with?” and “Mac or Windows” I finally got to talk (after being on hold) with a living human, who immediately asked me all of those questions again. I explained that I’d upgraded to 10.5, downloaded and run the installer, and couldn’t get the installer to find the driver. I explained that the machine had had the z3200 software on it as part of the HP early birds program evaluating the Z3200 before it was released. Her response was that I needed to download the installer package and run it. I pointed out that I had now TWICE explained that I had already done that. She patiently explained where I needed to go to download the package and how to run it. I explained again that I had already done this, and it hadn’t worked.
She then explained that since the printer was out of warranty, I would need to pay for tech support. “Oho!” I repled. “I have a 3 year service contract!” She explained that no, the printer came with a one year warranty and I had no contract. Now, I got this contract because after my first horrid customer service problems with HP, they gave me a free 3 year service contract as a make nice thing. I epxlained this.
So she had to search for that, and finally found it.
Then she admitted that she didn’t know what was wrong and would need to put me on hold for a while while she got someone else to help.
So, after being on hold for a while, I got to talk to another person, and I explained the whole sage with full orchestration, five melodic voices, and three part harmony, complete with feeling. He proceeded to ask me all the questions (What printer is it? What operating system? What hardware? Can you give me the serial number? The model #?) and he allowed as how it did seem like I had a problem that needed solving, but I would need to talk to a Mac person. The astute reader will observe that in the initial interview with the HP voice recognition tree, I explained it was a Mac problem. Each person I’d talked to, I had explained it was a Mac problem. One is left to wonder why, beyond a perverse desire on the part of HP to waste my valuable time, I was now talking to someone who could not actually help me with a Mac problem.
So back on hold I went. I was now roughly an hour into the phone call. I had received exactly zero help at resolving my problem, had talked to TWO people, and was promised a talk with a third. After waiting on hold for a while, I realized I was going to be late for an appointment, and I hung up.
When I got back from my errands and other business, my wife had taken a message from the HP customer service rep. He left: a case number, two different phone numbers for me to call along with confusing explanations about how each of them was the best choice, and profuse apologies.
Yesterday, I was too disgusted with the whole mess to try to fix it, because I suspected that it was going to be another two hours on the phone with no good outcome.
And today, when I returned from some business outside, there was a phone message, once again apologizing for not helping me and expressing a desire that I would call them and we could get it all straightened out.
I am extra glad I did not choose to upgrade my printer to an HP Z3200.
In the past, except for fine art inkjet printers, I’ve always purchased printers using a simple algorithm: look at the current HP laser printers, pick the one that seems appropriate, and buy it. But my HP LaserJet 2605 seems to forget to listen to the network about once a month and needs to be power cycled, and even the smaller printer in the house, much older now, acted in a very confusing way when it ran out of toner, stubbornly insisting that there was 15% remaining in the cartridge at the same time it would blink the lights in a pattern which, after about two hours research on the web) I concluded meant it thought that either the planets were in zyzygy, the sky was green, or the printer was out of toner. (replacing the toner cart fixed the problem).
But I am feeling less sanguine about the prospect of HP product purchases in the future. Laser printers should not be, at this stage in their development, devices that require decoding magic patterns on blinking lights. Networked laser printers should not, at this stage in the history of computing, be things which need to be power cycled once a month in order to get them to listen to the network and accept print jobs.
And somehow, given the purchase price of the Z3100, I don’t think it should take me more than one hour on the phone to actually connect with a customer support person who is actually familiar enough with the product to help me get the printer driver to install on a Mac. I’m not saying that they should be able to solve any problem in an hour. I’m saying that it should not take an hour of explaining my problem for them to decide which person I should be talking to.
I will point out, here, that not all the blame lies with HP. If Adobe were not such hardass skinflint bozos about product licensing, I would have been able to just wipe the machine, install a fresh copy of Mac OS X 10.5, reinstall all my software, and then do a clean install of the HP printer software, which I suspect would have worked. I checked the function of the downloaded installer by installing it on my laptop running 10.5, and it worked like a charm.
There’s a famous manufacturer who has a reputation for horrid customer support. Legend has it that this manufacturer justifies its horrid customer support with the words “Because we hate you. And because you suck.”
It seems to me that those words could be equally well applied to both HP and Adobe. And it’s really hard for me to want to do business with them in the future, because I really do think that a) they hate me, and b) they think I suck.
And now, after posting this, I am off to do battle with the beast. If I’m not back in 24 hours, send in the SWAT team.
And that makes my cry inside in my special angry place.