Musings on Photography

Why I hate upgrades

Posted in equipment by Paul Butzi on January 28, 2009


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.

8 Responses

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  1. GB Tittle said, on January 28, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    I understand your dissatisfacion with HP. Had my own nightmares with their scanners and as a result swore off HP completely.
    First they insult you with CSR names like ‘Jane’ and ‘Dick” when you can hear that they are clearly from the subcontinent.
    Then the scripted decision trees never answer or even address your problem; up the line to level 2 and then level 3 support.
    In one case it took me a week and some special software sent by HP to get my unit to work.
    Lack of good customer service has gone a long way toward damaging many American companies. But the bottom line looks sooo nice – at least until the perps can take the parachute and get out.
    Good by HP, so sad since it used to be the ideal.


  2. Andrew said, on January 28, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    I’m sorry for each and every one of us who have to put up with this. I recall an event some months ago where I spent a lot of time on the phone over several days with my DSL provider, who asked lots and lots of “I’ve already checked that” questions, going back and forth, and restarting everything and restarting everything, only to have one of their reps let slip on day 3 that in fact there was a network outage on their end and had been for several days.

  3. forkboy1965 said, on January 28, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    I know it’s a bit off-topic (but only a bit), but my daughter’s HP laptop suffered from what I considered to be a serious manufacturers defect about 3-weeks after it’s warranty expired.

    I did find hundreds, nay thousands, of others online with the same problem. I actually skipped the whole HP customer service route (via the subcontinent) and contacted them directly in CA (using you can find all sorts of helpful information).

    I was eventually connected with a case manager who was adamant that the problem wasn’t there’s and so on and so on. I explained how I had found so many other with EXACTLY the same issue, but this argument didn’t gain me any traction at first. I eventually played my trump card and suggested she look at my product registration information, which shows we have purchased five HP products in the past 4 or so years. HP fans we have been (and this didn’t include two HP PCs purchased some years ago).

    With our HP friendly ways I thought I had her on the ropes so I repeated my discovery of so many others with the same problem to which she replied, “But we built millions of those laptops, but your only finding some people with problems.” I replied “Yeah, but how many others had the same problem, but never posted anything about it on the Internet?”

    This argument seemed to finally work and she offered to have the laptop repaired at no expense to us, which was good considering they wanted $250-$300 for the repair.

    The truly funny part is that I received an e-mail from HP around the end of 2008 stating that HP was extending the warranty period for the model line to which my daughter’s laptop belongs because of the very problem we (and so many others) experienced.

  4. Mike said, on January 28, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    If it works don’t fix it. Why did you think you needed to upgrade? Was something not working the way you wanted it to? have you not got a backup program capable of making a system backup (perhaps on a cd in form of an iso file) in case things go awry? And why keep doing business with people who hate you and think you suck — unless you agree with their estimation? There are other editing programs out there — some even for free.

  5. Andy Chen said, on January 29, 2009 at 7:23 am

    I called HP tech suport just a few days ago. I had a smaller issue, but it was similarly frustrating. And, it’s not just HP. Every large company I call as an end user goes about the same. The inefficiency confounds me. If companies are concerned enough about costs to outsource tech support, they should also be concerned that it takes one hour to ask one minute worth of questions in order to connect you with the right person.

    And, what do they do with the answers you give in the voice recognition tree? Why, why, why does each person I talk to on tech support ask me the same questions, when I already gave that information to the robo voice?

  6. Rakesh Malik said, on January 29, 2009 at 11:15 am

    “There are other editing programs out there — some even for free.”

    I sympathize wholeheartedly with this one. I resisted getting Photoshop for years, until I finally started getting serious about 3D and photography, and realized that there weren’t any viable alternatives. I tried quite a few… the best one ended up being the Gimp, which is sad because it didn’t handle 16-bit color, and AFAIK still doesn’t.

    I’ve also tried working with Photomatix, and found that it consistently crashes with images larger than 200MB, making it fairly useless for my needs. So for now I’m stuck with Photoshop, because I haven’t been able to find any alternatives.

    BTW, I upgraded to Photoshop CS4 only because it’s available in 64-bit, which when I finally got it working, has given me a significant improvement in performance. I’m also one of the few people who’s no trouble at all with Adobe’s OpenGL implementation, which is probably pure luck on my part.

  7. Kuryan Thomas said, on February 4, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    You don’t mention how you updated your Macs, but the cleanest way to update is to do a full backup, using Time Machine, Carbon Copy Cloner, or something like that; then do a clean install of the new OS. Don’t upgrade, just reformat and install. The install process will ask if you want to restore files from a backup. Say yes and it will restore your applications, preferences, and documents. Keep the backups around for a few weeks just in case you need to re-restore something.

    This is the advice given by the TidBits website, and it’s worked for me across two Mac OS X upgrades: Panther to Tiger and Tiger to Leopard.

  8. Kuryan Thomas said, on February 4, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    As an addendum to my earlier post: my copies of CS2 (Panther to Tiger) and CS3 (Tiger to Leopard) did not require reactivating after the restore was complete.

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