HP Support Gets it Right

We all have our horror stories about the machines we live with. And we’ve all wrestled with Windows, Google, Skype, or [your personal favorite software whipping boy here.] But sometimes, things just work right – and they should be acknowledged when they do. Hence this story – a brief happy tale about a positive experience with HP. [No disclosure necessary – I am not doing any work for them right now, and no ethics were bruised in the writing of this note.]

I needed a new laptop. After deciding I was not going to get a best gaming laptop under 1000, but rather a strictly work computer. Once that was settled, I was wrestling with the form factor (big? small? netbook?) and coolness (those Macs are gorgeous, but…) and price (….too expensive. By a lot) I headed off to Fry’s (a California electronics store  geeks love) to do some shopping. Had my specs in hand, and started browsing – when I saw it. A nice big HP Pavilion DV7 series laptop. Refurbished. (Cue ominous music…)

That’s right. I said “refurbished.” I know some people steer clear, but I do trust HP enough to think I had a good shot at a working model, and there is a good policy for returns when things go wrong.  And the deal was very nice – a couple of hundred bucks less than I would have paid for a similar configuration new. So I plunged. Got home. Plugged it in. Started it up. And…things didn’t go so well.

Somehow the install just didn’t get off on the right foot. One or two things failed early, most notably the HP-provided setup routine. So when all the whirring and clicking was done, some things were just not right. The 90-day Norton that comes with it was already expired (maybe they don’t reset license dates on refurbs – need to fix that, guys.) And I couldn’t get a browser to start – but Microsoft Update could(!) And, once there, I could type in another address and go anywhere. But that was not a workaround I wanted to live with every time I wanted a browser.

What to do? I contacted support.

And I got through in less than 2 minutes.

And found someone helpful immediately.

We discussed the options. I’ll never get the time on that first setup back, but we agreed the best approach was to reinitialize the machine – there’s a full copy of the setup on the hard disk, as many of us know (and we usually complain about the space it takes up.) Reboot, hold down F11, and reinitialize. And they set up a call to check in with me about how it all went.

They called right on time. And my report? “Everything is working fine.” It was. The setup routine loaded properly. Vista updates (tons of them) took only two passes to load. Norton started up fine, and a separate session with them using my existing Norton account (for my other machine, and my kids’ machines) provided my bona fides, and we were off to the races. I got Skype going, and Tweetdeck, and of course WordPress, and I’m in business.

It’s nice to be able to say that sometimes even the big vendors can indeed get it right. Kudos, HP. I’ll be back.

About Merv Adrian
Gartner Research VP, technology analyst and consultant, 30 years of industry experience, covering software mostly, hardware sometimes.

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