HP Printers are great. HP Computers are not.
HP makes great printers. They seem to be on the cutting edge of features. Their products are easy to install, easy to use. The software for Mac or Windows computers seems to be really designed for each computer specifically, rather than a poor conversion of one to the other. All in all, after all these years, I still consider HP my go-to printer choice and recommend it to my clients, who often say “Yes, I’ve been happy with HP printers for years.”
But, there’s a dark side to HP.
HP computers suck. On so many different levels. Since I spend a lot of my professional life inside the computer, my complaints focus mostly on more technical aspects. To wit:
- In one week, I had two clients contact me about their HP Pavilion Slimline model. In both cases, the power supply was dead. That by itself is already a bit suspect, but in one case, it was user error: the computer was purchased in Mexico (110 V) and connected here in Switzerland (220 V). Poof! Dead power supply. That’s my first beef. Yes, they have little switches on the back of the power supply to choose 110 V or 220 V, but what regular computer user knows about this? I’ve been in this business for over 30 years and guess how I found out about it? Yup, I did the same thing. But, auto-switching power supplies do exist. All laptop adapters that I’ve seen work on the range 100 – 240 V and many desktops, as well. I hope that HP has changed that practice recently. I really, really hope they have.
- OK, so I have two HP Slimline’s with dead power supplies. No problem. Pop the box open, remove the power supply, off to the computer accessories store and I’ll be done by the end of the day, right? Wrong. In order to remove the power supply, I had to remove: the faceplate, the optical drive, the Pocket Media drive bay, and the hard disk. Basically, I took apart the entire computer. This is unheard of, even in small footprint models that I’ve seen before. Even to upgrade the RAM, you have to remove the optical drive. Sheesh! It makes me *really* appreciate Apple engineering.
- Now that I’ve been able to remove the power supply, getting a new one should be a no-brainer. But, it wasn’t. It’s not a standard size. I had to call HP and order one. <sigh> But, guess what?! You can’t order parts from HP. They don’t do that. Even if you have the HP part number, you can’t order a replacement part. You have to go through third party sources.
- I’ve had to contact HP support on many, many occasions. In several different countries. And, to put it bluntly, it was awful. Each and every time. Wait, I’m sure that’s not true. I’m sure there were occasions that it wasn’t stab-me-in-the-eye painful, but such occurrences are washed away in the flood of awful experiences. I have saved away some of the support chat transcripts. Horrifying reading. They won’t help you if you’ve contacted the *wrong* country’s support line. If you’re now in Switzerland but bought it in US, guess what? You have to order the parts you nee from the US, but guess what, part 2? They can’t ship it internationally. FFS, guys, don’t you know this is a global economy? People travel! They work in different countries! Can you really be so clueless?
- HP laptops. My son bought an HP laptop several years ago. He had it replaced twice within the first year because of overheating. And I’ve had numerous HP laptops come to me that were overheating due to very poor ventilation. In some cases, the vents were a little clogged with dust and cleaning it out was enough to help things out. But, again, I had to take the computer almost completely apart in order to remove/clean the fans and vents. And this went on – goes on? – for years. You’d think that if they were listening – which they clearly aren’t – to their forums, customer feedback, etc. they would at least make the fans easier to access and clean. But, they didn’t. I daresay, they don’t.
Now, if these gripes were similar for other computer manufacturers, I’d have nothing to write about. But, they really seem to something particular to HP. Other manufacturers have auto-switching power supplies. Not HP. Other computers are easy to disassemble and replace parts. Not (always) with HP. Other manufactures use standard parts. Not (always) with HP. Getting replacement parts directly from the manufacturer is usually no problem. Not so with HP.
And regarding the overheating of HP laptops. It was so systemic, every forum had people crying foul about their laptops, but there was no word from HP about what to do, about a recall, about a repair program, nothing. In fact, if you searched the HP website, there was no mention of any problems with the laptops. Sony had a problem once about overheating or power supplies or batteries, or something. They didn’t have to do anything, but they did. If you went to the product page of an affected product, even if you were just looking for information or drivers or anything *not* related to the issue they knew about, there was a big, obvious “READ ME” section at the top of the page telling the reader about a free exchange for the defective part, even if already out of warranty. SONY went out of their way to tell people there was a problem with certain models and what the customer could do about it. HP seems to hide from similar problems. They don’t acknowledge the problem. When it becomes too obvious, they offer no support, no centralized help page, and they certainly don’t offer free replacements or service. Especially not out of warranty.
Which brings me to the reason for writing this post. I just read a truly horrifying article on the Economic Times on the India Times about how HP is going to merge their Printer and PC divisions. Noooooo! Not only that, but according to the article, “the printing division chief [would] step down …and current PC chief [would] head up the combined unit.” Arrrrrgh! The best division in the company is going to be merged with … well, *not* the best division in the company and the new combined division will be run by the guy who ran the *not* best division?
Meg Whitman – you’ve got the cart in front of the horse.