Sunday, April 09, 2006

So I was Wrong!

One more post on good customer service. Check out the previous posts in this series.

A few months ago, I was visiting my mom at her place down in Toledo. She had recently purchased an HP scanner/fax/copier/printer. I don't remember the exact model, but it was middling high end. They had recently had a thunderstorm and since that time, the printer wouldn't turn on. She asked me to take a look at it.

Now, I'm really more of a software kind of guy, but I'm not too bad with the hardware either. I fiddled with it, tried unplugging it and plugging it back in. Heck, I even violated the code of men everywhere and consulted the manual! Nothing. Hating to admit defeat, I decided to make one last-ditch effort. I called customer service. I figured they would either be able to help (yeah, right!) or could at least tell me how to get it replaced under warranty.

So, I got on the phone and in short order I'm chatting with a gentleman whom we'll call "Chris". I'm guessing Chris was actually somewhere in India. That doesn't bother me, so long as he could be of help. I knew I was in trouble by the way he kept repeating everything I said. "This guy will be following the script. I know it." I thought to myself. This boded to be a long and agonizing call.

After the initial pleasantries, Chris suggested that I try to hold down on one of the buttons while I unplugged the power from the back of the machine and then plugged it back in. I was to hold down on this button for thirty seconds. OK, not one that I thought of doing, but also not in the manual as far as I had found. Thirty seconds came and went. The printer was still dead as the proverbial doornail.

Then came the "idiot" suggestion. This is the one that I swear they make up to make you look like an idiot.

"Mr. Peters, is the printer plugged into a powerstrip?"
"Would you please unplug it from the powerstrip and plug it directly into the wall?"
"Um, OK. I'm assuming this is to test if the powerstrip is dead, right? It isn't, there are other things plugged into the same strip which are running right now."
"Yes, sir, but sometimes this makes a difference."

Of course, the only free outlet is across the room. I have to unplug the printer, wrestle the stupid thing across the room, all the while doing my best impression of Yosemite Sam. Ratsen-fratzen, stupid idea, ratzen-fratzen. Never going to work. Oh, my achin' back. Where's the stupid plug. Jeez, could this be more lame? I'm going to have to escalate this soon. Ratzen-fratzen guy obviously doesn't know what he's doing. There! It's plugged in...


"Hi, Chris? That did the trick."

OK, so I'm not as smart as I think I am sometimes. Don't ask me why it worked. It just did. In fact, after it started working, I was able to plug it back into the same powerstrip and it continued to work. Bizarre.

Hat's off to Chris for putting up with people like me.

When was the last time you had truly great service, even if it was in spite of yourself?


Debby said...

Yeah! I'm the mom. I don't even try to make those calls because usually the questions are not so easy as, "Is it plugged into a power strip?" I am a very lucky mom, to have technical support so willing and able. I get out of trouble sometimes just by making a call to Ann Arbor. Greg calms me down and talks me through the fix.

Debby said...

Second comment. This goes along with the question asked at the end of this post about great customer service. Of course this is a computer story!

Not too long ago at quarter to five on a late Friday afternoon, my email and Internet seemed to go down. My stomach was doing the old flip-flop because I had a ton of work to do over the weekend. Crossing my fingers I called Mark at Amplex, my Internet Service Provider. Yep, you got it, I live so far out that I am connected by a very small provider, so small that I get the same guy all the time. That is a plus. He usually knows my limitations!

I asked Mark if their system was down, and he said, "No." He proceeded to spend about 20 minutes trying to get me up and running. His first question was, "Just one computer, right?" Affirmative. I felt like a ballerina as he had me tip-toeing through all kinds of screens making changes to no avail. At one point he did something at his end, which was supposed be visible at my end on my screen with it saying "disconnected." It didn't. That was when the light began to dawn for him. He now asked, "Debby, do you have a little blue box plugged into the back of your computer with lights on it?" "Gosh, I don't know, let me check." Sure enough there it was -- a router, that my son, Greg, had installed for my husband so he can use his laptop at home. Mark had me unplug it and then plug it back in. Email and Internet started to work again. Evidently these pieces of equipment can freeze. I felt badly that Mark had to take all that time on a Friday night, but this demonstrates how not asking the right question can completely fog an issue.

Thanks to Mark Radabaugh at Amplex for being so patient. I hope he didn't go home and kick the dog that night.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the story, Mom. I agree that I am often amazed by the dedication of some people in customer service. This is one of the reasons I'd love to collect more stories like these. Everyone's heard the stories of nightmare experiences. Now it's time for the "happily ever after" fairy tales! ;-)

PS. I'll try to let you know about those little quirks with the hardware from now on!