I’m done playing phone games with HP

Algephoto/Shutterstock
Algephoto/Shutterstock
Lisa Bernstein’s HP printer cartridge doesn’t work — and apparently, neither do the company’s phones. How can she get HP to honor its warranty?

Question: I’m writing because I’ve wasted hours unsuccessfully trying to get help from HP regarding a black printer cartridge for my HP Photosmart Premium printer that doesn’t work.

I’ve owned the printer for three years, and I’ve bought and installed numerous black and color printer cartridges. I recently purchased a black printer cartridge that did not work when I tried to print.

I called the HP customer support and technical support phone numbers, went through a system of responses to get to the department that should have provided assistance, waited on line for over 20 minutes, and finally was able to speak to a HP representative. I was told I could receive a refund or exchange of the cartridge, because the one I bought was under warranty.

A representative said he would give me the information I needed in order to request the refund or exchange, but the phone line disconnected.

I then called back and went through a second lengthy process and hold time, and the next representative that I spoke with refused to provide me with information for the refund or exchange. I asked to speak with a supervisor, and he at first refused to put me through to one, but then took my phone number and said he would have a supervisor call me back.

I’ve made multiple calls back to HP, with the same results. No one can authorize a refund. I am writing to you to ask if you could provide any assistance or advice.

Lisa Bernstein, Washington

Answer: Sounds as if HP had absolutely no intention of replacing your faulty printer cartridge. In your case, it’s operating what I like to call a fortress call center, which is meant to repel customer inquiries, not resolve them.

HP’s warranty promises it will “either replace products under warranty that prove to be defective or refund the purchase price” when it doesn’t work as advertised. All the phone games suggest it was doing everything it could to avoid meeting those obligations.

For reasons that are unclear, you overlooked one of the most obvious fixes to this problem: returning the cartridges to the place from which you purchased them.

I’m particularly concerned about the first call, which was “disconnected.” While that’s not unusual, I find it highly suspicious that the conversation would end just as you’re getting what you wanted. Kinda makes me wonder if someone didn’t intentionally hang up.

I’ve edited your letter for brevity, but I should note that you spent a lot of time trying to call HP back and speaking with representatives in India who often refused to give you their last names or any way to contact them back.

I usually recommend writing a company when you have a problem with a product, but for product returns, a phone call works — or should work — just fine. According to my math, you wasted slightly less than three hours of your time trying to get HP to honor its written guarantee.

A written appeal to an executive might have helped. I list the HP executive contacts on my site. An email might have worked best. At HP, they follow the format [email protected]

Based on your account of your printer cartridge problem, I’d say you were just being jerked around by HP. But I’m sure the company has its own side of the story, since it records all of its customer calls for quality assurance purposes. Wouldn’t it be great if you had access to those recordings?

I contacted HP on your behalf. Shortly afterward, you received separate calls from HP managers in California, who gave you their full names and direct phone numbers. Each one sent you a replacement printer cartridge. I guess the extra cartridge is to make up for the trouble.

Is HP using its phone center to deny refunds or exchanges?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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