Printer Dissatisfaction:

Recently a friend sent me an email with a video that is circulating the web about an HP printer in Iraq that wasn’t working and that HP refused to fix without being paid. The soldier admonishes HP and then proceeds to use the printer as target practice with his rifle. The video  has been posted on Youtube since 2006! It is still circulating the web and newer versions of the same video along with the original can be found on Youtube.

Is the complaint directed at HP justified?

What are the lessons to be learned?

1. Complaints last forever on the web.

While there are reputation management firms that try to intervene or create other entries to push negative entries down off the first page of Google, videos are much harder to get rid of because Google has a new place for them on their search page.

2. Is the blame for lack of support directed in the right place?

The first knee jerk reaction is to blame HP. But is HP really to blame?

One of the root causes of this problem may very well lie with the US Military. It would seem to me that the US Military would have a contract with HP for support for their equipment. That is what most businesses would do. Otherwise they would have their own support structure (internal) within the Military itself to support the equipment it has. Is it possible that  this soldier did not  know about the support that was available for him or was there really no support for equipment in IRAQ? (I am assuming that this equipment is owned by the US Military, not a personal printer).

I don’t think the military will be publicizing what the real root cause of this problem is, due to security issues, but the real question isn’t why HP didn’t provide support to this soldier but why the US  Military which needs this equipment for use by its were not effective in ensuring support for this soldier.

Still the video continues to circulate the internet and HP looks like the bad guy and gets the negative press.

3. Ensure Supplier and Customer Responsibilities are clarified

The person responsible for the US Military account at HP or the HP Business Partner who deals with the  US Military, should ensure the support of the equipment once purchased is clearly understood. The front line individual at HP who took the support call (probably someone in the entitlement group) should be trained ask if support might be available from within the organization calling, ie in this case the US Military.

Somewhere in the US Military is the responsibility of ensuring the support for military troupes at home and abroad. That organization should be asking if support was available  for office equipment in remote locations (by phone or otherwise) and if it was available, how was the support process being communicated to the troupes that need to know about it (like the soldier in the video).

Customer Satisfaction Rule of Thumb:

When investigating a service failure, don’t look for the individual to blame in a customer service organization, look for a broken process first!!!

What is your opinion?  Please leave a comment on my blog.


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Adele Berenstein

Adele Berenstein is an Experienced Customer Satisfaction Executive, recently retired from a Large Global IT Organization after a long productive management career including Sales, Marketing, Services, teaching and education center management and most recently, 19 years in customer satisfaction management. She turned around divisions with customer satisfaction problems, implemented measurable improvements and management systems, and implemented programs to prevent problems from ever affecting customers.

One Response to “Reputation Management – Complaints have a life of their own”

  1. Alex Alvaro Says:

    Support at any business needs to clarify where to escalate the matter. Support means also helping the customer to follow a resolution path. As pointed here, within big institutions, it is commomplace to have an internal helpdesk before getting in touch with any vendor or provider.

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