Every August, I buy an HP laptop. I hope this will not become a habit.
In August 2019, I bought my first fancy-dancy HP Laptop at Staples. I allowed the sales associate to talk me into paying for the two-year Extended Service Plan.
My first fancy-dancy HP Laptop had some fancy-dancy issues. Last Friday, August 7th, I took my fancy-dancy HP Laptop back to Staples. I figured because I had the Extended Service Plan, I could drop my computer off and pick it up after several hours.
“No,” said the sales associate. “We require 24 to 48 hours to repair it.”
Since I wanted my computer for the weekend, I said I would come back on Monday to leave it. I would use my old, almost-dead laptop for two days until I got back my fancy-dancy HP computer. (“Almost-dead” means that it is slower than the slowest snail, and has several keys that you have to touch several thousand times to get them to work.)
On Monday, August 10th, I returned to Staples prepared to leave my fancy-dancy HP Laptop in for repairs for 24 to 48 hours.
“These problems are still under Warranty,” said a different associate. “We can’t work on your computer. We have to ship it to a warehouse where an HP computer specialist will work on it. It could take two to four weeks.”
“Two to four weeks? Will I be without my computer for two to four weeks? But I was told 24 to 48 hours.”
“These problems fall under Warranty. We can’t repair them and have to send your laptop to an HP specialist. Whoever told you 24 to 48 hours did not realize that the problems were under Warranty.”
“Two to four weeks? I would use to use an old computer for 24 to 48 hours, but not two to four weeks. Do you give out loaners?”
“So, I will be without my computer for two to four weeks?”
And then he really tried to cheer me up.
“But it could be longer than two to four weeks,” he said. “With COVID-19 and Climate Change and the End of the World, and blah, blah, blah, blah.”
He told me several more reasons that could delay the repairs longer than two to four weeks. He spoke so casually as if keeping a customer’s computer for service for two to four weeks was a common occurrence.
Two to four weeks! What kind of service is that? I felt like voiding the Warranty, and forgetting about the Extended Service Plan, and taking my laptop to some mom-and-pop computer shop and paying for the repairs. That way, I would not be without a computer for two to four weeks.
Alas, I kissed my computer goodbye and left the store. Later in the day, a voice in my head told me to check out prices at Walmart and buy an inexpensive computer. I checked out prices on Monday evening, and purchased a not-so-fancy-dancy HP Stream Laptop on Tuesday morning. It cost $300.00, $339.00 with taxes, but no amount of money could beat the peace of mind this computer gave me.
So now, Staples and HP can stick their thumbs up their USB ports and take as long as they want to repair my computer.
Whatever happened to good customer service? Poor customer service has replaced it. The Staples sales associate was not bothered that I would be without my computer for two to four weeks. “I’m sorry,” he said like a robot, “but there is nothing I can do.”
“Oh yes there is,” I said. “The problem is that I am only Gary Johnston, an ordinary schmuck. If I were Canadian Prime Minister Gary Johnston, then there is a lot you, Staples and HP would do to make sure that I was not without a computer for two to four weeks. Laws, rules, and procedures do not matter when it comes to pleasing powerful people.”
The Staples sales associate smiled and looked down. He could not say anything because he knew that what I had said was true.
When I was buying the not-so-fancy-dancy HP Stream Laptop on Tuesday morning, the Walmart sales associate asked, “Would you like to purchase our two-year Extended Service Plan?”