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Strange customer service concept

with 4 comments

customer-serviceThis is a funny story I experienced last year. Looking for some equipment to install my freelancer office, I went to an IT supermarket in order to buy an all-in-one printer manufactured by a well known company, machine including fax, scanner and copier, for a very attractive price (around 150€). Two or three months later, I had to face technical problems with this printer mentioning a paper jam on the small screen, despite the fact that there was no physical paper jam.

I went back to the store where I bought the machine. The employee told me that they were not ensuring the repair or maintenance services, and that I should contact directly the manufacturer. I contacted the manufacturer who told me that I should go to their website, to a specific address, fill a form with a range of references, and explain the problem I was facing. Few hours later, I received a mail back including a procedure I should perform, and maybe by this way  the problem could be solved. After processing the given instructions, the problem was still there. I resent a mail to the manufacturer mentioning that the problem remained. One day later, I received another mail explaining  that they were going to start the guarantee exchange process. I had to mention the zip code of my locality, in order to receive a list of partners operating as delivery point in the same area. I resent a mail with the zip code, and one day later I received a mail with the references and address of the partner where the new printer would be deliver and where I should bring the old one.

On the mail, it was mentioned that some parts like cables, ink cartridges, will not be delivered with the new machine, and so, I will have to take then from the old machine. In order to know which component I have to take, there was a link mentioned on the mail, on which I had to click. After clicking on this link, I reached a page with this message: “The information is not available for this model.” Very interesting !

Few days later, I received a mail announcing that the new printer was available to the delivery point. I went to the delivery point to make the exchange and went back home. When I plugged in the printer, I have to notice that there was an error message appearing on the screen. I did not know if I had to cry or to laugh ! Then, I resent a mail to the helpdesk explaining the problem. The day after, they sent me a mail asking to check if the “identifying plaque” was well plugged. After trying to understand the meaning of this “indentifying plaque”, I noticed that there was a small piece of plastic missing near the keyboard, a piece with two pins which initialize the printer. Then, the next day, I went back to the delivery point. Fortunately, the old printer was still there and I took the missing parts from it.

The sherry on the cake was when I received a mail about service satisfaction, asking me what did I think about the service quality level. I answered that except the mails sent by the helpdesk, I ensured the service myself, as nobody picked up the printer at my office and nobody delivered the new one, and if I should recharge the time spent to solve the problem, I should earn three times the price of the printer. This should be the better return on investment I never had!

And the very best of is that three months later, the printer was facing problems, and I had to restart the same process again !

Strange concept of customer and quality service, isn’t it ?


Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

August 31, 2009 at 20:37

Posted in Business

Tagged with ,

4 Responses

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  1. It sound a bit like Ryanair; the cheap price of the original product (be it an airline ticket or all-in-one printer) does not include a good service.

    The printer company did however offer you a guarantee, so they are obliged to fulfill their obligations. They did at the end (you received a brand new machine), but requiring a great help from the customer to do so.

    I have a somewhat similar “customer service” situation with DHL a while ago.

    I was trying to get them to pick up an office chair at an individual in the Netherlands, and deliver it to me in Belgium. Almost a week passed with numerous phone calls to DHL Belgium and Netherlands, just trying to get this request logged in their system.

    If you want to be a DHL customer, they call you back within two days to speak to you and give you a customer number and their prices. Althought I told them in that phone conversation I wanted the normal road transport service, not the more expensive express service, I was given a express delivery customer number.

    With such a customer number, you cannot log-in a request for a “normal” transportation, neither talking to their service desk, nor on their website.

    Not wanting to wait again two more days, I was told to try to order it over the internet without a customer number. Now, trying to do so, and speaking to DHL Belgium, DHL Netherlands, such a cross-border request over the internet is just impossible to enter…

    I want to stress that all the people I spoke to at DHL were all very kind and willing to help me, but limited to the imposed procedures.

    At the end I called UPS. They gave me a phone number of their road transport service. I called this persoon, Tom, and he asked me to just send him an email with all the information and he would take care of the rest (which he did).

    So, sometimes strict procedures may not be the best way to deliver customer service.



    September 1, 2009 at 08:45

    • Good other examples.
      I would say too that the people from the manufacturer helped me also on a efficient way, but the major part of the process was done by me. It is obvious that everything has a cost. Some services or products are proposed with very attractive prices, but what about the quality level or the services ? Everytime the same thing: to consider all the aspect on a long term basis.

      Best regards,


      Eric Saint-Guillain

      September 1, 2009 at 12:08

  2. They say that every interaction with the brand is another opportunity to remind you that they exist and to sell you something else… I believe they purposely make products defective otherwise you might not remember the name. However, I do remember the Epson printer that died on me because I didn’t print something in color every week – and have refused to buy one ever since. And the HP printer that a friend of mine had the exact same problem with you are are writing about? Of course I will never buy an HP inkjet printer.

    Some people shouldn’t be working in marketing. Some people shouldn’t be writing policies for shipping companies either. I hope the telephone will never become obsolete, talking to a live person and getting a really helpful answer still beats everything else, doesn’t it?

    Vincent Vanderbent

    March 6, 2011 at 18:43

    • What they call customer service is just claim management and that’s all. I had the same problem with a car. When I bought this car around 12 years ago, they advice me to take a full contract service what I didn’t take because it was expensive and I considered that the parts failures should be covered by the guarantee. I had to face some problems with this car and had to wait during few days without any replacement car to get the car repaired. This dealer was an important GM dealer of Brussels. I moved to a japanese car I bought in a small family garage. I am considered as a customer and not a number. I only had 2 small repairs with this car in 6 years, and the dealer always helped me the same day. And one time, he didn’t invoice the replacement car I had during 2 days. This is the huge difference. And as I am freelance, yes, time is money.

      Eric Saint-Guillain

      March 6, 2011 at 18:52

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