UPDATE (4/02/12 10:26 AM PDT) Good Guy John calls from Ontario, Canada. It appears that while the actual HP Corporate Offices are located in California, the corporate resolution calls are actually handled by a UTAH call center and John’s group is actually located in Canada.

The message is disheartening. The part in the bag, even though it has a different part number, is apparently the correct part. Unfortunately, it is, according to John, “the upper pen cartridge door” aka “the cleanout door” and is not the front hinged ink cartridge door; which is, alas, not replaceable by the user. John also mentions that the part number on the bag and the different part number on the part itself are correlated in the computer.

One would think that the front hinged ink cover door, being the most commonly accessed panel when routinely changing ink cartridges would be a “user replaceable part.”

And, one would think that the parts department – knowing the printer model and serial number – would know from the description that it is the front-hinged door and not the top “cleanout” door and that the part is not user replaceable.

A little test … I call the parts center and specifically ask for the part number BY DESCRIPTION for the front hinged door on my specific printer. Same story. And had I ordered the part – the same result.

Resolution … Call an unauthorized third-party parts vendor because they seem to know that the actual part needed is a C8187-40005 which is described as “Ink Distribution System (IDS) door” which is frequently confused with a C8187-67304 “Pen cartridge door - Access door for changing the printer ink cartridges.

To Hewlett-Packard … It appears that the descriptions used in your parts department are MISLEADING in that they are not fully descriptive of the part that is being requested. Therefore, I strongly suggest that you re-word the descriptions and pay closer attention to the part descriptions in the future.

(1) How much easier it would have been to describe the C8187-40005 as the front hinged drop-down door cover opened when replacing ink cartridges or simply as the “Ink Cartridge Cover” which is the descriptive term used on the display panel.

(2) Place a computer prompt on all C8187-67304 part descriptions to remind order takers that this part is most frequently mistaken for a C818-40005 and provide my suggested description as an alternative.

  • C8187-40005: Ink Cartridge Cover - front hinged drop-down door cover opened when replacing ink cartridges (frequently confused with C8187-67304)
  • C8187-67304: Pen cartridge door - Top access door for changing the printer ink cartridges (frequently confused with C8187-40005)

(3) As for the mismatch between the part noted on the poly-bag label and the part contained in the bag, it is irrelevant how HP internally identifies their parts as long as the right part is sent to the customer.

Final Solution: Thus ends my trials and tribulations with Hewlett-Packard and my resolution to simply use re-tape the door shut after replacing ink cartridges.

UPDATE (3/30/12 03:31 PM PDT) No contact from HP as promised. Still waiting patiently.

UPDATE (3/27/12 03:31 PM PDT) Good Guy John from HP notifies me that all of the parts in the parts center were wrong. He will follow-up with the service center liaison and report back around 3:00 PM PDT Friday, March 30, 2012.

Original Blog Post ...

Normally, I would not complain about a trivial issue and an adverse encounter with a Fortune 500 company, but I belong to the James Bond school of problem-solving where: Once is happenstance; twice is coincidence and three times it is clearly enemy action.

My sister accidently broke the door that covers the ink cartridges in her HP Officejet Pro 7780. Unfortunately this door is interlocked and the printer will not function with the door open.

So it seemed a relatively simple task to call up Hewlett Packard to order a genuine part replacement. The order was taken by an operator in a foreign country who spoke passable English, understood what I wanted and placed the order correctly.

Everything appeared to be on-track as I waited for the FedEx box to arrive with the permanent solution to the temporary fix which consisted of a single piece of Scotch Tape to hold the ink cover door shut.

Now comes the interesting sequence of events …

The part arrives, loose in a large FedEx box; but unfortunately it is the wrong part. Okay – no biggie – these things happen when you stock a gazillion parts.

So, it was a little added effort to call the parts people – again a foreign operator who spoke passable English, understood the situation and profusely apologized for the unfortunate mistake. They replaced the order and all appeared to be well.

The part arrives, loose in a large FedEx box; but this time it is packaged in a polybag with the right part number and barcode on the label. But, alas, it is the same wrong part that was shipped previously.

So, with a little added effort and frustration, I call the parts people again. The foreign customer service representative with passible English apologizes once more and offers to replace the order. Realizing this may be a systemic mistake and likely to be repeated over-and-over, I ask for a supervisor. The supervisor is well-spoken, polite and apologetic but claims they can’t do anything but re-place the same order.

To recap: the order process works well, the paperwork is correct, the pick/pack and ship process works well and I get my order promptly – only it is the wrong part in the polybag from the right bin.

So, being persistent, I call Hewlett-Packard corporate headquarters and am shuttled off to “Executive blah, blah, blah). Once again I explain the problem to a nice person who is well-trained in letting me vent. But they can do nothing but replace the order. Now I am getting angry. I ask for the call to be escalated.

My call is returned by a polite, well-spoken “case manager” who assures me that he understands the issue and will replace the order, write special instructions and follow-up. I ask him if he can communicate with the parts depot and have someone physically check the part. He says that he cannot do this – but reassures me that the order will contain special handling instructions. He seems like a great guy and the end to my problems. He also informs me that he is reversing the charge for the part. Again all appears to be right in the data processing world.

But Noooooo … FedEx drops a box off and I eagerly open it, seeking an end to this craziness. Again, the order process works, the paperwork is correct and the polybag carries the correct number and barcode – but the part is WRONG!

Exactly what I suspected has happened. There is no way for “office staff” to contact anyone who can actually solve the problem at the ground level.

What else can they screw up?

So here I am awaiting a call back from the “great guy” and pondering what else can Hewlett-Packard screw up. The first thing that comes to mind is their new soon-to-be-announced (if you believe the computer trade press) cloud services offering. I must ask myself the following questions:

  1. Do I want to trust my valuable data to a company whose infrastructure is so dense that an executive office team cannot reach out to the right person to solve a “systemic issue?”
  2. Do I want to rely on their unilateral agreement that limits their responsibility for a catastrophic failure that results in a denial of access to my cloud-stored data or the partial or complete loss of my valuable data?
  3. Do I want to place my faith and trust in an organization that can’t resolve an issue with a single phone call or e-mail?

Don’t get me wrong …

I am an HP fanboy: from their calculators, their test equipment, scanners and their printers, I have extensive professional experience with many of their products and have never encountered this type of problem. Full disclosure: I liked Compaq’s server line before they were acquired by HP – but now prefer other computer brands to HP’s current offerings. And while I have used Epson printers personally and in a commercial environment, I prefer the HP industrial-strength printer line.

What needs to be done is simple and easy to understand …

Some human being needs to walk over to the parts bin and check that the correct part is in the correct bag. It is as simple as that. So to help them along, I will write out the instructions as if I were dealing with my own staff.

  1. Physically walk over to the pick bin location specified by your pick sheet and look at the part number on the bag and the part number embossed into the reverse side of the part and check that they match.
  2. If the incorrect parts are in the right bag, the bags must be re-labeled with the correct part number and barcode and replaced in the correct bin. The computer inventory should be adjusted for the number of parts removed from the wrong bin and added to the correct bin.
  3. If some of the parts in the bin are correct, leave those parts in the bin and adjust the computer inventory to reflect the remaining correct parts in the bin. Remove the incorrect parts from the bin – and then proceed as per item 2 to re-label the parts and adjust the computer inventory.
  4. If more than one parts depot handles these parts – send instructions to each parts depot manager and be sure to request a follow-up.
  5. Be sure to follow-up with the issuer of these instructions so they will be able to close the problem ticket.

Bottom line …

Both commercial and individual requesters of this particular part (C8187-67304) who do not want the inconvenience and hassle of receiving a (C8187-40033) may want to use Scotch Tape to solve their broken door problem until HP gets its act in order.

Since the cost of handling this brouhaha is costing HP a significant amount of money in personnel time and effort – not to mention the part cost and shipping – there should be another attempt to rectify the problem. But this time, any employee who fails to perform their job gets demoted, disciplined or actually fired. Tough love – corporate style.

I guess we will wait to see how this matter will turn out and how costly this will become for a company that appears to be undergoing management turmoil and some degree of reorganization.

Meanwhile, you might want to see what is going on at HP …

Courtesy of AllThingsD, a well-respected source of technical news …

Here is an internal memo from Group honcho Todd Bradley that details exactly who is running the Printing and Personal Systems Group of Hewlett-Packard following CEO Meg Whitman’s reorganization efforts.

SUBJECT/ Organization announcement

TO/ All Printing and Personal Systems employees

March 23, 2012

HP Restricted – For Internal Use Only

As Meg said this week, this realignment is designed to make it easier for you to service customers, sell HP and make it easier for you to get work done.

In Printing and Personal Systems, this mission will be our passion and our focus, and we will lead from a position of strength. We are the global leader in printing and personal systems, and we have touched hundreds of millions of lives along the way. Now, as one team, we can accelerate our path to profitable growth while we deliver the best experience to more people.

To read the rest of the memo, it can be found here at AllThingsD.

Perhaps I should bring this “trivial” matter to Todd Bradley’s attention. Nah! He has enough stress in his life at the present time.

-- steve

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