Monday, May 6, 2013

How I saved $299 after losing $69 (!) in the tech world


A couple of weeks ago,  my aged printer that had served a series of computers for more  than a decade finally quit.  The end came with a strange death rattle with paper twisting in shredded agony. I'm not good at these sorts of things and after several blind salvaging efforts, finally gave up.  Sad, really. Unless you're worth  at least a C-minus in understanding how to fix things that don''t work, you will be sympathetic.

But help was on its way with a never-used Hewlett Packard printer-scanner that had  sat in my closet for  more than a year.  It was a gift from Apple when I bought a new  desktop Mac. But I set it aside for the day when my old printer died.

Not so fast, with the celebration.  The new printer began erratically, and quit.  The Apple people advised me to call HP's tech support team, which is usually a dreaded adventure into terra incognita.  Finally, at the other end of the line somewhere possibly  in the Indian Ocean, the HP advisor concluded that the Mac and the printer were not capable of working with each other.  I would need a new app (one of the few tech words that I've been able to add with  confidence  in the past year or two).

Desperate to get on with my work, I agreed to pay $69 to the HP agent for his remote installation of the ''missing" app.

But that was hardly the solution because the printer contiued to be contrary.  Back to the HP tech team.  A woman continued to reassure me in her native impacted English that she would would remedy my problem. She continued to repeat, "Don't worry. I will make you happy.  I will fix it.  Don't worry.   I will make you happy."

That went on for an unbearably long time as she led me through several steps, including reinstalling the new app.  It was then that I felt the quicksand under my desk starting to give way.

The bad news:  "Somebody from France," she said, " had invaded my computer and is preventing the Mac and printer from talking to each other.'  I tried to convince her that Mac computers have firewalls all of over the place to stymie hackers. She wasn't convinced and finally tried to administer the coup de grace to my wallet.

For $299, she would be able to guarantee me clear sailing for three years. (It would be the only way, she said, that she could resolve the problem.")

I hung up with a burst of unkind words.  I had already given away $69 on the first call, and fool me twice?

I mentioned this to our son Rick, who is quite advanced in these things.  He managed to learn that an HP tech team isn't always an HP tech team. Rather, it is an independent interloper that is in business for itself and manages to pocket the money, even without HP's knowledge  (or concern!).

You'd think that HP would look after its own public image by ridding itself of any hint of a ripoff along the way.  Obviously, it doesn't.

That's my story, and as we used to say in the business, I stand by it.  Keep it in mind if, Heaven forbid, you are dealing with a faraway "tech team" that promises to make you happy.

P.S.  Apparently some folks did not receive the good news in the last paragraph.  I returned to the Apple store at Summit Mall and a young staffer was puzzled that I had received such invented advice  She wrote down 3 steps that would work..  I tried them in a matter of less than two minutes and my printer has been working fine ever since with no additional charge - nor wear and tear  on my patience.

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