An Open Letter to Krista Broussard of Hewlett-Packard’s ISB Team

Update: On July 9, Keith from Hewlett-Packard contacted me through Twitter and provided me with his number. I did have to provide additional details about my printer model, but Keith promptly facilitated the exchange and restored my faith in Hewlett-Packard’s commitment to its customers.

Dear Ms. Broussard of Hewlett-Packard Company’s ISB Team,

I have been a loyal HP customer since the early ’90s, when I purchased my first serious printer (my actual first was a dot-matrix), a glorious HP laser printer. I ran many thousands of pieces of paper through that workhorse.

It saddened me, then, to read the many news stories all indicating that your once-glorious company has been heading down the toilet. For example, just today the Los Angeles Times refers to HP’s “faltering business.”

Your letter to me dated June 27 hints to me why your company is faltering. You obviously don’t take any pride whatsoever in your products, nor do you care anything about making your customers happy. Instead, you harangue me for daring to politely ask HP to replace a faulty HP product that I paid good money to purchase.

On June 4, I drafted the following letter to Hewlett-Packard. I sent the letter with a defective ink cartridge to the company, hoping for a timely and satisfactory reply:

Hewlett-Packard Company
3000 Hanover Street
Palo Alto, CA

Ari Armstrong
9975 Wadsworth Pkwy. #K2-111
Westminster, CO 80021

Dear HP,

We purchased the enclosed Color 61 ink cartridge, but unfortunately it is defective. (Our printer gave us an error message, and the next cartridge we tried worked fine.)

I request a replacement cartridge or a certificate for the same.

Ari Armstrong

P.S. I tried your customer service phone line, but after an absurdly long hold time I gave up.

Rather than send me a timely and satisfactory reply—with a replacement cartridge—you instead sent me the following huffy note asking me for information a) that I had already provided to Hewlett-Packard or b) that was entirely irrelevant to the company for replacing the defective cartridge:

So please allow me to take this opportunity to reply to your letter.

First, I was shocked to read that HP does not normally replace defective products, that you deign to “make a one time exception” in my case to do right by your customers.

So let the buyer beware: Hewlett-Packard does not stand behind its products, judging by Broussard’s reply.

Second, I found it ludicrous that you requested my “valid shipping address” in the very letter that contains a copy of my valid shipping address. Obviously you are not seriously attempting to get the relevant information from me to make a good-faith effort to replace your defective product; instead, you are merely hassling me.

I therefore take this opportunity to beg your forgiveness for purchasing HP products.

Finally, no, I will not provide you with my telephone number, my printer model number, or my printer serial number in order to process the replacement. Perhaps in your ineptitude you missed this detail, but I sent you the defective cartridge. That provides quite sufficient information, I think, for you to send me a replacement! (Moreover, it seems to me your crack “ISB Team”—whatever that is—should have embraced the opportunity to check out the defective cartridge in an attempt to avoid such manufacturing defects in the future.)

It seems to me that the obviously right move in your position would have been to promptly and cheerfully send me the replacement cartridge. That’s what good companies do, companies that do not wish to suffer “faltering business.” Well, obviously you blew your first chance. Please consider this your second.

Ari Armstrong