It’s story time. I figure if Thea will listen to my story with interest, it must be worth telling. That could just be her being polite, but I’ll take my chances.
I’ve had a Fujitsu Lifebook as a tablet/laptop for the last ten years of so. It started out as being sufficient and small. I adapted myself to it. And I found that I enjoyed being able to stand in front of a server rack, tablet in one hand, stylus in the other, pointing and clicking my way through matters. When I needed to type, I could turn the screen around, open it up as a laptop and type fairly well one-handed.
Then came the day that I had scheduled an hour to make some changes to a network. It shouldn’t have taken fifteen minutes. But a seven hundred megahertz XP computer with a half gig of ram and perpetually full hundred-twenty gig hard drive thought otherwise. I hadn’t had it open for but a few minutes and had hardly begun making the changes needed when Chrome decided that it needed to steal cpu time to update. Of course, Chrome doesn’t tell you that it’s updating. I thought that the network was suddenly running slow. So I opened more Chrome tabs to speed things up. That slowed it down even more. Then the circle-of-death cursor started spinning. I was losing it. Thirty minutes in and I had made only a third of the changes needed. The one thought that kept me from throwing my once-beloved computer across the room was, “It’s time to replace it.”
I was pretty sure what I wanted. The HP Spectre X2 “Surface-Killer”. I had seen it at BestBuy the previous weekend. I pass by at least three BestBuy’s on the way home every night. I thought I’d just stop and get one if they had one with the right specs. It turned out that I could get one with eight gig of ram, with an i7 (actually m7) processor and with a quarter-gig hard drive. They had the SKU for it right on the display. Only, they didn’t have one. Anywhere. At all. And couldn’t order one. Ever.
So, the next day, I went online. It turned out that BestBuy stores have rules but the online store doesn’t. I had the online store contact HP and have one made for me. I ordered it at 4:30pm on Thursday. Yes, I did want it the next day for an additional charge. No, I didn’t want it gift wrapped or with a gift receipt. And do you know what? It arrived for me at 10:00am on Friday. Eat s**t, brick and mortar.
But there was a catch. At the same time that I ordered my new laptop/tablet, I ordered a stylus/pen to go with it. I took the suggestion from BestBuy after finding out from HP that there wasn’t a pen that came with it. The HP Online Store, in fact, only sells one Active Stylus and it was the same one that BestBuy suggested. No-brainer. But since it’s a separate part, it comes separate. And in another package. And with additional shipping. I could wait for it to get to me. I didn’t need to overnight it.
I waited a week. When it showed up, I ripped open that package, put in the battery and … nothing. Odd. Complete lack of response. I double checked online. X2 is fully pen capable. Wacom compliant. Certified. So, is the pen bad? I checked it against my two-year-old Dell Venu 8 Pro. Where it worked fine. I took it to BestBuy and tested it against another X2. Nothing. The sales rep at BestBuy couldn’t believe it. He actually opened sealed packages to find out if they carried a pen that worked on the X2. Nothing. But we did find an X2 specific pen in the BestBuy database. But there was no “recommended for” link back to the X2. But, it just existed in the database and was sold through their website. So, we checked the HP Online Store. The pen that doesn’t work is the only pen in the HP Online Store.
So, I called HP support. Well, I chat’ed them. Mohinder was very thorough. He checked all my settings and drivers. He double checked everything that I told him. I was using my best international English, refraining from using any slang or colloquialisms. Then he took control of my computer and initiated a calibration screen. He controlled the mouse pointer and told me to place the pen’s cursor on the cross-hairs. It finally sunk in to him what the problem was when I explained that there was no cursor following the nib of the pen around the screen. The Active Stylus was inactive for the X2. We were nearing the one hour mark on his clock without progress. So he said, “I’m going to have consumer support call you in the morning.” And with plenty of niceties, bid me good night.
Jeffery, with HP Consumer Support, called at 10:00am. He too was very interested in why the product that HP sells as pen capable doesn’t work with the pen that HP sells. He also looked up on BestBuy’s website and was presented with the same recommendations. Like me, he was able to find the non-recommended X2 pen on the BestBuy website. (You put “X2 pen” in the search engine.) Unlike me, he was able to cross-reference the product number and find that HP does have the non-recommended X2 pen as a replacement part. But they don’t sell it to consumers. It’s a replacement part that isn’t sold. It’s for when a pen that isn’t sold is bad, they can replace it.
So here’s what Jeffery said he was going to do. He was going to second-day mail the X2 pen out to me to try. I was going to try it and he was going to call me and find out if it worked. No hoops to jump through. No going through tech support. Or sending in the X2 to be looked at. Simple. Direct.
The pen came. It worked. Jeffery called. “Great. So you’re all fixed up?” Well, how do I purchase this pen, I asked. “You can’t but I’m not asking you to.”, he said. So Jeffery is sending a note back down his food-chain telling Mohinder and support what to do if this comes up again. And he’s sending a note up his food-chain asking why they aren’t selling the right pen with their laptop and why the pen that they should be selling is only a replacement part and why it’s not in the HP Online Store at all. I get to keep the pen that works and return to BestBuy the one that doesn’t. And when BestBuy asks (and they always do) why I returned my purchase. I can ask them in return why they are recommending a pen that doesn’t work and not recommending the pen that does.
It’s a win for me. It’s a win for Jeffery. And by proxy a win for HP. And, let’s face it, BestBuy didn’t exactly lose here. They got the sale. But I’m not sure that there was a solid ‘win’ in there for them.