Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Hewlett Packard Service in Merida, Yucatan

One Christmas, not too many moons ago, my much better half bought me a computer for Christmas; a brand new, top of the line HP computer from Liverpool.

Living as we do in the land of the CFE, the national electricity monopoly that works for the "progress of Mexico" (it says so right there on their logo) while remaining unable to maintain a continuous flow of electricity to its over-paying client/victims, it was inevitable that one day the computer would sputter to a halt, as a result of an afore-alluded-to power problem.

I therefore headed off to Liverpool to ask about service and repair; where to obtain same, and was informed that Liverpool had nothing to do with it since it had been longer than the in-store guarantee and I should visit the 'authorized' HP service center, a company by the name of Genesis located on Avenida Cupules in this formerly white city.

At this once-stately Garcia Gineres area address, Genesis has haphazardly and tastelessly converted a formerly elegant residence and made it into a junky looking office where it is the authorized service center for not only HP but Epson as well. Unsmiling, unhelpful employees abound and eagerly await your departure so they can get back to whatever important tasks they are undertaking.

The receptionist, also unsmiling and rather sad looking, kind of like a mistreated pet, listens with a face totally devoid of either interest or empathy as you explain the problem. She then proceeds to make out a service order in her computer which you then take and off you go.

About a week or two later, I was informed that no problem had been detected with the CPU (a cooling fan problem that caused the machine to shut down at start-up) and that the problem probably lay with my electrical source (ie wall plug). OK. It was running fine here in the shop, they tell me. Fine. I pay my service charge (about $20 USD) pick up my computer and take it home, eager to get it up and running.

You know what happens next. I connected everything and voila, same problem. "Falla en el tubo de ventilacion, se apagara el CPU para evitar daños a la computadora" or something to that effect.

I call them, just a little miffed.

"Well it was working fine here" they answer.

"But it's not working now, here. Can't you come and get it and check it again - here where the computer is actually plugged in - to make up for what was obviously a complete waste of my time and money for the first reparation?" I insist on thinking like a foreigner.

"No, we don't do that."

After asking for and speaking with a supervisor, Genesis agreed that they would come out to pick up the CPU and take it back to the shop, as a customer service gesture, which was evidently not something normally within the scope of their operations.

"When can you come?" I ventured, still on the phone.

"En el transcurso del dia de mañana" - sometime during the day.

"Could you be a little more precise since there is no one in the house and I would have to come back from work to get you access to the PC so you can check it out."

"No, we would call you before coming to let you know. Can you give us your home number?"

"If I give you my home number, no one will answer it because there is no one there. I can give you my cell phone number and you can call me and we can meet at the house." I am starting to think that not only are these people not particularly service-oriented, they are also a little cerebrally challenged. And here comes the best line of this whole exchange:

"No, a cell phone won't work."

"Why?" This is wierd.

"We just need a regular phone number, not a cell phone."

"Are you telling me that you can't or don't have permission to call cell phones to communicate with your clients?!" I am suspecting this and can not believe what I am hearing.

"Asi es" is the response I get.

To keep this story from going on forever: I finally wrangled a three hour time frame from them and we were set. The technicians came and checked the computer, which did not respond to their repeated attempts at starting it up; the technician doing the rebooting was even spinning the ventilation fan by hand and saw that it was indeed, stuck. So they took the CPU back to the shop. That was mid-July.

A few days later I was informed that the CPU was working fine and it was indeed a problem with my electrical outlets. Knowing the CFE and how electricity comes and goes, I did not consider this outrageous and resigned myself to hiring an electrician to come and break apart my walls and re-cable everything. Viva Mexico. At the shop, a different technician, one I hadn't seen before, escorted me into the back area where my CPU was, to demonstrate to me that it was working just fine, there in the shop. The technician I had previously talked to was on the phone with me at the same time making sure that the gringo (me) could see that it worked and would he please leave us the hell alone. The technician in front of me flicked the switch and lo and behold, "Falla en el tubo de ventilacion, se apagara el CPU para evitar daños a la computadora". There is a god and he is just, I am thinking.

The guy on the phone wants to talk to the technician "no puede ser" he says to the guy in front me.

"I'm looking right at it." he replies. "Yes, it's the right computer" he insists.

OK. Now they will have another look at it. I should come back later. They will let me know.

In the last week of August, having heard nothing about my computer and having received no phone calls (at home) to update me on what was happening, I visited the sad receptionist again and she informed me that the problem was now the motherboard and they had not gotten a price for its replacement and that is why they hadn't called. Oh. And would it not have been nice to let me know that they had made this discovery and perhaps given me a call to inform me about the ongoing saga and perhaps get an opinion from me as to whether or not to proceed? This unreasonable remark provoked only a shrug from the sad receptionist and I again left with the idea that I would be called as soon as they had a price for the new motherboard.

On September 30, I drove for the fourth and last time to Merida's Hewlett Packard 'service' center. No, I hadn't received a call (at home). I just figured it was time to rescue that CPU before the technology became completely obsolete and my family photos were lost forever. A sallow faced individual who was obviously there against his will on a prison work experience program judging from his attitude, looked at my worn piece of paper, got my CPU and asked me to sign. He also asked me to pay. For what? I asked. Nothing has been done and the original 'revision' had already been paid for. Oh yeah. OK. Es todo. And I was free to go.

Hewlett Packard - you should be ashamed at having these people represent your company! All that advertising money spent so that people take this memory with them when they have a problem with your equipment! Why should anyone buy a HP product and not a 'patito' brand instead? The service will be the same, so why pay more?


Grant said...

... a face totally devoid of neither interest nor empathy ...

You're really living in the land of double negatives.

More seriously, you've persuaded me to invest in a UPS system if/when we bring a computer down there.

William Lawson said...

I got carried away with my negatives, huh? I should correct that I guess.

What is a UPS system?


William Lawson said...

There - I got rid of some of that negativity. I hope that it makes sense now!

Thanks for pointing it out - I won't sell very many dictionaries if people see that I am not careful with my multiple negatives.


Grant said...

UPS = uninterruptible power supply. Basically just a voltage regulator, inverter and a battery to keep you going until you can do an orderly shutdown.

Possibly an entry for the second edition of the dictionary.

William Lawson said...

UPS - of course. And I thought it had something to do with a man in a brown uniform wearing shorts...

Gerardo said...

Hey man, nice blog. Yo también vivo en Mérida (soy yucateco). Very funny experience with your computer. Mexico is definitely years behind in customer service. Yeah, you really need to get a UPS, people here call them "no-breaks". Salud.

Gerardo said...

Oh and sorry about the double post but that Yucatan dictionary sounds nice. Can I buy the paperback version here in Merida?

William Lawson said...

thanks! no-break, of course! salud back!

William Lawson said...

As for the dictionary, I finally got around to publishjing this and have ordered a few myself to see what they look like. If you like, I can let you know when it arrives so you can have a look. Do you know anyone locally who might want to sponsor a locally printed version?

Salime said...

Tipico!!! Hey you!!! I have a Dell computer and I don't think there is a Dell service center in Merida...

I love this blog!!! I'm working on some new restauant reviews for you!!! :)


William Lawson said...

Thank you Salime! I heard a horror story about a Dell server the other day - basically the same thing - no service!

And I look forward to the restaurant reviews! Did you read the other blog that the Casual Restaurant Critic put up?

Jorgito said...

Well... I know a friend who sent his HP state of the art laptop to a warranty service a month ago and the people from the corporate offices have no clue where the thing is. I think they are going through serious problems on customer service.

Next time, just ring 01 800 JORGITO and all your problems will be solved ;)

William Lawson said...

Thanks Jorge - I have added your number for computer problems in my contacts (on my computer!!!) Thanks!