Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Customer Service

Quick Update:

My new blog design is still in the works, and also I had a whole lot going on last week, all of which should be blogged about. I went home with Ish for the first time -- to his family's place in Arizona -- and that was kind of a big deal. Also I tried to board the plane with a wine opener I forgot I had in my purse (I come prepared, folks) and security did not take kindly to that, as you might imagine.

Also, my a cappella group, The Loose Interpretations, is going to be famous. (Not, I should add, because of our singing ability.) We're honestly going to be featured in a nation-wide magazine. More on this later.

ALSO also, I got to pretend I was Press last week at the San Francisco International Film Festival and will be writing about the films I saw because I have to because that was the deal. Even though I totally misunderstood my responsibilities and almost got kicked out of the place.

ALL THIS ASIDE, because I've been running around and behind at work, I thought I'd share this simple experience.

* * * * *

When I first learned I'd be working from home, I went out and got the necessary home office things. A desk. A desk lamp. A little filing tray system thing. And yes, a printer.

You know how sometimes when people buy office-y things or electronics-y things, they spend lots of time researaching their options and looking for the best deals they can find?

Right. And you know what these people don't do? They don't wander into Office Depot, look around for three-and-a-half minutes, and go, "Hey, that one looks like it will work."

But that's what I did because, I guess, I like to live on the edge.

So.

I got the first (yes, "first") Epson printer home. I opened it, I hooked it up, I installed the drivers.

It wouldn't print.

Now, I'll grant you. Printers have come a long way since I first worked in an office. Since the days of Office Space's infamous "PC-LOAD LETTER" scene and its aftermath. The printers of 2007 are very, very sophisticated, and apparently so are their error messages.

Because rather than have some cryptic, "load"-related message my printer's window simply said: Call Customer Service.

How concise!

So I called customer service and they walked me through nine hundred variations of "troubleshooting," all of which were basically rooted in the very advanced technique of Did You Try Turning The Printer Off And Then On Again? Also known as Now I'm Going To Have You Unplug The Printer From The Outlet.

And after a good 20 or 30 minutes of off/on, plug/unplug, it came down to:
"Now what does it say."

"It says 'Hardware Issue. Call Customer Service.'"

And that's when the man on the phone took all of my information and then explained to me that the printer was having a hardware problem and I'd need to return it.

I am perhaps more amused than I should be about a printer's error message saying, essentially, "I'm broken."

ANYWAY. I returned the printer and replaced it with the same model.

And it worked. It's quirky, mind you. It's a very high-maintenance printer. It insists on cleaning its heads ALL the damn time. If I go a week without printing something, sometimes its alignment gets wonky and I have to spend half a rainforest's worth of trees printing "test pages" to get it all corrected. And I've already had to replace the black ink.

But at least it worked.

Until a few days ago.

A few days ago, it started telling me there was a paper jam, but a rather quick inspection told me the printer was lying. I turned it on and off several times anyway, hoping it would rethink it's stance. It didn't.

Instead, it started telling me that it has a paper jam, that I should refer to my manual, and call Customer Service "if necessary." Hmmm.

So I open my manual to learn more about what I should do. And here is what it tells me.

If my display message says "Printer error --> See your documentation" my "solution" is:
There is a problem with the Epson Stylus CX5800F. Turn it off and then back on. If the error does not clear, contact Epson. See page 59 for details."


Of course, 59 just has the 800 number.

I see. So my "error" is that "there is a problem." Sophisticated, indeed!

Anyway, I call Customer Service and get another opportunity to troubleshoot. He is slower than the first guy, and reading from a script. It takes a long time for us to get to the part of the script where he's basically telling me to see if there's paper stuck in the printer. As if I have not already considered looking for the jammed paper.

I tell him it is all clear.

We then spend another five minutes ("Okay, ma'am. I understand that there is no paper stuck in the machine. What I need you to do now, ma'am, is to please close the top of the printer...") getting to the part where he tells me to turn the printer off and then on again. Then to unplug it.

It got kind of exciting when he instructed me to find the lever at the front of the machine and flip it up and down three times. (I am not even kidding about that one little bit.) Ohhhhhh, yes, the magic troubleshooting THREE TIMES of up/down with the lever. Of course that will do it! Why didn't I think of that???

Then we had to turn everything back on and I got to tell him that the error message was the same as it had been. And that's the point at which he told me my printer was broken.

I appreciated the information.

In the end, Epson offered to FedEx me a new printer at no charge (as long as I send back my old one), so that I can enjoy my third model of a printer that doesn't work.

Perhaps the engineers at Epson might want to consider adding the error message: Printer Error. Give Up. Buy an HP.

11 comments:

  1. I learned my lesson about Epson a LOOOONNNGGG time ago, and am now strictly HP. We have had an HP R80 4-in-1 (printer, copier, scanner, fax) for the past 7 years, and it has never given us a problem. (HP rules! LOL)

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  2. That's standard Epson behavior -- constantly cleaning the print heads (and wasting your ink) and then breaking because... it was constantly cleaning the print heads.

    Unfortunately, the customer service experience is standard computer industry support these days. I recently had a key pop off my notebook computer's keyboard and the tech asked, in all seriousness, "What software changes have you made lately that could have contributed to the problem?"

    I thought she was joking. I laughed and said that I had installed a Law & Order game the day before the key came off, but I didn't think it was the cause of the problem. The tech told me I should uninstall the software to see if the problem resolved itself.

    At which point I began screaming.

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  3. Ditto. I think you dodged a bullet there, because I feel like I have to have a separate line item in the budget for "Epson ink cartridges." I would recommend talking to some people who have HPs because I have been warned off one model because of problems interfacing with Macs.

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  4. When I got to the portion of the post regarding your printer, my first thought was: Why did she buy an Epson?

    I know. Now we tell you.

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  5. Nope.. HP isn't much better.. just got a big ole' fancy new one at work.. the first one didn't print one page before it had to be returned.. they replaced it, but the second one within 2 days had the paper drawer jammed (still is.. you have to open the cover just a little and slide the paper in).. and I had to replace the black ink within 2 weeks....

    I feel your pain.

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  6. Oh my...I worked at a place with that copier. After the 5th replacement we just bought a different brand.

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  7. Canon is a good printer. Had mine for years and when this one dies I'll probably get a similar (newer) model of canon.

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  8. I've never owned an Epson anything, but when I was in Junior High and in chorus, every year we would go around to various Epson offices and sing them Christmas carols. I'm not sure why Epson and not, say, Xerox.
    I've always liked my Canon printers.

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  9. I'm so happy Brian wasn't with you. =)
    Healy

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  10. Yeah, you seriously have to go HP with the printers. The Epson and Lexmark printers use their weight in ink for anything!

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