Locating the real point of failure
Posted by aogWednesday, 27 October 2004 at 22:09 TrackBack Ping URL

Megan McArdle has been complaining about HP printer service. It seems her mom has an HP printer, lost the driver CD and the downloads from the HP website don’t work. McArdle has been going on about what an evil corporation HP is if they won’t just ship her mom a CD with the drivers. But this misses the real failure of HP, which is that the downloads from the web don’t work. That’s the real solution to the problem. What looks bad on HP is that HP is apparently aware of the problem and hasn’t fixed it post haste. Not shipping the CD, I understand. Not fixing the driver downloads I don’t. Let me tell you that where I work now, if a report comes in that a download doesn’t work it goes to top priority for the development team.

But HP, despite alledgedly being a printer company, has had this kind of problem for a while. Way back in the day, I was trying to get an HP printer to work on Windows NT. I failed. I thought this kind of odd, since HP shipped NT workstations and printers. I checked with a friend I knew at HP and he told “of course we have drivers for NT! We ship NT boxes. I’ll find it for you”. Well, as you might guess, a week later he came back and told me

  • HP didn’t have NT drivers for their printers, so if you bought an NT box from HP and an HP printer, you couldn’t use them together.
  • Internally, HP used drivers produced by a third party but didn’t mention this to its customers.

Eventually HP got its act together there, but it sounds to me like HP stills need to invent a process to guarantee good printer driver software for customers.