HP has been busy enhancing its online support and social presence over the past year. For example, the company’s website design has been streamlined in an effort to make it easier to find answers to common questions. Plus, HP’s support-related Twitter account, which has amassed more than 31,000 followers, is now manned by more agents.
Perhaps the most notable addition to HP’s technical support is its new SmartFriend suite of services, which not only cover HP products but also assist with non-HP-branded PCs. SmartFriend comes in various flavors, with subscription services costing $14.99 per month for ongoing support and one-time services ranging from $29.99 to $99.99.
Our HP-specific question was about fixing a bug that crashes HP Connected Photo when trying to use it with Facebook, in addition to our questions about connecting Bluetooth speakers to our notebook and creating multiple user profiles.
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Those seeking help with an HP product have three options to choose from within the Support tab’s drop-down menu: Download Drivers, Support & Troubleshooting, and Visit Support Forums. We clicked on Support & Troubleshooting to see how easy or difficult it was to scout out the answers to our questions.
The website pulled up our device as soon as we entered the product name, and we were presented with a page that sorted various issues into categories. These sections include Drivers, How To, Solve a Problem, Product Information, Getting Started and User Guides. When perusing the How to Portion, we didn’t find any instructions on connecting our TouchSmart 11z with a pair of Bluetooth speakers. When we clicked the Other Accessories link on the How To page, HP only showed us how to import photos and videos via USB or a memory card. None of the other categories pertained to peripherals or accessories.
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We then downloaded and combed through HP’s user guide for the product, and found a small section on page 21 about connecting speakers. HP’s manual doesn’t offer instructions, but instead tells you to refer to the speaker manufacturer’s instructions.
We had much better luck finding the answer to our second question. HP’s support and troubleshooting website has a section called Getting Started that outlines basic tasks, such as setting up multiple user profiles. When we clicked Configure & Setup, the Managing User Accounts and Logins section provided a detailed guide, with step-by-step screenshots and instructions.
To find the answer to our third question, we had to navigate to the Solve A Problem section of HP’s support page. HP offers a lengthy list of categories, such as CD & DVD drives, Docking Stations, Power & Batteries, and Errors, among others. To learn more about our issue with HP Connected Photo, we clicked Software/Operating System and then HP Software. According to HP, the software needs to be updated to prevent it from crashing when accessing Facebook photos. The website provides step-by-step instructions on how to update it.
HP doesn’t offer Live Chat as an option — something many other manufacturers provide. However, we found HP’s Twitter team very attentive when we asked for help in setting up multiple user profiles. The company responded in about an hour, asking for our model number. Then, 25 minutes later, we heard back with a link to the guide on the support page.
However, the company wasn’t as responsive when it came to Facebook queries. We posted a question to HP’s official page on a Wednesday morning and had yet to hear back from the company several days later.
Our experience in speaking with HP support over the phone wasn’t helpful or pleasant. We called HP’s support experts in Bangalore, India, at 4:30 p.m. EDT to learn how to set up multiple user profiles on the HP Pavilion TouchSmart 11z. Our first associate politely asked for our serial number. We were put on hold for 2 minutes and were then transferred. Our second associate, Mihir, told us to call a different number to reach support members that specialize in Pavilion notebooks.
We then called that number to reach Priya, our third HP associate, who wasn’t able to help us with our question. We asked her how to set up more than one user profile, and she told us that it was impossible. (Not true.) What she did tell us was to get rid of our lock screen so that multiple users wouldn’t have an issue logging on to the device. In total, we spent about 25 minutes on the phone with HP.
When we called HP’s support number at about 6 p.m., the technician named Arnag was once again unable to answer our question. After waiting on hold for at least 15 minutes, we asked how to connect Bluetooth speakers to our HP laptop. He told us that HP could not help us with another manufacturer’s speakers, and he recommended we contact the maker of the speaker for assistance. (It’s worth noting that none of the other eight manufacturers in this year’s survey refused to answer our Bluetooth question over the phone.)
On our final call to HP, we asked about HP Connected Photo’s repeated crashes. This was the longest and most frustrating call. We started by sitting on hold for 23 minutes. We hung up and called back, and a technician named Sai, who was also based in India, offered to help us. Sai couldn’t track down our serial or product number after we read it back multiple times, but he was very polite throughout the process. Ultimately, he offered to help us, despite the serial-number problem, but in the end, he didn’t have a solution.
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After we told Sai that HP Connected Photo kept crashing when we tried to use it with Facebook, he said that a separate team needed to assist us. Not only did this mean we would need to be transferred again after our phone call had already lasted 40 minutes, but Sai insisted that we purchase HP’s $59.99 SmartFriend Tutor one-time service package to solve our issue. No thanks.
HP’s social media team certainly knows how to connect with consumers and offer efficient assistance via Twitter. The company also deserves some credit for redesigning its tech-support site, although the lack of live chat is a major drawback. HP’s biggest problem this year was its lackluster phone support. The company was not able to answer a single one of our questions over the phone, and the advice its staff did offer wasn’t beneficial. One assistant gave us a workaround that didn’t solve our initial problem, and another tried to sell us an HP support package to answer a fairly straightforward question.