a merry old fuck you from hp

Thu Dec-20th-2007 // Filed under: I Rant!

So, I’m here at my mom’s place for the holidays — in Spain, actually, though I’ll get into that at another time. Maybe. Anyway, it just came to pass that I needed to scan some stuff for my brother, and luckily enough, my mom has a scanner — an HP Scanjet 4070 Photosmart Scanner, to be exact. So all I need to do is install the drivers and I’m up and running, right?

Well, kinda. Because making my way to HP’s web page for the product, I find that the driver package is about 301 megabytes, because it includes some kind of an awesome software suite called ImageZone. It is, of course, utterly impossible that someone might just want to, y’know, scan something and not get “I want the full HP experience, because it’s so user-friendly and awesome” tattooed on their chest.

Then we find the actual driver CD. Surprise, surprise — that’s the same thing. Even from the CD itself, there is no actual option to just install the driver. If I want to scan a picture, I have no option but to install some ridiculously bloated piece of shit just to scan a couple of pieces of paper my brother needs to send to his employer back in Finland. A cursory Google search reveals no source for just the driver; could be there’s one out there, but if I need to actually start hunting for it — that is to say, start looking outside the manufacturer’s own website — the damage has pretty much been done. Making consumers install a huge piece of shit like that for no good reason when a scanner driver couldn’t be reasonably expected to be more than a couple of megabytes in size is just idiotic. Of course, modern hard drives tend to be large enough for the size in itself not to be that much of an issue — although even so, if you’re behind a slightly crappy internet link (in, oh, Spain, as a completely random example) and need to wait for several hours while 300 megs trickle in just so you can scan a piece of paper, that’s a huge pain in the ass. The idea that in order to use an HP scanner, a completely mundane and everyday piece of computer hardware, with, oh, say, Photoshop, you need to bloat your computer with bullshit software you don’t want or need smacks of absolutely no regard for keeping the customer happy, or at least not overcome by murderous rage.

I realize that hardware manufacturers have, despite all evidence to the contrary, a deeply held belief that what all users really want is someone to bring them one wonderful software suite after another. After all, who in their right mind would want to use Photoshop to touch up their photographs, when they can use the awesome HP Image Zone, which has great features like e-mailing your pictures to other people! That’s some cutting edge shit. Adobe better hustle if they don’t want to be left behind by the pioneers at HP.

The assumption that programs like this are popular, desired and useful may well be true for the guy who buys his first computer — y’know, the type who enjoys forwarding funny chain letters to all his friends and relatives and is genuinely excited about screen savers. I know he’s out there, and he’s not alone. I wish him well; if HP Image Zone makes him happy, it’s no skin off my nose and I’m glad he has such a good time with it. But there’s no reason to believe that the only way to keep Mr. Watch Out For the Budweiser Frog Virus smiling while he designs those wonderfully whimsical and personal clip art greeting cards is to fuck every single geek and professional user in the process.

I have an oldish Canon scanner at home, and I’ve been thinking of upgrading that one. When I do, I know for a fact the new one is not going to manufactured by HP — it’s not that I believe the HP product itself to be in any way inferior (I don’t really have an opinion on the matter), but dealing with this kind of ridiculous shit is annoying enough for me to find the idea of giving these guys a single dime pretty much unpalatable.


10 Comments

  1. I had an HP computer few years back. It was working fine (or finish, you know how computers can be), but then my wife and I decided to go to her family in Canada for xmas. So we unplugged all unnecessary appliances for the duration of our trip, including the computer.

    When we got back and I plugged the computer in, it wouldn’t give me the time of the day. Since the warranty had expired, I tried to search the HP site for instructions on what could be wrong and what should I do. It took hours to find anything useful.

    Finally I narrowed it down to a small set of instructions that I tried out at home, and these little tests narrowed it down to either the power source being fried (which is an interesting problem since the computer wasn’t plugged in; did the electricity leap through air and fry it?) or the motherboard (I guess the connections on the motherboard can dissipate on their own, though the leaping electricity seems more plausible).

    In either case they suggested contacting the place of purchase for help. I did, but since the warranty was over, there wasn’t much they were willing to do. They gave me a form that I should fill out and send to HP. Apparently they sometimes, just from the goodness of their hearts, decide to help you fix your computer in situations like this if they are feeling charitable. Well they didn’t in my case, so we don’t have a HP computer anymore.

    Comment by Scully — December 20, 2007 @ 1198170065

  2. From the extra stuff found on installation CDs, I only use one application, myself, and that’s because there isn’t a viable alternative that I had come across to import and process RAW images.

    I do think that these companies waste a lot of money and people’s goodwill on stuff we don’t need. It’s like they never asked their customers what they actually appreciate (for instance, speedy, non-confusing installation). I especially hate it when the installers don’t even tell you what the numerous applications are for.

    Comment by Joonas — December 20, 2007 @ 1198171601

  3. I once had a HP CD-burner which broke down a month after its warranty had expired. It wasn’t amusing. A few friends have also owned HP products that have fallen apart unusually early. They weren’t amused either. Lesson learned: never buy from HP.

    Comment by Ude — December 20, 2007 @ 1198171639

  4. Just out of courtesy, I need to state that I am very happy with my HP business laptop, despite vowing to never use HP again.

    Comment by Joonas — December 21, 2007 @ 1198236689

  5. I used to have a HP printer/scanner, which I got rid of simply because I didn’t want to go through the hassle with the drivers and the software. The thing kept jamming up in a really weird way, which required hard-resetting the thing and then installing and uninstalling the drivers etc. Apparently it was some kind of driver thing and not a hardware failure, although it was hard to believe. Certainly the last HP printer product I’m going to buy.

    Comment by Janos — December 21, 2007 @ 1198239740

  6. Looks like HP products have pissed off more than one person I know. I’m not exactly shocked to hear this.

    But I think stories of HP hardware failing are kind of firmly in the realm of anecdotal evidence — not meaningless, of course, but just because these events really piss us off, that doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily indicative of HP products’ overall quality, even if they have an impact on our own future purchases. I mean, no matter what manufacturer you deal with, you’re going to have unhappy consumers and happy consumers, and a good portion of the happy consumers are probably going to think that the unhappy guys are exaggerating, whereas a good portion of the unhappy guys are going to think that the manufacturer’s products are crap. Throw in the unfortunate human tendency to validate themselves through their purchase decisions, and it gets a little difficult to see what’s what without doing some kind of actual market research.

    But the whole driver/software suite bloat thing, on the other hand, is a lot more objective in that it clearly demonstrates the kinds of attitudes HP has towards its customers — it affects all customers, not just an unknown or assumed percentage of them: if no one can get a scanner driver without installing 300 megs of crap on their hard drive, that’s pretty unambiguous. Inevitably, one also has to wonder whether the company takes the same approach to the actual hardware design and/or manufacture.

    Comment by Mikki — December 21, 2007 @ 1198241299

  7. At least a few years ago HP seemed to be in the business of making very good but expensive stuff for professionals and then hoisting some pretty useless crap on consumers based on the reputation built on the pro market. My experience isn’t recent though, because none of their more expensive stuff has ever broken down on me, so I’m still using their printer from -98 for an example :)

    The step up in quality back then was amazing for an example between their cheap (as in “make money from the ink”) laser printers and the actually decent ones that set you back a a bit more.

    Comment by hakkis — December 21, 2007 @ 1198248252

  8. Of course, if stuff never broke down, we wouldn’t keep buying new stuff, now would we? So if HP made computers or printers that never broke down, they couldn’t sell any because they would be too expensive and the few customers they could sell one would never have to buy a new one.

    Isn’t that the secret behind Microsoft, Sony, Ford, HP and any other famous brand? Making stuff just good enough to sell instead of making really good stuff.

    Comment by Scully — January 2, 2008 @ 1199264127

  9. […] Fuck you HP Because making my way to HP’s web page for the product, I find that the driver package is about 301 megabytes, because it includes some kind of an awesome software suite called ImageZone. It is, of course, utterly impossible that someone might just want to, y’know, scan something and not get “I want the full HP experience, because it’s so user-friendly and awesome” tattooed on their chest. [From Fun Pastimes for Stupid Children » a merry old fuck you from hp] […]

    Pingback by Fuck you HP | Peter deLacey Clark — September 22, 2008 @ 1222106915

  10. You are so ABSOLUTELY right-on about every comment you made in your rant against the insidious and idiotic perfidy of HP’s cluelessness. I just ran the same gauntlet as you describe trying to extract a driver for my HP4570c/5500c out of their piece of odious 232mb bloatware turd … arrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh … son-of-a-B-I-T-C-H … only way it seems to get a driver is to install the nasty bloatware and THEN uninstall it later (leaving behind just the driver … and ohhh … about abazillion smegmatous residues in the registry)!

    I am going, right now, to make sure that there is no HP stock in any of my retirement investment accounts … this company is surely soon for the scrap-heap of history … and good riddance!

    HP = Huge Pisser

    Comment by Knapper Dude — March 30, 2009 @ 1238452665

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