Category Archives: Brand Management

New Year (2024), New Challenges

2023 was the year of redundancies & scaling back in the tech world, & like many others, I was one of the 20% who were “let go” early that year. I don’t think I’d experienced such a tough job market in the tech sector & I can remember the .com bubble bursting in the early 2000s, & the carnage of the GFC post 2008.

That said, the year ended nicely as I was appointed as Customer Insights Manager for the Austrian scale up, Jenis. Jentis have developed an innovative, GDPR compliant Server Side Tag Manager, which provides quality first party data to marketing teams. Jentis is well placed to be a major player in the digital analytics space in the “cookieless” future (“cookieless” is a meaningless, misleading & even deceptive phrase – all tracking/analytics tools drop a “first-party” cookie if you provide consent, & as HTML is stateless, “strictly necessary” session cookies will also be used even without consent, otherwise the website won’t function) .

As part of the product team, my job is to connect with customers, partners and the digital analytics community and provide insights and analysis to help define the product roadmap. This is a role I’m really excited about!

Why I won’t buy HP Ever Again – Period!

Today I had such an exasperating and annoying experience with Hewlett Packard’s UK customer support, that I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never buy another HP product again.

The Backstory.

14 months ago I bought an Acer Aspire laptop from what I thought was an authorised online Acer outlet. We’d had some issues with the laptop & the customer service was poor.  I resolved  in future only to buy direct from the manufacturer if possible.

A week ago the hard drive failed & replacing it was uneconomic. So, the search was on for a replacement.

Enter Hewlett Packard

We choose a HP Pavilion DV6 laptop from the official UK HP online store. At £550 it was £150 dearer than the original Acer but I thought that buying it direct from HP would at least mean it was kosher & customer support would be good.

On receiving the laptop everything looked good. Indeed, it worked well. Then I spotted that one of the screen screws was missing. Usually these are covered by a rubber plug, but  both the plugs had been removed and a residue of glue was left in each screw recess.

The only reason to remove these plugs is to access the screws to remove the screen in order to effect a repair. Why would a brand new laptop, sold as new, have these screws missing unless it was a refurbed laptop?

HP Customer (Dis)Service

So, I called HP customer support today. I was routed through to technical support, & there spoke to a chap called Dave. On checking the serial number, he asked how long I’d had the laptop. 2 days I reported. Well, that’s strange he said, since the warranty on this machine was already 60 days old. Nor could he remove the rubber plugs on his Pavilion laptop without a screw driver – so somebody had deliberately removed these on my laptop & then forgotten to replace the screw or the original rubber plugs.

That sounds like this machine has been sold once and returned for repair I said. Could be replied Dave, since he could think of no other reason why the screw plugs had been removed and the warranty was more than 2 days old.

So, HP appears to have sold me a return/refurb as a brand new computer, without all the parts (1 screw and 2 rubber plugs, and a shortened warranty). Doesn’t that constitute a breach of contract & various consumer protection laws?

‘Errr’, said Dave as I was then sent back to the complaints department. Here Cheryl (who refused to give her surname due to ‘Data Protection’ – even tho’ they have my name, address, phone number & email address!) raised my complaint & routed me thro’ to another department to hear my rant.

Now Monica listened as I ranted but said they would only send me a replacement laptop after they had collected the original. So you can’t guarantee I’ll be without a laptop for a time. No sir, that’s our procedure. Not in this instance it isn’t said I. You’ve tried to screw me over & now you expect me to be without my laptop while you get your arse into gear.

Well, you could have a refund, retorted Monica. Anyway, back to customer complaints go I, in an attempt to escalate my complaint. At no point would any member of the HP customer service teams agree to escalate this complaint, nor would they pass me onto a line manager or supervisor. Eventually, after more than an hour on the phone, they agreed to get a manager to call me within 2 hours to discuss my complaint.

Needless to say, the call never came. So we called Cheryl again and eventually were passed onto her team manager Dean. He flatly refused to countenance that HP had done anything incorrect. The warranty was apparently from the date of manufacture – Dave in technical support had got it wrong – and the missing screw and rubber plugs was merely a quality control issue. On neither grounds had HP done anything wrong and were certainly not going to talk about compensation, etc, etc.

Goodbye HP

So, I’m now sending my HP Pavilion DV6 laptop back & I’m never buying HP again. Perhaps I’ll bite the bullet & buy another Mac – at least they know how to do customer service (& at least they’re open about selling refurbed kit)


After asking for a refund, HP managed to send me a replacement laptop! Monica sent an email apologising & told me to just refuse delivery. Once it had returned to base, they would initiate a refund, she wrote. So, I refused delivery of the laptop only for City Link to redeliver it the following day – it was accepted as I was expecting delivery of a Dell laptop that day.

Guess what? On opening the plastic wrapping, I noticed that the seal on the laptop case had been opened, & the box itself had been ripped. It had been ripped in the way that happens when someone is over eager in opening the flaps. Surely HP wouldn’t send me a return or refurbished laptop as a replacement? My suspicion is that they did, but I can’t prove this.

When my new Dell laptop was delivered, it was obvious that this packaging had not been opened before – the seal was intact & the box undamaged, just as you would expect when buying brand new goods. This alone confirms my decision never to buy from Hewlett Packard again.


Brand Reputation Management – EpiServer Fails

Online brand reputation management can be perilous & the internet is littered with failures and own goals. Here’s a recent example.

Swedish Drupal specialists NodeOne recently ran a banner campaign advertising the benefits of using Drupal over several proprietary CMS offerings. One of those compared, EpiServer, responded with a “cease and desist” letter from their lawyers, claiming that the comparison was misleading and calling on NodeOne to stop their advertising campaign. NodeOne took legal advice & then responded by publishing EpiServer’s letter (& helpfully an English translation).

EpiServer, regardless of the merits or otherwise of NodeOne’s comparison, scored several own goals by resorting to their lawyers. The appear arrogant, bullying and defensive – the perception is that they have something to hide, that NodeOne have touched a nerve. What was once a local Swedish issue is now an international one, thanks to NodeOne releasing English translations of EpiServer’s legal response.

EpiServer are now brand firefighting – they turned a product comparison into a brand defence, which is harder for people to forget. Their head of European Marketing even resorted to defending their position on NodeOne’s website – which smacks of desperation and only served to enhance NodeOne’s position as defender of free speech against an over mighty corporation.

Its a big bad world out there and companies are right to seek to protect their brand, but resorting to lawyers is rarely the best thing to do online, even when legally you may be correct. Online you have few controls over what happens and the story can spiral out of your control very quickly and messily. You have to be subtle in your responses – lawyers are not noted for their subtlety.