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Hewlett Packard Customer Support -- F-

|Includes: HP Inc. (HPQ)

Here is a company I really have mixed feelings about. I read a posting on Marketocracy just after I had a bad customer support experience with my HP computers and printers. I read this posting: "What's behind this dinosaur? Not much!.....To me HPQ looks like a great short opportunity. Opinions?"

First let me tell you about my bad experience. I decided to upgrade my computer so I went to Best Buy and purchased a new HP Pavilion Entertainment PC. When I got home I tried to connect it to my old and trusty HP LaserJet III but there was no place to plug in the printer's 25 pin cable so back to Best Buy to get a converter cable to connect to the USB port. I log on and try to print but nothing happens. I call HP customer support to get assistance connecting my HP computer to my HP printer. To me that sounds like a logical step but boy was I wrong.

I don't know how many of you have ever had a problem with your computer -- do you believe that statement? I bet you all have had the same experience as I've had. The hardware people say the hardware is fine it's a software problem. The software people usually say the software is working properly it's a network problem. The network people say its not a network problem it must be a problem with connectivity to the peripheral devices. They send you round and round with no one taking responsibility and everyone passing the buck to a different department or vendor. I think this is a trick they all learn the first week of their IT training school.

This time though I think I've got them. This is an HP computer connected to an HP printer so HP customer support should be able to help. Right? Wrong! When I call the 800 number no one knows what to do. After several transfers and an hour and fifteen minutes later I'm transferred to a guy who claims to be the senior printer customer support person at the support center. He informs me that although there are millions of these Laserjet III printers still in use HP no longer provides customer support for that product. He asks me what software I have. Why Windows 7 of course. His reply is that the software does not provide a driver to connect to such an old printer. He says I should either load an old software version or better yet buy a new HP printer.

I decide to get a second and third opinion so I call again several times to see what other customer support reps will tell me and that all say that HP no longer supports that printer and my only option is to buy a new HP printer and then they will help me.

I decide to call the Geek Squad and get an appointment. There is no way that Mister Softy would design a software program that leaves out one of the most popular laser printers ever sold. They quote $129 for a diagnostic visit but don't promise they can fix it.

Now I'm really frustrated. I log onto the Microsoft website after a few clicks find a list of supplemental printer drivers and download the one for the HP Laserjet III. It asks what communication port I want it to connect to I click "USB" and out of my printer pops a test page.

How is this possible? I am a total computer illiterate but I can go to the on-line software site, spend less than 5 minutes, click a few tabs and correct a problem that is beyond the expertise of the best and most experienced customer support people at HP? Either they are total idiots or they have been told to lie and get you to buy new HP equipment. Either way I'm not pleased with HP customer support and because HP has made a decision to not properly support their products I'll never buy another HP product.

But what about the posted question? Should we be shorting HPQ at this time? Well the stock is trading down 5.88% for the month and has hit 7 new lows in the last 20 trading sessions. Barchart has technical sell signals on 9 of its 13 technical indicators of an overall 48% sell signal.

The Wall Street analysts have 28 buy and 5 hold reports published with no negative recommendations released. They think sales will increase 7.60% this year and 5.30% next year. EPS growth estimates are great with an increase of 15.60% for this year and 10.30% next year. They even think the 5 year compounded EPS growth rate will be 12.60%.

Investor sentiment is high on Motley Fool with CAPS members voting that the stock will beat the market by a vote of 2761 to 228 and the All Stars agree with a vote of 704 to 41. That is a very high and positive investor sentiment. The columnists Fool tracks have had favorable articles 33 to 1.

My opinion -- At this time I'm not going to sort HPQ no matter how bad their customer support is. Although there has been a negative price trend recently there are just too many brokerage firms recommending the stock so how can it continue to go down with such strong investor sentiment?

If you short at this point you'd better be prepared to cover at a moments notice.

Jim Van Meerten is an investor who writes on financial matters here and on Financial Tides. Please leave a comment below or email JimVanMeerten@gmail.com.

Disclosure: No positions in HPQ at the time of publication.

Disclosure: no positions