A few days ago, I described the experience I had trying to buy an HP Photosmart C5280 All-in-One (printer, copier, scanner) and Photo Value Pack under a promotion being offered by HP. The printer arrived today, and I set it up. My first impressions of the printer itself are quite good — it’s a really nicely engineered piece of equipment, which is what I’ve come to expect from HP printers (but not HP Compaq laptops; avoid them like the plague!). On the other hand, HP dropped the ball big-time on the Mac OS X support, and that’s really a shame.
The printer was extremely easy to unpack and set up. The set-up instructions included with it were clear and concise, and it came with sample photo paper so we could print some photos right away. In no time at all, I’d printed some beautiful prints directly from an SD card, and the printer was connected to the Mac with the software installed.
The next step was to try printing from the Mac instead of directly on the printer, and this is where things got dicey. When I tried to print from iPhoto, the Photosmart wasn’t listed as an available printer. When I tried to add it using the Mac OS Printer Setup Utility, the correct driver for the printer wasn’t listed.
I tried running the HP Software Updater to see if there was a driver update that would fix the problem. It said there were no updates.
I tried searching the HP support Web site with relevant keywords (“Mac OS driver”, “Printer Setup Utility”), and found only a single article telling me to go through a convoluted process to reset the Printer Setup Utility’s cache. Said process wiped out the settings for all the other printers, and still didn’t fix the missing driver problem.
I tried HP’s on-line support chat service, and the support technician to whom I was connected told me, in rather broken English, that the chat technicians are only trained in Windows and I would have to call during business hours or send email and wait for a response to get Mac support.
Finally, I did a Google search and quickly located a thread in which other people described my problem exactly. One of them pointed out that there was an updated version of the printer software on the HP Web site which would solve the problem, and provided a link to it. I downloaded that software, uninstalled the old software and installed the new, and presto, everything started working properly.
In summary, HP had many opportunities to make this printer work properly with my Mac, all of which they messed up:
- They could have shipped working software with the printer.
- The “check for updates” tool they ship with their software could have told me that a newer version was available, i.e., performed its core function properly. So what the heck is it there for?
- They could have had a useful article on their support site about the problem.
- They could have had chat technicians on duty who know how to support the Mac.
Dealing with this was only a minor hassle for me. It would have been a much bigger hassle for my wife, who’s the one who actually uses the Mac and who is far more typical of Mac users than I am. If HP thinks that they can pull stunts like this and still succeed in the Mac market, they should really think again.