My DH was a diehard HP fan. Twenty years we've been together, from his PCs to printers he's purchased HPs. Great quality, but even better customer service, he'd tout. Have a problem, they've always helped me work it out.
Upon his insistence (over the cheaper and more powerful Toshiba I wanted), I bought an HP laptop for close to a grand online. The machine was virtually non-functional—from broken keyboard to busted wireless, and working with the constant pop-ups was almost impossible.
First call to them to replace the laptop, they claimed I wasn't operating it properly.
Spent several hours constructing an email listing everything wrong with the machine, in clear, concise language, which I sent to their service dept requesting an immediate response. Didn't hear back from anyone at HP. Few days later the laptop disk started screaming a hostile noise. I called again. They agreed to take the machine and have it diagnosed and repaired, not replaced. They returned it two weeks later after replacing something about bios.
The laptop had every single problem sent in for, and a few additional problems upon return. Called HP again. Each call I waited upwards of ten or more minutes on the line before getting a rep, who was in China, Mexico, India and couldn't really help me, and another fifteen to twenty minutes of my time waiting to speak with a U.S. rep, or a manager willing to do something to fix the crap laptop they sold me.
Over the next eleven months, thirty or more calls from both me and my DH (HP reps actually hung up on him twice after announcing they wouldn't help anymore), three laptop replacements, and four diagnose and repairs, they sent us yet another new laptop that is just above barely functional. By this time I'd already purchased my Toshiba, and couldn't care less about the newest, yet still screwed up HP, except to feel my skin crawl every time their name is mentioned.
Needless to say, my DH is no longer a loyal customer of HP. In fact, we go out of our way to avoid buying from them. So do a lot of other people now, resulting in HP having to cut their workforce substantially, and their stock is still at an all time low, even in this bubble market, as they continue to lose their market share to other computer companies.
I used to be an Apple fanatic. Hard core, owned nothing but Macs. Their computers were intuitive, visual, durable, reliable. I remember laughing at my dad who owned PCs with Windows when he assured me computers were inherently unstable and supposed to crash a lot. My Macs virtually never crashed. And though it cost me $500 every time I needed a few more megs of RAM to run Adobe software, I could call Apple at 3:00a.m. and get advice on how to daisy chain my peripherals, or properly load Photoshop.
I was happy as an ignorant Apple loyalist, until I found others using PCs with Photoshop, and all the other software I used on my Macs at half of what I was spending, and they were getting way more powerful systems. In fact, even the durability and longevity Apple used to claim in their products went away. And they nixed their personal customer service. If I wanted to talk with an Apple/Mac tech, it meant either waiting impossibly long through multiple phone loops, or they referred to links to online Apple FAQ forums.
The love affair with Apple is finally showing signs of waning. Takes folks awhile because so much of what Steve Jobs sold was religion—“believe in Apple and you'll be cool.” Abstractions like 'believe,' and 'cool' will only fool people for so long. The death of the marketing guru is likely the slow decline of Apple, without the quality products or customer service to command the outlandishly high prices they do. Their stock off it's all time high of $700— today, right now at $425 in an extremely bullish market, to say the least. They lose market share daily to Samsung and others. I bought a SunDisk mp3 recently because my iPod, and my son's iPod, both only a year old, would no longer hold a charge.
The arrogance of CEOs that ignore that loyalty is built on product/service benefit/s continually filling a need, is only matched by their ignorance. For a while, large companies like Apple and HP can coast on their foundations of producing good products coupled with giving a damn about their customers. However, when product, or service, or both are lost for an extended period, after a while, customers will go to competitors. As nature abhors a vacuum, competition is sure to rush in to fill consumers desire for service and quality.
Marketing 101 is developing and selling product/s and service/s to fulfill target markets needs.
Marketing 102—Consistently produce better products, and refine services to fulfill changing (and hopefully expanding) target markets need/s.