I just bought a new printer.  It’s wireless.

Buying it was tricky.  The Amazon reviews of Wifi printers had alerted me to the fact that getting them set up wasn’t necessarily easy.  In the end I selected one that almost everyone said was easy to set up.

And it was, sort of.

I decided to reconfigure my network a bit, because the last addition to the Wifi set up was temperamental in that way I associate more with pet cats than digital devices.

In the end all was well and the printing thing happened from all machines.

Until it stopped happening.  The printer interface told me that it was looking for the printer… (grrrr) and then that the printer was off-line (bigger grrrr).

The manual had already presumed that I knew the difference between an infrastructure installation option and an ad-hoc one: I didn’t.  It offered no suggestions as to why a once on-line printer had taken a printer vacation.

The printer was sitting happily, lit up like a Christmas tree, giving no hint of being anything other than on, connected to the network and happy.  So I took a deep breath and called Samsung.

It didn’t go well.

After a moderate time spent navigating automated menus that instilled that fear of dread experience associates with painful experiences of the past that were similarly primed, I’m sure I’d heard at least three times that the call was going to be recorded.

Although, I’m guessing, the parts where I was swearing at the menus and messages about recording me were not recorded.

The Samsung representative was polite enough.  But clearly he had been tasked with taking my life history with a thoroughness that the National Health Service could benefit from adopting.  None of which was helping me.

His instructions to get the network settings from the printer didn’t work.

He then left me on hold for two minutes whilst he went off in search of greater wisdom.  He had taken my number, but didn’t offer to call me back.

Whilst he was gone I did the only sensible thing to do: I pushed all three of the buttons on the printer in different combinations and for different periods of time.  At some point I turned it on and off and this, it transpired, was what the printer had wanted all along.

My new remote printer will need turning on and off every time it goes into standby – a maximum of two hours that is set via a web interface the manual omitted to mention.

When the Samsung representative returned I told him what I’d done and he explained about the standby system and broke the news about the web interface.  He also asked me if I would complete a short questionnaire after the phone call.

Overall, I was happy that my printer now worked.  Unhappy that it needed manual stimulation to bring to life each day.  And unhappy that I’d had to spend fifteen minutes on the phone getting to the bottom of a basic issue that the manual should have explained.

Normally I wouldn’t answer a satisfaction questionnaire, it’s a waste of my time and the company’s (although they don’t realise it), but on this occasion I did.

I also rated everything as highly as possible.


I had discovered during the call that the chap I was speaking to was in Egypt.  In the greater scheme of things any issues I have with a printer designed in South Korea that now works in my comfortable English home as it was intended to do, pales into a pathetic irrelevance against the troubles experienced in that country.

Whilst this is an extreme example, it reflects the complex issues that sit behind any customer satisfaction questionnaire.  Ultimately, what frame of reference are people using when responding.  The way to deliver good customer satisfaction is to design a good customer service experience and then, as you constantly tell people you do, listen to a random sample of the recordings to gauge the quality of the exchange taking place.

Anyone following this approach would have known within the first ten seconds how irritated I was by the live-history-taking.

And if that recording technology had extended to the time I spent on the phone menus and listening to messages about my call being recorded they would have learned some good Anglo-Saxon words too.

Philip Graves

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