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HP To Charge For Service Packs and Firmware For Out-of-Warranty Customers 385

Posted by Soulskill
from the customer-service-you-can-count-on dept.
New submitter josh itnc writes "In a move that is sure to put a wedge between HP and their customers, today, HP has issued an email informing all existing Enterprise Server customers that they would no longer be able to access or download service packs, firmware patches and bug-fixes for their server hardware without a valid support agreement in place. They said, 'HP has made significant investments in its intellectual capital to provide the best value and experience for our customers. We continue to offer a differentiated customer experience with our comprehensive support portfolio. ... Only HP customers and authorized channel partners may download and use support materials. In line with this commitment, starting in February 2014, Hewlett-Packard Company will change the way firmware updates and Service Pack for ProLiant (SPP) on HP ProLiant server products are accessed. Select server firmware and SPP on these products will only be accessed through the HP Support Center to customers with an active support agreement, HP CarePack, or warranty linked to their HP Support Center User ID and for the specific products being updated.' If a manufacturer ships hardware with exploitable defects and takes more than three years to identify them, should the consumer have to pay for the vendor to fix the these defects?"
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HP To Charge For Service Packs and Firmware For Out-of-Warranty Customers

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  • by Noishkel (3464121) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:19AM (#46159837)

    ... they sure as hell will now.

    I'm not an IT person, but weren't there a few companies that tried this crap wwaayy back when? I seem to remember them all failing miserably.

  • oh well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by epyT-R (613989) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:20AM (#46159841)

    One more reason to avoid buying or recommending HP to would be buyers. The last thing I'd want to deal with is not being able to get a copy of a firmware update for someone's out of warranty system, server or not because I'm not "HP certified support" or whatever. In 2014, there is no fucking reason whatsoever to not have all issued patches available as direct downloads. This is especially true for legacy hardware.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:21AM (#46159845)

    does not qualify as news

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:25AM (#46159861)

    Hewlett and Packard were something special.

    Now it's just a bunch of MBAs trying to massage their stock price.

  • by epyT-R (613989) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:30AM (#46159889)

    It shouldn't be a legal mandate either. Keeping already released patches available should be a courtesy that all vendors willingly do. The good will encourages repeat buys. Eventually, vendor support will be so expensive and so unappealing that people will just run a free unix on commodity hardware because they get better help from internet forums than they do from vendors.

  • This is it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Trogre (513942) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:32AM (#46159899) Homepage

    Ladies and gentleman, this is it.

    This is the end of Hewlett Packard.

  • Service packs? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:33AM (#46159903)

    Aren't service packs and firmware updates fixes to defective computers/software? Why are they trying to charge for fixing something that is not supposed to be broken in the first place?

  • by FaxeTheCat (1394763) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:38AM (#46159933)

    Is there something that I do not understand about this?

    Yes. They want more customers to pay for support.
    What THEY do not understand is that people will start buying Dell.

  • Re:Service packs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:40AM (#46159951)
    And they get a perverse incentive to deliberately deliver broken products from the outset.
  • by Nick Lowe (3421741) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:41AM (#46159963)
    Wow! What a great reason to avoid buying new server hardware from HP! It is a massive disincentive to purchase. I cannot help but think this is supremely short sighted and a decision made by somebody up high who is not technically inclined.
  • Re:Devils Advocate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:48AM (#46159993) Homepage Journal
    Look at this the other way. Lets say you sell something you warrant to work for three years. Some four years later, there's some kind of security flaw - why should the company not need some extra funds to develop a fix? To my mind this change is something that will lead to better support for older products, because you can keep on paying and demanding fixes for your payments...

    Car analogy! Have you ever heard of a safety recall? You will note that it isn't only new vehicles, or vehicles still under warranty that get recalled. It's ALL the defective vehicles, and the manufacturer has to pay for the repairs. Why you may ask? Because they designed something that is faulty and thus poses a risk not only to the people who bought the car, but to everyone else on the road. Why should software security be any different? If you get compromised, it doesn't just affect you, it can potentially affect a lot of other people.

    Now of course for bugs that aren't security related you maybe have a point, if the back seat cupholder tends to break in a car the manufacturer may not be held reliable to fix it, as it doesn't pose a safety risk, but of course not fixing it is sort of a dick move....
  • by ttucker (2884057) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @04:07AM (#46160075)

    does not qualify as news

    This is not pay for support. This is pay for firmware updates. Sure, they can charge for them when nobody else does... but I can also buy elsewhere. Fuck them, and Cisco can suck it too. Correcting bugs in 512k of firmware code is hardly adding a new feature, and doing what you are supposed to anyways is hardly premium support.

  • Re:Devils Advocate (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @05:50AM (#46160437)

    Except that due to the extreme complexity of computer products, it's practically impossible to make anything non-trivial that isn't initially riddled with defects.

  • Re:Devils Advocate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FlyHelicopters (1540845) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @05:58AM (#46160491)
    Yes, but cars are heavily regulated, computers are not... In addition, there is a time limit beyond which they no longer do recalls and the manufactures no longer have to pay for them.

    After all, when is the last time you heard of a recall of a 1978 Chevy? There is a sunset period beyond which no one cares anymore. With the speed of computer development, that period is much shorter than cars.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @06:02AM (#46160507)

    Absoloutely not! Thats why i always use trustworthy sites like TPB rather than the manufacturers site as they love to ppackage all sorts of crap with their downloads. ;)

  • by Frobnicator (565869) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:30AM (#46161083) Journal

    I won't touch Cisco gear with a 10 ft pole, and this is exactly why.

    On the other hand...

    When working in a Fortune 500 company there were some mighty expensive premium contracts with Cisco. Among them was an agreement I learned about when we had an outage late in the afternoon that affected about 15 people. We have hardware that could have affected hundreds of people, but in this case the outage only affected a few.

    Cisco found the closest duplicate replacement part in another state, chartered a flight to a nearby airport, had a taxi driver on standby when the plane arrived, and delivered it to our door within about four hours of reporting the fairly minor problem.

    I understand the contract is in place because we had hardware that affects hundreds of thousands of people. The Cisco crew was adamant that the contract had a clause that required a six-hour turnaround on any of that class of hardware. If it had been a major device at a major data center those same four hours could have felt like an eternity, so for those people where an outage can cost thousands of dollars every second in lost productivity and sales I can certainly understand the need for the contract with the devil.

  • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspaM.world3.net> on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @08:34AM (#46161111) Homepage

    You'd think they'd look at what happens to companies candidates had "turned around" in the several years AFTER they left when evaluating CEO, COO, and CFO candidates. But apparently they usually don't.

    No, that is part of the scam. The MBA applying for the new job points out how everything went to shit after they left, so clearly their genuius is worth paying big bucks for and any other merely qualified applicant will surely fail in such a high pressure, highly skilled role.

  • I'm not an IT person, but weren't there a few companies that tried this crap wwaayy back when? I seem to remember them all failing miserably.

    If you were a reader of slashdot you'd know that Oracle is suing companies for providing patch access to customers without a support contract right now. And people are finding ways not to be an Oracle customer (right now) as a result. Naturally HP thought it would be a good idea, as they have too many customers.

  • Re:Devils Advocate (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BVis (267028) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @09:36AM (#46161539)

    No, because they still want customers, and no patches quickly equals no customers.

    Bad assumption. The people making purchasing decisions (especially at large organizations) do not base their decisions on unimportant things like "quality" or "technical factors", they very frequently make those decisions based on 1) initial cost and 2) who they play golf with. I've seen this in action, where the people who actually know things are standing on their heads trying to get management to understand why buying $x is a bad idea for valid technical reasons, and some retard MBA makes the wrong decision because a sales rep bought them dinner at a conference once.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @09:50AM (#46161633)
    Bullshit. It's not MY job to keep THEIR lights on. If they want to keep their lights on, give me a reason to buy more products from them. These days, better support and customer service will earn more business than trying to nickel and dime everyone. If HP wanted to increase their sales, they should have improved their support and service instead of decreasing it.
  • Re: oh well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nabsltd (1313397) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @10:35AM (#46161997)

    If you haven't paid them any money for THREE YEARS are you really their customer still?

    Who says I'm not paying them money? I could have spent a lot of money buying other hardware from them. Part of the reason I'm likely buying new hardware from them is that three-to-five-year-old hardware that still generally works fine is a good sign that they make a quality product.

    But, an issue could come up with that old hardware that a firmware update fixes, and the company has a choice: get me the patch or stop getting money from me for new hardware as I drop them for somebody with better customer service. Why should I keep paying money for the same hardware?

    The key is, software/firmware patches are like any other digital data, in that they have essentially zero cost to the manufacturer after they are created. It's not like I'm asking them to replace an out-of-warranty hard drive for free. And, I'm perfectly fine with a company that says "we will stop writing any firmware updates for hardware X months after that hardware is last sold by us".

    An example of a company that does it right is SuperMicro. I have pretty much nothing but their motherboards in my servers at home, and I can't afford bleeding edge, so I buy older hardware (but often still new in box). I have had no issues downloading firmware updates for what are now 5-year-old motherboards. One update increased the memory a motherboard could handle by a factor of four. That's a huge added value that makes me likely to keep that motherboard for even longer, and make me want them to support it even longer, and yet they did this for free. That's why I spent more money buying their hardware for later builds. And, for those of you who might want to talk smack about SuperMicro equipment, take a look at the motherboards and cases in hardware from EMC, Dell, and Penguin Computing, and you'll see that many are re-badged SuperMicro. It's no different from Dell, IBM, and Intel re-badging LSI RAID cards.

  • by Somebody Is Using My (985418) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @10:39AM (#46162039) Homepage

    More importantly, it is THEIR job to provide me with a working product. The warranty covers problems with the device caused in the field. If they sold me a product that has known issues then it is their responsibility to provide the fixes, regardless of whether or not I am in warranty. If I plug my 120v (US) router into a 240V (uk) outlet and let out the magic smoke and am out of warranty* that's fair. But if I'm sold an internet firewall that has a secret admin password that can't be changed, it's the company's responsibility to provide the necessary fix so the firewall works as expected.

    This should be no different than how automobile companies are expected to act. If a serious flaw is found in a car, it doesn't matter if it is this year's model or from ten years ago, or whether you are the original owner or have purchased it used; you are entitled to that fix. Why some software vendors have somehow gotten it into their heads that they have the right to sell us lemons and then make us pay for the privilege of fixing their mistakes.

    * actually, warranty probably wouldn't cover this sort if user-stupidity either, but you get my point ;-)

  • Re:oh well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wierdy1024 (902573) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @10:53AM (#46162151)

    To be honest, it probably was a hardware issue...

    Often, those sensors are on the SMI bus (which is (basically) an 8 bit serial bus), and a chip disconnected from the SMI bus returns all binary "1"'s. If they treat that as unsigned, it is 255. If they treat it as sign and magnitude, it's -127.

    Either way the problem probably is the chip has been knocked and broken off the motherboard slightly.

  • by Frobnicator (565869) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:14PM (#46163551) Journal

    Cisco found the closest duplicate replacement part in another state, chartered a flight to a nearby airport, had a taxi driver on standby when the plane arrived, and delivered it to our door within about four hours of reporting the fairly minor problem.

    For far less money than the Cisco support contract, you could have just bought several spares of each model of Cisco device, and have had the replacement on-hand a quickly as you could walk over and grab it.

    Perhaps you missed the first part of my post. Fortune 500 data center.

    If you are talking about consumer devices and even common office server room equipment that is quite true. We had lots of commodity stuff lying around. We also kept a bit of less common stuff around, such as spare UPS racks; the $30,000 price tag is low enough cost that we could keep a few of them around when equipment shuffles.

    Note that some critical equipment gets mighty expensive. You can find a good deal on low latency, high volume interconnect that can handle ten million concurrent connections for around $250K, but you'll probably want to pay around $350K for the better ones. It would be insane to just keep a few of EVERYTHING lying around, just in case. Far cheaper for the Cisco contract that will get us any replacement we need, quickly.

  • by Areyoukiddingme (1289470) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:39PM (#46163801)

    What's even more interesting is that interlocking directorates in the same industry are illegal in the US per the Clayton Act, however the article points out that 1 in 8 interlocks are indeed in the same industry. There's simply no enforcement of this. Thanks again, Obama.

    And the previous four administrations. This didn't happen in just the past 6 years. It started a long long time ago, and the Clayton Act, like the Sherman Act, has been out of favor for decades, because it inconveniences people with money.

    Thank you Supreme Court for making sure people with money will always have the best government their money can buy.

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