A few weeks back, a ZDNet reader I'll refer to as John from Indiana wrote:
I just had an experience that I think you may find as outrageous as I do. I was working at my computer as I do all day, minding my own business, when out of the blue a window pops up on my screen "inviting" me to take an HP customer survey. I was not browsing an HP site, and it appeared to be an general application window, not a browser window. Unfortunately, I didn't think to capture a screen shot until too late, but I am reasonably convinced that it was produced by genuine HP software, not a rogue application (I have an OfficeJet 5510xi, with its full software suite installed, though the printer was not even powered on at the time).
But wait, it gets worse: I clicked the "Decline" button to decline to participate, thinking that that would be the end of it. But no, then another window replaced the first, urging me to participate and forcing me to decline a second time in order to make it go away. I'm all for second chances, and I'm not yet angry enough to dump HP, but if I get another one of these then I'm done with them for good.
A printer driver popping up a survey? I pinged my contacts at HP who at first responded that something didn't sound right. But then, today, I got another e-mail confirming John's suspicions. With me as the go-between, HP responded:
Thank you for bringing your experience to our attention. What you experienced was a customer participation survey that was included with the software on some older products. This tool was used to gather customer feedback about HP products, however, it is no longer being sent out with current products. Unfortunately, we cannot explain why this old survey would have popped up so late in its product life. We can only conjecture that perhaps the printer was re-installed on a different computer which could have re-triggered the survey. Please rest assured that HP is always striving to provide the best-possible user experience and can only do so with the type of valuable feedback you provided.
I passed the note onto John who said he's pretty sure he's using the latest drivers from HP:
For what it's worth, HP guessed right that I moved the printer from one computer to another, but I'm pretty sure that on the new computer I directly installed the most recent available software package for it from HP's web site, not the older version that came with the printer.
Is John right to be outraged? If you say no, can I send you e-mail asking again? <g>