I did. There were different stories, as usual online: one model was sold by retailers, while the other was sold by HP. Or maybe one included a USB cable. What I didn't need to Google, though, was the fact that the one they'd sent me was ten dollars cheaper than the one I'd bought.
I couldn't decide whether to keep it or not until I had over a hundred things I needed to print. All of a sudden, ten dollars wasn't that important. I unpacked it and installed the software and of course it didn't work.
I called HP. Even over the phone line I could hear the tech guy's surprise-. "You ... used the DISK to install the software?" he asked incredulously. It was the tone you use to ask someone why they made a mobile for their toddler out of discarded plastic bags.
"I did," I said. "Because it said to, you know. IN THE INSTRUCTIONS."
"Oh," he said. "Well, maybe it'll be okay. You have an old computer and an old operating system and it's an old printer so maybe the old software will be okay."
His confidence was inspiring. I knew I should have downloaded more recent software, but I'd been at this for over an hour and I was sick of it. He thought it would be okay so I thought it would be okay.
And it was, for three days. Then, suddenly, the printer couldn't find the new network he'd set up. When I tried to connect it, it said the password was wrong. I called HP back.
"The security is too tight on your network," another tech guy said. "Call Time Warner Cable and have them change the security on your network from WPA to WEP."
This was Greek to me, but I did as instructed. And the Time Warner Cable guy actually laughed at me. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard," he said. "There have been huge strides made in network security over the past ten years. And you want to erase all that progress and let anybody WALKING PAST YOUR HOUSE WITH AN ABACUS to get access to all of your files?"
He tried to connect the printer to the router over a WPS network (still Greek), which the printer claimed to support. Still no luck. "It's a hardware problem," he declared. "That printer is never going to work."
I called HP back. "I'll escalate this," another tech guy said. "Someone will call you back within 24 to 48 hours."
As a workaround, he said, connect the printer to the computer via a USB cable. Easy. Now I could print! Unfortunately, though, all those cool features the printer boasted -- printing from my tablet, printing from my cellphone, emailing to the printer, having HP monitor my ink and automatically send new cartridges -- wouldn't work.
Still, I printed, and printed. And then I woke up this morning, submitted something to the print queue, and waited. It didn't print.
My new HP Envy 5535 wireless printer. Didn't print. Over a wire.
Another HP techie, this one a woman, told me that sometimes you need to disconnect and then reconnect the USB cable. It didn't surprise me: I'd already come to the conclusion that the software was written by a small red squirrel. I disconnected, and when I reconnected I saw something I'd never seen before in thirty years of owning Macs. The screen started darkening from the top, like a curtain coming down, and fourteen warning lines said the same thing in fourteen languages. "It takes a lot to kill a Mac," they said, essentially. "But buddy, you did it!"
I told the HP tech about this and she didn't seem bothered. Why should she be? She had helpful computer support. "Why didn't anybody call me within 48 hours?" I asked while waiting for my Mac to reboot.
"Why would they call you?" she replied. "They don't know what the problem is."
Helpful note to HP: include a disclaimer in the small print. "If you don't hear back from us, it means, 'Man, we're stumped!'"
She offered to escalate the problem to management offices. Great, I thought. This printer has been escalated so high up I'm surprised we can still see it from earth.
HP never replied, and never gave a real answer to my tweets. Slowly I came to the realization that they didn't have to, because they'd win either way. They could send me a moldy acorn squash in lieu of a printer, and what could I do? It's the "As Seen On TV" strategy: You can send absolute crap to people and, while some will complain and return it, some will throw it in the closet and shut up. Me, I'd return it! I'd show them! I'd send them back their piece of shit.
I went to Amazon's website and submitted a refund request, then jammed the printer back in the box. I stuffed in the disk and the manual and then taped it up. Now all I needed to do is print up postage.
That rang a bell. Wait just a second, I thought.