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OT: Miserable Computer Experience

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I wouldn't normally double post this (I also put this over in my normal, OFF Forum), but I need to get the word out on avoiding this company.


I've been having a miserable time with my "work" laptop computer and the, frankly, atrocious customer support experience with Lenovo. My recommendation: if you're going to buy a laptop in the near future, for the love of God, make sure it isn't from this company. If your laptop works fine, you're in great shape. If not, they want nothing to do with you.


I wrote Lenovo an open letter and emailed it, as well as posted it in several locations. Here's the details:


This is an open letter to the Lenovo company.


I was a new ThinkPad customer. I am a graduate student in a PhD program at the University of Tennessee. I have, believe it or not, been a desktop computer user my entire life. My first laptop purchase was a ThinkPad Edge E520 system, which I bought from your website back in September. This laptop needs to - and I felt would - serve me for the next five years of my career. Mind you, as a graduate student, I live off of student loans, so I don't exactly have thousands of dollars to throw around. I chose your product because of its reputation for solid build quality, high standards, and long life. Sadly, I have to say that I have never been more disappointed with a product or my subsequent interactions with your appalling customer service. I am writing this letter as a final recourse to the company for help in the matter.


What follows is a summary of my Lenovo Experience:


My laptop arrived by UPS and within an hour of use, I discovered the keyboard had an apparent defect. While entering text, the pressing of the "F" key would enter two or three "F"'s on the screen. The same problem cropped up with other letters: i, r, t, and o. Having built, serviced, and worked on computers nearly my entire life, I felt that some simple troubleshooting within the operating system or the computer's drivers would correct the problem. Mind you, I teach three courses and I am taking three more as a student during my semester, so I didn't exactly have a lot of free time to tinker with a machine that should have worked out of the box. After a few weeks of working around the nagging keyboard issue, I called customer support to return a defective product that I paid nearly $800 for.


As it turns out, I called on day 31 out of my 30 day return window. When I asked if there was anything he could do to help me simply return the laptop and refund my purchase costs, the customer service representative said, as they have all said since, "my hands are tied." I have heard this same statement from Lenovo customer service representatives so often that I can only conclude that this phrase is on their customer support script. My only recourse was to send the laptop back to a repair depot for further examination.


Had I bought a MacBook - which I am beginning to regret not doing in the first place - I could have simply walked my computer into the store and had it serviced on site. But, I duly shipped my ThinkPad Edge back for repairs and waited to hear from the repair center. The depot called me a week and a half later to tell me that yes, the keyboard was defective and that they would replace the keyboard at no charge.




The customer service representative informed me that the system board was also damaged and because a USB port was bent, I would be charged an additional $800 to repair the system. Mind you, I had already paid $800 to buy the laptop new. And the laptop comes with a one year warranty covering any defects - which is clearly what the system has. Citing the USB port as "customer induced damage," Lenovo told me that replacing the system board was no longer covered under the warranty - hence the additional $800 charge. How the USB port was damaged, I don't know. The system had sat in my closet until I had enough free time to sit on hold for a few hours and deal with the Lenovo web of terrible customer service once more - so how the system board was damaged by me, surpasses understanding. It might, however, have something to do with the fact that it was shipped in a cardboard box across the country - just a thought.


But Lenovo, in typical fashion, placed the onus on the customer. If the system board is damaged, I must have done it. No further questions were asked - only a charge given. I called the depot and - as you might imagine - I refused the $800 charge and asked that the keyboard be replaced, which it was. The work order sheet claimed the problem was fixed and tested and was subsequently sent back.


I unpacked the laptop last night and what did I find?


The keyboard still doesn't work.


So I called back today - on my final day off before another hectic semester of teaching and taking classes begins. I need my computer to work and for the second semester in a row, it won't. I was transferred no less than six times before I even reached a customer service representative in the United States. While she was kind, she transferred me to a repair technician who - in addition to hardly being understandable on the phone - refused to offer me any assistance other than to send the laptop back once more and dispute the charge. There was no promise that the charge would be waived. The fact that the machine had this issue from day one was not accounted for, and there was no attempt made to try and give decent customer service.


And here the ball was dropped yet again. You have a first time buyer who has been stuck with a lemon for the better part of four months. I have done everything you have asked. I was one day beyond the return date and you refused to go out of your way - even a little - to help me. I've sent the machine back. You failed to fix the problem. And now, in addition to not helping me, you insist that I pay another $800 to get the machine back to the working order it was never in to begin with. Let me state this clearly: the laptop never worked. The keyboard was always defective.


And because of this, you're asking me to pay for my laptop twice. Do you understand how farcical this is? My only option - at this point - is to either pay you another $800 to fix an $800 laptop, or live the next five years stuck with a lemon and wishing I had finally bought a Mac.


I understand that you are a giant, multi-national corporation with highly lucrative contracts with the State Department, the Department of Defense, and Fortune 500 Companies. I understand that my one voice, my one order, and my terrible experience with your company is less than a drop in the bucket for you. But I am writing this to let as many people as possible know the terrible way you have treated me as a customer. Your product was defective, yes, but not nearly as defective as the utterly atrocious, broken, disjointed, and disconnected disaster that you call a customer service center. I was routed to three different continents and the only concern shown by 99% of your representatives was that the problem wasn't theirs for too long.


Simply put: no one cared. And it showed.


As a way of making my voice heard a little more loudly, I am re-posting this open letter to Lenovo on their Facebook wall, on my Facebook wall, and I will Tweet a link to the blog post to everyone I know. I have used the channels Lenovo has provided me - I have climbed every rung of their customer service ladder only to be told time and again that their "hands are tied" and that there's "nothing else they can do."


Rule number one in customer service is this: there is always more you can do. And because you haven't, you left me no choice but to publicly voice my displeasure at the atrocious way you have treated me as a customer.


What I'm doing here is not without precedent - Jeff Jarvis, a highly respected professor of journalism at CUNY and the author of What Would Google Do, wrote an open letter to Michael Dell, the chairman of one of your competitors, following a similar experience with their customer support in 2005. Dell listened, and so did his company. The question now is: will you?


I am not an upstart. I am a tech enthusiast and have been my entire life. I bought your product because of its reputation and have been left questioning my judgment ever since. All I ask is that my laptop work properly - the laptop that I paid over a month's salary for. Is there anything you can do to help me?





Here's a link to the actual post if you're curious: http://t.co/K96nDj2W


And so, I'm without a work laptop. My kingdom for a second hand Mac Book... and I'm already $800 in the hole...

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Thanks for the heads up. I am very sensitive about consumer support issues and this kind of treatment infuriates me. I will never consider ever buying a single product from them. And to make the problem worse on them, I am about to start college on my GI Bill in a few months and they will never be considered for my needs.

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(Minor treadjack, but I can't resist)

Some thoughts regarding dealing with customer support :


- If you notice an issue with a product you just purchased, report it IMMEDIATELY. It shouldn't take more than five minutes to do so (unless the company gives a damn about customer support and has not set up sufficient capacity to handle all customers in a timely fashion), but you got to understand that in our mobile world most people won't accept the statement "I haven't had time to call you yet, but this issue is very important!"

- If you get the impression that the customer support agent you're in contact with is unable (for what ever reason) to help you, request (and by that I mean demand) to speak a supervisor.

- If you call about an issue, make sure that they provide you with a ticket number. Yes, ticket systems ought to have the feature that they generate an e-mail notification, but thus you can be sure that the ticket has indeed been recorded in their system

- No matter how skilled you are with computers, do not try fix an apparent hardware (or software tbh) issue yourself.


Getting back to the actual issue, I hope the matter will be resolved in your favor.

Edited by Gocad

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