The Lenovo Nightmare – An adventure with customer service of the worse kind

tl;dr – Lenovo has decided that customer support and functional support systems are not important.  If you are a masochist, by all means, go buy from lenovo.com.  If you don’t like abuse and wasting time, go find another vendor as Lenovo has a long way to come before I or anyone should do business with them.  Thankfully to a few forum mods with connections, I was able to get out of my nightmare – but it was not without cost in time, energy and emotion.

So, after my failed attempt at getting an HP laptop, I decided to go ahead and go with one of my original two desired brands and ordered a Lenovo directly from lenovo.com (ASUS was my other (first) choice – price was the deciding factor).

Initially, things were smooth.. I setup an account with Lenovo. Being the bargain hunter that I am, I initiated a chat session (after all, this is how I got my Maxx for $69.99) to see if there were any additional discounts available.  After selecting sales, the chat session quickly connected me with a sales rep who checked on the available offers and wound up saving me about $200 in addition to the already on sale price… This was the last smooth part regarding my interactions with Lenovo.

Within 24 hours, my order shipping date was bumped back a month.  Of course, I was not happy about this..  No biggie, but I would like an explanation, so I decided to bounce back to chat… This time, selecting a support option, I notice a much slower connection – waiting some 40 minutes before being connected to a rep.  Chat session going smoothly until I ask about the delay – then no further responses from the rep.  I decide that perhaps calling is the way to go.. I select a post-sales support option and am told for nearly an hour that ‘a rep will be with you in a few moments’ – I start to get this sinking feeling…. ‘Is this the level of support I can expect?’…  Finally connected with a rep – a indiscernible comments made in a language that isn’t English and then I am disconnected… AWESOME!

So, I decide to bounce to forums.lenovo.com and see if others are experiencing issues – ZOMG:!!!!1 THE MOTHERLOAD.  No, I was not alone… Actually, quite the opposite… People writing experiences that mimic mine so closely that I may as well have wrote their post… What caused further sinking was the fact that some of these posts were 2 and 3 months old… I continue to read and see something bad – some of these 2 month old posts have updates as recently as a week ago and they are not good…  I read customer service horror story after horror story – countless customers frustrated to tears with overcharges, non-delivered hardware, non-honored warranties, shady practices forcing people to keep poorly made devices, people being cussed at by support, you name it… If it is “customer service worst-practices”, you can read an account of it on the forums.

After a handful of less than helpful interactions with post-sales support, I decide that I am best of just cancelling my order so that I don’t wind up in the same crappy boat as these forum members – but from the forum, I knew this process was going to be an uphill battle…  After again sitting on hold for nearly an hour and again being hung up on (read it in the forums – this is common) I decide to be ‘smart’ and call back but to ask for “Sales”… Surprise, surprise – in less than 5 minutes I am connected to what sounds to be a very happy and helpful guy… Happy and helpful up until the point that the words “I would like to cancel my order” hit his ear – at which time he became abrasive in tone and aggressive in that cancellation was likely not going to be a possibility for me…  Prepared for pushback, I pushed back harder – insisting that cancellation was the only reasonable outcome.  Tired of arguing with me, the rep declares my order as cancelled and proceeds to get off the phone with me quickly.. The rep dodges my requests for his representative information nor would he provide me with any sort of confirmation of cancellation… Not being born yesterday (and having read the forums), I realize that I likely still have an active order.  Head over to the forums and you will find multiple accounts of verbally or chat confirmed cancellations that wound up being delivered and then refused by Lenovo for return/refund.

I decide to try my hand at chat again.  I am able to identify two patterns while going through chat.  1) Post-sales support chat requires 30-50m waiting to be connected to a rep 2) mention the word cancellation and all of the sudden ‘technical difficulties’ run rampant…  The first one wasn’t a huge surprise considering the phones.. The second one on the other hand caused my curiosity to be peaked – why are they going non-responsive?  As a web developer by trade, I had already poked around the DOM of their chat window and watched some of the polling taking place while waiting for connection…  I noticed something curious while chatting – something red in the requests window – a 500….  I started testing – I could exchange between 2 and 15 messages with a rep, but within 2-3 seconds of mentioning a cancellation, the chat ceased to function – the result of a server error that didn’t notify in the chat window (only observable when using firebugs or Chromes web tools)… Now, I am not saying that the chat reps have a kill switch for when a cancellation pops up – not explicitly anyways… But I am going to say that this happened some 12+ times and so seems an odd coincidence and that it is yet another prime example of the suckiness of Lenovo.

Exhausted and frustrated, I resorted to venting in the forums.   I didn’t figure much would come of it – as mentioned, you can see peoples frustrations continue in the ‘General Interest’ wasteland for months without a happy resolve.  Admittedly, the forums were exhausting – complaint after complaint mirroring your own experience.  Me taking the time to voice my concerns as a cautionary tale to any who are lucky enough to come here before purchasing – knowing that in the end I am probably going to wind up bitter and with a device I resent just like these other sad and angry customers.

Long story longer, I posted my frustrations for a week – multiple times a day… I would start in the morning, follow up at lunch and continue at night.  Posting my chat logs, posting my frustrations in phone support, talking with the other abused Lenovo customers… After a couple of days, a couple of forum mods took interest in my complaints.  Starting with forum responses to my posts and eventually turning into PMs with promises of help.  This back and forth continued for 1 week… I am now happy to say that thanks to 3 mods (Ron, Mark and Ty) took on the challenge of working with Sales on my behalf to get my order cancelled and as of this morning, I now have a cancellation confirmation!!!  Admittedly, this was FAR MORE DIFFICULT than it should have ever been.  No customer support should be as poor as that provided by Lenovo.  Never should people have to resort to brand-bashing in the company forum in order to get real assistance.  I cannot thank these reps enough for taking time to get involved – just as I cannot stress to Lenovo enough to “get your act straight”.

This interaction with Lenovo has been an emotional, stressful and rage inducing experience.  I own multiple Lenovo devices and have always regarded the company highly – something that Lenovo was able to destroy in 1 week.  Literally, years of accumulated brand loyalty were completely obliterated in a single businessweek.  As anyone in the industry knows, this is not only bad for Lenovo because they won’t get just my money, but they likely will not get the money of the many, many people who turn to me for tech advice.  Previously firmly on my ‘safe brand list’, Lenovo is now on my “DO NOT BUY AT ANY COST” list.

Having liked the brand in the past, it saddens me to lose Lenovo as one of my go-to brands, but I just cannot imagine doing business with them again at this time.  I feel abused and beaten by them as a company and will not be recommending their hardware anytime soon.  I will keep an eye on Lenovo and do hope that they are able to get their internal company issues resolved to a level where I once again feel comfortable doing business with them.  I am not saying that you should or should not buy a Lenovo device, but I am going to go ahead and give you a tip: if you are considering doing business with Lenovo, please head over to the General Interests Forum (http://forums.lenovo.com/t5/General-Discussion/bd-p/Special_Interest_General) and just read…  You can thank me later…

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