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My Lenovo Odyssey

July 6, 2012

New job, new home, new laptop, right?
Well, not that easy. But turns out, job and home is easier that laptop.

Today I read this story about Lenovo Support and then I thought, I could share my story as well. I already ranted about the Lenovo Support on Google+ but apparently Google+ is not Twitter.

But let’s start at the beginning.

On June 20th…

…I decided that my five years old HP laptop has reached its end of service. It still runs quite fine (this blog post is written on it) but over the years more and more components gave up. I wrote about some of it earlier but now I could add some more components to the list.

So I went to Alternate (a German retailer) and looked around a bit. After a few hours and a good night sleep there were two laptops in a rather uneven race. One 13″ HP ProBook and one 15″ Lenovo Thinkpad. Both around 800 EUR. I decided for the Thinkpad because I liked the keyboard better and because of its higher screen resolution (1600×900 vs. 1366×786). So I placed the order and felt good about it.

On June 26th…

…the order arrived and I was happy like a child in a candy shop … until I realised the Enter key being a bit clunky. As long as I hit it exactly at its center, it was fine but to the corners it got worse to the point where it was not pressed at all but wedged somehow. I wrote an email to Alternate asking what to do. They told me to send the laptop back and that they could not send a new keyboard. With my new job starting a few days later, I did not want to do that. They also gave me a telephone number of the Lenovo support so I decided to go that road instead.

Before that, I had to move homes though, so I postponed the call.

On July 2nd…

…I called the support of Lenovo Germany. My call was answered by a recorded voice asking me several questions about my laptop model and such that I answered by pressing the phone digits. The call was ended by the voice by telling me that the hotline has been moved to another number. I had to call a second time because I did not have a pen at hand fast enough.

So I called the second hotline; still Lenovo Germany. Another recorded voice asked me similar questions and after a few questions it sent me to the website. A bit pissed I ended the call early and went to the main website instead. At the bottom there was a link called “Warranty” (“Garantie & Gewährleistung” in German). That link lead to an error page saying that the page did not exist.

I called the hotline again checking if I might have missed something at the end. But no, the call was just ended after the naming of the website. I looked around on the website again and finally found the page the hotline was referring to.

So I checked my warranty. Unsurprisingly it was still valid for almost a year. The assistant had me state some more information about my location and stuff and then gave me the phone number of the hotline I just called.

I called the hotline again just to be sure, but still nothing. I spent another half an hour on the website to see if I had missed something there but did not find anyhing helpful.

On July 3rd…

…I left a comment on the warranty assistant page that I did not find it very helpful, threw all my frustration into my Google+ stream and then sent a message to some “do you have questions” email address I found on the Lenovo website.

On July 4th…

…I decided to sent another email to Alternate, describing what I experienced. They answered the same day, telling me that they are sorry for the inconvenience and that, if nothing else worked, I could still send the laptop back. After another day of waiting for Lenovo to respond to something, I sent the whole thing back to Alternate …on July 5th

Since I did not anticipate the issues I would have with the Lenovo support and thought I would receice a spare keyboard within days, I prepared the laptop for my work, installing Debian and stuff. I told Alternate several times that I could not send the device back in original condition. They never responded to that particular bit so I guess it’s alright. Or I at least hope so.

So today on July 6th…

…I work with my old laptop at home and with a loaned device at work. And I am looking for another new laptop. Lenovo disqualified themselves this week by hiding from customers and not responding at all on several channels. So I guess it will be another HP. I just hope they solved the “fans become annoyingly noisy after some time” issue that haunted my current laptop’s series.

In general I would like to have a laptop with:
* that brand new non-glare display technology the manufacturers are advertising recently (forgotten are the days when that was standard and “glare” had to be advertised for all the DVD watchers and fish tank screen savers)
* mouse buttons that can be pressed (not those pads that just click) and are adjoining so I can press them both simultaneously with one finger (I really like the Thinkpad in that regard)
* a quiet to silent fan; currently I go to bed with a ringing in my ears from the noise of the fan (no, there is no dust carpet in there, I clean it every other month or so) and I want to change that
* a normal keyboard; not those “separate keys in a punched plate” thingies. I work with one of those once in a while and mistype quite often.

Suggestion are appreciated. :)

How it could have ended

Last year, I bought a new guitar. Since I lived in a small town I ordered it just like I ordered the laptop last month. Thomann is a really great retailer in Germany (selling Europe-wide, I think). You can test everything like you would in the store and send it back if you do not like it without a problem. Well, I had a little problem with the guitar. The tone switch vibrated while playing makin a little vibrating sound. I wrote Thomann an email and at the same day they told me that a new guitar would be sent to me the next day and that I should send back the one I had with the shipping sticker they sent me as a PDF. Umm, well, that was a bit overkill, so I called them. It’s a normal phone number so it does not cost a thing for me and a real person answered the call after about 10 seconds of music, who I could ask for a less intrusive solution. They offered to send me a new switch, if I could attach it myself. I agreed (not knowing that it would be a pain to do so with that particular guitar model, but well :D) and the next day they send me a switch that was about 10 times the value of the one built-in originally; basically the most expensive one they had.

I bought quite some stuff there after that and will continue to do so because I know that I can call them and talk to real people in case I have a problem.

Back to Lenovo. I cannot believe that what I experienced with them is supposed to be the way they want to handle customer support. That’s why I tried everything several times (and paid several EUR for their “value-added” phone numbers for nothing). So, what did I do wrong? Did anyone else have any experience with the support of Lenovo or Lonovo Germany? Please leave comments. :)

10 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2012 4:34 pm

    I’m very surprised by Lenovo Germanys behaviour and (in)action here. I had a problem with my Lenovo ( in Sweden ) and I think I just filled in the same sort of info you typed in via phone in a form on their webpage (at 17.00 or so), and they called me early next day. No problem.

    The behavior you describe above is one I recognize from HP in Sweden, so I’ll never buy a HP branded computer again ;)

  2. July 6, 2012 4:59 pm

    I had an even worse experience with Lenovo in Brazil; after waiting for more than a month with them telling me they were waiting for a shipment of spare parts I almost had to sue both Lenovo and the store I bought the laptop from for anything to be done, and it was the latter who asked for the laptop back and refunded my money. It was only many months after I had bought another laptop from different brand that Lenovo emailed me saying that they were never able to get the spare parts at all…

    I’ve been happy with Dell ever since.

  3. July 6, 2012 6:12 pm

    Brace yourself, a rant is coming.

    I also had a terrible experience with a Lenovo X series tablet (x201t):
    I bought one with the extended 3 year on site warranty. After a couple of months I noticed that the tablet would reach > 90°C if running under full load. Because of this, compiling was really slow – the 2.5 ghz i5 would only run at around 800 mhz to avoid frying itself / other components because of insufficient cooling.

    I had 2 technicians around who both replaced the fan, heat sinks, etc. but to no avail. The second one flat out told me that this was a problem with this series and there simply is nothing to be done.

    Seeing as the tablet was around € 1800.-, I battled with Lenovo quite a bit (sending the laptop to their repair center “just to be sure”, having a lawyer write an angry letter because they simply stopped responding to other comunication, etc.) but to no avail.

    The store finally exchanged it with the follow up model (x220t) that promised better cooling. With the exchange I basically lost € 600 – not even a year after I bought the x201t.

    And wouldn’t you know it? The x220t has *exactly* the same issue.

    I’ll never buy another lenovo laptop again.

    But as rakuco said, I also had a very pleasant experience with Dell. I had an XPS 1530 before and while it too had issues (I went through 3 motherboards in 3 years), the service was impeccable.
    Their on-site team once even came onto my college campus and replaced the mainboard (!) in the common room. The whole thing took < 15 minutes and I was back in class.

  4. freya permalink
    July 6, 2012 7:12 pm

    Wow. That sounds horrible. I had a great experience with Lenovo’s support in Switzerland so far; though AFAIK it is still handled by IBM, which could very well make a difference (that, and I used their website because I hate talking on the phone).

    One time I had a space bar that behaved similar to what you described for your enter key – though in my case, it was from using it for almost three years. With another laptop, the TrackPoint’s middle mouse button acted up, and finally my power adapter’s cable got frayed. In each case, I got replacement parts delivered over night, complete with labels to send back the defective parts free of charge, leaving me extremely happy.

    Makes me wonder whether I was very lucky or you had very bad luck…

  5. nowardev permalink
    July 6, 2012 7:14 pm

    wow wtf , and i that i was thinking about lenovo instead of hp , thank you for sharing your experience with lenovo …..

    i was considering dell or lenovo … :) i guess it will be dell

  6. July 6, 2012 7:38 pm

    I also had a great experience with Lenovo Switzerland (specifically the Lausanne repair center). Laptop was fixed in two days and the guy there was very helpful through the whole process.

  7. genstorm permalink
    July 6, 2012 9:01 pm

    It seems the quality of warranty services can vary a lot among different countries, since this mostly depends on the licensed service partner, or maybe it has deteriorated in recent times… I never spoke to a recorded voice with Lenovo Austria. I had three encounters with Lenovo support regarding my still living X200s +ecosystem. 1) about a broken SHIFT key where I waited too long to simply get it replaced, I super-glued it myself and it’s happily producing capital letters till this day. 2) when the docking station had a broken DisplayPort and they simply sent me a new one, note that I didn’t have to send the old one back. 3) when the system fan broke down and a Lenovo technician had it fixed on my kitchen table within two days and 15min work time.
    So far I can’t find any better notebook in the market than my X200s, but if reports like that happen to increase I have no idea where to shop next for an on par professional experience. Everywhere in the PC market vendors seem to go for cheap consumer solutions these days…

  8. Lukas permalink
    July 6, 2012 9:49 pm

    I can only support what you say about Thomann. Although they took like 3 days to answer my initial mail, the support worked flawless, the device repaired and sent back to me real quick. :)

    Now let’s hope my Lenovo does not break :D

  9. July 7, 2012 5:52 pm

    Ok, it seems to boild down to country-specific quality variation. … :(

    @andrnils: Well, I did not see HP’s support in action yet, because everything that broke on my laptop was way beyond warranty. The one I did fancy with has a 3 year warranty, so maybe I would have to in case I chose that. :D

    @rakuco: Dell might be an option, but I have never seen a Dell laptop in real life, so they are not really on my radar.

    @bedahr: Oh wow. That sounds like a pain. Another point noted for Dell. :D

    @freya: It was IBM here too, but I wasn’t sure where I read or heard it so I did not mention it. Moving to Switzerland might be an option. I have been offered great chocolate anyway. :D

    @nowardev: After this I will now try to always call the support once before I buy something just to see if I can reach them. Having bad support is one thing you cannot forsee. But if the support is not reachable at all, you hopefully know to look elsewhere. Since Lenovo’s Support seems to be fine in Switzerland and Sweden, you might want to check first. Maybe your country is lucky, too. :)

    Thanks for all the helpful comments. I now have a bit more time to choose a device so I will put some more thought into it and maybe find someone with a Dell laptop to try it out. :)

  10. hefeweiz3n permalink
    July 8, 2012 4:03 pm

    Well, I had in fact the same Experience as @andrnils, maybe that was because I was doing a Semester at a Swedish University when my Laptops Mainboard died (only 2 weeks before the warranty ended). I didn’t hassle with the webpage but instead just looked up the next service vendor, talked directly to them and had my machine fixed within a week.

    I do hope that if something happens to my current Thinkpad the service vendors here in the Ruhrgebiet will be equally responsive and fast as the one in Sweden.

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