IBM (Lenovo): Your Repair Costs 36% More If You're Still Under Warranty

We’re not going to pretend we understand why this would be the case, but reader Meredith writes in to report a slip of the tongue by one of IBM’s CSRs. Secrets were revealed: If your laptop is still under warranty, but the part you break isn’t covered, the repair costs 36% more. Read Meredith’s email inside.

Hi,

Here’s a ridiculous laptop repair question you may enjoy for the Consumerist.

I accidentally somehow broke the LCD display on my 2-year-old IBM T43 laptop. It needs to have the display replaced, so I called IBM/Lenovo to find how much it would cost to have them replace it – since they are supposed to have such fabulous customer service, etc.

The guy I talked to on the phone told me some interesting things. First, he said the repair would cost $475. Then, he told me no, it wouldn’t cost me anything because it’s still under warranty (I have a 3-year warranty). Great! Then he told me, oops, sorry, the warranty doesn’t cover the broken display, and it will cost $750 to repair.

I was confused. Why $750 instead of $475? I insisted on speaking to a supervisor, since this guy’s English wasn’t so great. The manager explained to me that yes, it really does cost more to do the repair *because the machine is under warranty*. If I waited for the warranty to expire, the repair would be cheaper.

Best of all, the supervisor then apologized to me for the confusion: he told me that the customer service reps aren’t supposed to tell people about this difference in pricing, so there usually isn’t this confusion. In other words, he was apologizing not for their strange pricing policy, but for admitting that this pricing scheme exists.

Pretty bizarre.

Meredith

Yes, that does sound a little strange to us. How about you? Is this normal? —MEGHANN MARCO

(Photo: Kansir)

Comments

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  1. jeffj-nj says:

    Whiskey.
    Tango.
    Foxtrot.

    That can not, or at least should not, even be legal.

  2. superlayne says:

    IBM, you say?

    I’d bring it into the place you bought it, and ask for a repair, no mention of warranty, and try to get the 475 price.

    Probably, this is how they make up for the money you don’t spent on a repair under warranty, but still, that is so grossly wrong.

    Yay! Mine’s a Toshiba!

  3. sleze69 says:

    As much as people complain about Dells, I’ve never had them charge me for a warranty repair. Time to switch?

  4. the cultural icon says:

    Are you sure it isn’t covered? They’ve replaced the screen in my T43 four times since 2005. It kept acting crazy. They usually send someone out the next day to fix it.

  5. miball says:

    IBM Laptops & Desktops are not really made or repaired by IBM anymore, they just carry the IBM name. They are really Lenovo products.

  6. sonic0boom says:

    You may want to talk to someone else or try logging your service request online. The monitor on my T42, purchased in 2004, started to go out a couple months ago. I logged a ticket on the support website and they had someone come out within a couple days to replace it. No charge. I have the 3 yr onsite coverage, if that makes a difference.

  7. Nakko says:

    Sounds to me like their scheme is to subsidize the warranty in general with non-covered parts repairs in specific. You’re paying for your & other owners’ warranties’ overhead.

  8. zolielo says:

    Often works like that for at least on major car manufacturer and dealer provided work. The reason which I will also not disclose I assume is similar.

  9. Hawk07 says:

    Anyone notice the “Lenovo” advertising during the NBA Finals last night? On a couple of the LCD screens for the press box’s on the floor, they had LENOVO signs on the back.

  10. consumed says:

    $750? Sh*t, I paid less than that for my new T60 2623-D6U (company pricing).

  11. easy2panic says:

    My first laptop was unfortunately a Compaq, and when the screen was broken, it was going to cost $800 to have it fixed (no warranties). So, I bought a cheaper version of the laptop that had the same screen for the same price, swapped the screens myself, and now I have ultra-portable desktop :-)

  12. AcidReign says:

    …..I was going to say, we bought a brand new Lenovo back in January for $900. Just clicking the first sponsored ad in Google gives back $415 retail as the most expensive T-43 screen at Screentek.com. And I doubt they are the cheapest. $300 labor for a screen replacement is outrageous. It’s a ten minute job, if that. It’s quite possibly the easiest laptop hardware repair there is, labor wise.

    …..A lot of laptop warranties exclude “abuse.” You’re pretty much at their mercy on that. The knowledgeable tech can call up the sensor log on a Thinkpad, and check on impacts, too.

  13. swalve says:

    Cracked screens aren’t covered by warranty.

    Was she actually calling IBM/Lenovo, or some authorized repairer? Because if an item is under warranty, you HAVE to use brand name parts to maintain warranty, even if the part wasn’t covered by the warranty. But if the item is out of warranty, you can use any compatible part from any vendor. And that will be cheaper.

  14. balthisar says:

    @zolielo: which manufacturer? Most states have laws that labor rates are posted, and you can get a price from the parts department. I’m just curious as to which bastards are pulling tricks, and hoping it’s not who I work for ;-)

  15. zolielo says:

    I cannot say, sorry.

  16. poot says:

    The Lenovo Thinkpads you see today are made in the exact same factory as the IBM thinkpads were for a few years now. As someone who works with A LOT of laptops of every brand under the sun, I only recommend Thinkpads to my constituents. I was hard on my IBM T40, and it’s now my Fiance’s machine and running fine with no scratches. I’ve got a Lenovo T60, and it’s not showing any signs of wear. Absolutely no difference between the build quality on the two machines.

  17. sixty4k says:

    The guy’s english wasn’t so great? something here is sketchy….
    IBM (Lenovo) uses local call centers for each continent they serve. If you call the US number for support, you’ll be talking to someone in Atlanta, GA. Unless you consider a mild southern accent bad english, i’m not clear who you actually called. I just had a faulty hard drive replaced on a Z60 under warranty (definately a Lenovo product, IBM proper NEVER would have made a widescreen) with a call that was 12 minutes from start to finish with a new part sent overnight. I’m guessing that if true, the rep quoted you a price for the wrong part number and the rest was confusion/creative writing on the reporters part.

  18. digitalgimpus says:

    IIRC The reason for this is that repairs under warranty use refurbished (repaired) parts at the sole decision of Lenovo, well actually it’s contractor Solectron. Repairs done out of warranty are done with new parts. Hence much higher costs.

  19. skrom says:

    It could also be more expensive because by abusing the screen, she couldve also cause other components to be more likely to fail in the future. IE if she dropped it the hard drive could be more likely to fail in the future thus requiring repair.

  20. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    Why is IBM using the Apple Mac Pro case (the round holes in aluminium) as their corporate logo?

  21. cde says:

    @segfault: Because grill style aluminium comes on alot of cases. Server cases as well. Look at the Dell powerserve line.

  22. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    “..accidentally somehow broke the LCD display..”

    What the heck is that supposed to mean? If she broke the screen due to neglect or abuse, then it’s not a warranty repair.

    I had a video problem with my T30 last year. Luckily it was still under warranty. I took it into an authorized service shop, they sent it off to some IBM central repair center in the midwest. I got my laptop back in 5 calendar days. The video module was replaced, my BIOS was flashed with a newer one, and they even re-imaged the blank hard drive that I swapped in before handing it over to the shop. Great service.

    The IBM/Lenovo T-series and X-series are the best Windows based laptops. I’d recommend it over a Dell. And as Poot mentioned, don’t let the Lenovo name scare you off. Lenovo has been making ThinkPads for IBM for years. So yes, it always has and will be a ThinkPad. The only thing different is that it says “Lenovo” on the cover instead of “IBM”.

  23. Papa Midnight says:

    Just to play devil’s advocate here… Why is IBM being blamed? Didn’t they sell their notebook division to Lenovo over a year ago if not longer? My neighbor’s new T60 even bare’s the Lenovo Logo… They technically no longer bare responsibility for it in that capacity…

    Just my $0.02….

  24. shdwsclan says:

    Somehow broke the screen huh…..hmm….

    O…you mean you broke the screen and your trying to cheat the company…..just like that macbook post a few weeks back….

    I just dont know how thats done though….i mean, on a shitty toshiba, all you really have to is put something heavy on it, like a textbook, and the cracker-brittle plastic breaks….

    Still, hinges, titanium plate on the screens backing, so if you drop it, or run it over with your car or step on it, you cant break it, hmm…you would have to somehow puncture the the matrix like throwing it in a violent rage at a dresser with pointy edges, and one of those edge punctured the screen.

    So there, that is why my IBM (Lenovo) Z61m is the LAST one in the line, im probably gonna end up moving to the panasonic toughbooks., but we will see, if they completely remove the logo and want to charge me the same price, then ill ask them for a large discount, since:
    Its not really a thinkpad anymore
    and mention this pricing snafu on repairs and their poorly speaking thinkpad support, which is new to me, since the last time i called i was routed to NJ, wow…I guess outsourcing works fast….

    But anyways, the bottom line…..
    The reason it costs $750 to replace a screen under warranty is because they have to put special screw and re-goo all the connections, so they know if you took it apart yourself and can cancel your service[typical of a shitty commerical manufacturer…especially a chinese one]
    If its not under warranty, then they dont regoo and they dont use special screws to make sure its compliant, since they no longer care if you take it apart or not.

    The only user serviceable parts are hard drive, cd rom, ram, wifi nic, screen antenna, wlan nic, and keyboard.

    Lenovo was NOT a good company before it bought the Thinkpad Division, and I guess it still isnt, but they do want to keep their thinkpad customers greatly, so they would bend and if you threatened them with legal action they would give you the lower price.
    Their service is slipping, starting to drop near dell and hp. So i mean, really, i just bought a thinkpad to see if lenovo was any good with their thinkpad customers, well see…..
    But then again, ive never had broken a screen…..also, i doubt that any other company has different charging schemes, but that makes an interesting experiment doesn’t it….call to dell a few weeks apart from two different number to test them. Screen replacement for a waranteed 2 year old laptop, and call them again with same specs, model, make and year but with the warranty ended…..since these low end makers are notorious for asking serials, try to find someone with same laptop to do it for you….

    But anyways….the second part of that is when something gets outsourced…
    JBL speakers – Made in China 0% serviceable, unathuorized serviced voids warranty
    Klipsch speakers – Made in USA 100% sericeable, unathorized serviced is even suggested by the support staff, doesnt void warranty, if you cant fix it, then they send you a foldable box and a fedex sticker….

  25. TPIRman says:

    Wow. It’s even worse than the headline would have it. $475 –> $750 is a 58% increase, not 36%.

  26. purpledoc says:

    @shdwsclan

    Please let me know of a computer manufacturer based ANYWHERE that lets you fudge around with the innards and STILL lets you keep the warranty. It’s not shitty anything, it’s called common sense.

    I don’t even bother trying to understand your drivel about outsourcing. >95% of electronics are outsourced. Macbooks, Xboxes, LG plasmas, whatever car you drive. All outsourced. All fully serviceable.

  27. santalink says:

    (8/28)I ordered t60p in July, recieved it in early to mid Aug. Since the price for t61p is much cheaper than my t60p, I decided to return the t60p. According to the return policy, I can return the laptop within 21 days and get a full refund provided that the box is not opened.

    But when I called today, their CS told me they just changed return policy. I have to pay 15% restock fee even though my box is unopened and within 21 days.

    They even say they just enforce this policy, and their website is no even updated!

    I purchased the laptop under the previous return policy, therefore, I believe the new return policy should not apply to my order, and I should not be affected by their new policy. I requested to talk to a supervisor, and was told there was no supervisor available. The CS told me to leave my phone number and would ask a supervisor to call back within 24 – 48 hours.

    (8/29)I did not get a call from a supervisor, so I called in again today. As usual, I was put on hold for 40 minutes and another 15 minutes to transfer me to their return department.(I chose return option at first, but they still had to transfer me again).

    The CS again just told me sorry, there was nothing he can do about. I asked him if you were me, don’t you think its unreasonable? He said “I am sorry, there is nothing I can do.” I kept asking him in a very polite manner, but he only kept repeating “I am sorry, there is nothing I can do.”

    I truly feel sorry for the CS, as he really could do nothing.

    I ask him when did Lenovo change the policy and he told me only a week. I ask if he can email me the new return policy to me and he said he don’t have it.

    As of today, I still able to see the following return policy from Lenovo.com:
    “For a new Product that is unopened and still in its sealed package, you may return it to Lenovo for any reason within 21 days of the date of invoice and obtain a refund or credit. Lenovo does not provide refunds or credits for portions of a packaged offering provided at a single price or for preloaded Programs installed by Lenovo. You may return the complete package for a refund or credit.

    To qualify for this credit or refund (as applicable), you must call Lenovo at 1-866-42-THINK (1-866-428-4465) to obtain a return-authorization form. You must return the new product, including all documentation and accessories, intact and in its unopened original packaging, to a Lenovo designated location by the date Lenovo specifies.

    A copy of the invoice, the return-authorization form, and the shipping label must accompany the return. Shipping and handling charges generally will not be refunded or credited. Opened products returned are subject to a restocking fee equal to 15% of the price paid. You agree to pay the restocking fee as Lenovo specifies. ”

    I am a loyal Thinkpad customer, and I would say most of the orders that I placed were very smooth, but when orders have problem, it become very hard to deal with.

    I still love Thinkpad’s build quality, but I just want to express my frustration and go on.

  28. atk2ng says:

    IBM was a great company. They stood behind their product. I recommended them to my student peers.

    Lenovo is worthless. I purchased a Lenovo T60 last year to replace a wonderful IBM T41p (unfortunately stolen). I cannot begin to explain my dissatisfaction with my current computer. IBM was on track with thinner and faster offerings. Lenovo is backtracking to 1.5 inch thick notebooks (less cost in design) with cheap, malfunctioning fans. (I ran into a number of overheating issues that caused my machine to restart with no warning.) My most recent problem is the LCD panel. I have horizontal lines that appear across the screen, most likely from an improperly installed panel. I will never buy another Lenovo. They are cutting corners on their end product and do not honor their warranty.

    It is sad to see another great company bought out and turned into worthless junk, hoping to ride on merely by name recognition. Loyal IBM owners need to forget the name and their past experiences with IBM (I loved my T41p and T30) and judge Lenovo for what they are now.