Lenovo Screws Up Every Part Of Computer Purchase

Dan and his roommate had a crazy plan. They would use Dan’s credit card to purchase a laptop computer from Lenovo. The roommate would write Dan a check for the total amount the computer cost. Lenovo would ship a working computer to the roommate, thus completing a straightforward exchange of currency and consumer goods. Unfortunately, life is not that simple in the Land of Lenovo.

Dan writes:

My roommate is a grad student who recently moved to the area and upon his arrival, purchased a laptop from Lenovo. During the online-checkout process, he attempted to pay with his credit card but the web site rejected his credit union’s credit card. I offered my credit card in exchange for a personal check from him (free cash back points!) and he typed in my credit card info, but forgot to change the billing address. It turns out that was his second mistake; the first mistake was opting to deal with Lenovo in the first place.

The attempted purchase started on September 19th, 2009 (a Saturday). On Tuesday the 22nd he was notified via email that the billing information was incorrect, that the order had not been processed, and that he needed to call his credit card and/or bank to correct his billing address. Together we called Lenovo’s customer service to explain to them what had happened, that the billing information needed to be changed on their end. It took three different people transferring the call around until we hung up with mediocre confidence that the reps from Lenovo now understood the situation.

On Thursday the 24th my roommate received an email from a Lenovo Inbound Sales representative named Michael who was “assigned to personally manage the order.” It seemed like a nice courtesy, a phone number and email address as a point of contact should any more problems turn up. He didn’t indicate any problems in the introductory email.

On Friday the 25th Michael wrote again, saying “The order is messaged that phone number does not exist and ship to address on not on credit card account. It states order will be cancelled in 2 days if not corrected. If your friend does not call credit card company and fix it will be cancelled. I also need the phone number on the credit card bill to address. Please email when corrected and I will try to prevent cancellation.”

Apparently, the three people on the phone didn’t understand the situation after all, and Lenovo still thought that the incorrect information typed in during the purchase now had to be made the truth and told to my credit card company? (I’m sorry if that sentence is poorly constructed, but I think Lenovo’s suggested course of action is just as poor.) Luckily the “2 days” was two business days, since telling someone on a Friday that they had 2 days to contact offices that were closed over the weekend would be unfair.

My roommate wrote a concise email over the weekend explaining the situation. He ordered the laptop and wanted it shipped to our apartment. The credit card belonged to me, and gave the correct billing address (yet again). He gave both of our phone numbers to Michael. After an email with this much information so clearly laid out, only an idiot would still fail to move the order forward, right?

Michael didn’t respond on Monday the 28th. My roommate and I both called and left similar voicemails in his office that basically repeated the information given in the email sent to him over the weekend. There was still no response from Michael. Finally my roommate called Lenovo’s customer service department again later on Monday the 28th and found someone who seemed very competent and friendly who understood the situation and correct the order information over the phone.

On Tuesday the 29th Michael phoned my roommate and left a voicemail for me saying that we needed to talk about my billing information. My roommate emailed Michael and explained that the issue was resolved with the customer service department and that he didn’t have to “help” any more.

It took from September 19th until the 30th to resolve the billing typo, but now things should be fine, right?

The laptop finally shipped (and my credit card was billed) on Tuesday October 6th. It arrived on Thursday the 8th. By Friday morning on the 9th my roommate had experienced over 15 “blue screens of death.” It occasionally would boot up to the log-in page before it crashed, but was a completely useless machine (the OS was Vista).

After calling Lenovo’s support team, they asked him to run a few diagnostic tests on the computer so they could understand how to proceed. The computer “blue-screened” during the diagnostic tests. They shipped Vista install disks so he could reinstall the OS and start fresh. They arrived on Monday the 12th of October and failed so fix anything (the computer would crash during the install process).

Today, October 14th, after another call to Lenovo support, Lenovo tried to send new Vista OS install disks, but they slowly became convinced that the disks were probably not the problem. They have now promised to ship a box in which my roommate can ship his computer back to Lenovo for them to “fix” it. If they somehow fix it and ship it back here in the next 4.5 days, it will still have been 1 month from the time of the original order until a working computer arrived from Lenovo, with nothing but headaches in between.

Between this and forgetting to charge their customers entirely, we’re starting to wonder whether Lenovo really wants consumers’ money, or they are some kind of avant-garde anti-capitalist prank.

(Photo: jonathansin)

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  1. Rask says:

    Without speaking to the incompetance of Lenovo’s sales practice, it sounds like the computer has bad ram or a faulty motherboard. If it was a HDD issue, I doubt that you would be able to go through re-installing from the disks at all.

    Sucks that you guys have to go through this. This is one of the reasons I buy my PC’s at brick and mortar shops (big box or specialty). Sure I may pay a bit moer than online but at least I have a local recourse that doesn’t take weeks to rectify issues.

    • Riff Raff says:

      @Rask:

      I have personally seen PCs that blue screen due to a faulty power supply. Also, if just one of the two dozen+ wires running from the power supply to the motherboard is faulty, it could easily lead to system instability.

      Even Vista shouldn’t normally crash like that. (Personally I haven’t had any problems, even with video drivers.)

    • harvey_birdman says:

      @Rask: Really? What local business offers turn around repair service that doesn’t take weeks to rectify? Enjoy spending twice as much supporting a dying retail dinosaur.

      • mobiuschic42 says:

        @harvey_birdman: Granted I took it to a specialty repair shop (not the Apple store) but when my Macbook Pro had problems last year, I took it to the shop on Monday and had it back by Thursday evening. Repairs only take forever when a) machines are shipped out, b) parts are out of stock, c) employees are incompetent, or d) some combination of the 3. I dealt with excellent in-house service and a part that was not difficult to obtain.

    • Android8675 says:

      @Rask: There’s a reason BBY doesn’t often carry Lenovo in stores (you can get them at BBFB), mainly it’s a quality issue. The design is good, the loaded software is excellent, but damn if those things come with more bad RAM/HDDs/Mobos than any other notebook, and were talking HP included.

      Lenovo, OK if you buy under a business lease agreement where Lenovo will just replace faulty systems, but not that great at the consumer level.

  2. madanthony says:

    The problems with ordering is probably because mismatched billing addresses and different ship-to addresses are often associated with credit card fraud. I used to have stuff shipped to work (because I lived in a bad neighborhood and didn’t want my crackhead neighbors stealing my shit) and there were a few companies I had to jump through hoops to get stuff shipped there.

    While it’s a PITA, I understand why Lenovo doesn’t want to ship a multi-hundred dollar piece of equipment to a someone with a stolen credit card.

    • subtlefrog says:

      @madanthony: Agreed. This was my thought exactly. In fact, my SO simply had his office as his billing address forever because he gets everything shipped there. Even with the owner of the CC getting on the phone, they don’t know that he is the actual owner – he could be anyone.

    • ARPRINCE says:

      @madanthony: Agree! One this he could have done is to call his credit card and add a shipping address. I have done that with AMEX.

    • ecwis says:

      @madanthony: This has been Lenovo’s policy for at least three years. When I ordered my ThinkPad, I had to call AMEX to add my new address. It took about three minutes. It really wasn’t that difficult.

      • mobiuschic42 says:

        @ecwis: Yeah, but I could see not wanting to add your roommate’s address to your credit card just so you can ship something to him.

        • kobresia says:

          @mobiuschic42:

          I really, really wonder how a ROOMMATE’S address could be any different than his. I mean, this seems to be a “very definition of the word” issue, how can someone who shares the same living space have a different address?

          Something’s fishy here.

          • JennQPublic says:

            @1863650: OP may have his parent’s house as his billing address.

            My mother’s house is my billing address, because my apartment is on a busy street, and her porch is sheltered from the street. It’s much easier to just leave her address as the billing address than to explain this to every internet company I order from.

            After the first time I had to deal with this (thank god it was NewEgg, so the CSR was competent and helpful, but it was still a huge pain), I just changed my address to hers with my bank. Much easier!

    • rosvicl says:

      @madanthony: There is at least a communications issue here. If they won’t change the shipping address, okay, but they should say so, not repeatedly say “yeah, we’ll do that” to get him off the phone.

  3. oddjob60 says:

    This is probably easier to say in retrospect, but why not simply let the order lapse and try it again with all the correct info?

    • Skaperen says:

      @oddjob60: Oh come on now … why would anyone do the obvious?

    • blash says:

      @oddjob60: Same thought over here. Only reason I can think of as to not do it is if he got a sale/special price that had ended afterwards and he wanted to keep the original order going to keep the sale price.

      Also just sounds like bad luck. If you got a machine with a bad motherboard, it happens, that’s why warranties exist. Just press through with the rep and your machine will be replaced.

      I own a X200T Tablet PC from Lenovo and their support has been spot-on with me. Anybody who I have ever talked to who has a Lenovo has spoken nothing but praises for the company and for good reason. Flukes happen.

      • OneBigPear says:

        @blash: Only reason I can think of as to not do it is if he got a sale/special price that had ended afterwards and he wanted to keep the original order going to keep the sale price.

        Good point. I was wondering the same thing: re. cancel/lapse order and start again.

    • Jack T Ripper says:

      @oddjob60: Great minds must think alike. It seemed like a lot of hoops to jump through for something that was just going to get canceled anyway. The only reason I can think of for them not taking this option is that the funds were already authorized and frozen in his account and perhaps he didn’t have the available credit to purchase it again. That would be the kind of detail that is embarrassing enough to leave out of the story.

  4. sicknick says:

    This is rediculous and shows less-than-poor customer service. I work for an online/telephone sales company and my job, every morning, is to go through our sales software and pull blocked orders that are this exact problem. We have anywhere from 10-50, depending on volume (back to college season is full of people who have no idea what a billing address is, let me tell you) and we simply put a flag on the order and do a double contact about the problem with a live person calling to leave a msg/resolve on the spot as well as an auto email.

    Michael sounds like a second tier csr person, but I have no idea how he actually got that position being as thick as he is.

  5. Crunchbones says:

    Haha, welcome to Lenovo! I work as a system administrator, and was asked by one of my employers to special order a Lenovo laptop for him. We went through the same billing snafu (the shipping address was to me, the billing address was another office), and Lenovo managed to fix it after only 2 days. Then the laptop’s ship date was delayed by a full month. Then when it came in, the CPU fan wasn’t working, and the machine failed to get past post. So we had to ship it back, which took another 6 weeks, because some of the parts were “out of stock”. We finally got a working laptop some 3.5 months after the original order date, and after I spent countless hours on the phone. It was a nightmare, and I will NEVER order from Lenovo again.

  6. subtlefrog says:

    A bummer laptop can happen at any company. It sounds as if Lenovo is working to fix it. If they refused to help, I would see that as a bigger problem.

    What I think is cool about Lenovo is that you can actually buy replacement bits, – each part of the computer. So if something goes wrong, you can fix it yourself. I don’t mean to suggest AT ALL that the OP should be responsible for fixing an out of the box problem. Just that it’s one reason I’m looking at them for the laptop I’m looking for later this week.

  7. Xerloq says:

    HP did this to me – sent me a broken computer. They refused a return, stating I had to go through technical support once I’d purchased it.

    Finally, I fixed it by calling the sales department and explaining the situation. They exchanged it. Took a week, but it got done.

  8. Pixel says:

    I attempted to order a Lenovo a few months back any also had a completely hopeless time of it.

    Short(ish) version:
    -Ordered an Ideapad notebook with a few customized features, paid and was given a ship date of ~14 days.
    -Decided the next day I wanted Vista Home Premium instead of Vista Basic. Called Customer service to change it, got a helpful rep who tole me they’d have to charge me the difference (obviously), and that it might delay ship but probably not as my order had not yet been sent for assembly.
    -my original ship day passes, order status shows new ship date another 14 days hence. I now have waited over two weeks and am being told it will be another two weeks until it ships.
    -I check Dell and discover that their system says they can build and ship an equivalent computer in less time that Lenovo, despite Lenovo’s two week head start.
    -Call to cancel order, am offered that they can compensate me for the delay, but I’d have to put in a request and wait 5+days to hear back[1]. I tell them I still want to cancel and am told to call back during normal business hours (it was 7pm).
    -Call back the next day and get transferred around for a while before getting to someone who can cancel my order, am again offered possible eventual delay compensation. I say I want to cancel, they put in a cancellation request and tell me that it will be a day or two to process. I ask when/how I will be informed it is canceled. I am told they can’t/won’t email or call me and I need to check my online order status over the next few days to see if it has been canceled. I am told it is “unlikely” my computer will ship and I’ll be charged for it.
    -I check my online order status, about two days later my order disappears, the link comes up as a bad one, attempts to search for it get no results. Apparently “canceling” meant “nuke it from our system like it never existed.”
    -I buy a Toshiba at Best Buy with better specs for $25 less and am very happy with it.

    [1]Quick hint Lenovo, if I am canceling due to delays, don’t tell me I need to wait an extended period of time for a possible compensation

    • colorisnteverything says:

      @Pixel:

      Thank God you didn’t get the dell. It is not worth the hassle. I have had many dells – all was fine with most – but I ended up in Dell hell with my XPS 1530 and got a BROKEN replacement for it

      -screen is leaking

      -blue screens

      -the keyboard is breaking

      -the wireless card is broken

      -it overheats enough to burn my fingers

      The replacement for the replacement has now taken 4 weeks and is still in process.

      POS.

      • Epsilon748 says:

        @colorisnteverything: @colorisnteverything: Really? I bought my XPS 1530 back in May of 2008. My only complaints with it have been minor, the bluetooth chip burned up once (possibly my fault, laptop was running hackintosh for a while, long story) and the stainless steel was chipping on the front. In both cases, they had a tech onsite at my dorm/place of work to fix it within 48 hours. Considering that the second was cosmetic damage, I was impressed.

        I’ve had, maybe 2 bluescreens on it ever (running Windows 7 though, since January). I added an upgraded wireless card, so I can’t speak to that. But I can say I have never had overheating problems, this thing runs COOL compared to every other laptop I’ve ever owned. I’d say it gets to maybe ten degrees above room temperature at most.

        Granted, I also got mine with the college discount, so it came from Dell Small Business, so the coverage was for 3 years, on-site, no questions asked.

        I love Dell, I don’t understand the hate they get, other than being a huge company. They’ve always done right by me. But then again, I never skimped on the protection plans or specs I put together either. I guess it’s a compromise on both ends

        • colorisnteverything says:

          @Epsilon748:

          Just wait until the day that you have a problem. They switched my computer over to Europe. They couldn’t find it. Their tech threatened me and I almost filed a restarining order. He needed MY help to replace ram. My computer was out of commission for 6 weeks before this replacement came. SIX WEEKS. I am a student. I bought it via small business through my mother’s company. I have 4 years of warranty on it with ALL of the bells and whistles.

          Glad you haven’t had a problem! I was you a year ago when I stayed true to Dell and spent $2400.00 on the most high-powered computer on the market at the time. Nope. Didn’t get anything but a headache. And today, I have already had to restart it 6 times (the replacement). My acer – 1/10th of the cost of this machine – works better for my school work than my computer and it is a simple refurb netbook!

  9. DoubleEcho says:

    I had the opposite experience – I ordered a Lenovo Thinkpad R500 around early-mid September and received it within 6 business days after I ordered it (I ordered it on a Saturday).

    I agree with madanthony too – the issues arised because of the mismatched billing and shipping address, and this is done to reduce fraud. It would have been much easier to cancel the order, have your friend buy the laptop and put it on his card. If you’d be concerned about the legality of ownership, just write on the memo of the check you write him the laptop serial number and “Laptop Purchase” or something.

    Disclaimer – My company leases through Lenovo for 5000+ employees for laptops and desktops. I’m involved with supporting these and was involved with choosing them as a vendor as well. We have very few that have arrived DOA, not even double digits.

  10. Wrayvin says:

    The company I used to work for had nothing but Lenovo laptops for the associates. One laptop in particular kept on having a problem with the screen where it would miniaturize on the already small screen. Turns out it was a wire that would overheat and short out. We had to have the laptop sent in constantly. On the 4th try it turns out that we were “out of warranty” by two weeks (though we never received a notice to renew). We were able to get them to fix even without the warranty (after many talks with supervisors) due to the fact that they knew it was an existing problem, and yet instead of trying to figure out why the wire would short, they just kept on replacing the wire. Get used to dealing with them and sending your laptop back and forth (and keep up with the warranty – because they won’t notify you)!

  11. feckingmorons says:

    What would the outcome have been had the OP not made errors in the order. I suspect that many, many laptops from Lenovo get shipped every day just fine because people do understand how to order things online.

    I bet the attitude of the OP was not as helpful as it could have been to the technical support staff, after all he was already mad at lenovo for his previous mistake.

  12. AllanG54 says:

    Lenovo, a Chinese company, bought IBM’s thinkpad division because IBM wasn’t making much money if any with it. I don’t know how good their computers are but I don’t see why anyone would need to order one online when there are so many retail stores around where you can walk out the door with it in five minutes.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @AllanG54: Likewise, I don’t understand why anyone would need to drive to a store and pick out a computer with a set amount of unchangeable options when one could simply go online to the dozens of manufacturer websites and compare and contrast models, customize a computer and have it sent right to the door.

      I’ve owned three laptops and one desktop and I’ve never bought a computer in a brick and mortar store. I like customizing things to fit my needs. I’ve never purchased a stock laptop – I’ve always added or upgraded or even downgraded. I don’t see why someone would want to walk into a store to buy something that they can actually customize to their needs online without much hassle. Not to mention that you often get better deals online.

    • Lolotehe says:

      @AllanG54: They also made pretty nice desktops for a while.

      Hum…Chinese…maybe they are anti-capitalist….

  13. Colonel Jack O'Neill says:

    I don’t see any problem. The ship to and bill to address were different, and they wanted to make sure it wasn’t any kind of fraud going on.

    And they’re trying to fix it for him, so there’s no problem at all, people just love to complain for no reason.

    • cerbie says:

      @Colonel Jack O’Neill: gotta agree with you. Lenovo finally got it, and they’re sending a shipping box. Bummer that he got on the bad end of the curve, with a billing problem and hardware problem, but the way I read it, Lenovo is doing right, it just took them awhile to make sure everything really was alright (well, except the computer itself).

  14. Spin359 says:

    They changed the names for a reason. I feel they will run this into the ground now and in a few years use a new name. When they bought the IBM laptop line, you would have thought they would continue to use the famous name.

    • DoubleEcho says:

      @Spin359: They were only allowed per the purchase agreement to do that for up to 5 years – they opted to change the brand name earlier than that, however.

  15. Rachacha says:

    On the plus side, perhaps the OP can get a computer with Windows 7 pre-installed on it rather than Vista and having to do an upgrade.
    (No, I am not knocking Vista, I have it on one of my machines at home and have been very pleased with it)

  16. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Online credit card fraud is rampant. Kudos for Leveno’s fraud detection systems. It caught someone using a “friend’s” card with a billing address that didn’t match the mailing address. Plus, according to Leveno “that phone number does not exist”. The OP he wanted Leveno to accept a “yes it’s me” phone confirmation & change the billing info at their end. It would have been simpler to walk away from the cancelled order and start fresh.

  17. Mozoltov, motherfucker says:

    I have had nothing but excellent customer service with Lenovo, and my Thinkpad is bulletproof. I will only be ordering my laptops from Lenovo for the foreseeable future.

  18. Dragonis says:

    I have a lenovo thinkpad that I purchased when I started university just over a year ago. Only two things went wrong in the process. 1) The computer was a few days late arriving. 2) The hard drive failed a few weeks ago.

    The later was countered by the quick customer service response and the new HDD and install disks arriving two days before they said they would.

    I love Lenovo, and I recommend them for all my friends who need laptops for more utilitarian needs.

  19. nstonep says:

    Never make this deal. Not buying a lenovo computer, but doing the check for credit deal with a friend. Don’t do it for goods, don’t do it for rent, don’t do it for bills. If the guy has enough money in his bank account to write the check then he can walk down to 7-11 and get a money order or do eft with the company itself.

    Friend fraud is still fraud.

    • webweazel says:

      @nstonep: Yeah, that’ll work. Send in a money order to these people who don’t know if their asses are bored or punched. Then, it gets “lost” in the mail, or it shows up at the company, gets cashed, and they don’t credit your account with it. At least with a credit card, there are some protections there for screwy billing issues, and the credit card people there to help you work it out with them. With a money order or something else, all the hard footwork (and dealing with the CSR twits) is all on you.

      Sounds like somebody burned you with something like this in the past?

    • shepd says:

      @nstonep:

      How is this fraud? I don’t get it. AFAIK, if I buy an item with my credit card, I’m free to resell it.

      He could get burned with a bad cheque, etc, but then the friend with the cheque is the fraudster.

    • nofelix says:

      @nstonep: Some people can trust their friends? :S

  20. VicMatson says:

    Seems like the story should be “Customer screws up and can’t follow simple procedures then excepts more of others than himself”.

    When will people understand following procedure is needed to save money for both the customer and the company.

    On the other hand Lenovo’s site designers are lacking too, I have three of them so I know.

  21. DrLumen says:

    I know I this may be off topic but I recently bought a Lenovo and the purchase was easy and the laptop was shipped quickly. I decided to upgrade the ram and buy a Lenovo extended warranty and all went without a hitch. The laptop runs great with no problems. It’s a well-built laptop with a nice 15.4″ display and was a being sold at a very good price.

    Appaently, YMMV.

  22. Mark_Lenovo says:

    Laura,

    Sorry to hear about Dan’s experiences. As others have noted, Fraud prevention is an ongoing concern, but clearly we have areas where we can improve, and we have several initiatives underway now through our credit services team.

    Perhaps more concerning were his blue screen crashes. We’d like to ensure that his case is resolved quickly and to his satisfaction.

    Please let Dan know that we would like to help if he needs additional advocacy. Please share my email address with him.

    Alternately, he can reach me in the Lenovo forum [forums.lenovo.com] – I’m the admin there, Mark_Lenovo.

    Thanks!

  23. lacubsfan says:

    Buy an HP business laptop with XP. Problem solved.

    “Exciting news at Lenovo this year… we are working on a laptop that weighs LESS than 15 pounds, and we expect battery life to be LONGER than 2 hours!”

  24. paladinfello says:

    I’ve had nothing but excellent customer service with Lenovo. I had the same issue with having a different shipping address and billing address and it was cleared up over the phone. Perhaps OP shouldn’t have hung up? When my x61t went on the fritz and I reformatted to XP, because my disks that came with it were XP, not Vista disks, they overnighted me Vista Lenovo disks which came the next day.