A few weeks ago, I did something I'd been planning to do for a long time: I ordered a Lenovo ThinkPad.
Having looked forward to this for years, I was refreshing the UPS tracking URL like a , and I knew the moment it arrived. Imagine my shock when I opened the box and discovered that a completely different machine than the one I ordered was in the box.
What followed can only be described as a sequence of customer service SNAFUs that I can only hope were accidents.
Regardless, I'm happy to report that as of today, Lenovo USA has gone above and beyond and made everything right.
Some Important Thanks
There were a few key players who got involved when this situation was rapidly devolving into a disaster:
- Kayle, who answered one of my phone calls and then really took ownership of the issue until it was resolved
- Erica, who was one of the helpful folks staffing the @lenovohelp Twitter account, and who pushed a case through the necessary escalation to get it to Tonya
- Tonya, who called me back in response to the case that was created after my Twitter outreach, and who emailed me her direct contact info in case Kayle's efforts were unsuccessful.
Perhaps the biggest hero of this whole story is a guy from Pennsylvania named Cameron. When I reached out to him because I'd received the machine he ordered, he responded and agreed to ship me my machine (which thankfully he had received) while I shipped his to him.
A Dream Machine
My Lenovo ThinkPad T570 is truly a fantastic piece of hardware. It lives up to the longstanding reputation of the ThinkPad family of laptops going back to the IBM days.
To give you some context: I hate spending money on laptops. There are a number of reasons for this, but the most significant one is probably the sheer amount of abuse that gets dealt out to any laptops I own. With frequent travel for consulting and speaking, my devices get a lot of miles.
Consequently, years ago, I adopted a policy that I would buy the cheapest possible machines that I could find. This approach served me well. My last machine lasted me for over 6 years (a record by at least a factor of 2), and I originally paid less than $500 for it (including tax) at a local Best Buy.
Because I'm a geek and I like to tinker (another reason I don't enjoy laptops as much as the good old days of desktops that you could take apart and upgrade), I'd done a number of things to my last machine, including:
- swapping the optical drive for an SSD (which truly rescued it from the scrap heap)
- doubling the ram (something which I did twice, much to my own chagrin)
- replacing the LCD screen when it died
- re-soldering the power supply to the motherboard
Like I said… I've been cheap where laptops were concerned.
But that last machine (a Gateway), was seriously on its last leg. And part of the reason I kept trying to stretch out its life was I was avoiding Windows 10 at all cost, and was grateful that Windows 7 was still serving me reasonably well.
Since I'd proven I could make a cheap machine last so long, I decided to re-think my strategy a bit. What could I do with a piece of hardware that was out with a super-fast SSD, a top-of-the-line processor, a decent GPU, and tons of RAM?
For hardware in the laptop space, there's nothing better than Lenovo's ThinkPad line. And they tend to be built to be taken apart and upgraded, which adds an enormous benefit to me personally.
So I started watching the Lenovo Outlet (yes, even when I'm making a bigger investment, I can be a little cheap) for a ThinkPad with at least 32GB of RAM, an Intel I7 CPU, and a decent NVIDIA GPU video adapter. When I found this ThinkPad T570 that I'm writing this blog post on right now, I was elated. It was a great and had everything I was looking for (except the SSD capacity, which I planned to fix by adding another SSD).
Perhaps now you can see why I was so utterly disappointed when I got a completely different machine that didn't have anywhere near the specs that I had paid for.
I immediately opened a chat session with a support person on the Lenovo Outlet website, got lots of assurances, but ultimately no help. After a few days of giving plenty of time for people to work and swapping emails, I took to Twitter:
They responded, but they just investigated my existing case and weren't able to improve the situation.
A few days later, I was tired of waiting, so I placed a phone call and expressed significant displeasure with the entire support experience. I kept poor Kayle on the line for far longer than she wanted to be, while I tried to urge her to do the right thing for me.
Not confident that that would turn out well, I took to Twitter again:
That resulted in a call from Tonya, who checked into what was being done for me, and who also invited me to contact her directly if things didn't turn out well.
Ultimately, Lenovo paid for the shipping cost I incurred when I sent the laptop I initially received to its rightful owner. I'm sure that had my initial contacts with their support people worked out, they would have arranged for that to occur, but they were simply not responding fast enough nor appropriately.
It was an unusual situation, to be sure. When I compared the order numbers for my order and that of Pennsylvania Cameron's, they looked similar. It would be easy if you were working in a Lenovo warehouse full of nearly identical boxes to stick the wrong shipping labels on two boxes. Thankfully, the person who made this simple mistake managed to swap the shipping labels. It would have been a real disaster if multiple orders/shipments were affected.
In any event, I couldn't imagine having Pennsylvania Cameron ship my long-awaited machine back to Lenovo's warehouse, letting them sort out what happened, and then almost certainly be unable to ship it to me for one reason or another. (In fact, the first thing the customer support person I initially contacted via chat wanted to do was cancel and refund my order. I didn't want my money back, dangit. I wanted the machine I had watched the Lenovo Outlet for!)
In any event, I've managed to write one of my longest blog posts in recent history about a customer service issue. I'm going to wrap it up now by saying this:
Even though I initially had a poor experience, Lenovo USA has truly won my trust and turned a negative situation into a perfectly acceptable one.
Thank you, Lenovo. I love my ThinkPad.