Monday, January 23, 2012

Why I'll Never Buy Another Lenovo Computer

I won't bore you with all the details since they're in another post, but despite my overhwelming preference for GNU/Linux for some very specific reasons I wound up needing to get a Windows laptop last month. I didn't need anything terribly fancy and Costco had a good deal on a Lenovo G770 so I went for it.

Well, ever since I got the thing it's been bluescreening and/or just shutting itself off periodically, consistently every single night and at other random times during the day.

I don't think it's ever crashed while I was actually in the middle of using it, and as I mentioned in my previous post it seemed to be related to power saving activities (e.g. screen dimming, etc.). Since this isn't my primary machine it wasn't enough of a nuisance that I dropped everything to figure it out.

I did some searching and troubleshooting as I had time, looked for updated drivers and BIOS, etc. and since all else failed, I figured what the heck, it's under warranty, let's call support and see if they have any bright ideas.

I started with the Costco Concierge support that came with the machine, and I was pleasantly surprised. They answered the phone right away, listened to all the troubleshooting I'd done thus far and based on that had a couple of suggestions I hadn't tried, and overall were quite good.

That didn't fix the issue however, so they connected me to Lenovo support. Lenovo asked me a bunch of questions to try and eliminate the hardware being the issue (I'm still not convinced it's not, personally), and they said since it sounded like it was just a power saving driver issue they'd pass me on to software support to get it resolved. The software support queue was very backed up so they said they'd put me in for a callback within an hour.

Several days passed and I hadn't heard anything (again, not a terribly pressing issue) so I finally called the phone number they gave me and gave them my case number. After 30 minutes of back and forth with the support person (and I gave them a case number, remember) I was told I had dialed hardware support and that I had to talk to software support. (I dialed the only number they gave me, but whatever.) They again told me I'd get a callback but this time in about 15 minutes, so I figured I'd give it an hour and just call back in if they didn't call.

About an hour later I received a call from software support. This is where stuff gets really fun. I explained the issue again, and the short version of their response is that since this is a software related problem as opposed to a hardware related problem, the software is not covered by the warranty but they'd be happy to fix my problem if I either paid for a single incident support ticket, or upgraded to the premium warranty which does cover software.

The cost for either choice was $179.

So I said to the support tech, "Let me get this straight. I bought a Lenovo computer with your installation of Windows on it and your drivers, it's never worked right, and you're telling me that you don't support your own Windows installation and your own drivers."

His response was, "Sir, we find that 70% of software problems can be resolved by users themselves so it doesn't make sense to make people pay more for the computer in order to have that covered since most people don't need it."

Trying not to be offended (I'm a 1337 g33k dammit!) I explained to the guy that I was a computer programmer by trade, and that I had spent quite a lot of time trying to solve the problem myself because I absoultely hate calling tech support since they aren't ever terribly helpful.

I then said, "Look at this from my perspective. I bought this machine. It doesn't work right. I don't care if it's the hardware or the software. I just expect a brand-new machine to work properly. I find it astonishing that you'd sell a computer that YOU configured and if there's something wrong with the software that YOU pre-install on the computer, that it's not supported without an additional charge of about 25% of the cost of the machine."

He just parroted back the "most software problems can be solved by users" line.

I said that's ridiculous, but fine, I'm wasting my time here so I'd like to return the machine since it's still under warranty and I don't like the way Lenovo does business.

He told me Lenovo's return policy is 21 days, which I was just outside. So basically I got penalized for trying to troubleshoot it myself and not calling in sooner.

I was pretty pissed at this point but I figure ultimately I need the damn thing working if I can't return it, so I said, "If I pay the $179 you guarantee this thing will work and you'll keep on it until it does, including sending me a new machine if you can't fix it?"

Short version of his response was that they guarantee they will do everything they can to fix it and if all else fails, they'll send me a system restore disk.

Well that's just dandy. Given that scenario they have no actual incentive to spend any time fixing the problem. Their time is money, but apparently my time is free, so here's how me paying for a premium warranty would play out. I'd pay the $179, they'd probably spend 2 minutes saying stuff like "have you tried rebooting?", and then they'd send me a very pricey restore disk and tell me to wipe the computer to put it back to its original state.

I explained to the guy that it didn't work in its original state, so why on earth would they expect a system restore to fix the problem? Not to mention I already had spent quite a lot of time doing all the Windows updates and installing software.

Since that's all he could do I told him I'd call Costco or my credit card company since I bet they both have better return policies than Lenovo directly. He said he'd call me back in an hour to see if I still wanted to pay them $179 to fix things.

Small detour here--don't get me wrong, I understand I bought a "value line" laptop. I'm not expecting a $3000 ThinkPad for 1/3 the price. What I do expect, however, is that the machine will work, and I also expect that a company will fix something they sell me if it's broken when I buy it.

I then called Costco, and they have a 90 day return policy. So bite me Lenovo, your resellers back your stupid products better than you do yourself. Since Costco had done so right by me through this whole process and was going to take back this Lenogo (see what I did there?) I immediately ordered a new HP dv7t from costco.com. I figure for the $179 I would have paid Lenovo I might as well get a nicer computer instead of adding 25% to the cost of this piece of junk.

Also since I still have a nice window to return the Lenovo to Costco, this way I can get the new computer, transfer all my crap to it from the Lenovo, and then return the Lenovo with plenty of time to spare.

Bottom line here is I'm still quite flabbergasted that Lenovo would sell a computer with their pre-install of Windows, their drivers, etc. and not support a damn bit of it without making people pay extra. I guess they're just playing the odds but here's another thought Lenovo: if you seriously only have to help 30% of the people who buy your products with the software that you put on the computers when you ship them, is that really a big deal? You'd rather have people like myself stop buying your products altogether?

Here's hoping the HP situation turns out much better.

4 comments:

Samantha said...

Well, the post is interesting but as any tech support I didn't see details on how exactly you were troubleshooting it.

From Linux perspective it would take about an hour to pin point the exact problem.

Matt Woodward said...

Fair point, but on this particular machine I needed to run Windows for some specific audio production software.

Fred Castillo said...

Yup... ever since I started working at computer repair West Palm Beach I've found that Lenovo and Acer laptops always seem to have the most problems. I was already an ASUS man but seeing that pretty much solidified it for me!

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