Lenovo fail me again

18Aug11

OK – before I even start on this, I should know better – this sort of thing has happened before.

Let me begin by saying that I love Lenovo gear. I like the build quality and durability. I prefer trackpoint over touchpad. I’ve had 4 Thinkpads over the last decade and they’ve all been brilliant. I have two Lenovo netbooks in the house, I’ve bought more for family members, and recommended them to friends. At my last company I bought Thinkpads and a ThinkCentre for the team. I just wish that they could deliver what I order from them without a run around, and that almost never happens.

My son has been complaining about his computer being too slow[1], and he could do with having a laptop for school. The deal is that if he can reach 20 words per sec typing, then he gets a new machine. In the expectation that he would hit his target I did some shopping around and the newly released Lenovo X121e stood out as being a great value machine – not the cheapest that I could get, but a great price/performance package, and something that I expected to last (and sustain the rigours of life in a school backpack).

I ordered an X121e on the 3 Aug – a base spec Intel Core i3 model with the 6 cell battery and a sleeve cover. Quoted delivery was 1-2 weeks. Things got off to a bad start; after completing the order process the items were still in my basket online, but I hadn’t got any kind of confirmation. After a little while I called the sales line and was told that confirmation emails can take up to 24hrs to be sent out. It didn’t take 24hrs, but it was around 3hrs before my confirmation came through.

The following day – excitement – a shipping confirmation email. Then disillusion – it was only for the sleeve cover. The cover came 4 days later (and I’m pleased to say that shipping tracking links sent in emails now work). The wait for the laptop continued – a shame, as I was hoping to have it in the office for a few weeks and maybe doing a review here – I had even taken an extra stick or RAM and an HDMI-DVI cable to work so I could tinker whilst waiting for the typing target to be hit.

Today marked the expiry of the 2 week estimated shipping bracket, I thought about calling to check on status. After all the online order status is a bit cryptic – just what is ‘Boxed Shipment’ supposed to mean?

I left it alone though. I’d read online reviews from people who’d got these machines, and they where still on sale on the web site. What could possibly go wrong?

I got this email on the way home this evening:

Dear Customer,

We are sorry to inform you that the following product of
your order is end of life and it will be cancelled from
your order.

Product:BOM_3045CTO
SKU:3045CTO

Please note that your credit card has not been charged for
this item.

As a small compensation we would like to offer you 10% of
your next order. To redeem this discount please call us at:

UK: 0203 0140095
ROI: 0165 35568

We apologize for any inconvenience caused.

Sincerely,
Ana Carolina Cunha
Lenovo Online Store
Customer Service

How does a product become ‘end of life’ weeks after being released, and why is it still on sale on the Lenovo web site? Here’s a screen shot taking a minute ago – note the same part number as the ‘end of life’ laptop cancelled from my order:

Anybody want an 11″ sleeve cover? I seem to have one without a laptop to go in it. Sadly my card has been charged for that item.

Update 1 – 19 Aug – I called Lenovo customer services and spoke to a chap called Amis. He told me that the order had been cancelled due to parts shortage, but was unable to say which part they where short of or explain why the exact same spec laptop was still on sale on the web site. Amis accepted that there was basically no connection between what was on sale on the web site, and what the factory was able to deliver. He even suggested that I should order again, but could not explain why a second order would succeed when my first had failed. He is going to arrange an RMA for the sleeve cover, and I should get a full refund for that – though it’s extra hassle for me, and I’d expect that the shipping and admin costs are more than the value of the item. Maybe I should just order an AMD version of the X121e, as these seem to be in plentiful supply, and are a little cheaper than the Intel ones (and come with more RAM, though sadly a slower HDD).

Update 2 – 19 Aug – just for lulz I thought I’d try ordering the same machine again, taking advantage of the 10% discount offered. I spoke to Amis once again, and he took the order by phone rather than giving me a discount code to use online. The discount applied to the order, the shipping costs and tax beared no resemblance to my own calculations, but seemed to be in my favour so I’m letting things run their course. I now await the confirmation email to see if something got mangled along the way.

Update 3 – 19 Aug – the order confirmation has come through and all looks good other than the shipping address is my home rather than work. As I have little expectation that the machine will actually ship I’m not going to lose any sleep over that.

Update 4 – 22 Aug – the laptop has shipped. Fingers crossed that there’s somebody home when it gets here.

Update 5 – 23 Aug – the laptop from my second order left Kazakhstan a little while ago. Meanwhile Lenovo have written to me again about the first order. The general message is the same, but the specific text is different – it seems to address the issues around accessories being shipped separately (and requiring RMA) and sets out limitations on the 10% discount being offered:

Thank you for contacting the Lenovo Online Store.

We are contacting you in relation to your recently placed
order on the Lenovo Online Store. Unfortunately, the
following product you ordered is no longer available and
as a result has been cancelled:

X121E - 3045CTO

We regret any inconvenience this may cause.

Please note you have not been charged for this product in
your order.

Please contact our Customer Service Team to inform us on
how you wish to proceed with your order. If we do not hear
from you within the next 7 working days your complete order
will be canceled.

If you have already received part(s) of your order and you
wish to return, then please contact our Customer Service
Team.

As a gesture of goodwill we would like to offer you a 10%
discount on your next purchase on the Lenovo Online Store
for this inconvenience. To avail of this offer please
contact our Customer Service Team on:

Email: [email protected]
Phone: +44 2030140095

Please note this 10% discount that is on offer with Lenovo
will only work  once ordering over the phone, any current
offers that are advertised on the onstore  will not be
added to this discount.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
Please note, you will receive an automated email to
confirm the cancellation of your order.

Sincerely,
Sara
Lenovo Online Store
Customer Service

Update 6 – 25 Aug – after spending a day hanging around in Cologne my second order got to the UK this morning and was delivered a little while ago. I look forward to some tinkering later, and I will follow up with a review. Meanwhile Lenovo have send me a third email about my first order:

Thank you for ordering from the Lenovo Online Store. At your request or at the request of the fulfiller and/or manufacturer, the following was cancelled from your order :

Product Name    Qty Ordered     Reason for cancellation
BOM_3045CTO     1               Fulfillment Error

Update 7 – 26 Aug – a happy ending. Not only was the machine waiting for me when I got home, but my son had also cracked 20WPM so it is now set up in the kids’ play room. Some proper setting up and a first impressions review to follow later.

[1] His younger sister recently benefited from getting my cast off desktop machine to replace an ancient Compaq iPaq. This makes the ‘sawn off laptop'[2] seem a bit lame – something that was highlighted this week when he got a PC game that was released in 2008 that demanded a better hardware spec.
[2] My father in law managed to break the screen on his HP DV1000. I wasn’t able to fix it, and he’d got a new laptop anyway, so it was donated to the cause and has been in the kids’ playroom (minus the LCD screen and connected to an external monitor) ever since. After some pimpage, and with a bit of driver hacking it’s running Windows 7 quite sweetly.



7 Responses to “Lenovo fail me again”

  1. 1 magnum

    Great writing on your side!

    I had the exact same experience and being left with the sleeve I’ll be ordering my x121e again. Let’s wait and see what discounts I’ll be getting and if Lenovo can deliver.

    • My original order was £364.70 for an X121e with i3-2357M, 2GB RAM, 6 cell battery and the sleeve (inc shipping and VAT). They charged me £14.34 when the sleeve was shipped.

      The new order has gone through at £318.47 for the same spec (and part number) X121e. I have no idea where this number came from. It represents a discount of just over 9% on the X121e that I had originally ordered, which isn’t bad considering that I’d used a voucher code in the first place. Of course it all counts for nothing until I have it in my hands.

      I decided to stick with the Intel version after taking a look at the various CPU benchmarks.

      • 3 magnum

        I’ve just had the same message as per update-5 sent to me. What is about it that they cannot ship?

        I’ve selected black and upgrade to 4GB DIMM, the difference was that my original order had 2x2GB DIMM and Intel Centrino Wireless was an upgrade.

        The laptop is on offer on the website, you can’t miss it, it just begs to be clicked on and Lenovo cannot ship it. I am seriously p*** off by the whole story. First x120e isn’t available in UK, then x121e is available but only virtually.

      • What’s somewhat insane here is that between sending me those emails, they’ve taken another order from me, for an identical product, and shipped it. This makes me think that the options selected may have little or no bearing on whether a machine ships or not. I’ve seen cases before when the reasons for not shipping have been software related – for software required by hardware options that weren’t even in the spec. The bottom line here is that there overall process isn’t connected and isn’t transparent – not a shining example of contemporary supply chain management (and very different to the Dell model where they promote various configurations based on real time part pricing/availability).

        I’m starting to suspect that:
        1) The relationship between Lenovo and Digital River is somewhat dysfunctional – Digital River are doing what their contract says, not what a Lenovo customer might reasonably expect.
        2) SLAs are being used to drive processes in a way that isn’t customer friendly e.g. when you order a machine if it doesn’t ship in the time you where promised (like 2 weeks) then rather than being told that there’s a delay (and why there’s a delay) the order just gets cancelled and you’re told that it’s not available at all.

  2. 5 sammi king

    I tried to place an order with Lenovo from August and because we request the order to deliver to a different address (the children starting uni) and messed up with the order, after that every time the promotion returns I resubmit the order and could never get through the payment stage (I tried one card after another).
    Eventually I made about 10 phone calls to digital rivers although each time they promise to lift the ban after 30 minutes I still can not buy a laptop for my sons.
    Unfortunate in my case, my son really like the Lenovo model and need a laptop to start uni but digital rivers simply have no customer service and is not keen to resolve any problem arising from online purchase. They been questioning me like a fraudster! Now all my addresses are blocked (including business registered address and the grandparents! )

  3. 6 janet

    Thanks for this information. I ordered a Lenovo 13 on Oct 14th. Order accepted. October 16th, a message from Digital River saying order could not be processed, reenter card info. Tried to call the number they gave but this was ‘not recognized’. Agree the kit is good EXPECT TO RUBBISH WINDOWS RT on the Yoga 11, but very very reluctant to buy from them now

  4. 7 Mike

    Almost a week ago I’ve tried to buy a Thinkpad on Lenovo’s website in UK which is not in fact Lenovo, but another company called Digital River with a dubious and fraudulent behaviour. After I place the order I receive an email claiming that the order has been received. However, the email did not specify the amount paid, the configuration of the laptop, the estimated delivary date, etc. Several hours later I received an email stating that my order was cancelled because I did not provide a “verifiable email address and phone number”.

    In the meantime, the transaction had been initiated on my credit card. I then tried to contact Lenovo / Digital River countless times using any conceivable avenue but they never answered my calls or emails. One week after this ordeal the transaction still appears as if it is in progress, the amount I was supposed to pay initially still has the status blocked on my credit card and my bank says there is nothing they can do.

    Moreover, it is impossible to contact the actual Lenovo in UK or anywhere in Europe. And to make things even worse, instead of solving my problem, they keep deleting my posts, rather than provide any support in solving this issue.

    Furthermore, the following two links with infinitely many complaints about Digital River, clearly show what this fraudulent company is capable of:

    http://www.complaintsboard.com/?search=digital+river

    http://www.customerservicescoreboard.com/Digital+River

    It is shocking that they are even allowed to exist.


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