Losing a customer

(apologies for length)

For the past eight months I’ve been blogging about the intersection of blog monitoring and customer service/technical support and how an interactive marketing team can — and should – do more to influence the reputation of a brand by attempting to improve a company’s reputation through direct communications with customers and prospective customers. The secret comes down to the Golden rule of doing unto others … if you owned the product and it didn’t work, or failed to meet expectations, how would you want to be treated?

The company has created a small, informal, ad hoc team that monitors blog and forum posts scanned via Technorati searches aggregated into Bloglines or Google Reader. Someone – either myself, or Mark Hopkins — reaches out in private to quickly resolve tech support issues, delayed orders, and cries of pain. Of the contacts that our customer support team handles every month, only a handful emanate from blogs.

The company doesn’t necessarily prioritize blogged issues, but because a blogged issue is considered one of the most important tangible examples of “engagement” – a customer taking the time to write down their issue – I want make sure the organization replies in kind, personally, and with an extra effort to resolve the problem. What’s the motive? Simple: happy customers expressing their happiness is the single most valuable asset that the Lenovo brand can accrue. Customer feedback should be the most crucial feedback to our engineering and operations teams, and so we want to encourage the market to talk about our products and services honestly and openly.

I am not setting out to create a class-system where bloggers and forum posters get more attention than non-bloggers, or where more influential bloggers get more of a VIP experience than lesser known writers. But I take blogged incidents very seriously because:

1. A blogged incident is part of the public record. A phone-based incident leaves no record and is a one-to-one conversation, not a one-to-many. The phone incident is just as valuable, but doesn’t leave behind a trace detectable by the search engines which then enters the public record.

2. A blogged incident is a gesture of engagement that must be acknowledged out of respect to the blogger who took the time to write the post or comment.

I am concerned that our efforts to improve the customer experience for bloggers will create the perception that by blogging a complaint, a person will be rewarded and given priority over a customer who may not have a blog. The downside of listening and responding is that it could, in theory, reward the practice of a perturbed customer opening a blog simply to vent their dissatisfaction and break the service policies put in place to treat all customers equally.

We just lost a customer. He first appeared in the comments of our first official corporate blog and described a problem with his new system purchased from a retailer. I responded to him, put him in the hands of our support specialists and over the next three weeks watched as we tried to solve his problems. It seemed that nothing we did was going to solve the problem and suddenly the customer flamed us. A second machine was swapped for the first by the retailer and the problem persisted. Our best support people called the customer and were unable to duplicate the problem. Finally, we sent a service engineer to the customer and swapped a part and that partially solved the problem, which involved wireless access issues and could be complicated by the customer’s router, DSL service, any number of variables.

For the business, we lost money on the machine almost from the moment we started engaging with the customer. That customer had every right to expect a flawless experience and yet, despite our best efforts we were unable to turn it around. This wasn’t a typical issue — in fact it’s the first of its kind that we’ve detected — and we set out to fix it so it wouldn’t happen again.

But, in trying to salvage some lessons from this experience, our first real failure in this campaign, I think we have learned the following.

    1. It is a challenge to respect the formal service processes put in place to treat all customers fairly when working with an upset blogger. No one wants to be put through a “process” but breaking the process can have big consequences for the business.
    2. Sometimes the best initial action is a refund offered in tandem with a new system, no questions asked. But until you have the freedom to make that offer, you can’t.
    3. Duplicating a customer problem in the lab is a challenge when the engineers try to reconstruct the scenario on a machine nearing its end of life in the product line and when it involves third party variables like DSL, wireless routers, etc..
    4. Communication to the customer – when the customer is posting in detail all interactions, and saying that he will post full email exchanges – is a challenge for many people unaccustomed to working with bloggers. The inclination is to respect the customer’s confidentiality and privacy and not work the problem in the open. Yet, the reality is sometimes the customer likes the public attention and wants it discussed in the open.
    5. One can’t expect the customer to look at the warranty and service agreement on their product – typically a mess of terms and conditions – and respect the fact that by sending service people to his home, by escalating the issue to the highest levels of the organization, and by going above and beyond what the customer purchased the company has made a concession. My attitude would be: “Your stuff doesn’t work. Fix it.”

    Well, we win some and we lose some. We made a few people very happy this week. We failed to win another over.

    Here’s a few of the many wins:

    Stefan Constantiescu:

    Rick Klau: our first success.

    Shel Israel

    Dr. David Klein

    And here’s the loss:

    Stupendous Man

    Here’s Mark’s point of view:

    Every interaction with a customer, regardless of medium, face to face, phone or web is a moment of truth.

    Interaction with the customer has moved beyond the phone, marketing or commerce web sites, and into forums, corporate blogs, and even into customer personal blogs and websites. Every interaction leaves an impression of the brand, a footprint if you will. Some footprints are more visible and permanent than others – those blog posts create a legacy, good or bad, visible in Google searches that live on after the event.

    The prospect of this legacy raises the stakes for online support efforts. Let’s discuss some observations and challenges:

    The Opportunity & Environment

    In most instances, the customer wants to be understood and fairly responded to. By the time he or she blogs about their issue, they have reached a point of frustration, or have been made to feel their issue wasn’t important to the company. In many cases, simply reaching out to the customer and giving them a venue to share their frustrations goes a long way toward resolving the matter successfully. Most customers recognize these efforts as “extracurricular” and appreciate that:

    1) You’ve paid them a huge complement by finding and reading their blog

    2) You’re on your own time, going the extra mile for them. In contrast, and as more companies join in and this becomes mainstream it will be more the norm, some customers assume that because you are engaged in this activity that it is formally sanctioned and that you are empowered to mobilize and prioritize company resources to resolve their issue.

    The Stakes
    Online interactions are in the public eye, and leave a lasting legacy good or bad, so there is a tendancy to desire to expend all possible effort to ensure a postive outcome. However, a policy of fairness in process must be maintained to ensure customers that reach a company by phone, or face to face are afforded the same effort as their online bretheren lest a class system be formed. But beyond equity of process, a company has to be careful not to create a trap for itself, whereby it is held hostage by what an individual blogger may write, or else it’s a slippery slope of increasing demands from the online community. Handled well, customer satisfaction is restored, and a blogger may become a staunch supporter. Handled poorly, you have a lasting smudge on your brand reputation.

    Understanding the blogger psyche
    For crude illustrative purposes, I’ll divide and contrast two types of online personalities who may have your product and are blogging negatively about it or your company. Customers and Activitists. Customers have a clear objective – to get the product or service that they paid for – get their specific issue addressed, or get their money back. Usually interactions with customers progress quickly to a successful outcome, because there is a clearly defined objective that is generally within the boundaries of the companies original offering, or a reasonable concession can be made.

    Activitists, are far more problematic in that their objective isn’t necessarily what they are directly asking for. This type of person usually has a cause – an industry or company policy they wish to change, or perhaps they have moved beyond being frustrated by the problem and want more than just to have it solved. Their true agenda, whether they admit it to themselves or others is a vengeful pursuit of the company. They seek to injur the company in mental reparation for how they believe they have been agrieved by the company.

    Use Caution – Rules of engagement

    Idealistically, everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, but for those companies planning to wade out into the blogosphere offering the olive branch, there are some things worth considering. Where possible, read multiple entries from the bloggers site, and try to understand the blogger before engaging. Is he or she a pattern ranter? One whose blog is filled with repeated stories of how their interactions with others has gone awry? Are all their posts a critique of the world? If so, it may be that interaction with them will not lead to a positive post related to your efforts, even if you resolve their specific concern. You may find this type of person actually will hinder resolution, as a protracted saga of interaction will provide ongoing fuel for their blog.

    Don’t confuse effort and expense with results. It really doesn’t matter what your internal limitations are, and it is generally counter productive to explain to a troubled customer what you can’t do. Focus on what you can do, set fair expectations with the customer and be sure to deliver on what you promise, in the timeframe you promised. Unfortuneately, sometimes that isn’t enough. The customer, fairly cares nothing for hours invested or dollars spent working on his or her problem, they only care that it’s fixed. From a company perspective, the concept of economic principles may become a factor part way through an engagement. The company may have expended all profit, or perhaps even one, two, or even ten times the purchase price of the product in trying to address the customer concern. From a pure economic standpoint, a strategy of refund may appear more cost effective.

    When things go bad
    If and when it becomes apparant the customer no longer is focused on the objective of a resolution to his / her particular issue and has shifted to a pattern of negative posts no matter the effort, it’s time to end the engagement. Suggest to the customer that you see that your not going to be able to make them happy, and in fairness to both your time and theirs that you seperate. Providing a refund and return of the product as appropriate may be for the best.

    Keep track of your win rate
    Be honest and objective, and adjust your tactics to improve your resolution rate. 1) Pursue those customers that are crying for help, and whose background (prior history and other online behavior) suggests they can be helped. 2) Empathize with the customer, ensure they feel heard, understood, and responded to. Treat their emotional needs as seriously as you treat their particular issue.

    Author: David Churbuck

    Cape Codder with an itch to write

    0 thoughts on “Losing a customer”

    1. David:

      You beat me to it ;-). I was about to write something on the lines of Proactive Customer Relationship Management (using my experience with your team), of course from a consumer (like me) point of view. Yours has been an extremely well written account, perhaps from a corporate viewpoint and there are things that I agree wholeheartedly in this post, and there are things which I do not (which i will elaborate later in my post), and we can agree to disagree.

      While I admit you, Mark and others may have put in enough resources and work to make my life easier, setting expectations like”we have prioritized your request”, “someone will get back to you ASAP” turn into a sour feeling when they don’t happen as expected. While I as a customer know I am not the preferred guy with halo on my back, but setting expectations and not fulfilling them will only lead to frustrated customers.

      Frankly, I’ll be honest with you – I have never taken blogging seriously in my life. This is probably the first time I was actually contacted by a VP and PM right after I left a comment, which I tremendously do admire. It is what followed that didn’t work with me. It was / is also a great feeling that someone important did read my blog and what I had to say – unfortunately may be it was not enough.

      But then again, it could be me too as well (which may be your point of view). Literally for years I have heard only good things about IBM/Lenovo service (and as I mentioned somewhere else too that some of my best buddies too, keep telling me about Lenovo’s service). Add to it, the fact someone from Lenovo contacted me through my blog may have raised my expectations to such a high level that perhaps Lenovo may have found it difficult to match it too. We can agree to disagree whether you feel you tried your best or I did not feel you did.

      This post is getting too long. I will elaborate more on it on my post and will leave trackback once I publish it. Even if it means you’ve lost a customer, I am quite interested in hearing you and your viewpoints.

      Cheers,

      Suyog

    2. My friend’s girlfriend called me recently asking for advice as to what laptop she should buy her boyfriend. You’ll be happy to know he will have a Z60m, not by Christmas since it was ordered literally less than a week ago, but as a holiday present none the less.

      I want to thank you again for everything you’ve done for me, and I’ll still keep on recommending your products.

      One little request: The new X60T has an option for the higher resolution screen, why don’t the X60 and X60S have this same option?

    3. Pingback: Ring Nokia
    4. David, Thinkpads tend to attract computing “aficionados” who are crazy perfectionists that go far beyond what typical customers care about. In forum.thinkpads.com you will see people arguing over keyboard feel, fan speed and noise, hard disk noise, wireless cards, etc. Although your “lost customer” had a Lenovo and not a Thinkpad, he belongs in this category and seems that way to the reader. He did have some points about the keyboard layout as in using multiple strokes for simple keyboard functions. What comes through is all the attention the guy got. He could have bought a Dell.
      I for one have always gotten outstanding service, including the two times I had to send in for depot repair in seven years of Thinkpad ownership. In both cases, they repaired in a single day and over-nighted the laptop. Moreover, I’ve had replacement parts sent to me so that I have them next day by 10 AM. Also, the tech support patiently helps me with software problems as well.
      I have emailed you privately about something Lenovo does need to work on: anticipating customer service needs to be for the product itself: .i.e. future protecting the customer from technology changes. For example, Sony announced a broadband Sprint EVDO Rev A. (next generation) laptop in September. Lenovo will not announce one for Verizon until the next refresh with the Santa Rosa platform in Spring 2007. Now, most readers of your blog may have no idea what I am talking about, but they might be upset to know that they cannot replace the EVDO Rev 0. Built-in mini-pci (for federal regulatory reasons) with the newer EVDO Rev A mini-pci. I would be asking why Sony had announced a product in September and for the same device, Lenovo on its premium Thinkpad line waits another six months.
      Otherwise, Thinkpads and their customer service are all-around outstanding.
      Incidentally, it really bothers me when I’m at a trade show and I don’t see a Thinkpad as the demonstrating notebook. It makes the vendor look cheap and I really don’t understand why they spend so much money for a booth and then don’t buy the Thinkpads to demonstrate their software on or to use in any way.

      “Nuff said.”

    5. Hi David,

      Wanted to be in touch with you about your recent “losing a customer” post. While we may compete in the marketplace, many of us here at Dell read your blog with much interest and empathy.

      Like you, “if the product does not work or fails to meet expectations,” we want to ensure customers receive that “golden rule treatment.” As you have so accurately articulated, we all struggle with the appearance of “special treatment” for activist bloggers versus other customers.

      Every day our blog team is challenged by the issues of “real” concerns about technical support and Dell’s corporate reputation or favoritism. At the same time, when dealing with public feedback, we must respect the privacy of customer information, and yet figure out ways to address the issues the customer raises. It is a tightrope to walk some days.

      While neither us can ever win them all, you are right the losses are always tough to take. Add to that the public “whipping” that sometimes follows a loss, while you stick to the corporate commitment of customer privacy. That’s when the loss hurts on every front.

      On the positive side of this equation, the evolution of the Internet is providing even more and better opportunities to deliver real value in terms of the customer experience through the direct connection with customers. Those are important benefits which you are obviously focusing on.

      Like you, Dell’s ad-hoc blog team, the direct2dell blog and several other initiatives are all finding their feet as they go down this path. Like you, every day is a new experience. We find ourselves without a roadmap and every once in a while we make a wrong turn. While mistakes may be made, at least our efforts are well under way.

      Great to know we are in this together, listening and learning from the dialogue and communities around us. Good luck continuing to solve more than you don’t. ?

    6. Thanks Richard for the words of support. We are indeed in this together and I sense from what you wrote that we’re coming to some of the same conclusions independently.

      The lack of a roadmap is what makes it so fascinating. Every day is like retaking a course I took in Situational Ethics — where all dogma and assumptions are challenged by every situation.

      Congratulations on what you’ve all accomplished in the past year. I watched — from outside of the business but in the IT press at IDG — when Dell Hell went down and while it was painful watch it was instructive and did more to build a case for this kind of revolution in customer relations than anything else I know of.

    7. Hi David,

      Lack of a road map for sure…every day is a new experience as we all meander around to find the right pathway. Glad you are here too.

      While the normal rules of business do not apply and numerous brand and customer service “commentators” have talked about Dell, all-in-all you hit the nail on the head noting the impact on reputation and the value of connecting directly with customers.

      Like you, we have solved more customer issues than we have have not solved. At the same time, we are finding this goes beyond those individual cases for technical support to include our learning about some technical glitches on our website; reaching out to clarify matters or improve the customer up-take on the recall of Sony batteries; and, we have discovered some “tricky” or unknown product issues. We have also had the opportunity to enter conversations and learn from others, or even provide perspective and correct misinformation.

      My sense is this “place” and these “conversations” are sort of both a very public and yet a very personal venue, creating a wierd sort of duplicity for business. Clearly, you adressed that so well in this posting. Add that to the direction you have established, you reinforce the value of that direct involvement with blogs.

    8. Hello David,
      First of all, I apologize for any unintended use of this blog the following may constitute, however this fits right in with your chosen topic and I’m desperate.
      I am a long time computer user, recent Lenovo customer. I came across your name on a blog by someone (else) who have had issues with Lenovo. Since I have had such a challenging and frustating time with both Lenovo’s online and phone support, I would appreciate if you or someone could help to resolve my issues with Lenovo.
      I eagerly anticipate your response.

      Regards,

      Mike Pawluk

    9. Well,

      I mainly used Dell computers prior to purchasing Lenovo 3000 N100 at Office Depot in Nov 2006. The main attraction is, of course, the price, and the IBM reputation. But the decision didn’t fare that well.

      Lenovo can certainly take a page out of Dell service. When Dell receive a complaint about a new computer, they immediately send a replacement computer, and that’s the end of the case. The consumer then returns the bad laptop at his convenience.

      As you can guess, I have the same problem with the laptop, just like Suyog. I installed a couple of software, and suddenly the sound becomes jittery. I used the wireless card, but I didn’t notice it was particularly that one that caused the jittery sound.

      I called the customer service. They sent me to a CompUSA in Holyoke Mall (about half an hour drive) for service. The people at CompUSA accepted the laptop to be serviced (stupid them), but it turned out they don’t have the service agreement with Lenovo – so back I went back for another half an hour drive the next day to pick up the laptop again. At that time, the laptop showed another symptom, it hang frequently on battery power.

      Then I called the customer service again, and this time they sent a box to ship the laptop back. I got the laptop back in about 4 days, and the problem persisted (just like Suyog). So, I asked them to check the laptop again and the CS raised the level to RAID (priority level) and send another box. When I received the laptop, they’ve done the HD restore and the jittery sound disappeared (I was still using the wireless card). But, once I’ve installed a couple of software (maybe Shockwave or Firefox), the jittery sound come up again. Anyway, I was fed up with it. I don’t know how to reinstall the Old OS from the hard drive, so I just did a wiped-installation using XP Pro, and restrain myself from installing new softwares.

      By this time, I realized that whenever I switched to battery power, the laptop would hang immediately (within 1 minute). It’s a problem with the mother board connection to the battery. So, I called the CS again, received a box and got the laptop back in 4 days, and they installed a new motherboard (or planar card, in IBM’s term).

      I still dread the possibility of one day installing a new software, and the old jittery sound problem comes again. On top of it, my NEW laptop has become an OLD laptop with many, many scratches on the surface.

      So, in summary:
      – It took more than one month to fix a broken NEW laptop of its main obvious problem (mo-bo connection to the battery), and probably the jittery sound problem. In the meantime, I’m practically cannot use this laptop.
      – It’s clear that the whole line of Lenovo 3000 N100 being sold at Office Depot in Nov. 2006 is FLAWED, and Lenovo should seriously think about a Product Recall here, once the root of the problem is solved.
      – It’s a shame that the IBM reputation is being put to shred here, just because a product is not properly tested before its launch.
      – Btw, I still haven’t received my $300 rebate.

      Overall, my confidence in Lenovo/IBM is shattered. The customer service at Lenovo needs a MAJOR overhaul; following Dell’s path is recommended. I dread to think the cost of repairing my laptop alone up to now (maybe around $250 for DHL express alone service time planar card replacement). Obviously, this mistake will cost A LOT to fix.

      So, I hope you can do something more than just put a corporate answer on this blog, prevent this line of product from further damage, and do a major service to the current owner of this 3000 N100 from Office Depot – ensuring that the problem is truly fixed.

      Thank you.

      Hadrian Djohari

    10. David,

      I stumbled across this blog, and just thought I would share my good experience with IBM/Lenovo (and some of the good folks in Client Loyalty Dept). To make a long story short, I had a T40 for about 2 years (when I was in college) and I began having a motherboard short when lifting the laptop via the palm rest. After I sent it to the depot for repair, it came back unfixed. So I sent it in again, and sent in one of those little comment cards that comes with every depot return. Within 2 weeks, I was called by a gentleman named Angelo Alberti in response to the comment card. Not only did he get the issue resolved, but when it happened again a year later, he initiated contact with the depot, and when the depot failed to repair it correctly the first time; extended an offer to give me a full refund of the purchase price.

      This to me (now as an entrepreneur) is a perfect example of how a potentially bad situation was handled properly. As a result of the way this situation was handled, the good will, and attitude IBM had shown; years later I am out of college, and as an IT consultant almost exclusively recommend and purchase them for my clients.

      Angelo only knew I was a student, he didn’t know what I was going to school for, or that I would have command of x amount of dollars 2 years later…he just knew I was a client and that I needed to have my stuff fixed.

      My hope is that with the organizational change, the same values remain in place that made the ThinkPad name what it is today. It would be truly sad if they did not.

      Nathan

    11. I cling to my old reliable IBM T22 for fear that any upgrade to a Lenovo replacement will tip me over the edge and my tenuous threads to sanity are stretched enough. Apropos of nothing, clicking on your “site meter” has my client’s server in GA and I am physically in WY – now why is that?
      As a legacy IBM mainframe Neanderthal, I never ceased to be amazed by the power of the web and the indepth knowledge of your bloggers. Oh yes, enjoy your vacation David.

    12. May I know is there any reference number for this issue regarding the sound/wireless card or anything that is referenced internally by Lenovo? I want to contact the techsupport (I am in Singapore) to log this issue with my laptop just bought few days ago so communication between me and them can be easier..

      I believe many other singapore customers will soon be facing this issue after the 3000 N100 was highly snapped up during last week IT show 2007 in Singapore, and shipping for those yet to obtain the machines are this and next week..

      Thanks

    13. I have to say – that my dad bought this computer (3000 N100) because of the Office Depot sale. This computer is seriously the worst investment I’ve encountered. Several of my friends – all computer engineers and computer science majors – said that something inside was wrong. We stopped all the processes, removed any junk – but this computer still failed to perform.

      I’ve tried contacting support but they seem to always be busy (heh, wonder why?). My problems are as follows:

      1) My wireless is really bad. I’ve sat in a classroom where my friends on either side of me where using their internet while my 3000 N100 said there was no signal anywhere near me.

      2) Something is wrong with the computer in general – all sensitive tests (video editing, games, etc.) all report 100% choke (read: this is bad) even when nothing goes on. In games, I have the minimal resolution (read: people start to look like black boxes), no details, and yet – I can’t walk around without the computer slowing down.

      3) My DVD-R drive is defective. It cannot read DVDs, and whenever it’s active (read: spinning), the sound card disables and everything comes out like “th-th-i-i-i-i-is-is-is-is.”

      4) When burning DVDs or CDs, my read/write speed never exceeds 1x. What’s the point of a 16x drive that can’t go beyond 1x?

      5) The soft keys are poorly engineered. Besides the inconvenience of the “home” and “end” keys being soft keys (read: this means you need to press [function] and [home] instead of just [home], like on a normal keyboard).

      Also, the volume controls are within the laptop (compared to the Dell, whose laptops allow you to change the volume while the laptop is closed). More annoying is how you can’t hold down the volume keys to continually change the loudness. This means, if you’re at volume 20 and you want to get to volume 5, you have to press Volume down 15 times instead of holding it down, like any normal product would do.

      6) The screen itself can’t lay flat with the keyboard… I guess this was designed this way, but yeah. It’s something unexpected and to me, useless.

      7) It comes with a bunch of bundled software that clogs up your computer experience.

      Yeah – so I really wish I read these comments before my dad bought this. If I could get a refund, I would pay for the airmail shipping to them and then buy something that works the way it advertises.

    14. I did not own a Thinkpad before the Lenovo merger, and lets just say I’m not a big fan of it. Instead of going into the details of my hardware failure, I just want to point out several key issues I hope you look into resolving. 1. Some crucial links on the Lenovo website are broken…such as “Find your local service provider.” I think that sinking feeling is what becomes the final nail on the coffin for most frustrated consumers. 2. The entire ‘Lenovo support’ section is down the day after. The ENTIRE tab/division/category/branch/sector. That is 1/6 of the site (assuming you count all the tabs)…and probably the most visited/useful site to the majority of the visitors. 3. The call support cannot give me the details from those lost pages either…because the only way they can find out is to access these pages online. There is no internal database. C’mon, even the average user knows to back up their harddrive. 4. Some phone support options lead to dead ends and automatic disconnections.

      To me, currently, there is little to none customer support.

    15. I am somewhat new to the blogging scene and hope I am posting in the right area. Unfortuately, my comments are almost all deroggatory regarding my Lenovo 3000 N100 0768 DLU purchased in January, 2007 from Office Depot. This unit was pruchased to replace an older Dell which was used almost exclusively for Power Point presentations. After I had to preload the hard drive (this was a floor sample and the only one left), I installed PP and my slide shows, as well as all Windows and Lenovo updates. To test the unit and make sure everything worked properly before an actual presentation, I attached my projector and imagine my surprize to find out the fnf7 key did not work, even when ticking the check box in the Presentation Director to allow for toggling between LCD, projector, both and then repeat. As a Power Point user this is a very important feature for me. I called Lenovo support and as of today, June 24, 2007 have more case numbers assigned to my machine than a major police department has call assigment numbers. I have spent countless hours talking to tech representatives who have no idea which way is up in addition to several supervisors who know less about computers than I do. Some of the reasons given for this malfunction were hilarious, including one about the wrong cable being used between the unit and the projector, which, while laughing to myself, I tried the suggestion to no avail. My unit has been returned to the depot twice, the hard drive has been re inmaged at least 12 times, time consuming windows updates have painstakingly been downloaded and installed equally as many times and the same with Lenovo system updates. I have also replaced the keyboard with one sent to me. The last return made to Ms. Janice Reiff in Lenovo Customer Relations Management in North Carolina (I believe) resulted in the unit being returned to me, after several weeks, with the fnf7 key functioning as it should, but now with NO AUDIO. I do believe Ms. Reiff is trying, but I also believe both our frustrations are coming out. The bottom line is: I purchased a Lenovo in January of this year to replace a worn down, but still working Dell, and have yet to be able to use the Lenovo for my intended purpose. This has been one of the most excruciatingly frustrating and costly experiences I have ever had.

    16. I have purchased N100 in Aug of 2006 and still having problems with this machine (current date, july 17, 2007) I have had harddrive replacement, battery replacement, at least 4 times of carry-in visits which did not essentially fixed the initial problem. On battery power only, it does not start the machine when the power button is pressed. Always the second time i press the power button, it starts (suspected some sort of a capacitor problem, but the customer service technicians did seem to care much about what I suspected) At first, i thought it was some sort of a safety feature of the laptop so it wouldnt trun on by mistake (when being moved around), but i mean… the lid should do the job. And yes, it started crashing when used on battery power. Since I have been fully relying on this machine (ever since i got this laptop) it has not been so easy to send-in the machine for customer service for so many times. For the last time, the IBM support asked me to do the EZserve service (mailing-in service), and I really am counting on it.

      OTHER THAN THIS,

      Great performance: Vista Business. runs smooth, tried a few high-end games, runs very well with normal to high settings. But the speakers are rather, well, i do not understand why Lenovo would put such small speakers on such a great laptop. They are really there to make the windows sound effects, and nothing else.

      Anybody else with similar battery power problems?

    17. I find this post comical. I recently bought an Lenovo N100 3000 and it is junk. I had multiple problems within the first 2 months of owning it. Luckily being a certified tech that has worked on desktops and laptops in the past I was able to resolve my own problems (requiring a screen replacement and a flash of the bios) after dealing with uncooperative “support technicians” who wanted pre-payment for support on issues with a less than 3 month old laptop. I used to own a thinkpad R51. That machine was like a tank. This thing is junk. I affectionately call it nolove which is lenovo letters reorganized. Lenovo was not flamed. The truth was told. Lenovo has lost more than one customer. I as well was duped into believing lenovo was continuing with the quality of IBM. I will not be buying a laptop from lenovo again nor would I reccomend this product to anyone else.

    18. To whomever it may concern,

      I want to start by stating that I have never truly written in on one of these blogs ever, but after seeing similar complaints for the issue I am facing I feel that maybe some insight may be offered to me.

      Fairly recently, my family bought a Lenovo 3000 N100 with a pentium dual-core and windows vista. The laptop worked flawlessly for, oh say, the first month or two. However, shortly after the battery life dropped from being fully charged and only lasting a few minutes, to now lasting almost less than one before powering down. I couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong considering I had been charging it for over day almost every time and the system told me I had 100% power remaining. Finally, I decided to do some research into the problem when it shutdown when I needed it the most to print out a project. Frustrated, I wanted to see what was going on.

      After reading of similar problems facing other consumers, I was hoping that everything could be cleared up. Is it really a motherboard connection issue? Or could something else be wrong with the laptop. So far I have not contacted any Technical Service of any sort, but I would love a quick and easy fix if there was one. Overall, aside from slow network connection at some points, which may be a result of either my own network or the laptop itself, I have been greatly satisfied with Lenovo and the laptop.

    19. http://www-307.ibm.com/pc/support/site.wss/document.do?lndocid=MIGR-69671

      Lenovo 3000 N100 battery P/N 92P1185 (FRU 92P1186) will not charge or discharge. The power meter in control panel, power options may reflect anywhere from 0% to 99% charged but the battery will not charge any higher and may not function at all when the AC adapter is removed. This symptom does not pose a safety hazard.
      Affected Configurations

      Any of the following Lenovo 3000 N100 systems:

      * 0689
      * 0768

      Solution

      Lenovo will replace eligible batteries (FRU 92P1186) with this failure symptom for an additional 6-months (total of 18-months) based on the system warranty start date. To be eligible for this replacement all of the following must be true:

      1. The system must be a Lenovo 3000 N100 (0689 or 0768).
      2. The system must be within 18 months of the system warranty start date. (If the battery was purchased as an Option, then it must be within 18 months of purchase date and proof of purchase will be required for validation).
      3. The battery must be P/N 92P1185 (FRU 92P1186).
      4. The battery does not charge when connected to the system with the AC adapter. The system will only function with the AC adapter attached. The system will not function on battery alone.

      Please contact your local support center to validate eligibility for battery replacement.

    20. PS. I don’t care if you display or delete the comment, but I am enough of an activist to hope it didn’t fall on deaf ears, and I’d absolutey love to have at least some of my questions answered – specifically the ones dealing with the individual departments.

    21. Hi David,
      I wonder what is lenovo trying to achieve and really doubt if it has any business strategy in place. The link you have up there to help with batteries has this to offer:

      “There is a problem retrieving the document MIGR-69671”

      As on 25th Oct’08

      I keep reading about free battery replacement but it seems, replying to blogs by creating “ad hoc” teams is not going to help.
      My Lenovo is 3000 N100,0768. I bought the laptop by sixth of 2007(I have the papers).
      1.The batteries went dead after Three or Four months.
      2.The Sound completely went dead after Six months.

      To be honest, I thought over the problem (probably more than the scientists in the R&D at Lenovo) and came to the conclusion that the batteries were manufacturing defect but the audio problem is beyond lenovo’s grasping capacity. At this point of time If lenovo let’s me know if my conclusion was right, I would be happy.

      Another point. David, you should be very careful with your answers as you might be getting a good pay for managing the ad hoc team but I see Lenovo being sued in the near future involving this weblog department.

      Expecting no help from Lenovo,
      Vash

    22. David,

      My experience with Lenovo has been disasterous. i have never experienced worse customer support. What has happened so far is as follows

      I bought a Lenovo computer in March last year, shortly before we moved house. We installed in in June. Since early August I have been unable to use it because it has crashed every few minutes (intermittently). I first rang the Lenovo support number to report the problem on 20 August. I spent the next 2 months trying a series of diagnostic test on the softward: on each occasion I needed to take a day off work so that I could call Lenovo during office hours. Eventually I was sent a set of back up disks and did a full factory restore (I had done one earlier on line which took most of a day). I had repeatedly pointed out that I wasn’t sure it was a software problem because the error messages varied. Sure enough the full factory restore failed to resolve the problem. I rang Lenovo again and was asked to begin the same diagnostic test, and again try and update the Bios, despite earlier conversations with customer support in which they had assured me this wasn’t the problem. I twice asked for my complaints to be escalated (the first time this was ignored, the secons I was simply assigned a new call number).

      Eventually the computer was picked up (I had to pay for packaging materials) and taken to the Lenovo workshop, where the motherboard was replaced on 28 November and the computer returned to me. The same problems persisted, so I rang Lenovo again on 29 December, and spoke to Andrew. He advised me to start again with the same diagnostic tests which had been tried before. I refused. He suggested sending an enginner. The engineer did not come on 31 December as had been arranged, but when I rang on 31 December I was told he could only come on 2 January. So I took another day off work. The engineer arrived with instructions to replace the mother board. I suggested this was unlikely to be the cause of the problem since th motherboard had already been replaced and rang Lenovo and spoke to Catalin. He was dismissive of my concerns explaining “if my colleague decided it was the mother board, it was the mother board”. So the engineer duly replaced the motherboard – having seen for himself the way the system crashed. The engineer left (I explained to him and to Catalin that I didn’t consider the problem resolved) and sure enough 20 minutes later the system crashed again in exactly the same way. I rang Lenovo again, and spoke to Florin, who told me that an enginner’s visit had been arranged for Monday 5 January. I told him I was at work that day, and didn’t understand how a further engineer’s visit had been arranged without discussion with me. I asked for the computer to be taken away, and said that I wanted a replacement. Florin told me no replacement was not possible – that wasn’t policy. I asked him if he thought my situation was acceptable. He said it didn’t happen often! I arranged with him for a courir to come. I asked for it to come today (otherwise it will mean yet another day off work). I said I did not wish to have it returned broken again, and pointed out that having replaced two motherboards in a futile (and the second time mindless) attempt to resolve the problem it would surely be better to provide a replacement.

      So the situation is as follows. My computer has been reported broken since 20 August. It is still broken. My efforts to get it fixed have forced me to take a total of seven days off work. I would like it replaced. I don’t want to have to spend more time and money getting something fixed which I had reasonable expectations would work properly as I bought it new.

      I consider the level of service I have received to be appalling and offensive. I was told repeatedly until today that there was no way I could complain using email or correspondence.

    23. In reading the blog from the dissatisfied customer that prompted this blog, I find it interesting that one of the issues he faced in getting technical support was Lenovo’s failure to forward his waranty information to the IBM support staff. That was in 2006. I have just encountered the same problem in 2010.

      About three weeks after receiving my ThinkPad T410 I attempted to install the USB video port replicator shipped with it. Following the instructions shipped with the prot replicator, I plugged it into the computer. A message came up that a couple of drivers were missing, so, again following the very brief instrutions accompanying the port replicator, I attempted to install the drivers from the enclosed disc, which was dated 2-23-2010. It blue-screened the computer. To be fair, I should point out that the disc had printed on it that it was for XP and Vista, so maybe I should have known better than to put it into a computer with Widnows 7. However, it was the disc sent with the system, and I did use it in accordance with the instructions provided.

      I called IBM technical support and was told they could not help me because my warranty was not registered. Keep in miind that this was three weeks after delivery. As this was on a Sunday afternoon, they were not able to connect me with Lenovo to confirm the warrantly. After I somewhat emphatically suggested that I would return the $2,700 system, which I bought directly from Lenovo, if they wouldn’t help me restore the system, the tech finally walked me through it. Thankfully, I had made a complete backup of the system a couple of hours before the incident and was able to restore the system with no loss of data. The tech also suggested I call back the next day and they could put me through to the warranty department, which I did.

      Other than this apparent lack of communication between Lenovo sales and IBM tech support, my experience with Lenovo technical support has been excellent. Once I got past the issue of the warranty status, the tech was very competent and helpful, as was a second tech who directed me to the latest drivers for port replicator on the IBM Web site. Unfortunately those drivers, dated 2-25-2010, also do not support the video output or ethernet functions of the port replicator on my system, so as of today I am returning it for a refund. This also went smoothly with Lenovo sales issuing a return label without hesitation after I explained my attempts at resolving the problem with tech support.

      Also today, when I received a message that my Windows 7 OS was not authentic, I got right through to technical support, and they were able to direct me to Microsoft to fix the problem. By the way, this issue also appears to be related to a communication problem between Lenovo and Microsoft, who, I was told by the tech, have two different and incompatible systems for issuing licensing keys.

      I also got right through when I had some issues relating to software incompatibilities, and the tech was very helpful.

      Overall, I would rate the technical support as excellent. I have had no trouble getting through on weekends or during business hours, and the techs are very well trained compared with most I have dealt with from other companies.

      Where the support is falling down is in the internal systems. I can think of no reason why it would take more than three weeks to activate a warranty. Also, the three-yeaer extension I bought still is not showing up on the waranty status page in the ThinkVantage tools, despite that fact that I have raised this issue twice with Lenovo sales. I hope this will not cause problems down the road.

      The other system problem that bothers me is: why in the world would Lenovo send out a disc with software for one of their own peripherals that would bring down one of their own machines? I know that Lenovo/IBM are aware of this because I found several references to it on Lenovo chat pages after I had the problem. It is only because I had the luck to have made a complete system backup earlier that day that this did not turn into a real problem for me.

      One more comment on the distinction drawn above between customers and activists: I suspect everyone starts out as a customer; it’s when you run into roadblocks like Lenovo not communicating with IBM or Microsoft, and just plain idiotic moves like a vendor sending you software with your system that basically destroys it that start transforming you into an activist. It’s almost necessary at that point. These problems go well beyond anything that a customer can address through your tech support function. They are deep process flaws that only can be corrected by senior management intervention.

      Overall, I like the system very well and its performance is everything I hoped for. It boots from zero in 40 seconds (!) The tech support for the most part has been great. But these kinds of systemic issues are a real problem for your customers that need to be addressed.

      Thanks for listening.