Square Power Connector broken: a sordid tale of Lenovo's Broken Support System
If you think this story is too long, please jump to the end for the executive summary. I bought a Thinkpad Yoga 15 a little over a year ago. I live in Belgium, but close to the Netherlands and Germany border. I bought my laptop in Germany as it was the only place in a 200 km radius that had the laptop on display. After slightly more than a year, the middle part of the power connector on the machine broke. Not because of a fall or something else, just daily use. The machine itself basically moves from the downstairs desk to the upstairs desk, so the only thing that happens that the power cord is removed and reinserted at its new station. This is covered under European Warranty Law, but as I had a 3YR NBD Warranty Extension, I expected this to be fixed without problems. I created a ticket through the (rather archaic) ticketinterface, and expected to be contacted the next day. However, it took 7 days for an IBM Global Services employee, to whom Lenovo apparently outsourced their technical support, to contact me. I was asked to provide some photographs of the problem and to e-mail them to the support person – he neglected to provide an e-mail address. The ticket system does not support attachments. As a workaround, I uploaded the pictures to my Google Drive and put the link in the ticket tool. This was not seen by the support person, who had told me that a technician would stop by the next day. I made sure there was someone home, but no technician showed up. This was, it turned out, because the support person never made the appointment due to the fact that he, allegedly, had not received any pictures of the problem. He did not communicate the cancellation of the appointment, but only told me when I asked him. He had not seen the link to the pictures, so I provided these to him by e-mail. He then came back with the conclusion: the keyboard was fixable under warranty, but the power connector was classified as ‘user-damage’. This meant that, instead of the on-site service I signed up for, the laptop would be collected by courier, I would have to pay EUR 98 for an ‘examination fee’, as well as any other parts that would need to be replaced. However, there was a possible solution: if I were to upgrade my warranty to include ‘accidental damage’ as if by magic, the technician that were to repair the keyboard would also be able to repair my power connector problem. I then went on a search to find where I could upgrade my warranty – note that I thought that I already had a warranty that included accidental damage. Also note that the terms and conditions do not exclude situations like mine where a piece of an external connector breaks of. This is not necessarily accidental or user damage, but can also be due to a manufacturing fault where the connector is not manufactured with the end user in mind. When I compare the Lenovo square power connector to my HP or even old IBM Thinkpad A-series round power connector, I see a world of difference in manufacturing quality and overall sturdiness. Getting back to my issue: upgrading my warranty turned out to be a nightmare. I went back to my original Lenovo supplier: they were unable to change anything about the warranty and I should contact Lenovo directly. I went back to the support person and asked him to put me in touch with a warranty person. He refused claiming ‘he did not have a means of communication with that department’. He did provide me with a phone number. Unfortunately, that number only (supposedly) works in Germany, but I live in Belgium – the shop where I bought the laptop is about 40 minutes drive away from my house, in Aachen. I live in Genk. It was the only shop where I could see the laptop before buying; I tried several (more than twelve!) shops in both Belgium and the Netherlands none of which had this laptop on display. I tried two or three other ‘authorized reseller’. They either could not help me either, or they referred me to the Lenovo website, which tells me the laptop is ‘in warranty’ but does not offer any option to extend or upgrade that warranty. It then proceeds to tell me I should contact Lenovo by phone, but the website does not provide a phonenumber. So, I looked further for contact information. I called the support number for Belgium, that led me to an automated system telling me to contact IBM Global Services at +32 23393611. Calling that number led to yet another automated system telling me that that number is no longer in use and providing me with another number: +32 78790088. Calling that number led to yet another automated system, and if you choose Lenovo support, they tell you that they are no longer the party supporting them, and that I should check the Lenovo website. I relayed the story of the warranty on Facebook, where a customer service representative said she would come back to me with the contact details. It took her five days to find it. In the meantime, I have also done some of the research necessary. It turns out that the part needed to fix my power connector is 00JT296, and that it would cost me EUR 19,95 (excluding shipping, VAT inclusive) to ship it to me. Two days back I received a notification that my original service request was closed; no reason was given. I could contact them by telephone for more information. No phonenumber was provided, however. I wrote an e-mail stating that we did not agree to closing the ticket; after all, at least one of the problems that was definitely under warranty was not resolved, so there was no reason to close the ticket. As an aside, I assume that there is some kind of SLA period to deal with tickets and that the deadline was rapidly approaching, which would have reflected badly on the service person’s record and/or bonus. Surprisingly enough, no reply was provided. I searched the website again for contact information. This time I found a phone number that worked. I got a colleague of the previous support person. I gave the case number and he read through the case file. I had the distinct impression that his Dutch was not that good, and apparently the case file was translated in some form of English. I had to correct the support person on several details, as it was not transcribed correctly into English. When I told him that I had expected NBD service, and did not get it, that I expected my power connector to be replaced free of charge, as I had handled the machine carefully during the year I had it, and that I found the whole attitude of the service support, customer support, and everyone else involved extremely frustrating and not very customer service oriented, I was disconnected. I then was called back, apparently by the same person, but due to some problem on his end I could here him speaking in what sounded like an Eastern European accent and language to his colleagues, to be concluded by a frustrated ‘**bleep** it’ and again a disconnect, but apparently he did not hear me. He also suggested that I could order the part myself, take it to a repair shop and ‘if they were careful, this would not void the warranty’. I have not heard anything from Lenovo or IBM Global Service since. Summary Lenovo did not respond to a service request within the required response time The two defects should be fixed within its extended warranty, as both are caused by normal wear and tear. Nothing ontoward happened that warrants the conclusion of ‘user-damage’ The ticket system in use by either Lenovo or IBM Global Services should support the addition of supporting documentation such as pictures. The repairs should be carried out at my house, as per terms and conditions of the Next Business Day service. Repair turnaround times should be clearly communicated, rather than ‘your laptop will be collected’. A power connector on a laptop intended for the professional market should be sturdy and tested against daily use conditions, where people move around and connect it different power adapters throughout the day. Service support representatives should have a professional attitude and not be apologetic about their employer nor blame their employer for the fact that they are unable to solve the problem. In other words, I expect a solution-oriented service. Should a solution not be covered by warranty, then it should be made crystal clear what the expected total cost would be, which should be reasonable as support should be non-profit. I appreciate the fact that Lenovo would like to manage its support costs by excluding trivialities from their support infrastructure, as well as obvious user mistakes. However, in the case of a laptop costing EUR 2000, it is to be expected that Lenovo will adjust its level of support accordingly and not point fingers to the user unless it is quite obvious that the user is at fault. Action Items I expect Lenovo to contact me to fix both my keyboard problem as well as my power connector problem on site, ASAP. I expect this to be free of charge. I expect an apology from both Lenovo as well as IBM Global Services for its poor Service Support. Finally, I would like to avoid discussion about whether my issue is in warranty or not to upgrade to the level of service I had wanted in the first place: NBD service, including Accidental Damage Protection. It should be simple to upgrade my warranty but there is absolutely no way: I have tried your website, several authorized resellers and through telephone. This, of course, is absurd. If anyone reading this far knows where and how to escalate it further up the management chain, I would appreciate it. For obvious reasons I do not include the serial number in this post, but will disclose it to an authorized support person.