Even though I work in the application services business of a rival PC manufacturer, I’ve always had a soft spot for ThinkPads and Lenovo is (was) one of the quality PC brands I would recommend to friends and colleagues. Until last week…
Our kids increasingly need to use a computer (a real one with a proper screen, so not a netbook – and not my iPad) for school work. They can’t use my work PC (against policy) and for similar reasons we don’t really like them using my wife’s (again, it’s her business asset). Add to that the fact that some of the IT policies at work make it increasingly difficult for me to use my corporate laptop for anything (work-related or otherwise!) we decided that our Christmas present to ourselves will be a family computer.
Because a mouse will soon be to my kids what a command-line interface is to most of my peers (not including any IT admins or developers reading this blog), I wanted a touch-screen computer and I didn’t want to spend much over £500, which ruled out any ultrabook. Touchscreen requirement and modest budget means no Macs either. Then I found Lenovo’s “affordable 15.6″ dual-mode notebook” – the Flex 15 – at a penny under £550 with the note that it “ships within 2-3 business days”. And the form factor means that, whilst a touchscreen desktop failed to pass spousal approval, a laptop that doubles up as a picture frame will quite happily sit in our kitchen/dining/family room without being considered unnecessary gadgetry.
I would have liked to customise the specification but that option wasn’t available so I placed an order for the stock version and it was duly processed by Lenovo’s UK reseller, Digital River (or analogue stream as I will now think of them…).
A couple of hours later I got a confirmation, which said:
“Dear Mark Wilson,
Thank you for ordering from the Lenovo Online Store powered by Digital River.
Please note, systems that are built to order can take 1 to 2 weeks to build and ship, plus 3 – 6 days for delivery.
Systems that are not built to order and were purchased with predefined specifications will ship within 2-3 business days.
Accessory options will typically ship within 2-3 business days and therefore may result in multiple deliveries when purchased with a system.
The following is a summary of your order. If you paid by credit card, please look for DRI*Lenovo on your credit card billing statement.”
[The bold text was added for emphasis by me]
A day or so later, I saw that a mouse I’d ordered for my son (he won’t need it but Mrs W insisted) had been shipped but no word on the PC. The shipping notes suggested the full value had been charged to my credit card (as it happens, only the cost of the mouse has been) but I called the number on the order confirmation email, navigated the IVR system and waited on hold before I was greeted, in German, by someone who doesn’t work on the Lenovo account. She suggested I should call back in 30 minutes as her colleague who does work with Lenovo was busy! I asked if they could call me instead and she took my details. Surprise, surprise – no call. Since then I’ve called twice more and each time have been told that they can’t provide an estimated shipping date but will escalate for me. Whatever that means, clearly it wasn’t done because the next time I called, I was told that “no ticket had been opened”.
In parallel, I’ve been communicating with the Lenovo UK social media team (@Lenovo_UK) who were helpful at first but then when I asked for progress told me to be patient, following up a few hours later to say they had tried to call (they did – twice, within two minutes, from a blocked number so I can’t call them back) and advising me that another team will send an email (they haven’t). Sorry guys – that’s not “trying”, that’s a pathetic attempt to contact me once before fobbing me off…
The thing is, I don’t mind if I’m told it’s on a ship from China (or wherever) and will take 2 weeks but the website still says “ships in 2-3 business days” and so does the order confirmation, yet the reseller doesn’t know when it will ship. Which means I don’t know if it will ship.
Perhaps I’d be better off writing a letter to Father Christmas…
[Update, 25 November 2013 16:00 – I received a shipping confirmation from Digital River this afternoon. Still not had the promised contact from Lenovo, or any explanation as to what caused the delay though]