Sunday, March 25, 2012

Save Lenovo

I've been using Thinkpads since the late 1990s, and only recently, and reluctantly, switched to a different laptop maker for my main home laptop. They were solid, had beautiful designs, were well spec'd and had the perfect pointing devices.

But when I started Harritronics a couple of years ago, I found out the hard way that Lenovo isn't running as it should be. Attempting to cancel an order that Lenovo was planning to send late (and hadn't yet bothered to put in the system), it in the end took me guessing the email address of the COO of Lenovo to actually get anything solved. And a few months ago, I bought a Lenovo K1, their 10" Honeycomb tablet, and have, to be quite honest, not been impressed.

But what's bothering me isn't the tablet, which has a number of iPadisms that I could do without, but the horror stories I'm reading on Lenovo's own forums, about K1 users trying to get answers - any answers - about the previously promised upgrade to Ice Cream Sandwich for that tablet, and their experiences.

Take this complaint. The customer reports calling Lenovo customer support and being transferred from department to department, until finally being told (variously) that it was the store's problem, that it was Google's problem, and, finally, that no upgrade will ever happen if the device hasn't already got the operating system.

Unfortunately, I know what the problem is from my own experiences. Lenovo's customer support is a separate organization (probably a third party), and that organization is completely dysfunctional. It is either unable, or unwilling, to actually communicate with Lenovo-proper to resolve customer problems outside of a small set of pre-scripted scenarios.

A cynic would probably argue that this is intentional, that Lenovo wants to save money by avoiding having to support its own products. This is, however, highly unlikely. All businesses that want to keep and grow their businesses are painfully aware that bad stories travel, and particularly in the computer industry, where upsetting the wrong customer might result in the loss of entire corporate contracts some time down the line, it would be astonishingly short sighted for this to be deliberate Lenovo policy. Ask many in business and they'll tell you that a good experience will win three new customers, but a bad one will lose nine.

I dearly hope Lenovo gets into gear on this. They own the part of IBM that produced (and still does, to a certain extent) the best PCs ever made. But poor customer support means that nobody in their right mind can recommend them at this point.

The example of Lenovo's customer's problems getting answers on the K1 tablet with ICS should be a wake up call because it's an obvious question, that is obviously going to be asked, and yet their customer service department is incapable of answering it. Any of the following may be true:

  • Lenovo is still experimenting with ICS on the K1, and wants to ensure it works effectively before deciding whether or not to release a supported version. (or the short version "We currently are unable to state for definite a version of ICS will be available for the K1, but will notify you as soon as we can.")
  • Lenovo has made the decision not to release ICS.
  • Lenovo intends to release ICS on 1st April.
And any of the above can be communicated to customers. That their customer support is unable to communicate the correct answer from the above demonstrates, clearly, the lack of any sane communications going on between Lenovo and its customer support organization.

I doubt anyone from Lenovo is reading this blog, let alone anyone in a position to do something about it, but I hope, somehow, that something gets done.


  1. Hi.
    I was looking for information about the K1 and ICS and found your post. I know it looks Lenovo is not very customer friendly especially with updates...but come on Samsung is not great either.
    By the do you find the K1. I am about to buy it. Let me explain, I don't like the IPAD I bought 2 and didn't like them. I own an MacBook Pro but don't like the Ipad or Iphone either. I had a Motorola Xoom that I really liked, but I am not impressed with the Xoom2. The K1 has an original design..

    1. Thanks. Lenovo are saying an ICS update will be next week, but I'm not going to be fully confident about that until it happens.

      I'm not sure why you'd want a K1 - it requires proprietary cables to charge and connect to a PC, to name but two issues with it, and it's been discontinued by Lenovo too, but Amazon certainly has them in stock at the moment. (Lenovo K1 Ideapad 130422U 10.1-Inch Tablet (Black))

  2. But I suppose the cables are included with the K1?
    I like the design because I think it is different. I am not a fan of Android but I know that when the Xoom had all the updates to 3.2 it worked very well. And even if own a Mac Book Pro...I am not convinced with the Ipad and IOS.
    Thanks anyway for your reply!

    1. It comes with a charger and a cable to plug it into a PC's USB port. If you lose the charger, or just need more than one, you're kind of stuck!

      Good luck whatever you decide to do!