Suing Lenovo, chapter 1

Those of you who know me know I’ve been a fan of ThinkPads since the beginning. I was an IBM systems engineer in the early days of ThinkPads and developed an undying loyalty to their tank-like construction and, above all, the keyboards. Like many devotees, I put up with their higher prices and uninspiring specifications.

It’s only recently that I bought my first Mac laptop, which despite some limitations — most notably the keyboard — has turned out to be a great Windows machine. One reason I bought the Mac was I got a nice discount, courtesy of my broker.

The other reason was that Lenovo broke my heart. Or, less dramatically, they have lost their way when it comes to service.

The short version of the story is that one day I noticed that the wired Ethernet cable wouldn’t “click” securely into the female RJ-45 adapter on my workhorse ThinkPad T410 laptop. Loose connections can cause really flaky problems with networking. Having a socket on the laptop that wouldn’t securely mate with a network cable renders the wired connection on the laptop essentially useless.

This T410 is about 18 months old and when I bought it, I purchased the three-year “depot” warranty. I had always recommended the extended warranty to customers as a great value when I was an IBMer. And I was always proud — and amazed — at the service. Both customers and I were impressed with the depot service that used to be provided.

All you needed to do was call an 800 number (or, for ex-IBMers who remember the good old days, enter a problem report in ESC+). After describing the problem, the next morning a packing box arrived and if you rushed it to UPS that afternoon, you’d get your machine back most times about 48 hours later. It was fast, efficient and repairs were always well-done.

Well, enter Chinese ownership in 2005 and cost pressures. Suddenly, machines took longer to be returned. There was nobody to speak to when a machine came back with the original problem. (In 2009, I had to send a T60p out for repair three times for a failed Bluetooth indicator light. Apparently, there’s “no problem” with a failed indicator light when it’s not connected to a Bluetooth device. Get it?) One got the feeling that repair service, which had once been a strength of the ThinkPad line (it was consistently #2 to Apple in Consumer Reports’ ratings), was now being “milked” for its revenue potential (why do you think every $9 cellphone gel case at Best Buy can be had at checkout with a $30 “service agreement?”).

So, still among the Lenovo faithful, I sent off my T410 for a repair to the Ethernet connection in mid-February. Days later, it hadn’t been returned. The online problem report said I’d been called about something. Nobody called. Finally, days after it should have been repaired, I called and was summarily transferred to the billing department. “That’ll be $750, please. It’s not a warranty repair; you damaged it.” Lenovo wouldn’t discuss it — wouldn’t tell me how they’d concluded I’d damaged it — and wouldn’t provide anyone outside the billing department to speak to.

Anyone who has ever plugged a PC into a network cable knows these connectors are little plastic things that can easily fail in normal use. I didn’t damage the laptop; one day the socket just didn’t connect securely. It’s as reasonable to assume the plastic failed as to assert that I damaged it. But Lenovo — without any discussion or proof that I had done anything to the machine — decided that I was responsible because they needed to get off the hook to repair the machine. Why? Because it turns out the entire motherboard has to be replaced to repair the little plastic clips on the Ethernet adapter.

$750 to repair a loose Ethernet adapter on a machine that cost $1100 new? Who can I talk to about this? Apparently nobody. Lenovo didn’t return any of my phone calls, didn’t respond to emails — and didn’t respond to my initial legal moves.

But wait…the story isn’t over. In fact, it’s just beginning.

See, here in Massachusetts we have a strong consumer protection law, Chapter 93. Under Chapter 93, I sent Lenovo a “demand letter” (a copy of the 93A demand letter is attached to this post; if you want to write one yourself, here’s a good source of help.) They had 30 days to respond, which to nobody’s surprise, they didn’t. Now, I am taking the next step.

Next week, I am going to sue Lenovo in small claims court. (A scan of the filing form is here. You cannot file this form online in Massachusetts because it’s an antique: it’s a paper form with carbon copies. Talk about old-school.)

If anyone from Lenovo reads this post and wants to settle, now would be a good time. Because if you don’t, I will file this document next week in Massachusetts district court and we’ll see what a judge has to say about you arbitrarily deciding that I damaged my laptop, resulting in a convenient way for you to avoid delivering the warranty service I paid for — and used to recommend to others.

And even if the judge throws me out on my ear, you’ll have missed a chance to quash me making public the details of our disagreement and every twist of my nascent legal adventure suing the bejesus out of you in small claims court. If you want to go the route of Honda with the Civic Hybrid, so be it. OTOH, if you want to do the right thing, drop me an email.

Oh, and about that Consumer Reports computer service survey…this year I don’t think I can give you the effusive marks you used to get from me.


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14 responses to “Suing Lenovo, chapter 1”

  1. Keith Ritchie Avatar
    Keith Ritchie

    I purchased a Legion Tower 5 with a Ryzen 7 5700G, 32 MB of Ram, and RTX3060 and whenever I gamed, the computer would crash. All over the support forums on this were people with the same issues. I was frustrated and followed “Lenovo’s fix” which was to disable the onboard audio in the bios effectively making all the external sound connections useless to prevent a crash while gaming. Then they tell me to disable Nvidia HD Audio when updating GPU drivers…..for over a year I dealt with this issue because they sold me a defective product…. basically, a gaming computer that nobody could even play a game on without the machine crashing.
    I eventually had enough and sold the machine to a kid who was using it for school and college, I warned him about the driver/crashing issue while gaming and he was ok with that as he said he does not game on a computer and really needed a new one. I basically sold the machine for pennies on the dollar because of this problem.
    If anyone does not believe me about this, google Legion Tower 5i crashing while gaming and you will find pages and pages of posts about this issue.
    Very disappointing Lenovo….very sad you would sell us machines at 1500 dollars plus knowing that they fail to do what they were sold to do….play video games.
    I would love to start a class action lawsuit, however, I have no clue even how to do this. I don’t have the machine anymore yet still cost me over 1500 after selling it and getting a few bucks back for that trash.
    Suggestions????

  2. Jada S Avatar
    Jada S

    Having the same experience. Have a new Lenovo. Customer service reps are barely trained and can’t fix the problem. They sent a tech out to replace parts. Tech damaged my computer. Now neither the touch screen nor the camera work. Technician said: “I’m sorry. I don’t have the skills to fix computers.” Yes he really said that. Customer service is useless. It seems I willl be following you to court too. Worst company I’ve EVER dealt with.

  3. Gordana Klimoska Avatar
    Gordana Klimoska

    Hey everyone,

    I have recently had a problem with Lenovo U330 Touch and the plastic broke down after a year and few months. Of course, the missing parts are not available in Lenovo anymore and they hold the laptop until the guarantee passed. 

    I am really sick of them using cheap plastic without repair and discarding the guarantee so I would like to do something about it. Could you maybe post some link (I am Europe based) so I can do something about it? 

     

    Thanks 

    Gordana 

    1. Alex Neihaus Avatar
      Alex Neihaus

      Hello, Gordana. Sorry — I wouldn’t know how to pursue a claim against Lenovo in Europe.

  4. Gordana Klimoska Avatar
    Gordana Klimoska

    Hey everyone,

    I have recently had problem with Lenovo U330 Touch and the plastic broke down after a year and few months. Of course, the missing parts are not available in Lenovo anymore and they hold the laptop until the guarantee passed. 

    I am really sick of them using cheap plastic without repair and discarding the guarantee so I would like to do something about it. Could you maybe post some link (I am Europe based) so I can do something about it? 

     

    Thanks 

    Gordana 

  5. sean Avatar
    sean

    All I want is a recovery USB for my Flex 3.  I started the recovery program and it failed.  Not my fault.  They don’t have a partition, nor do they provide any other recovery option.  I’ve scoured Lenovo’s site, message boards, everything.  They obviously aren’t interested in providing service even to those who are capable of finding and downloading a fix themselves.

    I work at the court house.  I’m going to sue them as well if I can’t get a fix.  And, I think I’ll do it under the Idaho Consumer Protection act, use an attorney, and get some extra damages to I can buy a Mac afterwards.

  6. Danish Aziz Avatar
    Danish Aziz

    I am a recent buyer of Lenovo’s top-of-the-line Thinkpad X1 Yoga for which I paid US$ 2800 to buy from the US. I live in India and had barely used it for a couple of months, and then the display just died on me. The fabulous much touted OLED screen just went blank. I tried it on with an external monitor and it worked. So I took it to the local service centre in India. They took it on with some hesitation, grumbling about international warranty issues etc. Then the main ordeal began. They argued that it was a motherboard issue and sent a request for parts. Took them 2 months to get the part from wherever on earth they ordered it from. At first, they had no clue and every week, they gave me a new ETA. Finally, when the part arrived, the service guy sheepishly told me that it was not a motherboard issue, something I had been trying to tell them from Day 1, but they were too arrogant to accept. Mostly these fellows just think that replacing the motherboard is the easiest (and laziest) thing to do. Anyhow, now they still have my broken laptop, with no solution in sight, and tell me they are placing an order for more parts. I asked them what parts and they don’t know!!! I asked them if I could get a refund, so he tells me we can do that only once we give up on fixing it. I mean, seriously guys, they are doing some kind of R&D on my $2800 machine. Not to mention my work suffering, I am also having to put up with their incompetence and stupidity. One word of advice: Just don’t buy Lenovo at all. And by the way, I have a 6 month old Zuk Z2 Plus Android phone too, and it has also started developing hardware issues in its display. So as you can see, you are better off buying some cheap shit if you are gonna go Chinese.

    1. Alex Neihaus Avatar
      Alex Neihaus

      I also recently bought an X1 Yoga. I’m holding my breath.

  7. Element Zone Avatar
    Element Zone

    Amazing article.

    I am going through quite some trouble with them as well. Their customer service is the worst customer service I have ever experienced in the 17 years I am purchasing items online.

    It seems that there is a lot of people on reddit who are extremely disappointed by the lack of customer service and the number of calls you have to make in order to have your problem solved (if you manage to and they respond to you)

    The did not respond to me on the case I opened with their customer service one of the several times I have waited for them on the phone. I had to go on reddit and tell my story for someone to respond immediately and tell me what the problem was and did not offer any furtherer assistance to fix it. It was on their part of course but they don’t seem to care.

    It looks like this company is going down fast and if they continue to treat their loyal customers like you and me like that they will have none left. They will be losing a lot of business from me, my business, my clients and family.

    Here is a link to what happened on reddit

    https://www.reddit.com/r/Lenovo/comments/5h8c0n/the_worst_customer_service_in_the_17_years_i_am/

    and by searching a bit in r/Thinkpad r/Lenovo with the keyword customer service you will see what I am talking about.

  8. Alex Neihaus Avatar
    Alex Neihaus

    I hear you.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that Apple has it right: you pay a premium for their hardware products but service is excellent.

    Since about 2010, I’ve migrated from PCs to Macs. My very first Mac developed a hinky “k” key in the first couple of weeks. I took it back to the Apple Store who asked if I had a recent backup. I was thinking, “Damn — brand new and they’re gonna ship it off to a depot to be scratched while repaired.” I did have a backup, of course, and instead of repairing it, Apple replaced it on the spot.

    It’s not been perfect since I moved to Apple hardware — and it sure is expensive — but they have the profit margins to support good service. Lenovo (and, based on your experience, Toshiba) do not.

  9. Jeff M Avatar
    Jeff M

    If you think 6 weeks is bad (which it is), it took nearly 3 months to get my Toshiba tablet “repaired”. It was actually replaced with one they claimed was equivalent specs. Well… not quite – it was lacking an HDMI port which was the primary reason I chose the Toshiba model over many others that were cheaper. Like ThinkPads, Toshiba used to make really great laptops. I had to waste an enormous amount of time trying to speak with a real person and get the real status of my tablet. I have 1 million other high priority things to do, that was not one of them and I will therefore NEVER purchase another Toshiba product again. I can’t afford to – time is money.

  10. Mark Avatar

    Alex,

    Sounds frustrating. We’d like to try to help. Emailing you at the link above. You have my email from the message alternately…

    Thanks!

    1. Element Zone Avatar
      Element Zone

      You will find my article on reddit about the terrible customer service of Lenovo and how incapable they are to solve a problem in a timely manner. Unfortunately you bring people to the point of thinking to sue you.

      Here is my article and we will see how soon you will find a solution.
      https://www.reddit.com/r/Lenovo/comments/5h8c0n/the_worst_customer_service_in_the_17_years_i_am/

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