Freakonomics’s Steve Dubner got some really good service from IBM/Lenovo*:

On Wednesday morning, IBM sent me a sturdy shipping box with a return DHL label. On Wednesday early evening, I packed up my baby and sent her to a company called Solectron in Memphis. I left town on Thursday (to Madison, Wisc. — my first visit; great town), and got home by late Friday morning. There she was waiting for me, my smart little machine, all fixed up by someone halfway across the country, at a cost to me of $0.00, the entire transaction taking about 36 hours.

I like to regularly point out that the same people that complain about the poor customer service from IBM & Lonovo’s rivals typically scoff at the cost premium on a ThinkPad. It costs more, but they take care of their customers in ways that most people don’t believe companies do anymore. My favorite story is that they used to have a person call me every few months to make sure that everything was going okay with my purchase. One time I commented that I’d been having some problems with the mouse but other than that I was doing okay. He asked if I wanted to be connected to customer support, but I declined because I didn’t want to wait. That evening he had a tech support person call me with the solution to my problem.

I bought a laptop shortly before moving down to Estacado. I was a little irritated that they had a 6-8 week backlog on the model I wanted. The salesguy proposed an alternative that had me paying a little extra for a little less along the lines of what I wanted, but I needed it ASAP so I agreed. Even after I agreed to spend the money, when we got off the phone he looked for a better deal and came back and gave me something closer to what I wanted for $200 less than I had originally planned to pay ($300 less than what I’d already agreed to).

They’re not perfect, though. I’ve heard more than a couple complaints about their inability to fulfil orders in the same manner that I had trouble getting the particular model that I wanted. My father-in-law tossled around their website for three hours trying to get something within a month. My bud Quen’s employer wanted to restock their computer fleet but Lenovo couldn’t get their act together in time. They really need to fix it so that nobody has to wait two months for their computer. But if you can wait and you don’t mind spending more money for an superior product (they can treat you well when your computer breaks down because your computer rarely breaks down) and superior service, I wholeheartedly recommend them.

* – The ThinkPad line used to be produced by IBM, but IBM sold their ThinkPad and ThinkCentre lines to a Chinese company called Lenovo. Part of the arrangement is that my computer, which was built by Lenovo, still bears IBM’s name until Lenovo can get their own name out there. Another part of the arrangement is that IBM is taking care of a lot of their customer service and, interestingly, sales, which is why it’s often hard to distinguish between one company and the other.


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2 Responses to In Praise of IBM/Lenovo

  1. Webmaster says:

    Interesting.

    My first “real” PC when I went to college was an IBM Aptiva, and the customer service (and quality) were both completely bad.

    I went through three monitors and three CD-Rom drives on the darn thing, and they cut corners on the components.

    The first monitor I had went out after a week and a half, and it took them over a week to ship out a replacement. A year and a half later, another monitor went out, and they shipped the wrong replacement (the sound card had a proprietary connector, the new monitor didn’t match).

    I had a CD-Rom drive die, and it took over a month to get a replacement… then three extra drives showed up in the mail the next week when they weren’t needed. Good thing, too, as the “replacement” drive burned out four months later and I needed the spares.

    The sound and video boards on it were both so poor that I had to replace them, which meant dropping what were supposed to be good quality Bose speakers from the monitor (though the sound card filtered the bass out so far that they sounded tinny). The speakers weren’t actually removable, either, they were part of the casing for the monitor.

    The IBM Aptiva was the worst experience from my computer-buying career, and it was most of the reason that I’ve just built a new computer myself when I needed upgrades rather than buy another store model.

  2. trumwill says:

    As I understand it, IBM went through an overhaul a few years back and they became a “high-end” dealer rather than just another computer company (a bit before that Gateway went from being building quality machines to building cheap ones, so maybe they saw an opening). Maybe that was before the change (or in the midst of it, before the change was complete).

    Your experiences remind me of the luck I had with my first laptop, a Sony Vaio that came highly recommended but started breaking down immediately and handled my customer support by trying to avoid being responsible for what were clearly hardware problems and making me jump through all sorts of hoops to prove that the poor monitor connection wasn’t something else until I eventually gave up.

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