I haven't been able to blog as much from my new abode as I expected to. My laptop has crossed over. Some of you may know it's been on it's last leg for some time. I was holding out because it has so much important info not only on the hard drive (I've backed up a lot of it) but those bookmarks I have saved are gold! Ah! So ...I'm writing an open letter to Lenovo to rectify this situation caused by this defective product I have and I hope to post some positive feedback and a resolution. I really want to be able to get these new zines, books, and articles completed! I've got a lot of Queering Herbalism 2 and Herbal Freedom School 3 completed and I've finally got most of the Putting Down the Master's Tools zine ready. Hopefully it will be ready in time for the National Women's Studies Association conference here in Puerto Rico next month.
I'll keep you posted! And hopefully not from my phone...
Here is the letter (minus identifiable details, product details and actual case numbers):
I'm Toi Scott, an author and a journalist with thousands of national and international readers. My books can be found in college libraries, resource centers, and as required reading in university classrooms across the nation, Europe, and the Caribbean. My articles can be found in print and online. My laptop is key to my career and livelihood and for almost three years I have struggled off and on with the Lenovo Thinkpad X100e.
The beginning of my woes started with a purchase on lenovo.com. I bought it in graduate school because I had rented a similar model from our college resource center and liked the experience. I had using it while doing social justice and community work and writing papers. (It was superior to the Acer that had let me down)[...]
The first month of having the fire-engine red laptop it began overheating after just 2-3 hours and subsequently shut down, so I sent it back. The technicians changed the fan and it functioned for a few weeks until it began to overheat and shutdown again. Mind you, I was in the middle of finals and I desperately needed this laptop to work. Over the course of the next year, at the most inopportune times, when I had deadlines the computer would act up, overheat and shut down repeatedly. I called technical support numerous times and told them how hazardous the laptop was. I had been burned a number of times. I told them it was defective, but still, all the technicians would do was replace the fan or battery, which did not address the underlying problem. And then the warranty ran out.
I have sent the laptop back to Lenovo at least six times and have had even more cases opened. Each time I have told the representative that the laptop is defective and the core problem has not been handled. I've called technical support and customer care for these case numbers so that they can be included in this communication but I have been told that the archives before 2014 have been deleted since there is a new system in place and that my former case numbers cannot be retrieved, which is unfortunate. I have documented the two cases from this September and another few that I was able to find before this year, below.
I'd like to point your attention to something disturbing that must be addressed for your customers. I was told both that there was and wasn't a "customer advocacy unit" by customer care. During my last conversation with Lenovo 'customer care', a supervisor exposed the fact that he'd never heard of this unit before which was a little unsettling since just a week earlier my information had supposedly been taken and sent to the department and I was to hear from them in 5-7 days. It's non-existence could certainly explain why I did not. This is really deceptive and not a very good business practice to not have a department that is dedicated to addressing customer service issues.
This would be almost comical if not that the current situation is dire and extremely frustrating. I am in the middle of writing a series of magazine articles and 3 new books and the keyboard, mouse and all usb ports that support external devices have stopped working. Since I do not have a warranty any longer, I do not qualify for technical support assistance. I called Lenovo two separate times only to be told that my laptop did not 'qualify' for an extended warranty and was told by billable accounts that I needed to charge $650.00 to a credit card as a deposit in order to get the technical assistance I need to possibly have my computer repaired and functional again.
I should not have to foot the bill for the repairs of a defective product that malfunctioned from the first month I received it. The deposit and repairs cost as much as the laptop.This must be rectified. The years of anguish, lost papers and articles and hours of no sleep that I have dealt with can be rectified in two ways:
Firstly, by having the technical unit retrieve my information from the hard drive, since the unit is defective and cannot be salvaged without additional frustration. Even if it runs again, it will still overheat and shut down and eventually melt important parts needed for it to function. If the technical unit does not have the capacity to do this, the expense for the repair and retrieval could be covered.
Secondly, this could be rectified by replacing the laptop.
I was contemplating replacing the laptop with the orange Yoga 11s Ideapad but am extremely apprehensive about having to deal with any further technical issues or frustrating customer service interactions. It has excellent reviews and is a comparable price to what I paid for the X100e. An extended warranty would make me a lot less apprehensive.
I would appreciate any assistance that you and your team may be able to provide on resolving this situation. I will post this letter and any follow-ups that occur on my websites for my readers, as they are heavily invested in my progress toward finishing my next books and news articles. I look forward to posting a positive response and resolution online for them.
And just so you know, I have written the majority of this email on a tiny smartphone since my laptop is not functioning.
Please help me resolve this situation as soon as possible.
Thank you for your time.
My ordering info:
Order date 2/2011
A few of my case numbers:
[I list six different case numbers]
So within 24 hours I got an email from a customer advocate in "executive customer relations"
I emailed back with all my contact info and he gave me a call. He told me that I'll have to pay my own shipping to their office in NC since I'm in Puerto Rico. I don't understand why a billion dollar company can't pay my shipping or figure out postage to the states (PR is part of the same postal system). I guess Lenovo just wants me to be grateful that they are even looking into the situation. The advocate seemed exasperated and ready to go home for the day or maybe he just wasn't into dealing with my situation."I write in response to your message to William Delong , VP or Lenovo service.I apologize for your frustration and the problem with the laptop.I will assist with a repair for the computer.May I have your phone number and address?I will call to discuss this and provide a box and label to send the unit to Lenovo’s HQ repair lab in NC.Regards..."
Here is his email to me after the phone call:
Please check if you can ship this to my address. If possible , please have a tracking number for it so I can keep track of the incoming package.
Now I've got to find the nearest post office here in San Juan and see how much its going to cost me to send this defective laptop back to the states. Now don't get me wrong, I appreciate that they've gotten back to me quickly and that they are claiming that they will to try to fix it. Though I explicitly stated that it will just keep overheating and melting like it has since I got it. I guess Lenovo says better something than nothing....ey? I wonder how this would be addressed if I was the CEO of a corporation or a business owner. Hm.
Hopefully this will be resolved soon so I can get back to writing...
I just want to get back to writing.
UPDATE #2- 10/10/14:
I headed out to the post office just in time for a thunderstorm. Just as they were weighing my package and ringing me up, after I'd bubble wrapped all the goods (well, I wouldn't actually call the laptop "good". Good and defective) there was a clap of thunder and some serious lightening and everything turned off in the building and, of course, the machines went offline. I can't make this up. So, I had to walk back to the house with a garbage bag over myself and the laptop in a torrential downpour dodging trucks and buses driving through deep, murky puddles. You know, I wouldn't have to have gone through all this if they'd sent me a box with pre-paid postage. So...tomorrow I head back to the post office again.
I sent this message after returning from the post office this afternoon:
Mr. xxxx,It will be $21.90 to send the laptop flat rate with tracking and insurance covering $600. I will be sending the laptop tomorrow and it should arrive next week. There was a power outage today due to a thunderstorm right as I was sending it! The estimated date of arrival is Thursday. Will I be reimbursed? If so, the easiest way I can be reimbursed is through PayPal to the email account xxxx. If a check is sent it will need to go to:
xxxxx.Please let me know if any other information is needed.
Let's hope I can get reimbursed for shipping and that things go smoothly tomorrow at the post office and with the rest of this saga. I'll keep you posted...
I received an email from the customer advocate stating that I would not be reimbursed for the $22 I spent to ship the defective and malfunctioning laptop to them.
Here is the email:
Thanks for the note. Is there any tracking number?
We will repair the machine , if possible and sent it back without cost. We will not reimburse you for the shipping cost.
So I am out of pocket postage. Maybe it is Lenovo's way of proving some point...I don't know. They already spentquitei bit on shipping over the past years because they refused to replace the unit. Wasted time, energy and money. I don't have any of that to waste. This is my livelihood so I finally took a stand.
Today the customer advocate received my laptop and during another couple emails about the system not booting and needing the log-in he said:
"I will take it to the repair lab and get back to you in 2-3 days."
Here's hoping for good news from the lab. I'm weary of typing hundreds of emails to universities and libraries on this tiny phone. It auto-corrected genderqueer in one message to gender quest, which I dutifully forwarded nearly twenty times before noticing the sentence. I'm actually on the trustee Samsung now. Good thing it was affordable when my other ancient phone decided to cross over.
I'll be back with more updates as soon as I hear back. I must say that I am impressed with the the timely follow-up, though disappointed with the hassle and questionable tactics of having a customer whose product is defective foot the bill for postage. Puerto Rico does not cost any more to send a package. It is part of the U.S. Postal system. I send merchandise for a living. I've been getting to know shipping from the island well. I can't think of any reason for them to have me pay postage other than to have me pay something and share the burden since they've graciously agreed to repair the machine...after hours and hours of customer service calls and years of dealing with a faulty product. Sigh. I hope it runs like a dream when it is sent back. And for more than the usual few weeks before it melts down again...
Excuse the typos. Like I said, I'm doing this from a phone and it's frustrating editing on this tiny thing.
I got an email from the customer advocate on 10/17 saying that the the repair lab is backlogged but that he foresees them resolving the issue by next week. But wait! Just a few days ago I received an email from Vice President of Global Corporate Communications at Lenovo:
I have been following your story online a bit… and of course apologize both for the trouble you have had with the product, and for the hassle you have faced in rectifying the problems. This is not what we would want the experience to be. Sometimes things go wrong. You have been fair – not always favorable, but always I think fair – in your portrayal of your situation. I appreciate that. We don’t ask for everything anyone anywhere says about us to be pleasant, praising or positive … but we do appreciate fair when there are issues with us or with our products.
That said, I truly am struck by how you dealt with this, and how you presented it. I’d like to thank you for that. It seems you are OK in terms of ALMOST getting back your PC. I hope that is the case. (If it is not, let me know). Unfortunately in my job I can’t see or follow every customer activity, repair, etc. So, given that, I would like to send you something else – a Yoga tablet. No strings attached, though if you like it feel free to say so. I simply appreciate the fact that despite the problems you had, you seemed willing to understand that even big companies usually are made up of mainly decent people trying to do a good job. You never made it personal, and you made your points well. So, thank you.
If you are interested, let me know, and we will handle the details.
Excellent! We started a few message dialogue over the last few days in which I acknowledged that he has many other tasks as VP and said I sincerely appreciated his attention to the issue. He seemed sincere in his replies and got how this has affected my work. I accepted his offer with gratitude and also used the opportunity to take a moment to mention the LGBT* tech community and organizations who are committed to educating and economically empowering our (especially the Trans*) communities. It would be be inspiring and amazing if they became a sponsor for some of the conferences or programming that are happening like Trans*h4ck, TransTechSE, Lesbians Who Tech, The National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals' Out to Innovate conference, LGBT Technology Partnership and Institute and others.
Here was my email:
I'm not sure that the links I sent will be forwarded to the proper department for potential sponsorship or partnership but here's hoping. I'll definitely keep an eye out for that and mention it if there are relationships formed.
Thank you for the follow-up note. I received an email that I may get my laptop back sometime next week. The repair lab is backlogged. I would prefer to patiently await the tablet pro so that I can write a product review and do a write-up of my positive experience with the resolution of my computer issues for the growing amount of tech savvy organizations and groups in the LGBT community (like trans* h4ck, LGBT Technology Partnership and Institute,TransTechSE, and many more) who are committed to educating about technology and providing economic empowerment.My address is:xxxxMy phone number is xxxx in case someone needs to contact me.I truly appreciate your attention to the resolution of my computer issues, your understanding, and generosity.With much gratitude,Toi ScottMore info for the Lenovo marketing team about the growing LGBT tech community and perhaps possibilities to sponsor: (here I added a list of links, the links I have above this email)
I got to thinking, I'm not sure if Lenovo offers domestic partnership benefits to its employees. They do seem to have employment policy that addresses discrimination against trans* folks as per their 2013 Sustainability Report.
"Lenovo is committed to providing a work environment free from harassment, including harassment based on race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, national origin, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sex, age, disability, veteran status or any other characteristic protected by law."
I was able to find some information online from 2004 that indicated that they were looking into domestic partnership benefits and this interesting article written in 2011 about companies requiring couples to enter into a civil union in order to keep their benefits once same-sex marriage became legal in states like NY, where there are employees. But- I also found mention of company-wide diversity initiatives promoting women's leadership (Women in Lenovo Leadership or WILL) and a global LGBT employee network. Lenovo has also coordinated, sponsored and been an annual participant in some LGBT business summits addressing diversity and inclusion and LGBT leadership.
IBM (whose PCs ---personal computers--- they acquired a few years ago) received a rating of 100%---a perfect score-- for the 10th consecutive year on the Human Rights Campaign's 2012 Corporate Equality Index. Apparently they have at least one transgender-inclusive health care coverage plan, domestic partner benefits, "competency" training, accountability and resources, along with meeting a list of other criteria. (Check out Appendix A of the report for the list)
So ...maybe, just maybe these policies and culture transferred over as well if they were not already in place.
Our communities are hella innovative due to centuries of oppression and having to be creative to survive and deal with constant marginalization. Lenovo speaks about "differentiation through innovation" so we've got some stuff in common, right? Seems like a natural partnership to me. I like that the HRC Corporate Equality Index actually looks at fortune 1000 and Fortune 500 companies' actual (positive) engagement with external LGBT communities. This includes more than advertising and marketing. It includes corporate philanthropic activities ranging from financial support to in-kind donations of products or services, recruiting efforts, and public commitment to supporting policy changes (i.e. marriage equality). HRC also looks at LGBT workplace inclusion abroad for all those multinational companies on their list.
Well folks, hopefully the next update will be photos of the tablet and my fixed laptop. This has really been an interesting exercise in standing in my power, getting to truly know the companies I purchase from, and seeing my interactions and their potential impact on communities.