The worst policy in online retail

Imagine a website through which you buy something, pay for it, and then — after a week, and without any indication that something’s amiss — your order is spontaneously canceled.

Welcome to store.lenovo.com.

On Wednesday, I shared some complaints about Lenovo’s lying cheating tricksy website. That night, I ordered a new laptop from them anyway — and was reminded of one company policy that is possibly the worst idea in online retail.

It all started when I received an email confirming my order and allowing me to check my order status. The email said the computer was set to be shipped 1/4/2013 and arrive 1/11/2013.  That’s one week in transit — call it 5 business days if you’d like — even though I’d selected 2-3 day expedited shipping because I need the new computer in time for the finals I have yet to study for. So I gave Lenovo a call to see why my shipping had been spontaneously downgraded.

That’s how I learned Lenovo had placed my order on hold. You see, my credit card billing address is in Seattle, but I was having my order shipped straight to New Haven. Because the shipping and billing addresses didn’t match, Lenovo had put my order on hold. So far, so good. Due diligence and all that.

Here’s the problem: nothing in my communication from the company indicated that there was any problem. The confirmation email was just that — a confirmation email; not a confirmation-pending credit card verification email. And even when I entered my order number into the online system to check on the order status, nothing popped up indicating something was wrong. For all I could tell, the laptop was due to arrive next week without any complications. Had I not called to ask about something else entirely, I never would have discovered there was any problem.

I wasn’t so lucky three years ago, the first time I tried to order from Lenovo. Then too, I ordered a computer and received a prompt order confirmation with no indication of anything amiss. On the day I expected the computer to arrive, I received a second follow-up out of the blue:

Your order from Lenovo, number 2E05EC, has been cancelled because we were unable to complete the transaction with the credit card information you supplied.

The product(s) will not be shipped and you will not be charged for this order. You may place a new order at http://www.lenovo.com/products/ or by calling a Lenovo sales representative at 8664284465, Option 4.

NOTE: Do not reply to this message; it comes from a notification-only address that cannot accept replies.We apologize for any inconvenience.  Lenovo appreciates your continued business. Lenovo Sale

So if your computer is on hold from a week and Lenovo doesn’t hear from you, the first you’ll hear of it is a cancellation notice.

Throughout the week in which my status was in limbo — from when I ordered it until Lenovo canceled it — all Lenovo had to do to clear things up was send me one simple email letting me know to get in touch. At the time, I figured it was some glitch in the system. Now that it’s happened twice, I know that’s how the system is set up.

The first time this happened, I was without a computer. I had been without a computer for a week. And the email indicated that actually receiving a computer would require ordering a whole new one and waiting another week. Also, it was December, so finals were coming up. Oh hey, now it’s January, and finals are coming up again. I think my response to that cancellation three years ago still sums up my feelings toward the company quite nicely: “FUUUUUCK LENOVO”.

I really don’t want to get a Mac, but at a certain point I may no longer have a choice.

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3 thoughts on “The worst policy in online retail”

  1. Order a Dell. Their hardware isn’t as good as Lenovo’s, but it’s good enough, and as much as I shudder to admit it, their service, or at least their order handling, is better.
    Another option would be to order an ASUS laptop from Newegg or somewhere similar. I hear good things about the reliability of ASUS laptops, especially the ones that are built to be rugged. Their customer service isn’t so good, but you won’t be buying from them, you’ll be buying from someone like Newegg, which is much better. The downside of ASUS is that you don’t really get to customize — you have to pick one of the models that Newegg or whoever sells and go with it.

    Like

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