January 25, 2010

Hero or Zero: The Sad Tale of Lenovo and UPS

It's difficult to please but easy to disappoint. This tale gives examples of both. Both Lenovo and UPS are well-regarded companies. Your experiences may vary.

In late December, I ordered the excellent Lenovo ThinkPad X200 tablet online. The online order form didn't allow selection of the 8 cell extended life battery or the multitouch screen. I couldn't easily call from India. Zero!

I phoned on Monday Jan 4 when back in Canada. I learned that Lenovo removes items in limited supply from their website. That makes some sense but why not show the estimated delays instead? To my delight, the sales rep configured the computer just as I wanted. Hero!

On the downside, delivery would take at least four weeks (February 4 at the earliest). That was fine since we've got other computers.

Imagine my surprise to see a UPS delivery sticker on my door on Thursday, Jan 22 --- exactly two weeks before the earliest expected delivery. Hero!

The next delivery attempt would take place the next day. Since no one would be home, I phoned UPS to hold the computer for pickup at their depot. The automated attendant asked me to use their website. I did.

The only rescheduling option was Return To Sender!?! Since Lenovo already has plenty of computers, why would they want mine back?

I phoned UPS and eventually spoke to a person by pressing 0. She explained that even though I was paying, Lenovo dictated the delivery options. UPS would
  1. attempt delivery on Friday when no one would be home
  2. attempt delivery on Monday when no one would be home
  3. allow me to pickup the order from their depot for five business days starting on Tuesday
Crazy. Wasted time. Wasted fuel. Disappointed customer. Lose lose lose. Zero!

The Request
I phoned Lenovo Canada at the number on my invoice (which arrived that day). I got transferred to shipping ... in the US. They couldn't help me. They couldn't even access my file. However, they asked to use my first name. Why? They couldn't do anything except apologize. The rep gave me the correct Canadian phone number and told me to select option 6. Before transferring me, he asked if there was anything else he could do for me. Hero!

After a few minutes on hold, my call was disconnected. Zero!

I phoned the correct number and pressed option 6 for shipping. The rep immediately agreed to instruct UPS to let me pickup my order from their depot the next day. But he couldn't. Only the sales team had authority. He'd contact them to have the change made that evening. Hero!

It was now about 7pm. I'd spent an hour on websites and the phone. Zero!

Friday (elapsed day 2)
I checked the UPS website on Friday morning. Nothing had been done. UPS would make a delivery attempt later that day. When no one would be home. Zero!

Monday (elapsed day 5)
I adjusted my schedule to be home after dropping my son at school. I stuck a note on the front door telling UPS that I'd be home by 9am and giving my phone number. My wife left home at 8:30am. I returned home at 8:50am.

UPS arrived at 8:40am. Can you hear my groan?

I called UPS to have them hold my parcel at their depot. The location was a 37 km round trip estimated to take 45 minutes with normal traffic. I'd have to wait until Tuesday and was advised to phone first. Zero!

The Real Hero
At 2:10pm, the door bell rang. There stood the UPS deliveryman with my package!!! I refrained from hugging him but did thank him. He took the initiative to make a second trip. That's excellent service. Hero!

This experience shows that even good companies adhere to inane rules that hurt the customers they're trying to serve. Why not allow the bill-paying customer to modify the delivery time or location? Why not have evening and weekend delivery? Why not give a narrower delivery window?

I got my computer on Monday, instead of Thursday. This is about two weeks earlier than the target delivery date at purchase. Hero! But the delays in delivery process made this experience disappointing. Zero!

The exception is the UPS deliveryman who took the extra step of returning to make the delivery. This initiative gives our tale a happy ending. Hero!

See how quickly customer expectations change? You can easily disappoint your clients without knowing. Even if they seem happy today, they may not stay that way. What's the saying? A halo can quickly become a noose. Do you know where you're going wrong?

PS The X200 Tablet with a multitouch screen looks like a compact, well-engineered delight. Hero!


  1. I have the same problem with Lenovo and the delivery problems with UPS. UPS and Lenovo refuse to let me pick it up at the UPS depot and give crazy excuses for not budging.

    Not sure what will happen for the next two days other than UPS wasting its time making delivery attempts. Silly stupid stuff.

  2. That's too bad. I was hoping they would have modernized their procedures by now.

  3. Had same problem with UPS and Lenovo disallowing depot pickup. When I tried to change the "delivery option" on UPS's homepage, it didn't have the option for customer pickup. I phoned UPS and they said that the option is not available when the shipper "Lenovo" explicitly disallows it. They can't do anything about it, Lenovo has to allow that option.

    When talking to Lenovo, they can't do anything until 3 delivery attempts have been made and it will take 2 days to take effect.

    Not a pleasant experience to buy from Lenovo.