Friday, April 17, 2009

The Downfall of IBM - Lenovo is Killing Me

On May 1st of 2005 Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo announced the acquisition of IBM's consumer PC branch has been officially completed.

Since then, there have been a lot of complaints about some of the things that have transpired, both on the manufacturing side, and the decision making side of this epic "partnership".

First let me give you a little background. I work for a company that services hundreds of IBM desktops and laptops. We still purchase nothing but IBM (now Lenovo) equipment for our users. Fortunately for Lenovo, it's not my decision to make. I have been working with this equipment for many years now, and have been familiar with IBM laptops since the Thinkpad A20 was released.

Here are a few of my biggest complaints with the "new" IBM that has slowly emerged since the acquisition:

1. Frequency of Hardware Issues and Bonehead mistakes. Without question the number of hardware related issues I encounter on a weekly basis have certainly increased by a substantial margin. There will always be hardware issues but this is just too much. This week I ordered 5 new desktops. 2 of them booted up normally, 3 didnt. Luckily it was a bios & partitioning problem and I was just imaging these drives anyway so I got through it.

2. Driver Updates! Lenovo has announced they are "changing the way" users obtain updates. What they mean to say is they have completely discontinued their software update service that would scan you pc and identify out of date drivers and provide the updates over the web. This was an excellent feature, and most of Lenovo's competitors have something similar in their arsenal of tools.

3. Warranty replacements. Lenovo has adjusted some of the warranty details making certain things less covered (batteries are only warrantied for 1 year even if you purchase a 3 year warranty on your laptop), or more difficult to replace. Before when there was an issue I could call support, tell them what was wrong. If they agreed with my troubleshooting steps and I could reproduce the issue they would accept the repair ticket and send a box and shipping label to return the equipment for repair. Now they make you just through lots of unnecessarry hoops in order to deter you from returning the broken peice of just they shipped you. I don't have time for this.

4. Replacement part price. To replace that battery that isn't covered for 3 years anymore, the cheapest you can find the replacement is about $120 + shipping. For a standard battery, seriously.

5. Preinstalled software SUCKS. This is more of a general complaint, not necessarrily Lenovo's fault since it has always sucked. The Access Connections (which is on by default) can cause conflicts with Win XP built in wireless managhement tools, even if you disable it! In order to resolve the issue, you must ininstall access connections. Also I have seen issues where Access connections drops the signal sporadicly. Also the nagging message center is useless. Way too much junk running needlessly in the background. Best bet is to wipe the machine and start with a fresh OS, and download the drivers (which of course you need to find and install manually now thanks to the geniuses at Lenovo).

6. US company offloading US jobs. It is my opinion that every time a big US company like IBM turns its back on the people who made it such a success, this country slips just a little bit more in the direction it's been going for some time now. Way to contribute IBM! Go China! (sarcasm)

Keep in mind I could easily provide many examples for each one of these issues listed, but this is what comes to mind immediately. Am I the only one wondering what the hell was going on?

FYI I don't care about the typos in this post, I'm taking a lesson from Lenovo on this one. Less is more.

UPDATE: Since originally writing this Lenovo seems to have wised up and has begun to support the System Update tool once again. Thank the lord. But on the flip side of the coin, they have also started delivering 3rd party ads through their message center that are full image based ads that pop up on top of whatever it is that you are working on. Now THAT'S a business strategy folks! Brilliant!