On February 16th this year, I bought online a Lenovo Flex10 computer for my partner – it was preloaded with Microsoft Office and seemed ideal for working in the local coffee shop (she’s trying to write a novel and apparently writers mostly write in coffee shops these days). For the first two months everything went fine and then, suddenly, Word stopped working.
We got onto Microsoft who said that the problem was that we had a trial version of Office that had expired. As we had paid for a full version of Office to be preinstalled we then got onto Knowhow (PCworld‘s customer support service, which in this case didn’t appear to know very much) and their first response was that it was indeed a trial version of Office until we directed them to their own website where it was clearly stated that a full version of Office was included (this was also stated on the packaging). Quite some time and some further investigation over the phone with their tech people then revealed that somehow the Office files had been affected by an automatic upgrade to the OS. We were then advised that a ‘refresh’ should put the matter straight, but this did not work. Moreover, a later technician conceded that ‘refresh’ was the wrong thing to do and had made the problem worse. We were advised at that point that only Lenovo could fix the problem but, after a long phone call, we established that they couldn’t for reasons that they were unable to explain coherently (at that point in the conversation we were cut off which has been a persistent problem in this business).
By this time we had spent many hours on the phone talking to Microsoft, Lenovo and, mostly, Knowhow. After the same fixes were attempted over and over again, Knowhow finally decided that a solution would be to install a completely new version of Office which they would provide. We duly went down to the PCworld shop in Liverpool where a nice man provided the software key card. However, when we returned home, Office would not install, and we kept getting a message saying we did not have a valid code.
Several phone calls to Knowhow later and the problem still had not been fixed. In the end, my partner and I decided that we wanted to return the non-functioning computer and get a refund but this led to acrimonious arguments with the PCworld customer service team who seemed to have a mandate to refuse a refund under any and all circumstances. Finally, they said that, if we took the computer to the local store and they could not install the software they would take it back. We went to the local store, they tried to install the software and the operating system promptly crashed.
Back home, we got the OS running again somehow. Since then I have been on to the Knowhow techies several times and, at this stage, they remotely took control of the computer but still couldn’t fix the problem, admitting perplexity. When I talked to the customer service team the gentleman on the phone finally (this has been going on since May; it is now the end of August) apologised for our troubles and agreed that a refund would be in order but then added that he had to get it authourised at a higher level.
After a 24 hour wait, I got a phone call from a senior manager in the customer service department called Adam Holmes, who said that he had decided not to offer a refund (he made it clear that the decision was his) and that he wanted me to go to the store so that they could take in the computer for technical investigation. I then pointed out that I had spent many, many hours on the phone (often cut-off mid call) and several store trips over a number of months trying to get this sorted out so that I wasn’t prepared to do anything which cost more of my time.
When pushed, he finally agreed to arrange for the computer to be picked up from my home but then warned that it would be Lenovo doing the collecting and that, if they failed to find a fault, there was a risk they would charge me for the inspection. I argued that, in that case, somebody from their store should collect it, and he said he would look into this. He has just rung me to say that none of the local PCworld stores “have that facility”.
It is hard to over-state how awful this experience has been. PCworld sold me a computer that just doesn’t work. For some reason that nobody has been able to discern it’s a dud. Even if it could be fixed by now we would have no faith that it would remain fixed and we want a refund. A short while ago, we had a similar problem with a computer bought for my son from Argos and they replaced it within 24 hours.
Clearly, PCworld does not really care about its customers or its reputation.