Since my last post over the weekend, the whole “#LenovoGate” situation has exploded. On Monday, a #MediaMonday campaign was started on Twitter to raise media awareness of the issue and it succeeded – I was contacted by Sean O’Shea at Global News who interviewed me for a story about the scandal and even used quotes from this blog in a piece they posted online (Link). Today things got even crazier – I was contacted by the CBC and a few other news outlets to speak out about the problem but due to work related travel commitments I wasn’t able to speak with them nor was I really able to stay on top of all the developments of the day and boy was today busy.
Apparently today was the day Lenovo decided to finally end their vow of silence and respond to the Canadian media, with Milanka Muecke (LinkedIn Profile) talking to Global News (link to theGlobal news coverage) where they “generously” offered to give the affected customers a $100 coupon to use towards a future, but not until after May 28th, after the current “DOORBUSTER” sale has already ended. During the interview, Ms. Muecke is also quoted as saying “some customers were opportunistic, in some cases purchasing hundreds and hundreds of them”.
I’m going to start with the “generous offer” of a $100 coupon and then address Ms. Muecke’s comments. Let’s assume the average, customer agreed to take Lenovo up on this offer and buy a Y410P laptop after May 28th. Looking at the Lenovo website today, we see the Y410 listed as “web price: $1,389.00″ and then the current “DOORBUSTER” eCoupon bringing the price down to $799.00. The current “DOORBUSTER” isn’t even a door buster in any sense of the word – the Y410 has routinely been for sale on the Lenovo site for $849 this year, meaning the door buster is really on a $50 savings. So what, if any, savings is a $100 coupon going to get the average consumer when the current promotion is done? My guess? None. Lenovo will list the Y410P as something like “web price $899″ so any customer attempting to use the “amazing” Lenovo coupon offer will only get the laptop for $799 or maybe a bit less. This is a far cry from the original $279 and by no means is it any form of compensation for the the affected customers.
As for Ms. Muecke comments about some customers being “opportunistic” she’s right – some people likely were. But this is a distraction from the real issue. In any large group situation there are always going to be outliers – people who’s actions deviate from the norm and Lenovo is attempting to “spin” this debacle in a focus on those few bad actors rather than the thousands of Canadians who just wanted a good deal on a laptop. As consumers need to make sure we make it clear that while a few people might have done that it wasn’t the norm. I know personally I only ordered one laptop for personal use and I wasn’t being “opportunistic” I just saw a great deal from (what I thought was) a reputable online company and ordered from in good faith.
We also have to remember that this isn’t Lenovo’s first price fixing mistake in Canada – in the past they have canceled orders for a tablet over a $50 price differential error and even turned back shipments over a similar mistake for a ThinkPad X-series laptop back in 2012. It’s clear through all of this that Lenovo is a company that can’t manage their website, can’t manage their media relations, and apparently can’t even price their own products correctly – who knows if they can even handle giving us $100 coupons!
The point is that as a consumer I want to be able to shop online with confidence knowing that the price a retailer posts is the price I’m going to pay and that when I get an order confirmation email that I’m going to get the product I ordered at the price I expected. Period. In my opinion, Lenovo needs to stand behind laptop offer as posted ($279) and deal with the “opportunistic” customers by limiting it to one laptop per customer. It’s that simple.
Anything short of that and we as consumers will have lost.