My Lenovo On-site Warranty Extension

Three years ago I blogged about the Thinkpad T460 that I newly bought. And I was very pleased with it. Until the mainboard broke a few weeks ago. Just when the 3 years warranty would have been over, but luckily I bought the 5 year warranty extension with on-site support.

The CPU or something froze the laptop after only a few minutes of working with it. The display was still on but neither the keyboard nor the touch pad responded. Sometimes the CPU-fan was active a few minutes after this but not at maximum level. The only possibility was to shutdown the laptop.

This was no Linux compatibility issue. I have not updated anything and so it happened out of nowhere. I disabled Wifi and Bluetooth and also looked into the kernel logs to confirm that there was no kernel panic and I even freshly installed Ubuntu 18.4. just to get the same problems. Furthermore I also updated to the latest BIOS version without success.

Day 1, 20.05.2019 (counting working days only)

After these results I called the hotline on Monday and they replied I should run the extensive diagnostics that come with the BIOS. Ok, so I did this and it froze occasionally also while the CPU stress test. This took me at least 2 hours as I wanted to be precise and helpful with my answer and provided details like that I could even make it reproducible via unplugging the power cable** or that sometimes it ran through the CPU stress test only to freeze later when running the very long running “memory test”. Also often the laptop did not even start for minutes after these freezes.

Day 2

Nothing happened and I had no time to call them again as sometimes you have to work 😉 and improve the fallback laptop.

Day 3

At 11am I still had no response although in the warranty they say “usually the next working day” (üblicherweise am nächsten Werktag) a technician will come to fix it. So I called again. “Funnily” the support Email from Day 1 contained a broken support telephone number for Germany. So the real number has just one zero after “22”, i.e. the correct support number is:

+49 201 22099 888

They confirmed that this seems to be a hardware problem and they promised to send me a new mainboard via express courier and also a technician the next day (to be safe I confirmed mobile number and address). Ok, IMO not that fast like they say, but for me acceptable as I have an old laptop with which I can continue working at least the important things.

Day 4

At 10am the UPS package with the parts arrived. Why don’t they send it to the technician?***

In the afternoon I called them once again to understand why the technician did not come. And roughly 1h later the technician called me and repaired my laptop 🙂 and it seems to work. Hope the “refurbished” sticker on the mainboard box is not a bad sign.

Day 5

Unfortunately the function key does not work anymore (or maybe never had with the new mainboard). I’m pretty sure this is a hardware issue. First of all is the Fn key something that the firmware controls and also when I switch Ctrl and Fn key then the Ctrl key works properly for e.g. a brighter display. Tried an older BIOS and the most recent BIOS but the Fn key still does not work.

I called the hotline they will send me a new keyboard. I’m unsure why this should fix my issue as the keyboard worked properly before the mainboard switch but who knows.

Day 6

The keyboard arrived.

Day 7

The technician replaced the keyboard. The function key is still not working under his Windows and also my Ubuntu. He argued that it still can be a driver issue. I argued that it worked properly with the “freezing”, old mainboard (on Ubuntu).

Day 8-10

No feedback from Lenovo regarding what to do now with this Fn key problem and I did now not call them and just waited for them to act.

Day 11

Something will arrive in the next two days they wrote via Email

Day 12

A new mainboard arrived! The technician came one hour later and installed it. The great thing is: everything is working now – finally 🙂

Conclusion

The experience was not like advertised “expected the next business day” and could be improved. The most important part to improve is to avoid forcing the customer to call the hotline over and over again to make it (days) faster: where are the parts? where is the technician?

I had to workaround a fully dysfunctional laptop only for the first 4 days. (A non-working Fn key is not that bad.)

So, out of 10 stars I would give 7. It isn’t that good and not enough information passes on to the customers, but it seems that at least they care about that issues are fully fixed and 4 days was kind of acceptable for me. And if there is an issue they likely pay more money than you pay for the warranty.

All in all I invested roughly one day into calling them, preparing the fallback hardware, writing this blog post and to find out what was actually wrong. I invested probably too much time into making sure that it is not my fault.

**one strange thing left is that the freeze is still reproducible when plugging or unplugging the power cable while the extensive test run in the BIOS (CPU stress test). So maybe this is unrelated to my issue.

***after a chat with the technician he said that last year the parts were shipped to them, which made indeed more sense to him as well. But after one more thought I think shipping it to the customer could make (a bit) sense if they expect the technician on the road and then he could go directly to the customer without going back to pick the parts.