Regular Hit Coffee readers know that I am an evangelist for ThinkPads. The quality of the computers I’ve gotten has been so great that I don’t even bother to buy their stellar throw-it-off-a-cliff warranties. The customer service is of course unsurpassed to the extent that they are the one company that I believe will actually solve my problem whenever I call them.
I do have one bone to pick with them, however. They have such a great product… but they make it hard to get one sometimes with their Not-In-Time inventory system. I don’t think that I am alone in this regard. In fact, I know that I’m not alone. My friend Kyle’s employer bought a whole fleet of ThinkPads and ThinkCentres only to have one delay after another and after three months they negated the contract and went with HP. My father-in-law had a similar issue where he ordered it and two months later it hadn’t arrived and so he cancelled the order.
I’ve personally had two experiences with this. First, when I got the most recent laptop in our possession we were about to move from Deseret to Estacado. Unfortunately the other laptop had died and I needed something quickly. So naturally ThinkPad cited 6-8 weeks as the likely delivery time when by that point I’d be in Estacado and having it wouldn’t be nearly so important.
They made up for it, though. At first they tried to sell me something that was a little more than I needed for a lot more than I wanted to spend, but since I was desperate I agreed. Then they called me back ten minutes later with a way that I could get what I wanted and actually spend less than I had initially intended to (it only required that I put the RAM in myself and get a different battery than I wanted to). So they actually made up for the whole affair by giving me something resembling what I wanted, if not exactly, in the time that I wanted it.
And now it’s happened again. I ordered my laptop from them and had been counting down the days until it was set to ship. Then, the count reached zero, I went to the website to see what the arrival date might be… and discovered that the shipping date had been pushed back two weeks. Once again, though, the customer service helped mitigate the inconvenience by shedding as much light on the problem as they could. They were able to tell me precisely what part was causing the delays. Once again it turned out to be the power supply. They told me that I could change my order to get it out to be sooner, but he said that if I could just sit tight for a couple days it was likely that they’d be able to find one before the new estimated shipping date.
And so they did. Further, to repay me for the inconvenience of the delay, they express-shipped it. Since the port-of-entry into the US is Zaulem, it literally arrived at my doorstep the day after they sent it (from Hong Kong) and before it would have with UPS Ground had they shipped it on the original date.
But while I appreciate the lengths that they go to in order to please me, I have to ask why this problem keeps arising. If the power supplies are such a problem, why not have a few more of them around? Obviously they’re not keeping up with demand when both times I’ve had delays that was a cited reason for it. It all worked out well with me, but Kyle’s employer and my father-in-law are customers that they either lost or almost lost because most people aren’t as patient as I am.
The complaints aside, holy cow is it an awesome laptop! Because a friend helped me get a particularly good deal I upgraded the video and I honestly did not know that the video on a laptop could look so good. I was worried about having to get widescreen and how that might hurt visibility but when the resolution is 1680-by-1050 and crystal clear. The writing is tiny and yet completely readable, which means that I can read full-page digital comic books on that laptop that I can’t on my wife’s laptop which is actually taller.
The whole downgrade-to-XP was a little bit tougher than anticipated, though and ended up taking several hours and ultimately cost me my copy of Vista. I goofed up and zapped the Vista operating system without having a backup. ThinkPads don’t have restore CDs. What they do have is just as good… except in special cases like this. Then I had to figure out which of the three CDs did what to get XP on there. I eventually got there. It would have been sooooo much easier if I’d simply installed a pirated copy of XP on there, though.
That’s really one of the biggest problems with Microsoft’s copy protection… they make going illegit not only cheaper, but easier.