Saturday, 24 February 2018

Lenovo Ideapad 520s Laptop Review - A Perfect Travel Companion

Just to put you in the picture; I do a lot of travelling, I always carry my laptop with me and the two computers/laptops I used the most at home and travelling both managed to crash irretrievably at roughly the same time.  As a tech addict this appeared to be a disaster.

My PC was eleven years old and I took the view that although I liked the large monitor there was no point in replacing it when I wan't there to use it.  I already had a Surface Pro 3 which I could use as my laptop although in the real sense, it isn't.  Surface Pros are fast and convertible but I didn't like the keyboard you could use as a cover and so that means a separate keyboard if I want to use it as a laptop.

So I decided to replace my PC with a laptop, and in due course I'll buy a large monitor to plug it into using the HDMI or Thunderbolt port when I'm staying in one place for any length of time.

It was off to John Lewis to look at what they recommended and I have to say that they were so much more helpful than PC World it was a whole different experience.  They were, for the laptop I purchased, also quite a bit less expensive. 

My requirements were simple - I wanted a proper laptop, it had to be lightweight, have at least Core i5 and 8GB Ram plus SSD and a 14'' screen.  It didn't take me long to settle on the Lenovo Ideapad 520s.

This is an excellent workhorse laptop you can take anywhere with you.  It looks nice, It is very lightweight, and I'm happy with the keyboard although it isn't quite as tactile as my old HP.  As I don't like a trackpad mouse I've attached a small wireless optical mouse to it with a mini USB.  There are two USB ports, one on each side, the aforementioned HDMI port, Thunderbolt port and headphone/speaker port so there's plenty for most people to work with.

I particularly like the thumbprint login which is extremely fast, and the sound which is better than expected, you don't really need to plug in external speakers unless you really want to make a huge amount of noise.

I use my Lenovo Idea pad for basic Office applications, web browsing, streaming TV shows, photoshop and more, so nothing out of the ordinary.  I've had it for about four weeks and so far I can't fault it other than the battery life which is not as good as I'd hoped.

I'd also say that if you want to travel with yours to the US you need to get a proper UK to US adapter with grounded pin as the charging block is also the wall plug, this makes plugging into something off the ground with a normal US adapter not as stable as it should be.

If you're in the market for a well designed laptop this could well be the one, not as expensive as so many others, but including features you'll find on splashier laptops.

Did I mention it folds out flat?  I haven't worked out a use for that yet I have to admit.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Art of Complaining in 2018 - are you an Alpha Customer or a Roll Over?

Anyone who has complained about anything - and that's pretty much all of us - will know the frustration of being put on hold, having been made to wait for ages, and then being fobbed off without a resolution.

I'm currently out in Dallas and someone back in the UK didn't receive something I sent them just before I left - as this is on the way to being resolved I'm not naming any names here, but you'll all recognise the experience I'm sure.

I used a well known delivery service aggregator - who connects those who want something delivered with various delivery companies - to select my delivery method, which was a one day service with UPS.

I left for the US, and two days later I was told that my parcel didn't arrive,  although UPS stated on the tracking that it had been delivered.  I called UPS and the delivery service aggregator, many times.  This became extremely stressful as I was promised call-backs and response emails which never happened,  I was kept on hold for ages etc etc - you all know about this.  What made it all so much worse was that I was told a different story just about every time.

Yesterday afternoon I decided I'd had enough.  I sent a 'slightly stroppy' but fully factual email to the delivery aggregator asking for a manager to deal with the problem. 

I looked them up on Twitter, followed them and tweeted a couple of messages about lack of service.  I also went on LinkedIn and sent contact requests to everyone I could see who worked at this company at the top - no replies yet but I did get a result.

This morning I woke up to a message on Twitter and a resolution offer by email.  But having had to spend a whole week trying to get this sorted has been tough and demonstrated seriously bad customer service.  Now I have manager service, the manager's name and phone number and a promise of resolution.

So next time you want to complain do the following:

Know in advance that despite the adage 'the customer is always right' - most retailers and service providers of most products and services will try , unless you're buying, to get rid of you as fast as possible, and may well try to fob you off.  This is true of just about everyone I have dealt with with the exception of Amazon and John Lewis.

Document every phone call and every email where you have tried to get resolution.  Make sure you have all the facts, then demand - politely of course - to speak to a manager/supervisor.  These will want to get you off the phone as well, but they'll have the authority to do something and will recognise you as an 'alpha customer' - someone whose not just going to go away, rather than a roll over.  Roll overs rarely get to speak to managers because they don't  persist.

Go on Social Media, find the company you have a problem with, follow them and then send them a polite and public Tweet/message saying you have a problem and you're not getting resolution - obviously if you're not on social media this is going to be hard so get with it because it can be very useful.  Offline you're no one.  Online you're someone and far more likely to be heard.  No company wants their reputation tarnished online.

The most important part of all of this is to be an alpha customer, to insist on speaking to someone senior as fast as possible so you don't waste your time, to use social media to your advantage and be insistent of service.  In this day and age there's no reason not to be heard.

This may sound like a rather jaundiced review of customer service but I have had it happen to me far too often.  The dictate at the top may be to keep the customer happy, to turn one time customers into loyal advocates etc etc, but regularly down the line advocates are being turned into enemies by short sighted staff who just want to get on to the next call.  Maybe they want lunch.  Maybe they have a queue of calls waiting, maybe they got out of bed the wrong side.

Unfortunately the only thing that pays for you as the customer is to be persistent and make your voice heard.