STOP! Having Trouble?

From Engadget's review of the iRiver H10:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:

You know the funny part? Lenovo/IBM’s homegrown-packin software is actually useful! I’m typing this on a T40 right now, and actually, of my own volition, ran the Lenovo Software Updater and loaded most of that software on my machine… willingly.

And that’s not typical of me.

Specifically, they’ve got a kick-ass applet for instantly flipping display settings that lets you save profiles, and a location manager that lets you change your IP address and network setup, right from hotkeys.

Now, it does take a few minute to make the stupid icons go away, but now, using a Dell laptop irritates me because I can’t one-click flip my display over to dual-screen.

It’s too bad that user experience has been destroyed by overwhelming packins.

Its reassuring to know I am not the only one that spends half a day removing all the junk from a new thinkpad

Isn’t it Charlie Owen - Charlie Poole is the NUnit guy isn’t he?

Feel free to delete this comment, since it doesn’t add anything to your discussion.


Stuart: Apple has to deal only with one or two wifi cards which they know exactly because they have written drivers for it etc. If Microsoft made laptops and sold them with preinstalled windows, i believe this would be possible, but with current variety in peripherials, its up to laptop manufacurer - e.g. third party again :frowning:

this is how lenovo ships their machines? unbelievable.

thomas woelfer

Doesn’t Lenovo offer laptops without any software pre-installed? This should be a standard.

Jon Galloway, do you have any information about Vista’s OOB experience?

The iRiver flyer reminds me of a place I used to work at (name withheld) that made tape drives for desktop machines, you know to capture that gigantic retail/desktop market of tape drives! Anyway, this was 1995/96 so installation was still a bear, with PnP just coming into light and still having to support Win 3.1. So after 50 beta units were shipped out to users and 49 of them had installation problems, the solution was to include a bright orange piece of paper. So I’m thrilled to see iRiver in 2006 has come to the same, ahem, solution.

Can’t believe the Lenovo OOBE…geesh. Just bought a Mac Mini and to pile on the “Apple just gets it” bandwagon…they flat out get it. And, yeah, yeah, I know they can since they control the whole widget, but man, when it’s so obvious that somebody is thinking about this stuff and all the little details in the OS and the packaging, it’s really simple stuff.

“…I recommend people wipe their systems as soon as they receive them…”

Unfortunately with most systems you buy these days you can’t just flatten it and install XP afresh – they’re supplied with crappy recovery disks that just have a Ghost-style disk image on them and a reinstall gets you back to the same sorry state. You have to either jump through hoops to get the OEM to send you a normal XP CD (which I think they’re legally obliged to do), or go out and buy your own at vast expense.

“…third parties can create all the external add-ins they want, but they can’t mimic the Media Center UI…”

And that’s good why? It means if I write an MCE extension I either have to spend ages trying to get it looking like the Media Center UI or I have to present the user with an inconsistent UI experience in an environment that really REALLY REALLY ought to be consistent all the way through.

“…when I got my iBook, one of the first things it did on booting was to find my wireless network and get connected to it.”

XP does that too. Admittedly pre-SP2 it didn’t work as well as it should have, but nowadays any XP machine with a WiFi card installed will pop up a little bubble telling you it found a wireless network, and if you want to connect to it you just click on the bubble. (Connecting without asking would be A Bad Thing.)

Finally, I don’t think that big yellow warning flyer is a problem – it doesn’t say you will have trouble, just that in the event you do come unstuck they’re more than happy to help. Strikes me as a good idea, really…

Jon, we already have people freaking out over Microsoft’s Live Onecare antivirus/spy ware solutions, because they will come with Windows… not to mention Internet Explorer…

Also, regarding systems coming with crap software, this last week my friend bought a top of the line Sony desktop (3.2 dualcore, 2 gigs of ram, etc.), and it came with three anti virus programs installed, two spy ware scanners (and one was deactivated out of the box), and Windows XP’s built in security center had been semi-permanantly disabled (by who knows what, probably Norton?) That’s terrible for the end user. They called me just a week after getting it, asking why it is so slow. Ugh.

Craplets. I love it. A great term.

That stuff is all over the place and I’m not sure why. I don’t find that it improves my user experience at all.

I noticed it first with a Media Center PC purchased last September. There was lots of junk and it was all in admin as well as the LUA user accounts I created for daily working. It wasn’t too bad except the trial edition of Norton Antivirus failed (I think because of there being non-admin accounts) at LiveUpdate so I ended up bying a full version to make the startup failure screen go away. Everything else I removed. (I was over-enthusiastic and deleted the ugly PowerDVD video player not realizing that the Media Center was relying on it for playing DVDs. So I have an upgrade version and I’m getting accustomed to its unsightly skins.

But my recent Toshiba Satellite R15 Tablet PC purchase was far worse. The initial screen and the system tray were loaded with crap, and one of them (which takes me to the Toshiba store) won’t go away or move to where I want it. And I have the free-trial Norton Antivirus problem again!

And, as already mentioned, none of these machines come with Windows install disks. I have recovery/re-install disks but they will put me back with all of the craplets. I really hope this is fixed with the way Vista Home is deployed.

Noticed that the time shown on the try was “5:16AM”. Just wonder it was a mis-configured clock or you did work so early? :slight_smile:

I either have to spend ages trying to get it looking like the Media Center UI or I have to present the user with an inconsistent UI experience in an environment that really REALLY REALLY ought to be consistent all the way through

Initially, I agreed with you, but the more I talked it over with Charlie Owen (not Poole-- sorry about that, I corrected the post), the more I agreed with the Windows Media Center team’s choice.

If you behave like Windows, and let any vendor do almost anything to the OS, you’ll get what we currently have in Windows-- tons of craplets running on every new OEM machine, ruining the experience.

What can the average user do on Windows without any additional software?

Actually, quite a bit. But I see your point. I’m not sure if Microsoft can get away with bundling as much stuff as Apple, without the antitrust dogs getting called out again.

Here’s what the new iMac comes with, for example ( ) :

Noticed that the time shown on the try was “5:16AM”.

It’s a misconfigured clock. Probably the wrong time zone, too. We had literally just booted the ThinkPad up after pulling it out of the box, so it was a true OOBE!

“XP does that too. Admittedly pre-SP2 it didn’t work as well as it should have, but nowadays any XP machine with a WiFi card installed will pop up a little bubble telling you it found a wireless network, and if you want to connect to it you just click on the bubble. (Connecting without asking would be A Bad Thing.)”

A little more on the Apple OOBE. When I got my XP SP2 laptop at work, to connect to the wireless network using the laptops built-in WiFi card, I had to have the helpdesk install a certificate, update the driver, and then I could connect. To connect my iBook to the network, I selected the network name from the little “radar” icon in my menu bar, it detected what kind of security the network had, asked me to accept the certificate, and prompted me to enter my domain credentials. That’s it.

re: “They have to insall all that stuff because Windows doesn’t come with it”. Do I need the AOL suite installed on my machine? Do I need links to MS money. anti-sp"eye" watchers, anti-virus. Sure, Anti-virus “test drive”? Great, so unless I fork over more money I’m stuck in 30 days? Why not just increase the price of the machine by 30 bucks and let me have the full version?

“Noticed that the time shown on the try was “5:16AM”.”

Jeff Atwood: Up at dawn, defending you from crapware. :slight_smile:

Even a slight change in wording would have been much better. For example:

Need help??
We will make it easy!

Maybe if I thought about it for more than 5 minutes or say if I was being paid thousands of dollars to create this insert I could think of something better.


The real crapware is windows itself. Ever since someone decided that CD with an OS is not a part of system shipment, it has become a pain in the neck to install system from scratch. I am sure that the few cents microsoft saves will go towards battling aids. Finally, why not ship windows on some solid-state device I can plug into a PCMCIA slot? Why do I even have to bother installing the crap. Next, Next, enter 64-digit reg. number, next, next, NEXT, NEXT, BOOT BOOT BOOT, TA-DA. Crapware. Great.

A few other comment responses:

  • fxfibbin, I’m pretty sure Microsoft is not the one saving money shipping “recovery disks” instead of “plain” OS CDs. The computer manufacturer saves tech support costs if they can tell the user to just run one CD, instead of sitting on the phone for several hours through an OS install, 6 different driver installs, configuration, etc. Tough crap for those of us that want to do all that, though.

  • RE: Craplets, it’s just a natural evolution from the folder full of “trial” online services that used to come with Dells, before every decent (read: broadband) online service needed hardware as well as software to connect. I’m sure the PC maker gets a nice fat kickback from the people supplying the shovelware. Still, I’d like the option at checkout to say “no thanks”. I hear Dell might actually do that in the near future – not holding my breath.

  • RE: “Out of Box Experience”, I think Windows has gotten incrementally better from about Win2k up through XP SP2 (and I don’t have much experience with Vista). If you count OOBE to begin after your drivers are installed (and I don’t think it’s fair otherwise), you can manipulate the file system, watch and edit media, connect to and browse the web (albeit half-assedly), edit simple documents… what else did you want, exactly? I’m sure anything else they elected to bundle would be ordered out by the crazy-ass European courts anyway.

I feel there is some ignorance and a lot of whining on this thread. First, you refer to the systray as the Taskbar. Get your terminology straightened out. The images you show are those of the System Tray or Notification Area. I can’t believe that someone who has been into computers for as many years as you claim, would get such a basic term wrong. The Taskbar is that area between the Start button and the Systray / NA which by default is next to the clock.

Unfortunately, the OOB user of XP or Vista may not get to see what’s what in this area, Systray icons having taken up space that rightly belongs to the Taskbar.

My advice, for what it’s worth: Disable the items (you all appear to have some grasp of how to use MSCONFIG and the like to clean up the startup process), then get on with life. And maybe spend a little more time away from your computers. People get awfully worked up when they’d probably feel better having spent more time doing other things. It’s not an impossibility. For example, try getting back into divergence… that is, for DVD movies, use your standalone player and forget power DVD.

My 2c or thereinabouts.

It is with a heavy heart that I post this story here, as I have been a
loyal and longstanding Thinkpad customer for over a decade, purchasing
numerous Thinkpads from IBM, and one just lately from Lenovo. I have
recommended IBM/Lenovo stock to all my friends and family who dabble
in the market, and I have also recommended the Thinkpad line of
laptops to anyone and everyone that I have had occasion to discuss
laptops with.

However, it is with my most recent purchase from Lenovo that I have
encountered a problem of the most horrible proportions. I in no way
wish to bog anyone down with unrelated details; however, the entire
experience I’ve had is a long one, spanning many frustrating months of
interaction with the Customer Service agents within Lenovo.

Due to this most recent experience with Lenovo, (outlined in full
below) I can no longer in good conscious continue to do business with
or recommend Lenovo’s products and services. Since no one within
Lenovo can rectify the matter, I will be taking my business elsewhere,
as will my friends, family and coworkers. (Including my place of

Anyone who is interested in further details (aside from whats outlined
below) please feel free to contact me via e-mail at

  • I’m more than happy to provide my contact information and telephone
    number should anyone wish to discuss this matter in a more thorough

For those of you who are interested, my story in it’s entirety is as

I ordered a T60 back in June. I was more than happy to wait the month
required for the laptop to be built and shipped to me from Hong Kong,
and I eagerly awaited it’s arrival.

Much to my dismay, when it did finally arrive, it came sans battery
and power cord! I promptly called Lenovo and was informed by a
customer service rep that I would have to wait another 3 to 4 weeks
to have the power cord and battery that was supposed to have been in
the initial order shipped to me. I can understand needing to wait a
month for a laptop to be built, but shouldn’t they have spare power
cords batteries handy?

Anywho, I called around locally to numerous retail outlets and
searched through classified ads to see if I could find an alternate
Thinkpad locally. It wouldn’t be built to the initial specs I wanted,
but at least it would be a thinkpad.

Luckily I found one, again - not up to the specs I really wanted, but
at that point it seemed better to sacrifice some speed for the ability
to at least have it rightaway.

I figured I would simply purchase this laptop locally and return the
one I got directly from Lenovo - no big deal.

I called up Lenovo Customer Support again and spoke to a lady who
spoke very good Enligsh, I wasn’t really able to decipher for certain
if she was from some outsourced call center or not… Anyway, I
informed her of the mixup that occured and stated I simply wanted to
return the machine back to Lenovo as I had already purchased an
alternate Thinkpad elsewhere.

She happily obliged (this is where the whole thing gets ‘interesting’)
and asked me if I had the original box that I received the laptop in.
I replied that yes, I did and asked why she asked. “Simply repackage
the laptop in it’s original box and drop it off at a UPS store.” was
her answer.

This struck me as odd, she made no mention of an RMA number or
anything. I asked her if I needed some sort of ‘return number’ and she
replied that the initial box the laptop was shipped to me in had my
Lenovo order number plainly upon it, and that thats what would be
used, not any sort of RMA number."

OK, so no RMA number - thats weird but I guess it makes sense. I
thought they’d be sending me a box or something to send it back in.
I asked her if I was supposed to pay for shipping, and she responded
with "Oh, no, just ‘return to sender.’ Wait WHAT?

“Just Return To Sender” she said again. I asked her to clarify what
she meant by that, thinking she just meant “Return the laptop to
Lenovo.” No, she replied back with: “Write Return To Sender on the
shipping label and take it to a UPS store.” “What about a tracking
number? What about Insurance?” I asked. “Tracking number will be
Tracking Number we gave you at first, package will still be insured.”

Ok, that sounded really odd - like no other return procedure I’ve ever
dealt with in my life, which I guess hasn’t been all that many, but
even still it was just a seemingly odd way to go about it.

So supposedly my RMA number was my Lenovo order number, my tracking
number would be the tracking number I already had on hand and the
package was insured. Like I said, I thought this seemed pretty weird,
but it sounded like all my bases were covered. Even so I ran over the
whole thing all over again with the Lenovo rep and got the same reply.
Good enough - as long as they get the laptop back there won’t be a
problem I figured.

So I did as instructed and wrote ‘return to sender’ on the package and
dropped it off at a UPS store.

I waited… and waited… and waited… about two to three weeks later
I called back in and inquired as to the status of the whole thing. “We
have no record of you ever having called, that is not the correct
return procedure, I’m very sorry but there is nothing more we can do
to help you - click” was what I was told. They just hung up on me!

Ok, now I’m a little peeved, so I call back and try to figure out what
on earth happened. Again, I’m told they have no record of me ever
having called and no record of my machine. Although they didn’t hang
up on me the second time around, I was unable to get any straight
answer as to what happened. I asked to speak to a supervisor only to
be told that there was no supervisor. Now thats just ridiculous,
EVERYONE has a supervisor. I again demanded a supervisor, and again
was there was no supervisor. This went on for a good five minutes till
the story changed to “the supervisor is not present.” I then requested
a call back from a supervisor, gave my name, order number(rma number?)
and my cell phone number.

24 hours go by, 48 hours go by, 72 hours go by… Finally Friday hit
and no one called back. At this point I was utterly PO’d about the
whole deal, having already sent the machine back to Lenovo and with
Lenovo not even acknowledging that I had done so, it seemed like I
wouldn’t be able to make any further progress by trying to call them
back and being upset.

I called up my credit card company instead, told them what happened
and they told me they would initiate a chargeback on my behalf and
that I shouldn’t worry about it.

At this point I was pleased that at least someone was capable of
remedying this situation. I let it the whole matter go assuming it to
be resolved… Up until I received a call from my CC company wanting
written details of what happened for their records. I promptly
complied and didn’t think much of it as it was simply a form letter
which looked pretty routine.

A day or so passes and I receive my first of many phone calls from
Tony Bumarch in Lenovo Executive Customer Relations. Mr Bumarch was
exceedingly polite; however, entirely unsympathetic to what had
occurred. He told me that they showed no record of me having called to
initiate the return process and therefore I must never have called.

I most certainly did call, and I’ve actually run into this similar
situation with my cell phone company. One rep @ Cingular will tell me
something but not notate my account of what was discussed, so when I
call back in the second time around, no one knows what I’m talking
about. A common problem I assume, as I’ve heard other people complain
about the exact same thing with Cingular and other cellular companies.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would run into this problem
with a Computer Company tho - I honestly didn’t even think to request
that the lady I initially spoke to @ Lenovo notate my account
detailing what was discussed concerning the return policy.

Mr Bumarch tells me there isn’t much he can do and instructs me to
call the UPS store that I dropped the package off at. The UPS store I
dropped the package off at instructs me to call UPS, UPS instructs me
to call Lenovo, and Lenovo again instructs me to contact UPS. (I’m
sure you can all see where this is going by now…) Round and round it
goes till I get upset and Mr Bumarch tells me HE will call the UPS
store on my behalf while I wait on hold. I wait on hold and Mr Bumarch
comes back on the phone and says that it sounds like the UPS store
might have a way to track my package as having gone out and that I
should call the UPS store and talk to the owner.

I call the UPS store and spoke to the exact same lady Mr Bumarch just
spoke with moments before. She informs me there there is absolutely no
way to track outbound packages dropped off at the UPS store unless
that UPS store sent it out with one of their shipping labels. THEN she
tells me that she just told Mr Bumarch this moments ago and asked why
I was calling back asking the SAME question! Why on earth would Mr
Bumarch instruct me to call the UPS store when he himself just spoke
to them and they told him that they could not track an outbound
package unless it was sent with that UPS store’s shipping label?!

I call Mr Bumarch back and ask him why he gave me the misleading
information, only to be told by HIM that the UPS store employee did
not tell him what she told me, DESPITE the UPS store employee telling
me just moments after she spoke to me that she informed him of this.

I told Mr Bumarch that I resented the endless games of phone-tag I’ve
been playing with him, and the additional run around he’s made me go
through with UPS and that it’s to the point where it sounds like I
need to file some sort of complaint with the BBB.

His response?

“All the BBB complaints are routed through myself, so I’ll be sure to
tell the BBB exactly what I’m telling you.” (This was said in a
polite, yet condescending tone)

That being: Since they had no record of me calling to return the
laptop, I must never have done so.

Oh, and by this point my CC company said that the dispute was over and
Lenovo had successfully fought the chargeback off because I could not
provide a tracking number other than the initial tracking number on
the box that was shipped to me in…

So, at this point I do not have the laptop I payed $1600 for, and I’ll
I’ve got to show for this entire experience is a massive headache from
dealing with Lenovo’s customer care.

Realizing I was getting absolutely nowhere with Tony Bumarch in
executive care, I placed e-mails detailing this horror story to
numerous executives inside Lenovo, namely among them was ‘David
Churbuck’ VP of sales and marketing.

David Churbuck expressed via e-mail initial interest in looking into
my case, but I never heard back from him. When I e-mailed him again, I
got what seemed like a form letter (although I’m sure it was not)
simply stating “I am not responsible for looking into this, Tony
Bumarch is handling your case.”

So a complete about-face was done, leaving my sole source of contact
within Lenovo to Mr Bumarch, who was entirely unsympathetic to my
situation and had just recently told me in no uncertain terms that the
case was closed.

I filed a complaint with the BBB anyway - Lenovo’s response? “Customer
Never Sent the Equipment Back To Us”

So Lenovo’s offical response is that I’m a liar and that I should be
expected to simply eat this $1600 fee for a laptop I already returned
to them!

Oh, here are some additional points I think I may have neglected to

I requested that some sort of audit be done at the Lenovo returns
center to see if someone could find my machine. Lenovo’s response?
Thats a wildly unreasonable request. I was also told that unauthorized
returns are promptly refurbished and re-sold with a matter of weeks,
leaving me with the conclusion that it’s entirely possible that Lenovo
simply refurbished (slapped a battery and power cable with the
machine) and resold it to someone else.

I was told that this situation would never have occurred, as Lenovo
has a strict guideline that they follow for refurbished machines.
sarcasm If said guideline is anything like their return policy
guidelines, I’m sure it’s always followed to the letter every single

Oh, and I was also told that “no one within Lenovo would ever instruct
you to return a machine in that manner,” Which is entirely laughable,
as thats exactly what occurred! I’m left to conclude that Lenovo’s
reps are probably underpayed and overworked, and as a result don’t
take all that much pride in memorizing and reciting corporate policies
without fail each and every time.

Due to the above excuse being cited over and over, no one within
Lenovo will even take responsibility for giving me the incorrect
information on how to go about returning a machine to them. I didn’t
even get an “I’m sorry” out of Mr Bumarch. He DID go so far as to say
he’ll issue a company wide memo re-iterating the correct return
procedures to the front line Lenovo reps, but I suspect this was
simply to placate me, as later I got a reply from him via the BBB that
bluntly insinuated that I was just a big liar.

And after speaking with Mr Bumarch, I wasn’t even demanding a refund
at that point, I told him I would settle simply for the return of the
machine I sent to them, but since no one will go out of their way to
look for it, that doesn’t seem possible either.

Holy geez, this is a long winded post. I’m sorry, but thank you for
reading over it. I would appreciate anyone’s input on what I could
possibly do to try and rectify this nightmare.

To sum the whole thing up, it feels like Lenovo lied to me, stole my
money and told me to simply ‘go away.’

I dearly love my thinkpads, and I really hate to feel like I can never
purchase another one from Lenovo again based upon this hellish

For those of you that have come this far, you may also be interested
in looking at:

As contained therein, there is another individual (entirely seperate
from myself) who says that he too was advised of the incorrect return
procedure in the exact same manner that I was when he called in to
speak to Lenovo Customer Care. This appears to be an ongoing issue for
numerous people, and I’m very disappointed that Lenovo will not even
acknowledge it.

Anyone’s feedback on the matter is greatly appreciated, and thank you
for taking the time to read this over.

Yes! And this is exactly why I’m so disappointed with the Vista OOB experience. Apple, out of the box, is such a compelling experience that users fall in love. The Lenovo experience you’ve shown above is a total disaster, but think about why they do it… the Windows out of the box experience is unusable. What can the average user do on Windows without any additional software? That, in addition to kickbacks, is the reason that Windows resellers preload their systems with this garbage.

If Windows Vista was a usable system out of the box, resellers wouldn’t have an excuse for this kind of idiocy.