Pass the parcel – a tale of cutting edge customer service – part 1

My 8 month old Lenovo laptop broke but, being under “collect and return” warranty, I was reasonably relaxed:   it would be fixed and returned quickly.  Ha Ha.  Silly me.  I reported the issue to Lenovo but received a letter from a company called Medion Electronics, based in Swindon, with detailed instructions on packing and contact details of a carrier called DPD.  The letter included a label all made out to the repair depot in Germany and dire warnings, in red type, about the delay that would result from me not following the complicated instructions to the letter.

There was also a half a page of A4 disclaimer about Lenovo / Medion / DPD not being responsible for the data or programmes on the laptop: they recommended me to back up everything.  I had to buy a new external drive to copy everything to, and then learn how to do it.  Consequently it was a couple of weeks before I rang the carrier to arrange collection.  On Friday the carrier came at 4pm.  It wasn’t DPD but their local agent AJG parcels.  They left me details of the tracking number and said my parcel would be on its way that night.

On Saturday I thought I’d see how far it had got, and went ‘online’ to track it.  The tracking number I put in returned information that the parcel had been collected on 4th, not 21st, and that its status was “Awaiting receipt of parcel”.  I rang DPD to tell them, and ask who was “awaiting” and where?  DPD agreed the system was in error and said they’d investigate and ring me back.  They didn’t.  I e-mailed, twice, with queries about the discrepancies.  I rang Lenovo/Medion on Monday (all closed for the weekend), and DPD again.  Eventually it transpired that DPD’s local agent had returned to their depot too late on Friday to transfer my parcel to that night’s truck and, unaccountably, they had re-labelled my parcel (creating an entirely new tracking identity in the process) and sent it to Lenovo/Medion in Swindon instead of to the repair facility in Germany!  DPD suggested I ring Lenovo and warn them it was coming there.  This I did, and I was assured they would know what to do with it.  The whole process began to unravel as I am not DPD’s customer, Lenovo/Medion is, therefore such terminology as “customer reference”,  “consignment number”, “account number”, and “collected date” do not refer to me.  After six more telephone calls  (all to income generating 0844 numbers) and much recorded music I was at least able to find out that my laptop had arrived in Swindon.  Phew.

I then received replies from DPD customer services to my two original e-mailed queries (still with me?).  One was about my parcel, under its original identity, and told me they were still waiting to receive it (also suggesting I contact Lenovo to sort out DPD’s problem).  I told them that, far from waiting to receive it, they had delivered it (albeit to the wrong place).  The other was about an entirely different parcel, for someone else – nothing to do with me.  More ‘phone calls and embarrassed apologies from DPD.

I called Lenovo/Medion again, and spoke to yet another different customer agent.  Lenovo/Medion claimed that DPD had not advised them of the changed label.  Charming though they have been, until this morning, I haven’t spoken to the same individual twice, in any organisation, so I’ve had to tell my story over and over again.  Why am I, Lenovo’s customer, having to sort out problems between them and their suppliers?  Not good, DPD/Lenovo/Medion.  AJG claim it is DPD’s fault that they redirected my parcel to Medion’s HQ, because the computer system showed no return address – only “Various”.  I should say here that this is deliberate on Medion’s part: it is their instruction to state the ‘alternative address’ when booking the collection by DPD and put the return information inside the parcel.  AJG also tried to blame me for not contacting them instead of DPD.   Not only pass the parcel but pass the buck!

I’ve tried to explain to AJG and DPD that what I see on screen, as an “end-use” customer tracking a parcel, is not what they see.  It is different information because,  as far as the parcel system is concerned, I am NOT the customer in the transaction:  DPD is AJG’s customer, Medion is DPD’s customer and Lenovo is Medion’s customer.  For this type of transaction the whole system is facing the wrong way:  they need to sort that.

At time of posting this I have just heard the details of my parcel’s new identity (woo hoo!): it will get yet another one when it is put back in the system (I use the word loosely) in Germany for return to me.  No doubt it will be handled by another local agent there, so now I am convinced that,  with more changes of identity than Jason Bourne, all the ingredients are in place for my laptop to disappear without trace.  So much for the dire warnings of delay if I didn’t follow their instructions…….

By the way, the repair requires they undo a couple of screws, take out a dodgy DVD drive, plug in a replacement and test.  I could have done it myself in 20 minutes.  GRRR