Yesterday evening, Lenovo Canada posted a sale offering several laptops, including the popular Y410p, for a significant discount to $279 CAD before taxes (See screenshot at the bottom of this article). This news quickly caught on with many Canadian bargain hunting websites such as RedFlagDeals, and was quickly reposted by many users on Facebook and Twitter. With a laptop specifying an Intel Core i7-4700MQ processor, dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT755M GDDR5 2GB graphics, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 1TB hard drive, it is quite understandable how this "fire sale" news moves fast -- even Yours Truly placed an order for one, despite not really needing one in the first place.
At about 5pm Eastern time today, a generic email was sent out saying orders were canceled.
Dear Valued Customer,
Thank you for your recent Lenovo purchase. Due to a pricing error on our website, we will have to cancel your order. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused, and would like to help you place a new order.
We invite you to visit our website at www.lenovo.com or speak with a Product Specialist at 1-855-253-6686 opt1, opt1 as we have updated all current pricing and configurations.
Thank you for your time and patience. We look forward to hearing from you.
Lenovo Customer Service
Following the trend on various forums and Twitter, a PR backlash ensued. Obviously, many users suspected of a price error, but most went ahead with an order anyway. Credit cards were charged, and some people actually reported the order status was changed to being released to manufacturing. Obviously, Lenovo Canada does reserve the right to cancel orders due to a pricing error, but why is this turning out into a PR nightmare? In the past, Lenovo Canada has made similar "mistakes" before, such as canceling orders for a tablet over a $50 price differential error, and even turning back shipments over a similar mistake for a ThinkPad X-series laptop back in 2012. In fact, you can still place orders for $279 even after orders were canceled at 5pm EST. As of writing this article, the link still works.
What do you think? What is the right thing for Lenovo Canada to do? Please feel free to comment in the Facebook comment box below.
Update May 24 2014 9:08am MST: The link was fixed overnight, so you can finally no longer order the laptop for $279. It really took Lenovo Canada a long time to fix, considering the amount of orders pouring in on a weekday. As aforementioned, you can actually still place orders for quite a while after the initial round of cancellation emails were sent out. There are also complaints of the cancellation email carrying the wrong order number. Many users have reported via Twitter, Facebook, and forums that they are planning on filing complaints to the Competition Bureau for bait and switch tactics.
Update May 24 2014 1:44pm MST: Users are reporting that Lenovo Canada is being flooded non-stop with phone calls. If you have been affected by this, try opening a case with Lenovo by emailing email@example.com to open a formal complaint with the company.
Update May 24 2014 2:52pm MST: The petition on Change.org has gathered 1,073 signatures and counting. Lenovo Canada still has not provided a official public response one day after the incident. The only response is from the global Lenovo account, with this tweet.
Update May 24 2014 8:45pm MST: The original thread on RedFlagDeals has been closed after 3,221 replies over 215 pages of discussion. The petition now has 1,379 signatures. Also, a second screenshot of the Lenovo Y410p product page showing the allegedly "incorrect pricing" banner is added below.
Update May 25 2014 12:25am MST: The discussion thread on RedFlagDeals is cleaned and reopened for discussion with 3,092 posts over 207 pages. The petition has collected 1,470 signatures, while Lenovo's Facebook page is continually being flooded with user complaints. #lenovosucks activity on Twitter continues on.
Update May 25 2014 5:16pm MST: Lenovo Canada says they are "[reviewing] the situation" and they "will respond as promptly as possible" via Twitter. This corresponds to their tweet 2 hours ago. 1,756 signed the petition.
Update May 26 2014 9:55am MST: Looks like mainstream media is interested in getting involved. Global News reporter Sean O'Shea tweeted this morning indicating interest in interviewing affected individuals. You can get in contact by sending them an email at Sos@GlobalNews.ca. 2,436 signed the petition as of this update.
Update May 26 2014 1:25pm MST: Global News tech reporter Nicole Bogart reports "Competition Bureau Canada has confirmed to [her] they have received a number of complaints over Lenovo pricing error". Also, many people are claiming their credit cards being charged, with no refunds issued yet. Still no official updates from Lenovo Canada that APH Networks is aware of.
Update May 26 2014 1:37pm MST: See #lenovogate trending on Twitter. Also, a number of users are reporting to have just gotten off a phone interview with Global News. The online petition continues to snowball with 2,744 supporters.
Update May 26 2014 4:04pm MST: Global News has picked up this story on their website.
Update May 26 2014 4:32pm MST: A user has uploaded a copy of Global News' TV news coverage to YouTube. Global News reports Lenovo's Toronto office is keylocked on the 18th floor, so "no one could drop in".
Update May 26 2014 10:28pm MST: Users report Toronto radio station NewsTalk1010 also touched on the story earlier tonight. The petition now has 3,426 signatures. We are also seeing 4,597 replies to the original thread on RedFlagDeals, with a whopping 827,998 views. Since it is now 12:28am EST, we will wait until tomorrow morning to continue covering this story.
Update May 27 2014 9:10am MST: We're back with live coverage this morning here at APH Networks. CBC News has a video on this issue, which basically is what we have covered in the past few days. Interesting thing for them to point out that "[The Competition Bureau] have been contacted by a lot of customers..." (Emphasis added) In CBC's news article, they wrote, "The Competition Bureau confirmed in an email to CBC News that it has received multiple complaints about the glitch, but stopped short of confirming or denying whether an investigation is underway. "We cannot speculate on whether or not the Competition Act has been violated, as we have a responsibility to do a thorough and complete examination prior to drawing any conclusions," a spokesman for the watchdog says."
Update May 27 2014 9:30am MST: Radio station 570News in Kitchener, Ontario is discussing this issue now.
Update May 27 2014 9:58am MST: The petition nears 4,000 signatures. Global News reporter Sean O'Shea tweets "Worldwide [Lenovo] PR head says company will release statement today."
Update May 27 2014 10:58am MST: Huffington Post is now reporting on this issue.
Update May 27 2014 11:16am MST: The Globe and Mail is now reporting on this issue.
Update May 27 2014 11:29am MST: Global News tech reporter Nicole Bogart tweets Lenovo's statement on this issue: "The error mistakenly allowed a “doorbuster” e-coupon to be combined with an instant savings discount price." Also just in, Lenovo is planning on offering a $100 coupon for the next purchase for affected customers.
Update May 27 2014 11:47am MST: We have just been updated that the "goodwill discount" of $100 actually has a time restriction. It will expire on August 3, 2014.
Update May 27 2014 12:04pm MST: Global News posts Lenovo's official response to the "pricing error", as below:
Between May 22 and May 23, 2014, a pricing error occurred on the Lenovo Canada website for select Lenovo laptops. The error mistakenly allowed a “doorbuster” e-coupon to be combined with an instant savings discount price. As a result, prices and the automatically generated calculation of discount percentages and savings appeared in error.
Once the error was discovered, Lenovo took steps to correct it. The prices on the Lenovo Canada website now reflect the correct price and price reduction. However, before we were able to correct the error, customers placed orders at the incorrect prices. As stated on our website and in the terms and conditions which customers agree to when purchasing a Lenovo product, Lenovo–like other computer manufacturers–reserves the right to cancel any orders for products placed at an incorrect price due to an error in pricing. We have informed the affected customers of the pricing error and we are in the process of cancelling their orders and any charges that occurred. We deeply regret any inconvenience this error has caused.
As a gesture of goodwill, starting May 28th, we will be contacting customers whose orders were canceled with an offer of $100 off their next purchase of a Lenovo laptop PC. This $100 can be deducted from the total order amount regardless of any discounts already applied to that order through August 3, 2014.
Update May 27 2014 12:49pm MST: The outrage continues after Lenovo Canada's official response. Many users on Facebook, Twitter, and various forums call Lenovo's official response and offer an "insult".
Update May 27 2014 3:16pm MST: Here are links to the CTV article and latest Global News article. In the second link, to highlight a quote, "Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers’ Association of Canada, believes the Lenovo incident was a bait and switch."
Update May 27 2014 3:44pm MST: The statement posted above can be found on Lenovo's website. RedFlagDeals user taurus25 complains about Lenovo Canada invoicing him for extended warranty on a canceled laptop order. Here is a screenshot.
Update May 27 2014 9:36pm MST: To recap since our last update, in the Global News interview, Lenovo Canada's PR director Milanka Muecke accuses some customers of being "opportunistic". Many people are very vocal to decline the $100 coupon offer, as we have reported earlier today. The petition now has 5,158 signatures. We are also seeing 6,453 replies to the original thread on RedFlagDeals, a big increase since we signed off last night. We will be back tomorrow morning to continue covering this story here at APH Networks.
Update May 28 2014 10:34am MST: Back live again this morning on the sixth day of continuous coverage here at APH Networks. We started this morning at 6am with our usual sources with not a whole lot of updates, other than more local radio stations discussing this issue. Other than some customers accusing Lenovo Canada of bait and switch tactics, some are also accusing them of data mining from potential customers. In a reply to a person called David Joy on Facebook, Lenovo writes, "Hey David, the coupon will be handy if you are intending to purchase a Lenovo device, which I believe you had in mind when you made the initial order." On the positive side, some are saying they have received their refund or hold release on their credit cards. The $100 coupons have not been sent out at the time of this update. No one has received a non-automated response from firstname.lastname@example.org yet.
Update May 28 2014 11:22am MST: CTV will be chatting about this at 3:40pm EST today on Tech with Todd.
Update May 28 2014 2:29pm MST: The CTV video can now be found on the network's website. Carmi Levy: "They blew it. They knew it." There is also a new article on Global News, titled "Scope of Lenovo online price error widens as customers wait for refunds".
Update May 28 2014 4:50pm MST: Global TV did another newscast tonight. Users report Competition Bureau is now investigating, quoting their email reply:
Thank you for the information you provided to the Competition Bureau regarding Lenovo Canada.
We have reviewed your information and determined that the matter you have raised may require further examination under the laws we enforce. However, we cannot confirm what action will be taken at this time, as by law, the Bureau is required to conduct its work confidentially.
Update May 28 2014 5:00pm MST: Chinese online media Sina reports on this case as well. Here is APH Networks' translation of the story, starting from Paragraph 2:
Last Thursday, the Lenovo Y410p, originally priced at $879 CAD, suddenly dropped for $279 CAD on Lenovo Canada's official website; a price drop of $600. When internet users found out about this deal, people wasted no time to snap it up; some even ordering multiple units.
It is easy to guess the ending of the story. Many customers received an email from Lenovo, claiming it to be a pricing error, and all orders for the laptop at that price has been canceled.
As such, those who were able to purchase the laptop were not very happy. They believe this is an intentional move by Lenovo for the purpose of gaining attention. Some even claim this is a result of their unsuccessful bid for Blackberry, therefore retaliating at Canadian consumers.
As of now, many consumers are gathering on Lenovo, but whether their case is going to be successful or not, is still yet to be determined.
Update May 28 2014 5:18pm MST: We have just received the following email from Lenovo Canada. It looks like the $100 coupon does not even exist -- you must actually call them to manually apply this discount.
Dear Valued Customer,
Between May 22 and May 23, 2014, a pricing error occurred on the Lenovo Canada website for select Lenovo laptops which impacted your recent order. Please accept our sincere apologies for the difficulties and inconvenience caused by canceling your order due to the error.
Lenovo has already canceled the charges for your order. Additional time may be required for your financial institution to process the cancellation of charges against your account. We regret this mistake and are taking the necessary steps to make sure that this type of error does not happen again.
We value you as a customer and would like to earn back your business with an offer to take $100 off your next purchase of a Lenovo laptop PC. This $100 will be deducted from the total order amount in addition to any other discounts, including "doorbuster", applicable to the Lenovo laptop PC selected. This offer is valid through August 3, 2014, and limited to one order per customer.
While you are under no obligation, if you wish to accept this offer, please call a Lenovo Product Specialist who will be happy to assist you with your purchase. Our Specialists can be reached at 1-855-253-6686 (choose option 1), Monday through Friday, 9am-9pm EDT and Saturday 9am-6pm EDT.
We look forward to serving you.
Lenovo (Canada) Inc.
Update May 28 2014 10:38pm MST: Before we close off for the night, Lenovo Canada tweets "All: please accept our apologies for difficulties caused by pricing error. Human error, honest mistake—will work hard to win back trust". Also, the petition has 5,826 signatures, and the thread on RedFlagDeals continues to grow to 7,430 replies with 1,103,145 views. We are now signing off Day 6 LIVE coverage of this issue here at APH Networks, and we will be back tomorrow morning.
Update May 29 2014 9:22am MST: Good morning -- welcome to Day 7 of APH Networks' LIVE coverage of Lenovo Canada's laptop "pricing error" incident. Based on what we are reading on Twitter, Dan Jenner (HeavyDutyKronos on RedFlagDeals), one of the most vocal supporters of this issue, had his Twitter account suspended. He is now posting under @fourtwenty2014. Many users are contacting us via email saying their Lenovo account used to order the laptop is inaccessible.
Update May 29 2014 12:30pm MST: Dan Jenner's new @fourtwenty2014 account has been suspended. A new thread on RedFlagDeals has been started, because the original thread had so much traffic, it is bringing the server down. Also, more users are quoting email replies from the Competition Bureau (As above) are investigating.
Update May 29 2014 4:33pm MST: Lenovo USA (Not Lenovo Canada) employee Nathan Miller, Enterprise Options Product Manager according to LinkedIn, made two tweets on his account, causing a series of angry responses from the community. The first tweet read, "I think #LenovoGate drama is much ado about nothing. U didn't have the computer before and you don't have it now. How are you injured?" Followed by, "If I complain loud enough and often, I'll get what I want Everything for nothing. I'm important, too. #lenovogate is stupid." These tweets have since been deleted. Links to his account are not provided for privacy reasons. In a related news, Dan Jenner has several more Twitter accounts suspended.
Update May 29 2014 9:45pm MST: I don't think we are going to get a whole lot of breaking news until tomorrow morning, so we are signing off for the night. The new thread on RedFlagDeals has 32,770 views and 787 replies, as vocal forum members are planning for their social media campaign tomorrow morning. The petition gained about 200 supporters today; ending with 6,027 signatures.
Update May 30 2014 9:48am MST: Not a whole lot of breaking news this morning, and there is not a whole lot to update on this issue as far as I can see. If anything turns up, this page will be updated.