Lenovo slid down our phone support rankings last year, and we're disappointed to report that things haven't improved. The agents we spoke to couldn't accurately answer the Lenovo-specific and Windows 10-specific questions we asked, and they even gave out false information about disabling updates. Lenovo's online chat support proved better, but it's clear that the call team could use a refresher course on some key Lenovo-branded applications.
|Lenovo Tech Support|
|Overall||Web Score||Phone Score||Avg Call Time||Phone Number||Web Support|
|Phone Hours (ET): 24/7|
While it took longer than a day for Lenovo's Twitter support team to respond to multiple inquiries, the team members eventually sent us satisfactory solutions, making this our preferred method for reaching out to Lenovo for technical support.
I put Lenovo's support to the test by asking three questions over the phone, one via web chat and two on social media about the IdeaPad 320 we purchased for this report. I asked about features in Lenovo's Utility and Vantage apps, disabling my webcam and turning off automatic Windows updates.
Web and Social Support (45/60)
Lenovo's support website is easy to navigate and filled with useful information. The main page puts useful links front and center. Below a search bar are links that take you to important driver and software updates, troubleshooting solutions and the Windows Support Center. You can also search for your product or go straight to Lenovo's Contact Us page. If you're not sure which model laptop you own, Lenovo has a Service Bridge application that will automatically scan your product for its name and serial number.
The Service Bridge app will take you directly to your laptop's dedicated product page, where you'll easily find downloads and answers to top questions for that specific model. Lenovo also shows you exactly how many days you have left on your warranty.
On the top of the product page are tabs that'll direct you to drivers, how-tos, documents, diagnostics and warranty information on your specific product. At least, it's supposed to be about your product; pressing the how-to and documentation tabs took me to irrelevant information about other devices.
Lenovo appears to have improved the search feature since last year, though. When I searched for ways to disable my webcam, the first result was a helpful user guide on how to use your integrated camera, which explained in detail how to disable it from the Device Manager. I didn't have as much luck using the generic search bar, however, so make sure to enter your specific model for the best support.
On Lenovo's Contact Us page is the option to chat with a Support Agent from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT from Monday to Friday. I had mixed results using the service. On one hand, on a Tuesday at 2:07 p.m. EDT, I was connected almost instantly to Jasen, a friendly agent who correctly answered my questions about LenovoUtility, defining it as an app for keyboard shortcut support and on-screen display. However, when I told him what I saw on the display when I selected the app, Jasen incorrectly thought it was corrupt and suggested uninstalling it and using the Lenovo Vantage app exclusively.
The folks running Lenovo's social media accounts must have been on vacation when I tried contacting them via Twitter and Facebook. When the @LenovoSupport account didn't respond to my question — posted on March 20 at 1 p.m. EDT — about disabling the laptop's webcam, I reached out to @Lenovo the next day. Unfortunately, that follow-up post didn’t get anyone's attention, either. I then sent a direct message to the @LenovoSupport account on a Friday at 2:30 p.m. EDT. A support agent named Hector got back to me on Sunday at 1:20 a.m. EDT and apologized for the delayed response. After waking from my slumber several hours later, I successfully disabled the webcam using Hector's advice to press the function and F8 keys.
Lenovo's response time was even worse on Facebook. On March 26 at 1:39 p.m. EDT, I sent a direct message to Lenovo, asking how I could prevent my laptop from going to sleep, and I didn't receive a response until March 29 at 11:47 p.m. EDT. If there are any positives to take out of the engagement, it's that Mark's answer was accurate and detailed. He concisely summarized the process of putting the computer to sleep in five simple steps.
If you're having trouble with your laptop, then there's a chance you can't access the web. At those times, you can use the Lenovo Help smartphone app (available on iOS and Android), where you'll find support for Lenovo PCs and tablets. I navigated a few simple interfaces to find answers on how to disable the webcam.
Phone Support (10/40)
Lenovo offers 24/7 phone support, and you can input your callback information online if you'd rather have an agent call you. The company's call center for commercial products is based in Manila, Philippines, while the commercial call center is in Atlanta, Georgia. Fortunately, I didn't have to wait for longer than 10 minutes on any of the calls I made. However, Lenovo's phone support agents struck out, failing to answer all three questions I asked.
I made my first call at 2:10 p.m. on a weekday afternoon to seek answers about the mysterious LenovoUtility program, which is described on Lenovo's support site as supporting "hotkeys of the keyboard and on-screen display on Windows 10 for Lenovo Notebook products, ex. Camera privacy mode, touchpad on/off, capslk, numlk, etc." In short, it briefly displays an icon when a keyboard hot key is enabled or disabled.
I was connected to a friendly agent named Mary within 5 minutes of calling. Since this was my first call, Mary asked for information about myself and the IdeaPad 320 to get it registered in the company's system. That process was fairly straightforward; however, my question about LenovoUtility stumped Mary, who abruptly put me on hold for 10 minutes without asking if that was OK. One painfully drawn-out rock song later, Mary reappeared, explaining in a rather unsure tone that LenovoUtility was an old app for power management and could be removed without any problems. The information in that explanation is simply not accurate.
I rang up Lenovo Support again on a Monday morning at 10:50 a.m. to get some help disabling audio for third-party apps when I'm making a VOIP call via Skype or Lync. The option to do so is clearly presented in the Smart Settings tab of Lenovo's main Vantage program. Unfortunately, after a brief 3-minute hold, the Lenovo agent I spoke to, May, told me that there was no specific setting to mute sounds during a VOIP call. Instead, she instructed me to use the audio mixer app or to go into each program and mute them individually.
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May was very friendly during the call, and I appreciate that she asked her supervisor when she didn't know the answer. However, it's disappointing that Lenovo's support team doesn't know about certain features available on the company's primary support app.
The third and shortest call, made at 5:15 p.m. EDT on a weekday, got me in touch with Vincent, who told me there was no way to disable automatic Windows software updates. Instead, he suggested downloading all of the necessary updates so those pesky pop-up windows wouldn't bother me until the next update became available. While that's probably the right course of action for most people, Vincent wasn't telling the entire story. You can, in fact, disable forced updates. The call took just 3 minutes.
All of Lenovo's consumer laptops come with a 12-month warranty. Commercial laptops ship with either a 12-month or 36-month warranty, depending on the configuration. Similarly, Lenovo will cover shipping costs to a service center for certain models. We would be responsible for shipping our low-cost IdeaPad P320 to a facility for repair. Lenovo does not offer free accidental damage protection, but it is available as an option (for $33 on our unit).
Lenovo recently launched a Premier Support program for commercial customers and a Premium Support upgrade for consumers. However, as a budget laptop, our IdeaPad fell into Lenovo's General Support tier. Upgrading to PremiumCare would have cost us $30 for a year, $58 for two years and $93 for three years.
Lenovo has fallen further down our rankings two years in a row, proving that last year's disappointing results weren't just an anomaly. The company provides comprehensive, useful and easily discoverable information online and on the Lenovo Help mobile app. However, if you can't find your solution online, then you might be out of luck. Lenovo's phone support team wasn't able to address basic questions about Lenovo's own apps, and we waited for days before getting answers on Twitter and Facebook. Overall, Lenovo has useful online resources, but its phone and social media support efforts were a letdown.
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