May 27, 2014 4:53 pm
Updated: May 27, 2014 6:47 pm

Lenovo customers continue to fight for discount after price error debacle


Watch video above: Why Lenovo is calling some customers ‘opportunistic.’ Sean O’Shea reports. 

TORONTO – Canadian consumers have a message for computer maker Lenovo: We will not give up.

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Thousands of angry Lenovo customers continue to air their grievances on social media after the company abruptly cancelled customer orders over a pricing error during an online “Door Buster” sale.

On Tuesday the company confirmed it would offer affected customers $100 off their next purchase as a “gesture of goodwill.” But the offer was widely rejected by consumers, who tweeted Global News saying they expect the company to honour the original discount.

READ MORE: Read Lenovo Canada’s statement regarding the price error in full

“They can keep their coupon, what a smack in the face,” said Twitter user Shane Bennett.

“Not going to cut it. Honour your original offer,” tweeted customer Zahid Mahmood.

The case has brought up many questions about what rights consumers have in situations like this.

“In this case the question that Lenovo customers should be asking isn’t, ‘Does this conduct run afoul of the consumer protection act?’ but rather, ‘What are the remedies that those acts will give me?’” said Daniel Bach, partner at Siskinds LLP who often deals with class action lawsuits.

READ MORE: Lenovo Canada cancels customer orders after online pricing error

According to Bach, the Ontario government’s Consumer Protection Act and the federal government’s Competition Act clearly state that companies must be truthful in their advertising – but Lenovo says the mix-up was an accident.

“In regards to the Consumer Protection Act it’s not clear – there is a provision that bars false, misleading or deceptive representations and does allow people to sue for damages. But in this case it’s not clear what those damages might be,” he told Global News.

“I know that consumers will say they should be able to get the laptop at that price, but given that Lenovo is saying this is a mistake, one wonders whether a judge would be likely to order that at the end of the day.”

Bach said if Lenovo customers did take the dispute to court they would have to prove that there was not only a breach of the legislation, but that they are entitled to a remedy.

But lawsuits take time and money – something Lenovo customer Nick Weerheim knows all too well.

“I don’t have the resources to go after them myself,” the Kitchener, Ont. resident told Global News Tuesday. “But if I did, I would absolutely love to because I think they should be held accountable for it.”

Consumers allege ‘bait and switch’ tactic

Many affected by the Lenovo price error debacle have accused the company of pulling a “bait and switch” tactic on consumers by advertising the computer at a low price and then reneging on sale and offering a higher price.

Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers’ Association of Canada, believes the Lenovo incident was a bait and switch.

“It’s our belief that this does abrogate laws that are in place and administered by the Competition Bureau,” Cran said.

“I imagine that will probably end up with no one having their money taken for no reason, but whether or not they end up getting a computer for the price that was advertised is a decision we will leave with the Competition Bureau.”

But Cran added he is skeptical that consumers will see that kind of result from the bureau.

Poor customer service makes matters worse

Meanwhile, those dealing with the aftermath of the price error have been left with a sour taste in their mouths when trying to get information from Lenovo.

Weerheim says he spent hours over the weekend trying to get a Lenovo customer service representative on the phone to discuss a refund for the computer he purchased. When he finally got through Tuesday morning, he was given little information.

READ MORE: Twitter users unleash over #Lenovogate

“The whole conversation sounded like he was reading off of a script. He wouldn’t even answer when I asked about some of the consumer protection stuff,” Weerheim said.

“They are kind of behaving like a kid with their fingers in their ears going ‘La-la-la-la, I don’t want to hear this.’ It’s like they are trying to ignore the issue.”

Global News was inundated with tweets from fed up customers Tuesday – the majority of which still hadn’t received a refund for their cancelled purchase.

According to a Lenovo spokesperson, the charges shown on customer’s credit cards were not completed and what they are seeing is an authorization hold on their account.

“No charges will be completed due to the cancellation of the order. We have already cancelled the orders, but it might take a couple of days for this action to be reflected on customer accounts, depending on their financial institution,” the spokesperson said.

But several customers confirmed to Global News that their banks said their cards were actually charged. Additionally, customers who paid with debit have had money withdrawn from their accounts.

“Those charges are being reversed,” said a company spokesperson. “We certainly have no interest in keeping anyone’s money.”

– With files from Global Toronto’s Sean O’Shea

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