Monday, December 29, 2008

Lenovo x60 battery failure / warranty

bought a lenovo x60 1709 a few years ago. it's been a great machine - light and sturdy, the size of a netbook, but a full-powered machine that i can use for netbeans development.

the battery just failed. and i mean failed.
the taskbar shows "Irrepairable damage to the battery has been detected", and the battery LED indicator blinks orange at about 1 hz. the laptop works fine on ac power, but as soon as i unplug it, it shuts off instantly. ie, the battery is completely dead. it sounds like the microcontroller has disabled the battery. my battery was an "fru 92p1167"

here's the lenovo page that describes the problem

when i bought the machine, i purchased the "3 year depot 9x5 Next Business Day" "warranty service upgrade". so i felt that i deserved a new (or repaired) battery. i checked the lenovo site and my warranty is active:

Type: Model: Serial number:
1709 47U ********

Status: Expiration date: Location:
In warranty 2009-06-04 UNITED STATES

This product has a three year limited warranty which includes a ThinkPlus warranty upgrade. This product is entitled to parts and labor and is entitled to EZServ. Customers may call their local service center for more information.

yay - i got lucky, my battery failed under warranty. i looked up and called the service center, and spoke to garrett, who told me the battery warranty only lasted one year. "what?"

i read the agreement they sent with the machine, and scoured the lenovo site looking for additional info. i couldn't find anything indicating that the battery wasn't covered, and the lenovo page suggests that the problem with the battery is a question of workmanship, which the warranty explicitly covers

2. What caused this problem?
A. Internal detection in the battery determined that it was not charging properly and disabled it. While this problem can cause any battery to fail, certain batteries are more susceptible to failing than others.

3. What is Lenovo doing about this problem?
A. If your battery has failed due to this problem, Lenovo will replace it for free. Use the Battery Verification Tool to determine if you are eligible for a replacement. Lenovo will replace these failed batteries for up to 6 months past the expiration date of the battery warranty.

4. What is the battery manufacturer doing about this problem?
A. The manufacturer of these batteries has made improvements to the battery that will help eliminate this problem. Only a small percentage of batteries will fail due to this problem.

not clear-cut, but good enough for me. if the battery was operating at 30% or 40%, i'm ok with that. but an internal circuit detecting that the battery is failed and making it inoperable isn't acceptable workmanship in my book.

so i call garrett back and ask him for the lenovo document that states that the battery isn't covered. he can't find it, but he gives me the lenovo contact number. i call lenovo and ask the same question. the tech found a few relevant documents, one that talked about the x300 warranties, and another that mentioned a 1 year warranty for my x60 1709 (that does break out the battery as a separate line item, but both items are 1 year). but nothing that stated that my 3 year warranty didn't include the battery.

the tech told me several times that he was transferring me to a super, but then would come back with yet another irrelevant link. after about an hour i finally talked to a super. he said that they didn't cover the battery, whether or not they had any documents stating that policy.

while i was on hold i had googled small claims court, and it looked pretty doable. so i asked the manager if he could send me an email stating that they didn't cover the battery with the 3 year warranty, so that i could sue to get my warranty refunded. at this point, he politely told me that he could no longer talk to me, and he needed to transfer me to legal. legal took my contact info, and said they'd get back to me within 48 hours.

i went to the grocery this morning to get ready for partying tonight, and a brand new battery was sitting on my stoop, overnighted thru ups.


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