#LenovoGate: Laptop Maker Faces Its Worst-Ever Canadian PR Disaster

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LENOVO
Yang Yuanqing, chairman and chief executive officer of Lenovo Group Ltd., speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong, China, on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Lenovo, the world's largest maker of personal computers, reported a 25 percent jump in fourth-quarter profit as its desktop models and mobile devices gained global market share. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg via Getty Images | Bloomberg via Getty Images

UPDATE: Lenovo Canada says it will offer a $100 rebate to customers who had their orders cancelled due to a pricing error last week, the Canadian Press reports.

That offer will likely not satisfy many of the customers who are calling on Lenovo to honour the $279 price it posted.

Original story continues below

Lenovo is facing easily its worst public-relations disaster in Canada since the company bought IBM’s laptop business nearly a decade ago.

Canadian Lenovo customers who ordered an IdeaPad laptop during an online “door crasher” event last Friday were surprised to find the company cancelled their order — and more surprised yet that the company charged their credit card all the same.

At last count, nearly 4,000 people had signed a petition at Change.org demanding the company honour its original agreement to sell them a Lenovo Y410p Laptop for $279, as advertised briefly on its site last week. That was a deep discount from the regular price of $1,389.

According to Global News, the deal appeared on Lenovo’s website Friday. The company quickly tweeted out that there had been a “pricing error,” and sent emails to customers informing them their order had to be cancelled.

The Lenovo website now lists the laptop at $799.

“As a consumer I feel that I was baited and switched – they offered a deal, they aren’t honouring it, and then they send me an email with no real explanation and nothing more than an offer to sell me something else at a higher price,” Oakville, Ont., resident Matthew Gamble told Global.

The petition takes a similar stance, stating that “this company unethically collected our personal information, and did not fulfill their order promise. They utilized false advertising in order to get some free PR.”

Through its Twitter account, Lenovo Canada has denied that the move was a PR stunt but otherwise has so far said little about the growing controversy.

Many customers reject the notion Lenovo’s move was a mistake. Customer Calvin Leung told CBC News the website was taking orders at the $279 price more than 12 hours after the company announced the “pricing error.”

"Not only did Lenovo charge people's credit cards, but [they] have baited consumers to get their credit card and personal information," customer Emilio Lutchman told CBC.

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