Three days before I am to fly to China, I encounter a problem with my ThinkPad. With the help of Lenovo tech support in Atlanta, Georgia I find out that my ThinkPad’s wireless card has gone POOF. The day before I am to leave I receive a replacement card. I call tech support again, and am told to watch the instructional videos on line that show how to remove the 4 screws for the keyboard, 9 screws for the palm rest, and then how to swap out the wireless card, which resembles a memory card. I print the instructions out, and turn my computer over. The Phillips head screwdriver I have doesn’t work on the special screws and, as I am leaving for Beijing in a scant 12 hours, I throw up my hands and decide I will take care of it after landing.
Once in Beijing, having dinner with my hosts, I immediately tell them that I need a Lenovo store in order to have them install the wireless card. The next day, after a flurry of phone calls, three Chinese gentlemen show up at my door. Only one of them speaks English. He takes out his tool kit and according to my memory of IBM’s instructions (which I repeat to him), he takes out the 4 keyboard screws and 9 palm rest screws with his special screwdriver. The keyboard comes off easily, but the palm rest board does not follow suit. He works on it for 25 minutes but it will not budge and neither of us can figure it out. Finally he just gently lifts it up so he does not break the plastic and is then able to swap out the wireless card. He puts it all back but it still refuses to function. He then takes his portable USB drive, goes to a business next door, accesses the Internet, downloads a new driver from the Lenovo site, hooks up his portable drive to my laptop, installs the new driver, and voilà, I am immediately able to access my WLAN connection. Total cost for the two hour on-site English speaking visit? RMB 180, or $23.25. Priceless? Well, almost.
Ellen Pearlman is a contributor to Executive Road Warrior and a senior analyst at Basex.