Let me tell you a story, but first allow me qualify things and set the stage so you better understand. I have worked in retail as either a manager, sales association, customer service associate or retail vendor support representative for more than thirty years. Also I was a computer technician from 1997 to 2007. Between 200 and 2007 I worked as the manager overseeing a technical repair shop.
Over the years I have trained others and lead discussions about customer satisfaction. I may not know everything but I have a level of expertise. Also I do not believe the customer is always right but understand that my opinion on that matter as a retailer is immaterial because the customer usually if not almost always believe he or she is always right.
Now then, with all that out of the way, let’s begin. About a month ago I purchased a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 I5 256GB from Amazon. It came with Windows 8.1 installed. My overall experience with the product has been favorable and until yesterday I did not believe there was anything physically wrong with the device. My problem came about from upgrading it to a Beta version of Windows 10. That installation works, albeit with some expected glitches.
The past few days the computers has begun to randomly tell me my computer is “Out of Memory”. In Microsoft jargon that usually has something to do with how memory is allocated by the OS not anything to do with the physically installed memory, which in this case is 8 GB. Also the computer has a problem whenever it boots up in Tablet Mode. The Tablet View appears to crash immediately leaving only a black screen. Since I have a mouse there is a cursor that still moves about when as I move the physical mouse on a mouse pad. As long as the cursor moves the OS hasn’t crashed . It is just some application or overlay that uses the OS that is to blame. In this case it is a new feature in Windows 10 that gives a transparent mask over the background screen that is color coordinated with the desktop theme.(When it works it is pretty cool.) After I give the computer the tradition “Three Finger Salute” by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL I am able to click on Sign Out and then log back on. After that everything works. It is an annoyance more so than a problem.
The combination of the two issues I have with Windows 10 Technical Preview caused me to desire returning the computer to Windows 8.1. When I installed Windows 10 I followed the instruction to a “T” when it came to backing up stuff. I created a USB Recovery Drive. So I didn’t think I’d have a problem reverting to Windows 8.1, but I did. The computer tells me I no longer have a recovery image even though I purposely left the image alone when I created the USB Recovery Drive. The system has the option of deleting it to free up space, but I have enough room in my SSD storage drive. When I tried to use the USB Drive the computer tells me the Recovery image is missing.
So, I think – no big deal. There has to be a way to download the image from Microsoft, right? I couldn’t find the image so I logged into Tech Support. I go through the same process with the online tech and we reach the conclusion there is something corrupted. He tells me they will replace the Surface Pro 3. However that’s going to take a few days. I can either give them a credit card for expedited exchange or they can send me the return authorization and once they receive my Surface Pro 3, they can ship me a replacement. I really didn’t to replace my device. All I wanted was a new drive image. And I didn’t want to be without my computer for a week or maybe 3. So I asked if I could do the exchange at the Microsoft Store – there are two in Orlando but both are a bit of a haul from where I live and certainly now within bike riding distance. When I asked the support tech if the in store exchange was possible he assured me it was and said he’d ensure they had a model like mine in stock to exchange and would schedule an appointment for me. I sent my son a text message to ensure he could drive me there and made an appointment for 8PM last night.
Based on what tech support told me I expected to go into the store, maybe have to explain my problem to them and perhaps have them check to see that the computer wasn’t otherwise damaged. Bottom line was I would end up with a different computer (likely refurbished) when I left the store. I did not expect wrestling with the 800 pound gorilla named Microsoft.
I was greeted when I entered. As Tech Support told me to tell them my name and that I had an appointment (for which I was early, by the way) I thought it would be a ten or fifteen minute consultation at most. I sat down at the service desk to wait for maybe three or four minutes before a service tech appeared and offered assistance. I really can’t complain about anything up to that moment. It was what happened next that floored me. He asked what I needed. I told him Tech Support made an appointment for me to exchange my Surface Pro 3. He asked what problem I was having, which I expected. I explained. He informed me that my warranty was voided when I installed Windows 10 because it was a beta and that they could not replace my Surface Pro 3 and that if I wanted they could apply the image to my device for me but they would need to check it in and keep it for a few days. When I informed him that was not an option because I don’t have a car and had to have someone drive me there he reiterated that was all he could do.
It was immaterial what Tech Support told me or that they offered to ship me a replacement. He asked me if I had purchased the Surface Pro 3 from the Microsoft Store as if that mattered somehow. I replied I bought it through Amazon. I told him I was completely dissatisfied. I expected to come there maybe have them check out the Surface Pro 3 I had with me and then exchange it. He said even if that were to happen there would be a $200 charge.
What infuriates me about this whole affair isn’t about a exchanging a defective device. All I wanted in the first place was a recovery image or something to fix my problem. The first rule of customer service is to never lie to a customer. Microsoft Tech Support created an expectation that could not be fulfilled at the Microsoft Store. As a customer I feel they lied to me and in the process I was inconvenienced. To add insult to injury, after I expressed my dissatisfaction they asked if they could get me anything, like a bottle of water – as if that would cool me down. I’d been in the store for maybe twelve minutes at this point. I might have actually accepted the water when I first arrived.
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