My great Microsoft Surface customer service experience

Surface Audio Jack - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

When the Microsoft Surface with Windows RT was released last fall, I picked one up immediately. While the Windows RT version isn’t as powerful as its Windows 8 Pro counterpart, it’s still a fantastic device. Then, sometime in late January, I broke my audio jack. I’m almost certain that it was my fault – I was using an old audio splitter which probably dislodged the internal components when it was pushed in too deep. As a result, while the speakers still worked fine, overall audio quality was poor and dialog was almost unintelligible.

At the time, I was reviewing the Acer Iconia W510 and the Samsung ATIV Smart PC 500T, so most of my entertainment was being consumed on one of those devices. Between that and my busy schedule, I didn’t get around to calling the Surface customer service department until the beginning of last week. I fully expected them to say that it was my fault or that I’d wanted too long to report the issue, but to my surprise they quickly offered to fix the issue. After running through a few tests to ensure that the problem wasn’t software-related, the customer service representative emailed me an overnight shipping label and I sent in my Surface RT for repair. A week later, I received a brand-new device – if it’s a refurbished model, it’s almost impossible to tell – which has been working perfectly.

While the Surface is well-built, no product is without some issues. The fact that Microsoft replaced the device without question was impressive, and I’m sure I could have decreased the turnaround time by bringing the device to a Microsoft Store. I’ve heard anecdotal evidence that Microsoft’s policy is just as relaxed for Surface accessories as well, with many Microsoft Stores replacing Touch Covers on the spot – no receipt or exchange needed. Compare this to my nightmarish experience with Alienware or the annoying time-intensive process most companies make you go through.

What’s your best customer service experience?

(I thought about titling this piece “Microsoft’s great customer Surface,” but I decided to spare everyone from having to read that terrible pun – at least, in the headline.)

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William Devereux

William Devereux is the former Microsoft editor at Pocketables, as well as a Microsoft MVP and SkyDrive/ Insider. As his title implies, he wrote about all things from Redmond, including Windows 8 and Windows Phone. He is currently carrying a Windows Phone 8X by HTC and a Microsoft Surface with Windows RT tablet.

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11 thoughts on “My great Microsoft Surface customer service experience

  • Avatar of Aaron Orquia

    Good on Microsoft, this should certainly help their image. Makes me wonder just a bit, after being brushed off by Google and ASUS with my broken Nexus 7.
    You should have gone with the pun in the title, though…

  • Not too happy with Samsung’s warranty people right now, either…

  • Is it wrong to me to think this should be normal customer service?

    I mean, I’ve replaced Apple products within warranty after just describing the hard to reproduce problems they had. I’ve had computers replaced just outside of warranty, and many other similar experiences with a wide range of companies.

    No-one goes to the effort of ringing up customer service/visiting in store to report non-existent issues/problems. And if they are customer caused issues, it is usually water damage or a broken screen – both of which obviously show poor treatment of the device.

    Maybe we have better customer protection laws here in Aus though.

    • Avatar of William Devereux

      You’d think so, but some companies aren’t as customer-friendly as others.

      Take Alienware, for example. I’d like to think that the company has improved since Dell acquired them, but I had the worst experience ever when I purchased an awesome gaming laptop from them in 2005. I had to replace literally every single part in that machine over a period of six months – sometimes multiple times. It got so bad that I knew everyone in their support department and I could recite the call center dialog tree off the top of my head.

      Then, the computer completely died a week after the warranty expired. I asked them to repair it anyway, since I’d been replacing every part in the computer almost weekly since I’d purchased it, but they refused. Even talking with the company’s VP didn’t help. So finally I had the bank reverse the charges and I just shipped the device back. At least that worked!

      Thankfully, however, most experiences aren’t nearly that bad.

      • Maybe it is just the fact that we have better customer protection laws. If something like that had gone down with a laptop I had purchased, a simple phone call to the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) would have solved that issue immediately.

        Although, I have never heard of having a bank reverse the charges – Something to keep up my sleeve if I ever require it!

  • Avatar of Patrick tam

    When I got my surface rt at Microsoft store the first model was defective. Home button didn’t work so they replaced it on spot. Glad I letted them set them up for me. Now I have a dent in the corner and scratches on the back but it works fine besides a few software bugs. Now I went to an apple store to see what they could do about my mom’s cracked iPod touch and they replaced it for free. Now my iPhone 5 is making clicking noises at bottom left corner and just got it 2-3 weeks ago and never has been dropped. Wonder if they can replace that too.

    • They will replace it pretty much immediately.

      • Problem is getting to the apple store. Live 1 1/2 hours away but don’t want to go unless I’m heading there for another reason. Probably have to wait a few months. I wonder if I wait until the 5s comes out and take it if they would replace it with a 5s

        • Nah, they would never upgrade you.

          1.5hrs does not seem that far to me though haha. Guess that is the Australian coming out in me though – I live somewhere that if I need to visit a work crew, I can drive 4 hours and never pass through a town… only to complete my work and drive home!

  • Avatar of A. Davis

    I just hope you remembered to fully wipe the old one before you sent it back… otherwise the next guy to get a refurb replacement might still have some of your data on it.

    On a related note… I did the same thing to my iPad Mini… used an older y-splitter to two of us could watch movies w/ separate headphones. The splitter went in too deep and while the speaker still worked, headphones never worked again. I took it to an Apple store (this was about 5 months into my purchase) and honestly told them what happened, hoping to have it repaired. Instead of repairing it or giving me a refurb, they replaced it with a brand new one, backed all my data, wiped the old in front of me, and restored my data to the new one. Now that’s customer service…

  • Avatar of JRDemaskus

    It is rare that I read positive Customer Service stories.
    My last CS experience was with Dell for my Streak 7.
    Through user error the charging port broke. They would not replace or repair it. “User Error”. I understand why, they probably didn’t have anymore units, and it is too hard to repair.
    Which was my question about the Surface. Do they have a lot of them sitting, unsold, that they can ship out as replacements?
    The Apple CS stories surprise me. They couldn’t do anything except try to sell me a new Nano when my kid’s wouldn’t connect with the computer anymore.
    I would like to feel more protected in my purchases if insurance is not worth buying.


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