I am not a demanding customer. I hate to return things, I apologize for bothering staff, and I avoid conflict at all costs. You need to know that before you continue.

You also need to know that this post could potentially put you to sleep. So if you’re just surfing mindlessly during a bout of holiday insomnia, then please proceed, and good night.

However, just to make this interesting (and keep you awake) I’d like the rest of you to turn on your powers of empathy full force. Imagine you are me. Put yourself right in my shoes. They’re 10’s, so they might be big, but you’re not going anywhere, believe me. Okay, not quite so close to my husband…good, right there.

As you read the details of the saga I endured just to order a Microsoft Surface tablet (which is a Christmas gift for my family by the way, so please don’t tell them) I guarantee that if you empathize fully, your (usually low) blood pressure will begin to rise. You may experience heart palpitations and sweats, and horrible words that you have never even dreamed of saying will be on the tip of your tongue. Sounds fun, right? Damn that Oprah and her “Favourite Things”. Here we go.

Monday December 3rd

• Went to Microsoft website at lunchtime and ordered a Microsoft Surface, type cover and insurance. Website promised delivery to Canada in 3 -7 business days.

• Checked my account a couple of hours later, and it said there was no order history.

• Did the online ‘chat’ with an employee who told me that my order had been cancelled for some reason, but that he could help me do it again through chat.

• Spent a great deal of time communicating back and forth and going over the order and at the end he said that he couldn’t ship it to me because I was in Canada. (I had been on the Canadian site when I hit ‘chat now’.)

• He provided me with a different number to call for Canada. I called that number, but while waiting on hold, I went online and tried to put the order through again myself.

• I finally got to speak to a person who said that it looked like both orders had been cancelled but to wait until morning to see.

Tuesday December 4th

• Overnight I received two separate confirmation emails from Microsoft with tracking numbers saying that the product had been shipped to me…so I was getting two, when I only wanted one.

• I phoned again to cancel the second order, and was told that actually nothing had shipped at all, those emails were both in error, and I would probably have to go through the order again with a different credit card. (I don’t have one. I have one Visa, with a healthy limit and excellent credit.)

• E-mailed back and forth with a Customer Service rep who said that she would process my order over the phone. Had to play e-mail/phone tag throughout my work day, and then wait by the phone when I arrived home as she was on another call.

• Finally spoke with her shortly before 5 p.m. and she attempted to process the order again, but then informed me that I would need to set a Microsoft security question and answer, and provide the answer to complete the order. I did not have a computer at home, and attempted to do this on my BlackBerry, but the site told me I had to be on a PC to access the options.

• Was told to call in the morning to complete the order.

Wednesday December 5th

• Arrived at work, went into my profile to set a security question and answer, and emailed my answer to the rep.

• She then said she would have to call me to complete the order, as the final go-ahead has to be verbal.

• Waited on my lunch hour for her call.

• Provided my Visa number again and order details, and she assured me it would then be processed.

• Received an e-mail a few minutes later saying that I needed to call Visa to authorize the charge, as they were not authorizing it.

• Spent more time getting the number for Visa and waiting to speak with someone there only to be told that there was no problem at all at their end authorizing the charge, and that in fact the charge had gone through.

• E-mailed rep to update her, and she said she would go ahead with the order.

Thursday December 6th

• E-mailed rep to ask for an update and received a reply that “Your order is still in review. Our fraud team is running behind with all the orders that are being placed this holiday season.”

Friday December 7th

• Checked online banking and discovered that my Visa had indeed been charged TWICE for this order, which “had yet to be processed”.

• E-mailed rep prior to 8 a.m. and received no response.

• Called Microsoft, was put through to the Microsoft Store customer service department.

• After a 40 minute phone call, was told that all three orders were cancelled and they had no record of me ever being charged. I was asked to send copies of my invoices and proof of being billed to my Visa, which I immediately did, yet heard nothing back.

Okay, stop skimming and wake up. Here’s where it gets good.

  • Arrived home to find two boxes on my doorstep. Yep, the two orders HAD gone through, and I was the proud owner of two Microsoft Surfaces.
  • I immediately e-mailed for instructions on returning (and most importantly, being reimbursed for) the second tablet.
  • No response.

Saturday December 8th/Sunday December 9th

  • Nothing. Didn’t really expect to hear over the weekend, but it’s Christmas season and we are talking about Microsoft. Not exactly a little mom-and-pop storefront.

Monday December 10th

  • Nothing.

Tuesday December 11th

  • Called Customer Support for the Microsoft Store and was told that they would issue me a UPS return label for the second tablet, and start the process of refunding my Visa.
  • Then I got as demanding as I could possibly be with a stranger, and politely asked to whom I needed to speak to see what they could do about making me a satisfied customer. The response to that was that the “volume” of this problem is so high that they are unable at this time to offer any sort of compensation (so the fact that it’s happening to lots of people is supposed to make me feel better?), but that he would let his supervisor know. Wow.

Wednesday December 12th

  • UPS picked up the second box.

As of this date, I am still waiting to have my account credited back. And I’m sure I will be waiting a long time to be compensated in any way for the hours and hours of my time that I spent just to order this product.

Can you believe how long this story took? You were so sweet to stick with me throughout my ordeal. Is your blood pressure up yet?

Now, let me be clear: each rep I spoke with was polite and apologetic. Obviously they have a good (though slightly patronizing) script and know how to talk people off a ledge. It’s the system that I have a huge problem with. Why did they think multiple orders were cancelled when they weren’t? What did I do to make them think my order would need to be checked by the fraud department? Why did I deal with multiple people, playing e-mail and phone tag to get answers?

So, what do I think of the Microsoft Surface? It was easy to set up, but I won’t know much until after Christmas when the family gets using it. All I know is it better be worth it.

(And for you iPad fans who cannot fathom why I went this route, I really wanted Microsoft Office on our tablet, as it will be for business and pleasure.)

2 comments on “How To Order a Microsoft Surface in 31 Painful Steps”

  1. Kate, oh my gosh, I feel your pain. How frustrating! If I were you, I wouldn't bother trying to deal any further with Microsoft, simply file a chargeback with your Visa and let them take care of it. You certainly have enough documentation to prove your case! Good luck!

  2. Kate we have the iPad and I would LOVE to have something with Microsoft office on it. That would take the iPad from strictly play to something useful too. However, I do have multiple other computers in the house so I really can't complain.
    Other cons about the iPad are the no-flash player thing. Not sure if the Microsoft surface plays flash player, but not having it operate on the iPad is inconvenient.
    That sounds like a hairy ordeal, hope the toy/tool is worth all the hullabulloo!

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