My Journey of Trying Microsoft Surface Book 2 and The Nightmare That Came with it
The story of my past 2 months with this computer became a headache that any person who depends on their computer would dread of.
I Had High Hopes…
… and I was psyched to try this machine. A refresh button to a few boring years in terms of innovation in physical designs of personal computers. It represented an act of re-imagination. A state of the art design by Microsoft to show to the world that they can innovate!
November & December, 2017
Microsoft introduced Surface Book 2 in a very bold move that totally lured me and made me consider switching back to Windows after 8 years of being on Mac. My Macbook Pro Retina from 2012 has been accompanying me until that very moment without any failures and had me convinced that it is better than anything else in the market as of now. I refused to accept that there could be any computer out there in the market that performs better and more reliably than this 6 year old machine based on seeing my friends experiences of trying the most recent Windows laptops and Macs.
I evaluated the announced product and was sold on going out of my way and ordered it for a Christmas delivery.
Pre-order was placed in November 2017 and got it on December 27, 2017!
First 4 Months
I have to say, it was super amazing to use it!
It offered many new ways to use a device this big and powerful that I haven’t really thought of before.
It reminded me of the time when back around 2008 people talked about how great Macbooks have been and how different it is to have a good track-pad or a high-quality screen that is ultra compact.
Back then, if you were a Windows user you would’ve thought that I’m happy with what I have but once you try Mac you realized you could use it in new ways that was not possible before and is just a novel approach on how we use and interact with our computers.
It worked flawlessly and loaded things rapidly and saved me hours at my work and I shared with my friends that so far it has been super amazing and showed them the different use cases when using the detachment functionality.
Something so mechanical in something so electronic!
A Random Day in April 2018
I wake up and I realize my laptop is not charging even though its plugged-in. Then I get a red notification that I have detached the computer even though its totally locked-in. Naturally I was no longer able to get the computer to detach since in the software it already believed that it is detached while mechanically is still durably in place.
I researched for almost an hour and found no fix except physically trying to force release the hardware and also void the 3-year warranty that came with it.
3 emails and then an hour on the phone and the technical support tells me they found out its their fault and they will replace my computer. I informed them that I purchased this while I was in the Netherlands but I am currently in the Philippines and they replied that they can’t since I bought it in the Netherlands. I insist that for me as a professional this malfunction has a massive opportunity cost and I will not be in the Netherlands for another 6 weeks, this is putting aside the fact that I paid $2,500 for this laptop, one of the most expensive laptops out there and I am a victim of poor design and engineering here.
The decent thing would be for Microsoft to help me out here because I understand engineering new things faces setbacks and errors. I even gave them an example that this even happens to our company but we do whatever we can to make it right to the consumer because he was brave and supportive enough to pay for something at such an early stage of their life cycle.
I provided them my acknowledgement and understanding in such events when innovating but expected them to go the extra mile and send it to me here.
I said that if it is not possible to replace it quickly then please just give me a refund and I will return the device to any address they provide!
Side-Story: As this was happening, I took the chance to learn and improve my verbal communication skills & test out my ability to delegate things I have never delegated before. From my perspective it enabled me to build stronger bonds with our team (… & I hope they learned as much as well!).
My days became all about talking to our team all day just verbally and work with them to move things forward. Truly an important learning experience!
25 Days, 50 Emails and 4 Hours Call-Time Later…
Still no results…
I told them that now I want a refund because how can I know the replacement doesn’t have the same issue and the way they wasted my time is just not worth waiting for it.
I informed them them that I will return the device in the Netherlands but just please accept it as a return, I really can’t risk this much time for the sake of the venture that I am working on myself.
While the technical support person named Carlo was helpful, my request was rejected and the person they put me in touch with for that matter started saying that how would they know that this is legit and that I did not intentionally damage my computer. I do not know why on earth would anyone do that to their computer and told him that their team already accepted this as a malfunction during a diagnosis. He clearly replied to me: “Go buy any other thing in wherever you are, in this case Philippines and see if any local dude in any store would accept such returns. How do I know you didn’t install viruses on your computer? You are taking too much time of mine.” I asked him “isn’t it your job to help your customers or is it to get rid of them?” to which he confidently replied “in this case is to get rid of the customer.”
Such language was just mind-blowing to me. Carlo from Technical support interrupted and immediately apologized then suddenly other person said “technical team, stop wasting our time. I am ending this call!” and hung up.
At this point I completely lost faith on Microsoft but as a last bit of feedback I wrote to Microsoft’s Human Resources about the language used in the call. I then found out that since I called the US support number (to speak to an English-speaker) they actually outsource the refund unit to third-party call-centers which made me question whether Microsoft really cares.
June 2018, In Netherlands, Returned The Laptop for Replacement
I then found out that calling the Dutch support number would have been a wiser choice since I got to directly talk to someone employed by Microsoft.
That person admitted this issue has happened to thousands of customers and that they are furious. He said that I will get a replacement within 10 business days to which I said is way too long because I will not be in the Netherlands for that long. To no avail they failed to provide any other solution though gave me a link to a portal set by the European Union for consumer protectionism to report such cases and the person informed me that while he totally understands how much time of mine has been wasted on this, his hands are tied and hoped for me to get to chance the policies by reporting it to EU Trade Commission.
At this point I started dreaming of my now 6 year old Macbook that never let me down. I now switched back to it.
It was a painful experience for me to go through this pretty much on a daily basis for 2 months while remaining focused on building a company. I tried to not waste as much time on it but I took it as an opportunity to learn and improve some skills.
The moral of the story for me was to realize that I shall never build a company that would treat an early-adopting customer like this and remembered how much these companies can impact our daily lives.
With the hope of the day that our digital engineering gets as good as our mechanical engineering.
Final Note: This event wasted so much resources that I will not get back but I wrote down this experience in about 40 minutes so that hopefully with the power of internet, it saves more time for the people out there… Maybe it is the only way to make this whole thing worth it, though I learned lessons out of it.