When Microsoft launched the Surface Pro 3, it was fairly proud of the hardware. That hardware was generally well-received, with reviewers praising the way the platform continued to evolve over time. Back then, Surface VP Panos Pinay did a Reddit AMA, in which he promised that Microsoft had “built a great battery into the product.” If the battery failed, Pinay promised, Microsoft would replace it if the failure occurred during the warranty period. If the battery failed outside the warranty period, “you’ll call Microsoft support and arrange for the battery to be replaced. The cost will be $200 USD.”
As InfoWorld reports, Microsoft isn’t keeping that promise, and the company’s behavior has some of its Surface 3 owners outraged. The problem, once again, is with the Surface 3’s battery. Earlier this year, MS released a fix for customers with Simplo batteries that had seen a cataclysmic reduction in charge time. Now, some LG customers are seeing similar issues — and Microsoft’s response has been to charge people hundreds of dollars for refurb machines with 60-day warranties and no guarantees that they won’t suffer from exactly the same problem.
This scenario is exactly what reddit user caliber was trying to avoid two years ago, when he wrote:
I have an original Surface Pro, and my number one complaint with it is that when the battery stops holding a charge in two years, my only option is to have the entire device replaced by Microsoft for $450…Is this still the case with the Surface Pro 3?
To which the Surface team replied:
To sum up: We’ve built a great battery into the product (details above). IF the battery fails during the warranty period, we’ll replace the battery. IF the battery fails after the warranty period, you’ll call Microsoft support and arrange for the battery to be replaced. The cost will be $200 USD.
Well, now the batteries are failing (the main thread over at the Microsoft Answers forum is 135 pages long), and Microsoft’s response is exactly the opposite of what the Surface Team implied at the time. Pinay hasn’t spoken up about the problem on Twitter, but this kind of issue could damage Surface appeal long-term. Despite moving to address the Simplo issue, MS hasn’t even said if the LG problem is on the radar — and customers with failing batteries are being told that their only option is to drop $450 on a refurbed unit.
Sounds like one of the best ways to kill your customer base that we’ve ever heard of, and the shafted customers certainly don’t seem pleased by the current state of affairs. Come on, Microsoft. When the head of Surface development prominently tells customers that they can buy replacement batteries for $200 out of warranty, don’t you think you’ve got an obligation to honor that statement — at least, if you want to retain said customers?