You probably know Microsoft introduced the Surface Book on October 6th. It is a well designed, and powerful, Windows laptop. My current laptop has developed an annoying hum so a getting a new one seemed to make sense. I decided to splurge and on October 7th and placed a pre-order. This is the formal complaint letter I filed with Microsoft's Executive Escalation team; documenting my horrible pre-order experience.

My Formal Complaint

October 29th, 2015:

My name is Jeffry Houser and I wish to file a formal complaint about Microsoft's handling of my Surface Book pre-order.

As you know, Microsoft announced the Surface Book on October 6th. I was very excited about getting a powerful well engineered Windows Laptop and decided I had to have one.

What follows contains the full details of my pre-order experience problems including order number, case numbers, and the names of support people I spoke with. I hope you'll excuse if me I have incorrect names on the list; as my notes are imperfect, and my phone connection to the support personnel was never crystal clear.

On October 7th: I placed a pre-order for an i7 512GB with 16GB of RAM and a Surface Dock.

On October 19th: Microsoft tried to charge my American Express card and American Express triggered a fraud warning, declining the transaction. I got a phone call from American Express and immediately approved the charge. American Express requested I have Microsoft do a re-authorization on the card and they would approve it. I also received an email from the Microsoft Store asking me to update my payment information.

I tried to re-run the charge on the Microsoft Store site and it was declined. I was notified I only had three remaining chances to fix this issue.

I tried to enter my credit card details as a new card and it was declined because the card was already on file. I tried to re-run the charge on the Microsoft store site a second time with the existing credit card profile and it was declined. I was notified I only had 2 remaining chances to fix this issue.

I called Microsoft around 3pm and spoke to "Roan" who told me a lot of people were having the same problem. Microsoft was working on it. I should wait a few hours to try again.

Around 6pm I tried to run the charge on the Microsoft site a third time and it failed, letting me know I only had a single opportunity to fix the issue remaining.

Around 6:30pm I got on the phone with American Express. They informed me that no additional charge attempts were made against my card and they did not reject it. With American Express on the phone, insisting the charge should go through, I submitted my last attempt through the Microsoft Store and the order was cancelled. Before getting off the phone with American Express, I had them verify that no charge was attempted or declined on their end.

After getting off the phone with American Express, I called the Microsoft Store immediately. I spoke to "Christie". She assured me that the order was not cancelled and that it was just a problem with the Microsoft Store system and the cancellation email was erroneous. She promised me a call back within 24 hours.

On October 20th: I did not get a phone call back within the 24 hour time frame. I called the Microsoft Store around 9:30pm. I was told they were still waiting for an update from a high level support team and promised a call back in 24-48 hours.

Around 10:30pm I received a call from Gloria from Microsoft Store Support. She created a new order for me and promised that my original ship date of October 26th would be honored.

On October 21st: I noticed that the ship date on the second order for the Surface Book listed 6-7 weeks which is very different than what I was promised verbally. I called Microsoft Store and was assured that the email was erroneous and I would still receive the product on the 26th.

On October 22nd: Microsoft called me to cancel the 2nd order and place a new one. I spoke to two support technicians in two separate calls. Both promised I would get the product by the original promised ship date. The Surface Dock on the second order was kept active while the Surface Book on the second order was cancelled.

In retrospect, I am unclear why this was required.

On October 26th: I called Microsoft Store Support around 8:00am to get a tracking number for the Surface Book. The Microsoft Store could give me no information. My Surface Dock was received on this day, but there is no sign of my Surface Book.

On October 27th: I received an email to let me know there was no update on shipping dates.

On October 28th: I received an email to apologize for the delay.

On October 29th: I called Microsoft. This time I called the number in the October 28th email (1-800-642-7676) instead of the phone number in the Order Emails (1-877-696-7786). On the first call, I got disconnected immediately. I assume this was an honest mistake.

I called the number again spoke to someone who asked a lot of my information. In my frustration, I used some inappropriate language. I should not have let my emotions get the better of me, a feel remorse for my verbal slip. I was transferred to the Microsoft Store support team.

I spoke to "Kemp". He said there was a chance my order may get delivered up today, or that it may show up in 6-7 weeks. I pushed for a specific delivery date and asked to speak to a supervisor. He put me on hold and eventually came back to tell me Monday November 9th. I asked once again to speak to a supervisor. After being put on hold, Eugene came on the line. Eugene offered me a $50 discount off my order and promised me a delivery date of November 2nd. During this single call I was given 4 different delivery windows. Given past delivery promises, why would I have any faith that any of them are correct?

At this point, I decided it was time to submit a formal complaint. I've had six different support reps promise me that my order will ship by the 26th; yet here it is four days past that and I'm getting a different story every time I talk to someone.

You can watch a full 30 minute edit of the support calls from before October 26th. You can also watch, a shorter compilation of your Microsoft Store Reps promising me the original ship date will be honored.

Your Microsoft Store staff has always been polite and professional, but ineffective.

This experience has soured my enthusiasm for the Surface Book. As long-time Microsoft Customer, and a small business owner who makes much of his living developing software with Microsoft technologies, I am left with a sour taste in my mouth. I'm no longer asking myself "When will the Surface Book ship?" I've started asking myself "What can Microsoft due to keep me as a customer?"

Can you help restore my faith in Microsoft?

The Aftermath

10/29/2015: Justin H from Microsoft Global Escalation Services emails me in response to my request to file a complaint and tells me he sees nothing wrong with the order. This was in response to me calling Redmond and asking to file a formal complaint, but before I actually could file the formal complaint. The letter above was sent shortly thereafter.

10/30/2015: I walk into a Microsoft Store and buy a SurfaceBook i7 off the shelf. They had a pre-order that wasn't picked up. Now; I have the machine part by coincidence and part by luck.

10/30/2015: Justin H emails me to tell me that the i7s are not shipping until 11-20 and the dates I was given were wrong all around. It turns out either Justin or his warehouse fulfillment team is confusing the Surface Pro 4 i7 with the SurfaceBook i7. I'm not sure if this mixup was an accident or something done just to try to satiate an upset customer.

I email back to have Justin cancel my existing order. He also offers me a partial refund of--roughly--10% of the purchase price. I accept.

10/31/2015: I speak to Justin H on the phone and he apologize for all the problems and promises me the refund. He is going to close the ticket I opened with him. IF there are any problems with the refund or the computer, I should email back and it will reopen the ticket.

So, here we go:

I'm fairly happy with the unit and hope to write a formal review at some future point. I don't think I'll ever be pre-ordering anything from the Microsoft Store web site again.