Microsoft promises fixes for several long-standing Surface problems

A series of official comments on the Microsoft Answers forum give hope to those with bad batteries, pens and Type Covers, but opinions are divided whether they represent a real change in Microsoft’s support — or just wishful thinking and smoke and/or mirrors.

Microsoft’s multibillion-dollar Surface brand has taken many hits in its relatively short and sordid career, while customer support vacillated between inadequate and non-existent. Now, official posts on the Microsoft Answers Forum lend a ray of hope to those who have specific problems. It remains to be seen if the posts reflect a corporate change of heart, or if they’re just more of the same-old same-old.

Last week I wrote about the apparent bug in the Win10 Fall Creators Update that makes some Surface Pens stop writing. In that article I list 10 separate Answers Forum threads and two Reddit threads, packed with complaints from similarly afflicted customers.

Then there’s the long-standing Surface screen-flickering problems. I talked about it six months ago, three months ago, two weeks ago, and again last week. George Visvikis posted a video on YouTube that describes a fix — put your screen in the freezer for a bit and the flickering stops, only to return a few minutes later. The “Flickergate” website is still going strong.

Battery problems have become synonymous with “Surface.” A year ago, the Simplo “batterygate” fiasco led to a class-action lawsuit, which was followed by even more battery problems. Blue screens, lockups, and countless other problems led to Consumer Reports dropping its “Recommended” imprimatur for all Microsoft laptops.

There’s a long report of problems with the Surface Pen, started by IanHoover:

I have a brand new pen/surface pro 2017. If my hand is not on the screen, the pen is perfectly accurate, even at an angle. About 50% of the time, if I begin a stroke with my hand already resting on the screen, there is a significant offset of the pen line to the actual tip position. This makes hand-writing nigh impossible. Calibrating is useless, since if I calibrate to correct the offset, then 50% of the time it is now offset in the other direction.

That’s not all. Far from it. Poster JohMcAdams reports that his company’s 150 Surface Pro 3 PCs, all on the extra-cost Complete Care package, won’t get advanced exchange.

What we pay to be an overnight process is now into the second week. Not only are we looking at replacing our 150 Surface Pro 3s but our 1500 Surface Pro 4s. This is completely unacceptable!

Sound familiar? Here’s what’s new. Microsoft-badged representatives on the Answers Forum are now offering hope to some of those with old problems. For example, Jasmine Car, responding to yet another complaint about the Surface Pro 3 and 4 batteries, now says:

We are aware of some members having the same battery issue with their Surface.

even more hopeful:

The challenge that you are experiencing with your battery may be a software-related concern.

Responding to the Surface Pro 4 Type Cover problem, ‘Softie Erwin Nga says:

There will be an incoming update for Windows that can resolve your concern with your keyboard.

No additional details, of course.

I’ve even seen some reports of Microsoft Store managers making good on defective Surface products. Poster Vashthe Stampede says:

After nearly 1.5 hours in the store [the Microsoft Store manager] agreed to give me a better offer. He would still buy back my old device for $389, then he would let me have a brand new latest Surface Pro 2017 (of the same setup) for $999 instead of $1299. So I could get one Surface Pro 2017 (Core i5, 8GB, 256GB) for ($999 + 6% tax - $389) = 669.94 or somewhere around there. That is about a 50% off for a new device. So I took this offer. 

On the top of that, he offered 50% off for the two-year extended warranty (original price is $150). I took it and paid extra $75 (do not want to go through it again with serious hardware problem and out of warranty ackwardness). And when he looked at my old Surface keyboard, he asked if I wanted to trade it in for a new one (for free). I took the offer too.  

The Surface Pen issue isn’t addressed directly by Microsoft, as best I can tell, but the solution’s simple: Microsoft should offer to replace the new, $99 pen, with the older $79 pen — the one that works — and give customers a $20 credit. Easy.

It seems that many people who venture to Microsoft Stores get a fair shake, even if they bought their original equipment online. Which is fine if you live near a Microsoft Store. For the rest of us, not so much.

Have a Surface problem? Find a solution? Sound off on the AskWoody Lounge.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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