Monday, July 21, 2014

I just tried to give Microsoft more money.

As regular readers of my blog or people that know me well will know, I sit in both the Microsoft camp and the Apple camp.  

  • I program in both .Net and Objective-C (and lately, Swift too). 
  • I have an iPhone and a Windows Phone.
  • I have a Mac and a PC.
  • My Mac has Windows on it too.
  • I have an iPad and a Surface RT.
I like to think that I'm fair and knowledgeable about both sides of the camp.  I really like the effort both teams are putting into technology.  I also really like the ease of use for the cloud offerings.  Aaand I'm also getting really tired of Microsoft's inability to deal with me as a consumer in a reliable way.  (We've been here before - see here)  

As a programmer, things are great.  You set things up in Windows Azure and things just work...  

"You want Visual Studio 2013 Pro? No problem, we'll just tack on the subscription to your Azure account." - and shazam - you got a valid copy of it up and running.

 As a consumer, I have to fight tooth and nail...  
"You want Windows 8 to run under Parallels?  Sorry, we don't sell Windows for Mac"...
... and when you do finally get it...
"OK, we'll sell you the full copy of Windows, but you can only download an install stub that runs under Windows, which we understand you don't have yet".
...or even this...
"You can't order a Windows Kinect device to be picked up and paid for at the store".

So this week, it was time to update my Surface RT.  I've had a good time with the device, and it has served me well, but I can't run on old tech forever - especially in my line of work.

First I took a trip to Toronto's Eaton Centre, where Microsoft has a retail space.  I spoke to the people there who told me if I bring in the old device, I was eligible to get about $200 for the old device to put towards the new one.  This sounded reasonable.  Over the weekend, I had to go to Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre, and Microsoft has a big store there, so I brought along my decommissioned Surface RT.

I knew something was going wrong the moment I walked through the door and said "Hi! I'd like to trade in my Surface RT and upgrade to a Surface Pro 3".  The assistant looked at me for about three seconds and replied that there is no program that uses old devices as part of the purchasing process for new devices.  

Rather than get into a long-winded argument, I pointed out what the other Microsoft store had said and then asked him if they had lied to me?  He said he'd go speak to his manager (a tall blonde guy that was parading around with his arms in a "Y" shape as he'd just scored a goal on the XBox One soccer game).  A few minutes later, he came back and said that yes, there was actually a program for this - and promptly delivered me to the back desk.

At the back desk, I was told there was three options to choose from (Cheap, middle & expensive).  I opted for the cheapest one.  The guy went out the back of the store for five minutes and came back saying the option I'd chosen wasn't in stock - and really there was only two options.  So, I chose the cheapest of the two (the middle one).  He disappeared again to confirm they had that one.

Next came the trading in of the old device.  I was looking forward to my $200 credit being put on a device that was now already more expensive than I'd planned, so you can imagine my disappointment when the new valuation came in at $92.  I'm not kidding.

I left the Microsoft Store with the more-expensive-than-planned device, minus $100 worth of planned discounts, and just as peeved as I always do when I have to do something with Microsoft that involves me being a customer.

Having said that, the device is as nice as I'd expected it to be... It's just a shame that every time I look at the device, I'm miffed by the memory of the purchase experience (again!).