Microsoft’s Surface Pre-Order – A Disaster for International Customers

Back on October 16th Microsoft opened up the pre-order window and people around the world jumped on the bandwagon and pre-ordered a Surface RT. I jumped on the pre-order and had mine submitted and in the system shortly after the site when live, which was about 20 minutes before the scheduled release. I ordered a Surface RT 64GB version with an additional touch cover in cyan. I found the checkout process to be incredibly easy and fast. It’s powered by your Live ID (now a Microsoft Account), so they already had my credit card and shipping address. It was awesome – so great, that I really wished that I could pre-order unlocked Windows Phone devices through the same system.


During the whole check out process, I kept wondering if this was the right move. After all, I live a short 30 minute drive from one of the Microsoft pop-up stores. So getting to a store on October 26th and picking a Surface RT up in person was certainly a possibility. There was 2 extra benefits that the pre-order got me: A) no line ups! Do I ever hate standing around waiting in lives. The pre-order meant I could avoid that, which is a win in my books. And B) a guaranteed unit on launch day. There is some risk that I might not actually get a device on launch day if I went down to the store and stood in line. Since the check out repeatedly indicated that this was a pre-order for delivery on October 26, I figured it was a win-win and there was nothing to lose.

But then came the first heart-break. That night at 11:00pm I received an email from the Microsoft Store telling me that my order was delayed and wouldn’t ship until November 2nd. Delivery a full week later meant I no longer would have the product on launch day – which is the primary purpose of pre-ordering anything. Other than a little complaining on Twitter, I resisted my urge to cancel the pre-order and try my luck at the store. I figured that I should wait until Monday and give Microsoft a chance to respond with a reason for this change.

24 hours later, I received a follow up email. This time it was an apology for the error, and confirmed that my original ship date would stand. While I still had a sour taste in my mouth, I was glad that the issue was resolved and I would get the device on launch day once again. Or would I?



The morning of the big announcement, and just over 24 hours from availability I get my tracking number and the Microsoft Store charged my credit card for the full amount. I watched the Windows 8 announcement and the Surface announcement – both were very good events. Although, I do have to say that the Surface announcement had much better energy. As the 25th came to a close I started to wonder if I would actually get my Surface on the launch day or not. The tracking number was still returning a warning message that the request was generated, but that they did not yet have the parcel in their possession. Now, typically a tracking number is generated and sent to the customer the same day that the parcel is to be picked up by the courier. So within 12 hours or maybe 24 on the outside, you should see something in the system.

Launch day – October 26, and my tracking number was still showing that the package had not been picked up by the courier and my hope of having a Surface on launch drops to near zero. I kept a vigil at reception for the entire morning, just in case.  Just as lunch hit, I received another email from the Microsoft Store and this time things were getting a little confusing. According to the latest email, it was somehow made clear at the time of ordering that customers in Canada would received their Surface between October 26 and October 30th. Huh? No it was not! But, to make up for any confusion, they provided everyone with a coupon for $50 off your next order. :(


Well, it was Friday, and clearly it wasn’t going to arrive before the end of the day. So 26-30th, is really a 3 business day window (26 = Friday, 29 = Monday, and 30 = Tuesday). There’s little I can do about this over the weekend, other than running out to a store and buying one. But then again, I do have a tracking number and what if it actually ships over the weekend? I could have 2 on Monday morning and have to deal with returning one. With a busy weekend ahead, I figured I could live without for a couple days.


24 hours turned into 48 and then 72. Still my tracking number indicated that the parcel was not in the couriers possession. But then it finally happened – 84 hours after they originally sent me the tracking number! My Surface was now in the couriers hands and on it’s way to me. The estimated delivery date is October 31st – WHAT?

Now I fully understand that there is a lot of logistics that go into ensuring that customers get their product on time. I’m certain that Microsoft knows this as well. But to promise delivery on a given day, change it, then apologize for the change and revert back, then claim everyone else is mistaken and provide a new delivery window only to miss that?! Well, that’s just plain sad. If there had been any indication that delivery would be so screwed up, I would have taken my chances standing in line on launch day. On the grand scale, the Surface appears to be doing pretty well, and same with Windows 8. It’s too bad that one piece of the puzzle screwed things up and left a bad impression with customers.

About Mike Temporale

Mike Temporale has written 614 posts on Mobile Jaw..

Mike Temporale grew up fascinated by computers since an early age. His first hands on with a computer came when he was 7 years old and a travelling lab of Commodore PET computers made a stop at his school. Hooked on the new world these devices offered, he took any chance possible to get in front of a computer. When Compaq launched the iPaq 3600, he was hooked again. This time on a whole new world of mobile computing. Today, Mike spends his day helping clients deploy and manage their mobile device around the world. From installing custom software, to locking and securing data, and everything in between. He is also the Editor in Chief at Mobile Jaw - a site focused on today's mobile world.

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  • Dean Smith

    I have had a very very similar experience to you, Mike. I pre-ordered as soon as I got notification, I received the same notifications about the date change, and then I got the same email saying sorry for the confusion, here’s $50 for the store, the Surface will be there between Oct-26 and Oct-30.

    I called the Microsoft Store to ask when I could ACTUALLY expect it because I was now very confused. The assistant I spoke to really gave me the run around. All I wanted was a straight answer, I didn’t care if the answer was “next week” as long as I was told a date. I wanted my expectations managed. After getting no straight answer I asked to speak to a supervisor, who told me that the problem was demand and availability, and that they were having to ship direct from the manufacturer. I asked when I would receive my Surface and was told it would get there on Friday. That Friday, the 26th. I gave the supervisor three chances to change his mind, but he insisted that it would be there Friday.

    Nothing Friday, nothing Saturday. Sunday morning I receive an email saying the package has been shipped. Even now, even today, UPS says it hasn’t, UPS says it still hasn’t received the package.

    I called the store today, and explained that I had been lied to. The assistant explained that the emails sent out made it clear that I would get the Surface on the 2nd of November. I said that first of all they didn’t, the last email said “between Oct. 26 and Oct. 30″ and secondly the supervisor on Friday told me it would be delivered that Friday. I was transfered to a supervisor, who apologised for the delay. I explained that I was lied to, and I was told it wasn’t really a lie. I stated that I gave the previous supervisor three changes to change his mind, that he kept stating it would be there on Friday, so it was an outright LIE. The supervisor today apologised for that.

    I asked for a date. I stated that I previously didn’t care if the date was in the future because I just wanted my expectations managed, but now my whole experience with Surface has been affected. I have been told it will be there on the 2nd of November, but I asked how the supervisor could know that, seeing as the package hasn’t even been picked up yet by UPS. Is this just more lies? I explained that if the estimated delivery time was after the 2nd, I would be calling again.

    • Mike Temporale

      That sounds very similar indeed! I wonder if your UPS tracking code will take 84 hours before the register it as picked up?!
      My parcel is still scheduled to arrive on October 31 – a day later than the most recent estimate from the Microsoft Store. While it is with UPS, I don’t have much faith in it arriving tomorrow. I hope I’m wrong.

      • Dean Smith

        I hope you have it now Mike. The UPS tracking is still showing that UPS have not received my package. I’ve called again today to escalate this further, finally got a straight answer from a supervisor (“We cannot give you a time it may arrive”) but as you can imagine I’m not happy about this.

        • Mike Temporale

          Sadly – No. I didn’t end up with it yesterday. It turns out the UPS driver decided not to deliver it. He marked the package as missing a unit number. When I called UPS and the read out the address to me, they clearly had Suite #XXXX on the label. My guess is the driver decided to call it a day and head home early.

          They loaded it on the truck this morning and it finally arrived at noon. I have to say that I’m pretty disappointed that it took 7 days from the point that they charged my credit card to get me my Surface. Part of this was UPS’s fault, but a large part was also Microsoft’s for failing to ship this within the originally stated time frame.

          • Dean Smith

            I still do not have my Surface, despite being contacted by the Microsoft Store:

          • Mike Temporale

            WHAT !?!
            That’s ridiculous. Tell me you’ve had some luck and someone has been able to help you out. Incredible that they would treat customers like this. While mine was late, they at least had some clue as to what was going on – even if it’s disgusting that they choose to screw over international customers. But you’re story is sounding really miserable. :-/

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  • Jonathan

    Your pre-ordered Surface got bumped back? Judging by the after sales feedback coming in from reviewers and thousands of other crash-test dummies you should be thankful you just (temporarily?) dodged a bullet.

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