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When I moved into my condo I bought a refurbished Cuisinart coffee machine. You know, the type that brews Keurig coffees. It was my first purchase for the condo, and I was very proud of it. Why? Well for one thing it is a very nice machine, and for another… well, mornings are just better with coffee.
A few weeks later it started leaking. I was busy with other things, but in December I looked into it and sure enough it had a 90 day warranty. I called Conair Cuisinart Canada because by now it was probably Day 89, and they told me to ship it to them and they would honour the warranty, and I would have the machine back within 10 business days.
I shipped it out on January 2nd.
After a month I called and by chance reached the same rep I had originally spoken with, and he told me that they were replacing it, but they had been out of stock of the refurbished machines which explains the delay. ‘Don’t worry Mr. Garvis, the machines are now in, and we are sending it out to you today. You will have it by Friday.
Friday came and went. So did next Friday.
I called back and was told by another rep that the machine had definitely not been shipped, and that they were out of stock. I asked to speak to the supervisor. I was transferred to a voice mail box, and left a message.
The following day, fully twenty-seven hours after leaving the voice mail, I called back. After nearly an hour on hold I reached a rep and I immediately asked for the supervisor, but not their voice mail. I won’t bother to explain the ridiculous conversation that followed, but in the end I was at last speaking with the supervisor… the same man who had told me to ship them the machine and that I would get it back in 10 days; the same supervisor who told me two weeks prior that my machine was being shipped out that day. The same supervisor who, in my eyes, had lied to me, and had no credibility.
‘I have great news for you Mr. Garvis! We still don’t have the refurbished machines in stock, so a decision has been made to send you a new one. You should be thankful that I was able to arrange this… we don’t do this often!’
I should be thankful.
Over the eight weeks that I was without my coffee maker I bought a cup of coffee nearly every day; assuming that I only bought the one cup (probably not true, but let’s average it), then at $2.36 per cup per day, I spent $132 on coffee… an operational expense that I originally bought the coffee machine (capital expense) to avoid. And while a simple search of BestBuy.ca (and without doing any comparison shopping whatsoever) shows that the exact model I bought sells for $199.99… but another simple search of eBay shows I can get a new one for $79.00… not to mention that my refurbished one originally cost me $65.
All of this to say that with the $132 I spent at Starbucks since December, I could have bought myself another machine… and had plenty of money left over.
…and yet, I should feel thankful that they sent me the new one (which of course will only come with the warranty for a used model).
Had I had that conversation in December I would have just gritted my teeth and called it what it is… what we get in a day and age where customer service is not considered important, and companies are unwilling to spend the money to go the extra mile to retain their customers. However two incidents in January showed me that there are some companies for whom customer service is extremely important, and customer retention is everything. They both happened on the same day in the same mall, from two very different companies.
When I came back from Japan in January, 2014 I needed a new cell phone, and rather than selling my soul to my cell phone provider, I bought a used iPhone 5 from eBay. I don’t remember what I paid, but it was reasonable. From what I could tell the phone was a little over a year old, and worked fine… for now.
Over time though some issues arose, but I would just live with them. The first was that the power button stopped working. This is less of a game-stopper than you might think, because the only time my phone is off is when the battery dies, and when you plug it into a charger it immediately turns on again.
I noticed the battery life diminishing… so I went to speak to a ‘Genius’ at the Apple Store in Square One mall and he told me that I should be getting at least eight hours out of it… as long as I turned off vibrate mode. As for the power button… well they could take it in and ship it out to be fixed at my expense, but I would be without a phone; I decided to use the phone until it was no longer useable, then get something else.
I woke up Monday morning in Bellevue, Washington the second week of January, and my colleague and I went to the Microsoft Store to look into an issue with my corporate laptop. We had to wait a couple of hours for the appointment, so we were going to find somewhere to sit and talk when my phone died. It was 10:15am, I had charged it overnight, I was not awake two hours, and the battery was dead.
I said ‘You know what, we have time to kill… let’s go into the Apple Store and see what they tell me.’ We did just that, and yes we had to wait in line for a ‘drop in’ appointment.
The Genius who helped me was a nice enough guy, and after I explained the situation he examined the phone and then he asked me something that surprised me:
“Your phone is registered in Canada with Rogers, so if I replace it for you it will not activate until you get back to Canada and it can connect to a Rogers tower. Would you be okay with that?”
The phone was nearly 18 months out of warranty, purchased from a different company, in a different country. And yet Apple was willing to replace the device for me. I was shocked, and told him yes, I would be okay with that.
He was wrong by the way… the phone activated on my Rogers account as soon as it connected to the AT&T network, and I was not without my phone for any period of time.
They owed me nothing… I have in my lifetime bought a grand total of one thing from an Apple Store, and I sold it on Craig’s List three months later. The Apple Store could very easily have said ‘Yeah… you’re not really our customer, but here are a bunch of devices you could buy from us to replace your device that has clearly been used into an early obsolescence. Instead, he pulled out a refurbished iPhone 5 that was identical to my old one, and gave it to me.
That is Customer Service. THAT is a company that wants to earn or retain my loyalty.
My corporate laptop is a Microsoft Surface Pro 3, i7 model. It is certainly a Microsoft product… but it was purchased from another company in Japan, re-imaged, and was not working the way it was supposed to. We were hoping the technicians at the MS Store could tell us what was wrong with it, but we assumed it was going to have to go back to Japan. Michael and I had even discussed how we would do that – he would give me his identical device, take mine back to Tokyo, and have it dealt with. It would not be convenient, but that’s the price of doing business sometimes.
The technician spent thirty minutes trying to resolve the issue. I confess, I sometimes find it tedious watching retain technicians work through all of the troubleshooting steps I have already followed, but this time I was glad for it because Michael and I actually had business to discuss. He tried this and that and the other thing, and for love or money he just was not able to resolve the issue.
“Mr. Garvis, we know this device has your corporate image of Windows 8.1 on it, but I would like to replace it for you because I cannot resolve the issue. Is that a problem, or do you need the corporate image? If you do, I can send it in and they can fix it.”
Once again… the device was nearly a year old, bought from another company, in another country… and yet the Microsoft Store was willing to replace it for me with a brand new device. Oh, the best part:
“Look, normally we would give you a refurbished machine, but in this case we don’t have any refurbs in stock so I’m going to give you a new one.”
In the event that the corporate image had been important, Michael had the ability to image it in his hotel room… but it wasn’t – I was able to install all of the necessary software on the Microsoft image… and it works great.
That is Customer Service. THAT is a company that wants to earn or retain my loyalty.
I do not know if the customer service issue is a Canadian thing, or if it is just that I was dealing with a bad company or a bad department or a bad rep. Whatever it is, Here is a lesson for Cuisinart Canada. The next time I buy a smartphone it will probably be an iPhone; the next tablet I buy will absolutely be running Windows, and there is a very good chance that I will buy it from Microsoft. And the next time I buy a kitchen appliance it will not be a Cuisinart.
But how can I say that? After all, they did send me a brand new coffee maker, even though I had sent them a refurbished one.
It’s not that the device was defective. Welcome to Earth, sometimes consumer products don’t work and have to be fixed or replaced. Hell, look at my Surface Pros and my iPhone. The reason is not only that I was lied to repeatedly (but I was); it’s not that Cuisinart makes bad products (they don’t); it’s not even that I had to sit on hold for nearly an hour each of the five times I called regarding this issue (I did).
It’s simple… After all that, Cuisinart wanted me to be grateful for what they were doing for me. They felt they were doing me a favour, and I should be singing their praises. That is not what customer service is supposed to feel like. I shouldn’t have to genuflect because you helped me – you are customer service and that is what you are supposed to do.
Microsoft and Apple both demonstrated to me that they wanted me as a customer, and even though they are two of the biggest companies in the world, they need me as a customer. Cuisinart thinks I need them more than they need me… and in this case, to fix or replace my coffee maker they were right. However in the grand scheme of things, I do not have any need to be a Cuisinart customer. I have two of their appliances, and I think that is just enough.
I have been having an issue with the device… it’s a networking issue that is absolutely not normal behaviour. The Microsoft Store replaced it for me once, but I am still having the issues. I requested a call-back from Surface Support this week; I was assured by the site that I would receive a call within 34 minutes. However 30 minutes later (after counting down the whole while) they changed the status to ‘Sorry, our support desk is closed, so call-backs are not available. Please try again during normal business hours.’ Crap.
The next day I opted for on-line chat (during normal business hours). I waited for an hour plus (the expected wait time was 22 minutes). Finally Kaylee came onto the chat; after I explained the problem to her she reset the chat… in other words, the problem was over her head so she decided to waste my time and let me go back into the queue… for another hour long wait.
I am pissed now, and am ready to take the device back to the Microsoft Store and get my money back so that I can go elsewhere and buy a device that doesn’t have these issues.
What do you think?
The MVPs are coming! Yes, on May 29th there will be a plethora of Microsoft MVPs (Most Valuable Professionals) congregating at the Microsoft Store in Square One, Mississauga. Some of us will be there to answer your questions, some will be giving presentations on topics of interest. The rest of us will be there to heckle the other MVPs, so if you don’t have any questions it will still be entertaining
The event is called the MVP Consumer Camp, and it’s a really big deal. Why? Because most of us will speak to IT Pro audiences most of the time, and do not come out of our castles to speak to consumers and consumer issues. There will be MVPs from across Canada, and they want to meet you. In fact, they want to meet you so badly that Simran Chaudhry and Joel Langford, MVP Leads for Microsoft Canada, will be buying everyone who signs up and attends a steak and lobster dinner after the event**
So click on this link and register today… we would love to see you out there, and bring your questions… whether they be on Windows, Office, Xbox, or just about any other Microsoft technology, the experts will be in the house!
When: Thursday, May 29th, 4:00pm – 9:00pm
Where: Microsoft Store, Square One Mall, Mississauga
Registration Link: https://msevents.microsoft.com/CUI/EventDetail.aspx?EventID=1032587467&Culture=en-CA&community=0
**Our lawyers want to be clear that nobody will actually be buying you anything, and that you should be buying us drinks.
It is not so hard to believe that it has been a year since I bought my Microsoft Surface Pro. I liked it, but as I am not an average computer user, it did not take too long for me to realize that it was simply not powerful enough to be my primary laptop. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great companion device, and I used it as such for the past year. It was great for e-mail, web surfing, and e-book reading. I watched a ton of movies and TV shows on it, but that was really the extent of what I used it for. The long and the short of it is that once it was relegated to the secondary role, I could have settled for the less expensive (and even less powerful) Microsoft Surface with Windows RT. What’s done is done though.
Following the launch of the Surface Pro 2 I noticed that the specs were identical in most (and superior in some) aspects as my primary laptop. I decided to give it a try… the last week of January I stopped into the Microsoft Store in Yorkdale Mall (Toronto) and picked one up. Of course money being a factor, I decided to settle for the 4/128 base model (4GB RAM, 128GB SSD). For $999 it was not as powerful as I wanted, but to try it out…
I spent precisely a week with it before I realized that if it was a little more powerful this could be my primary laptop. I debated and debated… and then when I got a $50 gift card for the Microsoft Store I decided to bite the bullet… the store’s return policy is 14 days, so on Day 11 I went back… only to find out that they were completely out of stock. However, they told me, the new Square One location had plenty in stock. I hopped into my car and zoomed down there. Yay, they had it!
One of the things I really appreciate about dealing with the Microsoft Store is that whether I have my receipt or not they can look up my past purchases by e-mail address. They found my most recent transaction, and within a few minutes they exchange was done.
When I started using the original Surface Pro last year I was worried that 128GB of storage would drain pretty quickly, so I also bought a 64GB Micro-SD card, and through the magic of Windows 8 I configured most of my profile (documents, pictures, videos, downloads, desktop) to redirect automatically onto that chip, which I left inserted permanently (See article). While I never came close to my 128GB storage limit on the device, this strategy made migrating my data the simplest of operations… I took the Micro-SD card out of the old machine, inserted it into the new, and redirected the appropriate folders. Done. Between that and SkyDrive, I am loving Windows 8.1 more and more every day!
**How does it feel?**
With zero exceptions, the only thing that is slightly less comfortable on the Surface Pro 2 (in comparison to my Lenovo Carbon X1) is the keyboard. I still like a full sized keyboard, and that is lacking when I am on the road. However the Surface 2 Type Keyboard (now backlit!) is great in almost every respect… I am just not a fan of the mouse pad, but as I almost always use an external mouse (and touch screen and stylus) it is really mostly irrelevant. I still would not have cared for the touch keyboard, but the tactile ‘I can feel the keys when I type’ keyboard is great – I am a fast if not great typist, and I do not find myself making any more or fewer typing mistakes on this keyboard than I do on the laptop.
**How long does it last?**
That, of course, is the $64 question. The simple answer is that I don’t know yet… I have not run the battery down. However the 128GB model that I replaced with this one charged overnight Friday, and I used it for demos all day Saturday at the Microsoft Store… it wasn’t until midday Sunday that I needed to plug it in. As for this model, I charged it overnight Tuesday, and will not plug it in again until the battery dies. I will report back the results. However remember again, this is the only device I am using this week, and I already have a couple of virtual machines running so while results may vary, I assume I will be on the lower end of expectations.
One thing I was told with regard to the battery life is that the firmware update (available from Microsoft Updates) greatly improves the battery life… I applied the update yesterday, so it shouldn’t adversely affect me.
**How are you managing it?**
Because I am no longer ‘with’ Microsoft, I don’t really want to join the Surface Pro to a domain. No problem, I have a subscription to Windows Intune, and I simply installed the agent and poof… I can manage it, and aside from that (and patch management) the Windows Intune Endpoint Protection (WIEP) began protecting the computer right away. For my money there isn’t a better product on the market for what it does.
**But can I do…**
I got a call this week from an old friend asking if his customer would be able to install his own software on the Surface Pro. In fact, the Surface Pro is a complete Windows 8.1 machine with no exceptions or limitations. It runs Windows 8.1 Pro (although that can be replaced with Windows 8.1 Enterprise for corporate users). It has a kick-ass Sandy Bridge CPU, and as I said… it does everything that my Lenovo does. In fact, when I travel I can leave the Lenovo at home and just take its port replicator/docking station, because with the USB 3.0 port on the Surface Pro 2 that is all I need to transform it into a multi-screen workstation with all of the desktop peripherals in my hotel room.
Now with that being said, I just bought a Surface dock on ebay.com (they seem to be impossible to find otherwise) and am really looking forward to it… the device sits seamlessly in, and I can take it with me to my hotel whether that be in Japan or wherever… and just take the device when I go to the office or to a client (or a café or an airport).
**Summary – What do you think, Mitch?**
As I look at the Surface Pro 2 (and not how it compares to the Surface 2) I have to smile… it is a fully functional computer that weighs in at just under 2lbs. The power supply uses the same connector as the stylus so you can either charge it or connect the pen, but that is a minor issue. The fact that the power supply has a USB port to charge devices rocks by the way.
The ports – Mini-DV for whatever video I need, Micro-SD slot (discussed earlier), USB 3.0 port, and audio jack are fine for when I am on the go, and the ability to plug in any external USB 3 docking station or port replicator means that when I am at home (or semi-permanent space) I can plug in as many external devices as I want, especially my dual 21” monitors in my home office.
The keyboard is great compared to everything else in its class, but when I am docked I will still have an external keyboard and mouse – I have an abundance of those anyways. However I like having the options.
What do I think? I think that what you spend versus what you get the Surface Pro is the best deal in town. There are other great fully-functional tablets on the market, but this one has and does everything I need, and the price is right.
Oh by the way… there has been a lot of discussion about the addition of a second position of the kick-stand. I cannot begin to tell you how much I do not care about that – Maybe at some point I will use it, but for now every time I have flipped it down I tried it for ten seconds and decided that no, I prefer the original. However I am sure that some people will like it… it’s just not for me; it neither appeals to me nor bothers me.
Thanks Microsoft, for coming up with a device for me.
Now if you will excuse me, I have to go do something in Hyper-V. What, you ask? Anything I want… the Surface Pro 2 supports it!
On the day that Microsoft released the Surface Pro I sat down with Alex Davies from Tom’s Hardware (www.tomshardware.com) and gave him a little tour of the device. He recorded it and that recording went live on Monday. Check it out and let me know what you think! –MDG
For most of the months of October through December, while I was on tour talking about Windows 8, the new Office 2013 & Office 365, and Windows Server 2012 the most common question I heard was not about any of these products… it was something like ‘So where’s your Surface? Why don’t you have a Surface? When will you have a Surface?’ It was grinding… not because I didn’t want one… I did, and badly. However I knew that if I bought myself a Surface with Windows RT in November my wife would never let me go back in February to buy myself a Surface with Windows Pro. So I waited… patiently.
Of course, as a Virtual Evangelist for Microsoft Canada there was speculation that they would give me one… but that didn’t happen. In December I watched with envy as all of my friends and colleagues got theirs – every Microsoft employee got one, but alas, I am a contractor so I didn’t.
Earlier at the beginning of summer I had promised my son that he could have one when they came out, and so in November I asked him if he wanted the RT version, or if he wanted to wait for the Pro version. Of course he opted for the RT version, and so he got one as a late middle-school graduation present. I took my wife with me to buy his device, and she was so enamoured with it that we bought two that day – hers being an early Christmas present. Still and all, I could look, but unless they needed technical support I could not touch.
And then a few weeks ago the general availability date was announced: February 9th.
I called my main contact at the Microsoft Store in Yorkdale Mall (Toronto) and confirmed that they would be going on sale on that day. I asked if he could put one aside for me, and his response was ‘yes… but I can only hold it until the end of the day on the 9th so make sure you come that day!’ I was willing to do him one better… since the shipment was obviously arriving well in advance of that day, why not simply let me come pick it up a few days early and we’ll keep it between us? ‘Not a chance… not even one minute before the 9th!’ (And of course no, they were not planning a midnight event, so I would have to wait until morning!)
Then I had an idea. ‘Friend, what if I were to come in early the morning of February 9th, buy the very first Surface sold in Canada, and record it for my blog in the store before you even open?’ He thought that was not only doable, but was a great idea. I put it in my calendar, and remembered to confirm with him on the 8th to make sure he hadn’t forgotten me… which I feel bad about because he never would!
Mother Nature decided to test Mitch…
February 8th, for those of you who were not paying attention, recorded the largest single-day snowfall in southern Ontario in nearly a decade. Everyone on every media from Television to Twitter was saying that if you didn’t have to go out… don’t. The road crews would be out in full force, but it would likely take them throughout the weekend to clear the minor arteries and possibly into next week for crescents, circles, and such (in one of which I happen to live). Knowing that I needed to drive out the following morning I bribed my teenaged son to shovel the driveway in the early evening. He did enough to make sure that I would be able to get my car out.
Of course, what are the chances that the tiny little circle, an off-shoot of a crescent off a tertiary road in Oakville, was going to be ploughed in time? Fortunately Mayor Rob Burton follows me on Twitter and knew that I was planning to head out this morning, and made sure that our little ‘Griffith Place’ was cleared. Okay, he did no such thing, but HUGE kudos to the road crews of Oakville, Ontario that cleared the street late last night!
At 6:15 on Saturday morning I headed out; I brushed 35 centimetres of heavy snow off my car and headed out, all the while listening to the reports on the radio of accidents along the way (I witnessed three of them and passed seven others on the 403 and 401). I was not to be stopped! I drove the treacherous highways ‘low and slow’ as I was taught for these conditions, and as I will teach my son next year. It took me nearly an hour to get there and park, but I did so safely.
I was surprised that I got to the store at 7:15am, and there were already people waiting in both lines (one line for people with the ‘golden ticket’ and one for people without)! I got my gear set up in the ‘theatre’ area. I set up my video camera on my tripod, only to realize that the battery was dead. No problem, I had plenty of time to go, so I plugged it in and let it charge. I set up my Surface with Windows RT (ironic that after all that waiting a colleague at Microsoft actually did get me one!) and several of the available accessories on the table where I would shoot. All I needed now was the Surface Pro…
At 8:15 Friend brought out two devices – one for me, and one for another VIP customer named Mike who already has a Surface with Windows RT, but really wanted the Pro and was glad to be getting it this morning before he heads off to Europe. Friend ran my credit card through, and once the POS system told him the sale was approved he e-mailed me my invoice and I was off to the races.
The following videos were filmed in the Microsoft Store Theatre in Yorkdale Mall, Toronto. I want to thank Alison (the store manager), Friend (who knows who he is, and Emily (who is the Community Development Specialist, and therefor in charge of the theatre area and all of the presentations and parties held there. They were filmed on February 9th, 2013 between 8:30 and 9:00 in the morning. The only edits that were done to the video were for the sake of time and flow. All opinions, mistakes, errors, and omissions are mine and mine alone, and I have made no effort to alter the video to hide them.
The first international store and the largest in the chain, the opening of Microsoft’s newest retail store can only be descried as a huge success, with literally hundreds of people lined up hours in advance to get their first glimpse of the retail marvel.
Microsoft Canada president Max Long was joined by Tami Reller, Corporate Vice President and CFO of Microsoft’s Windows Division were on hand to open the store with a crowd of 700 onlookers. They did not only welcome the crowd and talk about the store, they also announced that Microsoft Canada was making a new donation of $1.500,000 to local charities – presented by store manager Alison Evans.
When the curtain dropped the entire staff was leading the cheers, and then lined up to form a passageway into the store where they high-fived the first visitors. By the time this VIP got in the door (in the first minute) the store was already bustling with activity, a level that has hardly abated at all thus far.
I spoke to a lot of people lined up and they were all here for different reasons – deals on new hardware, Xbox and laptops and accessories… but the two things that drew the most people were the Microsoft Surface and the new Windows Phone 8 devices.
While the Surface has been available since the launch of Windows 8 on October 26th, the only place you were able to see it in Toronto was at the pop-up retail kiosk in the Eaton Centre. Now that the full retail store is open there are dozens of Surfaces everywhere, as well as Sony, Acer, Asus, Dell Samsung devices ranging in size from 9" ultrabooks and tablets to 27" all-in-one machines.
The greatest thing about the store in my opinion is that the display machines are all available for visitors to try out — as I write this article from a handy Sony Vaio T, complete with multi-touch sreen and reasonably priced at $899. They are all internet-connected, and nobody is telling visitors not to touch, try, and in the Xbox corner play. It is a great hands-on experience, and the store associates are as welcoming and helpful as I have ever seen.
In the Windows Phone corner there are representatives not only from a couple of the local carriers but also from the manufacturers as well. Although the platform released October 26th, this is the first time I have even seen the devices outside the Microsoft offices.
Everywhere you look people of all ages and knowledge levels are asking questions, learning, and trying out great devices. Of course every PC is running Windows 8, so it is a great opportunity for people to get their first glimpse of Microsoft’s flagship product, barely three weeks old.
In the back of the store there is an area called the theatre where during the regular hours people can play on the Xbox connected to an incredible 103" touch screen. This afternoon (and tomorrow and Sunday) the Microsoft MVPs are taking over – we will be presenting sessions every hour on topic including Windows 8, Office 2013, Office 365, Xbox, and of course Windows Phone 8. I have several sessions over the course of the week-end, but am more interested to sit in and listen to what my fellow enthusiasts have to say (I usually know what I am going to say so I am seldom surprised).
It is definitely the place to be this week-end. Even though the initial ‘line up and wait’ is over, the store has been consistently hopping since it opened, with no signs of slowing down. I spoke with several members of the management team who are all pleased by the turnout. Alison Evans, the store manager, told me she is ‘ecstatic about the turnout.’
To make things even hotter, there will be an exclusive concert with the band Train tomorrow evening, and store staff are handing out wristband passes to the lucky few; and this afternoon The Great One – Number 99 himself – Wayne Gretzky will be in the store, and people will be lined up to meet him, get autographs, and get the chance to play Kinect games with him!
So if you haven’t come down yet what is stopping you? Trust me, you will not be disappointed… your only regret will be if you do NOT come down!
- Take a tour of Microsoft’s first store in Canada (theglobeandmail.com)