Once again, I find myself sitting at the Microsoft Store in Yorkdale Mall, Toronto. Frankly, if it were not for the snow and traffic, I likely would have dealt with this online, once I got around to it… but Highway 401 through Toronto has a tendency of being congested, so here I sit.
Over the last few years I have bought a lot of different products at the Microsoft Store, and even more products that are branded Microsoft, but which were purchase elsewhere. Some of them have been great, others have been duds. Most have been pretty good, and especially the ones branded Microsoft Surface are usually really good.
The problem is not when they are working… the question is, what happens when they break? This does not usually mean physical damage, like the woman who until a few moments ago was sitting next to me and trying to argue that her Xbox headset, which obviously had physical damage (the left ear was completely disconnected, save for the wires). I mean they just stop working the way they were meant to… connectivity issues and the like.
Recently I had a Surface Arc Mouse that stopped working. I called the online support, as prescribed by the website, and they told me that I could either send it back to them, then wait for them to receive it, and ship me the new mouse… or I could save the time and go to the nearest Microsoft Store. Problem: The nearest Microsoft Store to where I live (in Ottawa) is in Toronto, some 450km away. I opted for the shipping option.
Later (Read: Now), as I actually was visiting in Toronto, I had another issue… this time with my Surface Pro Type Cover. It just stopped working. What do you do when an expensive piece of plastic stops working? You go back to the point of purchase, and hope that the company has a good exchange policy.
In my experience, Microsoft Store does a pretty good job of taking care of you. They stand behind their products, and when something goes wrong, as long as you are within a reasonably warranty period, they will replace it. So when someone asks me ‘Why would I spend $100 on a stupid piece of plastic, when I can just as easily buy a mouse for less than half that?’ The answer is twofold: 1) I appreciate having quality devices that will always work when I want them to, the way I want them to. 2) Yes, when the cheaper device breaks, I can buy a new one, and still be ahead of the game. But when my higher quality mouse breaks (as mine have, on occasion), I know that the company stands behind them, and will replace it for me at no cost, and with minimal hassle.
Also… yes, I still enjoy coming to the Microsoft Store in Yorkdale. No, none of the staff who worked there when I emceed the grand opening event so many years ago still work here… although I am still friends with some of them. I like seeing what is new in the Microsoft hardware ecosystem, I like seeing the shiny, happy faces that work here. I like speaking with them, and frankly, now that they don’t know who I am, they treat me just as well as they used to… they just don’t add the ‘By the way Mitch, while you are here…’ questions that used to always take up extra time
The thing I don’t love? You walk in, you still have to make an appointment to speak to someone. The good news? It is usually pretty quick. Today, for example, I came in, made my appointment for 20 minutes later, and by the time the third sentence of this article was written, Kevin was helping me. Not for nothing, but the last time I went to the Apple Store, I had to wait well over an hour. Great for Apple’s market share, lousy for me having to wait patiently.