Microsoft blows Surface Pro launch, but Best Buy and Staples provided excellent customer service

Summary:I am not sure if Microsoft was not confident about the Surface Pro or what, but they didn't provide inventory needed to meet demand at their online store or in retail stores. The retail representatives were fantastic though and I was encouraged by their efforts to help out.

I was all excited to go and buy a Microsoft Surface Pro this morning at Best Buy or Staples, but apparently Microsoft did not think there would be much of a demand as they severely limited stock at retail locations. I found a couple of 64GB units, but no 128GB units and I just cannot deal with the memory limits of the 64GB one so am left without a Pro at this time.

Update : A reader told me to call the Microsoft Store 50 miles away and they confirmed that they had 128s in stock. They couldn't hold one so I drove right away and got behind about 75 people in line. 40 minutes later I had a 128GB Pro, mouse, and HD adapter in the bag. It's great that they have so many in stock at their stores, but with so few around the country Microsoft needed to load up retailers too.

The folks at both Best Buy and Staples were outstanding though and I wanted to give publicly thank them for their efforts. I went to the Best Buy website a couple of days ago to get phone numbers to my local stores so I could call and see what they might have available and figure out if it was worth my time to camp out. Best Buy in my area has changed to an 888 number with no local direct number and the customer service rep on that line did not have any details. I did discover that the manager of our local Best Buy actually has his direct email address up on the site so I sent off an email to ask about Surface Pro plans.

I was shocked when I received an email within two hours from Brian Boerum, store manager in Puyallup, WA. He clearly informed me the store was opening at their normal time, He thought there would be very limited supply, but their system wasn't letting him see exactly what Microsoft was shipping, and he had some inquiries so it was hard to tell if there was going to be a line outside or not.

I went to the store an hour before opening today and there was one other kid in his car. As I was about to get out and be first in line at 9:30, an email arrived from Brian. He let me know that they only had two 64GB units and zero 128GB units to sell. He said the stock was limited by Microsoft and given previous Surface RT sales they didn't know what the demand might be for the Pro version so it was hard to commit to higher stock levels. I then left at 9:45 and there were already two in line so that store was going to sell out.

Even though I called Staples a couple days earlier and they had no idea if they would get the Surface Pro, I drove the two miles down the road to visit them. I was first up to the counter when they opened and the manager came to tell me they did not have any. She did say that UPS often comes on launch day and delivers things so she took my name and phone number. She called just a short while ago and told me that one 64GB model came in and it was mine if I wanted it. I thanked her very much for the call and told her to go ahead and sell it to the next person in line as I really needed the 128GB model.

I now know I should have just stayed home and ordered online since the Microsoft Store sold out within a couple of hours. I now don't have any order placed for a device, but will keep working with Brian and try to buy one locally from his store to support him and his amazing customer service.

It's nice to see people seem to be excited to purchase the Surface Pro, but it's sad that Microsoft failed so miserably on launch day by not having anywhere close to the demand out in retail locations. Apple sells out on launch day due to extremely high sales, but it looks like Microsoft sold out due to low available inventory.

Related ZDNet Surface coverage:

Topics: Mobility, Microsoft Surface, Tablets

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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