Surface preorder debacle: Sinofsky steps up

Surface preorder debacle: Sinofsky steps up

Summary: Microsoft has failed to deliver all of the preordered Surfaces by the revised promised date of 30th October. But that's OK, Sinofsky is here to help...

TOPICS: Tablets, Microsoft
Sinofsky hugs his Surface with Windows RT
"It's mine, you can't have one...!"
I jest - in this screen capture from the Surface launch last
week, Sinofsky is giving his Surface a lovely big hug. Awww!

You know those situations where customer service is going badly? You're being passed from pillar to post without making progress and all you really want is the boss to step in and make everything OK.

Read more on the Surface preorder debacle -- Surface preorder failures: too many cooks, and Where is my Windows Surface? Here's what we know.

Enter Steven Sinosfky, who last night reached out via Twitter to some frustrated Surface customers inviting then to send over order numbers so that he could look into the problem.

(I should say, I'm referenced in that tweet. I'm one of the ones who remains tragically un-Surfaced.)

And sure enough, he did.


The person he's tasked? That would be David Porter. He joined the company in February 2009, and it's his job to make Microsoft's retail efforts really zing. It's not a good week to be running a tech giant's retail operations is it, as the departure of Apple's retail tsar John Browett shows us. It turns out that actually conveying products from factory floor to customers hands is much more difficult than it would first appear.

So what happens now? Perhaps nothing new. The problem that's going on with (particularly) international preorders is that the only customer service team you can reach is an outsourced operation. They have no more visibility over the supply chain, or ability to change anything than you or I do. The only thing that they can do is placate people in the hope that they sit tight. That's where the frustration is coming from. Your Surface might be on a plane or in a van, or it might not be.

This morning, another message from another of Sinofsky's new Twitter buddies:


Chris mentioned in another tweet that the customerservice email came from a v-* address. That "v" stands for "vendor", and is Microsoft's convention for non-permanent staff. But that can mean a individual contractor engaged directly by Microsoft, or it could mean one of the outsourcing partners involved in Surface fubar. Who knows.

And the date of the 2nd November? Wait -- that's the same date that Microsoft claimed was a mistake. Was it actually correct all along?


What can you do while you're waiting for your Surface to arrive? You could follow @stevesi on Twitter. It's fascinating stuff.

Perhaps you're wondering how to use your Surface? No problem - @stevesi will tell you.


What happens if you're an MVP who writes a particularly controversial review of Surface? It's OK, @stevesi will share that experience with you:


What about if you're looking for new apps? @stevesi has you covered:


All of this makes me pine for the fact Steve Jobs never joined us all on Twitter. It's much more fun to see a CEO step in and wrangle over a product publicly.

There's no denying that in building a meaningful and engaging public profile through social media, Sinofsky is doing something "statesmanlike". He's presenting himself as the face of Microsoft. And armchair pundits often talk about Sinofsky ultimately stepping in to the CEO role when Ballmer eventually moves on.

Of course, that depends on whether Windows 8 is the next Microsoft Bob or not.

Update: David Porter and his team now seem to be engaging fully to sort any issues out with pre-orders. If you are one of those who placed their order between 16th October and 19th October and are still experiencing problems going through Microsoft's customer services, please use the Contact link below and I will refer your details directly to his team.

What do you think? Post a comment, or talk to me on Twitter: @mbrit.

Topics: Tablets, Microsoft

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  • It takes some courage to step up like that

    I like this guy, he holds his tablet the same way I hold mine except that mine is Android :)
  • Surface preorder debacle: Sinofsky steps up

    Wow, ZDNet is really milking this Microsoft Surface thing as much as they can even though its a non-issue. Most people received their Microsoft Surface, a few didn't and that's all you can focus on. That's pretty sad. At least Microsoft is taking responsibility for those who have not received them yet which you wouldn't find that kind of help at other companies so kudos to Microsoft for that. Steve Sinofsky is a pretty good guy.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • Hey, he didn't get his

      So he is free to blog about it, and he did actual research, so relax.
    • Your blind faith is pathetic

      And we all know that if it were Apple that had missed the delivery you would be bashing them left and right. Of course this is MS so to you their tablet isn't a fad like all the rest and you will give them a pass on every issue that comes up.
  • The only sad parts

    are your nauseating, mindlessly pro-MS shill posts.

    I guess objectivity, self respect, integrity etc. are not part of your vocabulary or makeup?

    Guys like you rate WAY below politicians, and I guess you know what their approval rating is like.
    • Misposted

      SB reply to LD
    • D.T.Long....way below a politicians that really a low blow

      you were also very accurate when you said "your nauseating, mindlessly pro-MS shill posts" really hit the nail on the head. The rest were also very accurate.....I have to say Loverock Davidson has a way of getting under everyones skin with his Microsoft never does anything wrong FUD................
      Over and Out
  • gotta love MSFT

    So the management talent which brought about the Metro trademark mess is now providing useless customer support? What next?
    • Metro mess? Somehow the world give a crap about this?????

      Nobody knows anything about any so called metro mess. Nobody except the few who live and die in this teck savvy bulliten board we call ZDNet and the other similar website writers who may (or may not if they are sane) think its some how important to anyone that at one point Microsoft referred to the Windows UI as "Metro".

      Now you make it sound like the world is really falling down around Microsofts ears because they sold more Surface units than they can get shipped on time. Im familiar with more than a few companies that wish like hell that was their worry.

      Its called rich white peoples problems in case you havnt heard.

      Again, its clear that you have your reasons for hating Microsoft, and it sounds like reasons for hating ALL things Microsoft. Why not just spit the reasons out and leave it at that.
      • well about rich white peoples problems

        sorry to burst your bubble but we ain't in Kansas anymore, just look that guy, from Tata in India, laughing to the bank with the kingdom jewels -RR, Jaguar; just to make a point...

        The world we used to live is changing, big time.
      • Metro was short sighted and do dismiss missed shipments too easily

        First, it isn't only those that live on tech sites that have heard about this. Is it a huge issue, of course not but it was a very short sighted move on MS's part.

        "...because they sold more Surface units than they can get shipped on time."
        This is a screw up no matter how you slice it and ultimately affects their reputation. Either they accepted too many orders before they listed as sold our or extended delivery dates or they just screwed up the shipping. Based on what I have seen and read they screwed up on shipping which certainly should not have happened.
        • its common enough

          At least MS and Google have something to talk about huh? Who messed up more - MS with Surface or Google with the Nexus 10 & 4...? In terms of release and retail channel, that is. Of course, you would not be able to convince me to give up my N10....but that's a different story!
  • It's not all make believe

    I would probably classed as a Microsoft Fanboi and I think the whole process is a total and utter disaster.
    I'm still waiting for my Surface talet to arrive. It has a FedEx tracking number which only states that it has been issued a shipping label and it's been like that for 5 days now.
    I per ordered it on Oct 17th and got a confirmation email saying that it would ship by Oct 26th.
    Then I receive an email saying that unfortunately it wouldn't ship to at least Nov 2 2nd.
    This was followed by an email telli g me the last email was sent out in error and I would get it by the 26th.
    A couple of days later I received another email saying that forget that, I should get it between Oct 27 and 30th.
    Most of the 30th came and went so I rang Microsoft store support and they couln't locate any I formation and told be to wait another 24 hours and perhaps it may turn up.
    24 hours later still nothing so I rang them again. They still couldn't give me an information and said if they would give me a call. That was 5 hours ago.
    I actually took a few days vacation to make sure I would be in when it arrived, so I been stuck here waiting.
    I just wish someone could give me an idea when it may turn up.
    • I'm wondering if a more serious problem is behind this delay

      I cannot understand they were not ready to handle operations. Is not rocket science, every mayor retailer handle product launches just fine.

      Considering that the Surface ReTard was rushed to market, it may be probable that last minute problems pop up, can be hardware or software, or both, is not like Microsoft is a seasoned player in the markets they want to crack.

      So my guess is that there is something more than just logistic problems.
  • Microsoft and Apple rock

    Microsoft and Apple suck, booooo!
  • And mooore of the debacle..

    So we ordered our Surface on Oct. 20, 2012 in hopes that it would reach a New Jersey address by Oct. 26, as advertised. One week later we get a shipping confirmation saying that they had JUST shipped out the Surface and separately shipped out the type cover. Five days later, we get the type cover but no Surface! Upon checking tracking numbers, we discover that the Surface has gone to an address in Ohio instead.

    SO we call Microsoft Store support, very nicely, and talk for 15 minutes to a guy who takes down shipping confirmation numbers, order numbers, credit card details, and FedEx numbers. After discussing it exhaustively and continuously trying to explain that no, we couldn't have possibly put in the wrong shipping address because the type cover was in the same order and the type cover made it to New Jersey so the address must be correct, he finally says that ok, they'll look into it. Two days later, we get an email saying that Microsoft will BEGIN looking into the matter and they'll keep us updated. Four days later, we get an email asking "did they really deliver it to the wrong address? We'll need the FedEx confirmation number because we can't find it". After sending them the FedEx number, we get another email two days later saying "Thanks! But the person who is handling your case is out of the office at the moment so I'll be looking into it... We'll get back to you..." And so on and so forth.

    I just called them and spent 20 minutes on the phone with support. Ten of those minutes were on hold (not even with nice music in the background). Ten of those minutes were spent explaining to another clueless support person that our Surface was missing and that it was sent to the wrong address etc. She confirmed that it was sent to the wrong address and that she would be looking into it PERSONALLY and that it would be escalated to the highest support authority.

    So I'm guessing I'm never going to see the Surface...