Software Update Bricks Teen’s Tablet, Microsoft Shrugs

8583948813_4bbbb18bac_mA few weeks ago, we received an e-mail here at Consumerist HQ with the subject line, “Bill Gates screwing a 13 year old.” Well, that couldn’t be literally true, but it was intriguing. Rick was writing on behalf of his grandson, who had saved his money for months to buy a Microsoft Surface that had effectively been bricked by a software update. Microsoft refused to repair it under warranty due to a missing screw, and Rick had spent weeks fighting the company. He turned to Consumerist for help.

His e-mail to us read, in part:

I have spent about 4 weeks trying to get my grandson’s Surface RT repaired by by Microsoft with no resolution in sight.

…My grandson saved all his money from birthday presents, gift cards and rewards for good grades in school. My grandson was 12 years old when he purchased his Surface RT for around $600.

Microsoft released a 8.1 version preview for the Surface RT. My grandson decided to download it to his Surface RT because it had new Apps that he thought would be good. During the download the screen froze and rendered the surface unusable. No way to recover. We contacted the Surface Support team and they instructed us to ship the device to them for repair.

We sent it to them and received an email informing us because a screw was missing from the bridge {kickstand} they were voiding the warranty. This had nothing to do with why the surface froze up. The form letter was in three languages which leads me to believe they are looking for ways to void the warranty rather than help the consumer.

On top of everything else Microsoft doesn’t have a recovery usb to assist in restoring the surface.

Well, that would be too easy. He had seemingly exhausted every normal customer service avenue, so we unholstered our big gun. We passed his story on to Microsoft’s PR firm, asking them whether they could help. Then we waited. For almost three weeks, while Rick and the PR firm established communication.

It took a few more weeks, but we heard back. Rick’s grandson was finally unscrewed.

After some wrangling and Three levels of Surface RT team, we picked up a replacement Surgace RT today at the Fedex office. I wanted to thank you for your involvement in this matter. I believe without your taking the steps you took I would still be spinning my wheels. Again thank you. Tonight a young boy is delighted to have a working surface in his hands.