A rant about the Surface at Best Buy

Is it must me, or was Best Buy one of the worst places that Microsoft could be selling the Surface?

After hearing that Best Buy would be starting to carry the Surface, I got really excited; I haven't had the chance to play with one yet and couldn't wait to get my hands on it. So today, I drove up to my local Best Buy to spend some time with Microsoft's tablet. That trip ended with me being asked to leave the store and an angry email to Best Buy, but I'll get to that in a minute. It's probably a good time to mention that the area where I live is, sadly, known for being very backwards with technology. No small businesses that I can think of around here have websites, other than my friend's father's (who only has one because my friend is a web designer), most of the computers that I work on are still running Windows XP (After two years in the computer repair business, I've only had a total of 3 come to me running Windows 7), I could go on. But I digress.

Most other Best Buys feature some kind of Windows 8 kiosk at the front of the store, but not mine. Of course, coming from an area that seems to shun technology, I wasn't expecting a huge flashy display at the local store, but I was expecting at least something. I saw no sign of the Surface when I went into the store, and actually had to look for it. I eventually found it, sitting in the row of Android Tablets. That's right, Android. Windows 8 PCs were at the other end of the store's computer/tablet area, but the Surface was sitting, quite literally, in the middle of the Android section. I thought that odd, but I was satisfied to at least see that they stocked the Surface.

But then I noticed several things that I really didn't like. The most noticeable thing was that the Surface on display didn't have a Touch Cover attached to it. It was just sitting there flat on the table like any other tablet. Why on Earth would they display a product that has been getting attention because of its unique keyboard cover without that accessory?

I picked up the Surface to see how sturdy its kickstand was, but was disappointed to find that, first, the security cable was too short to allow the device to stand up completely and second, the security device itself was stuck directly on the kickstand's hinge. Not only could I not pick up the device, but even if I could, the security device would've stopped me from opening the kickstand. Again, this prevents one of the most exciting features of the Surface's hardware from being showcased.

Finally, I looked at the pricing information tag to see something rather shocking: the Surface was tagged as "Microsoft 32GB Android Tablet." This is just ridiculous. How can the store selling a product not know what OS that product runs?

I often enjoy playing stupid in tech stores and seeing how badly the associates try to rip me off, so I decided to do that for the Surface. I asked one of the salesmen to tell me about the tablet. He told me "Yeah, that's Microsoft's new tablet. I haven't really gotten a chance to try it, but I've heard that it runs Microsoft's own special version of Android that makes it work a lot like a laptop." I couldn't believe my ears. The people in the store didn't even know what they were selling. I asked the same person if there was any kind of keyboard available for it. To my surprise, he didn't even mention the Touch or Type covers. He took me to the iPad isle and picked up a Bluetooth keyboard. He told me that it was what he recommended for all tablets. Still playing stupid, I asked him if there was a version of Microsoft Office available on this tablet since I wanted to be able to type some word documents. Once again, his answer was unbelievable. "No, there's no Office for any tablet right now. Even Microsoft's. I heard that the iPad was going to be getting a version of it soon, though. I could show you where that tablet is if you're interested in it."

That's when I let him know that I actually knew what I was talking about. I told everything that he got wrong. He didn't seem to care, so I asked to speak to the store's manager. I explained all of the points that I discussed above, being as nice as possible while telling him how wrong his store was advertising the Surface. When I told him about the lack of the Touch Cover, his response was "what's that?" So, even the manager of the store had no idea what was going on. I'll admit that I got a little big angry with him as he insisted in trying to argue that the Surface ran Android. At the end of our discussion, the manager told me "Listen, we have trained employees here who know what they're talking about. I don't appreciate you criticizing us on our jobs. If you have complaints, I suggest you take it up with corporate. But for now, if you're going to continue harassing our employees, I'm going to have to ask you to leave the store."

As to not cause any problems, I voluntarily left, but I assure you, I was steaming. It's insulting to Microsoft and the Surface and Windows brands that they're being sold by people who have absolutely no idea what they are and how to use them properly. I've sent an email to Best Buy explaining how they need to correct their huge mistakes, and I also emailed Microsoft directly about how incompetent the people selling their products are. Hopefully it'll lead to Microsoft working a little more closely with Best Buy and actually training the stupid employees before just dropping the product on the shelf.