Microsoft Corporation isn’t dealing with buyers of its Surface tablet in China in a fair way, and the firm may be breaking the law in the country. The firm’s Surface and Surface Pro tablets have enjoyed a measure of popularity in East Asia since launch, but Satya Nadella’s firm was recently criticized in China’s Legal Weekly for its after sales support.
Two things are at the heart of the Microsoft failure to support Surface buyers says Zhao Zhanling, a lawyer who works in consumer protection in China. The firm has stopped offering repair of the initial Surface tablet, something that is illegal under Chinese law, and the price it charges to repair later versions is much higher than it should be.
Microsoft fails Chinese surface buyers
Microsoft stopped repair of the first gen Surface tablets in October 2013. The firm said that it was forced to do so because of lack of access to key parts. Chinese law, says Legal Weekly, requires repairs to be an option for five years after the initial sale.
The outlet added that repair costs for the Surface 2 exceeded the cost of the device when bought, and were much higher than the work offered by local repair shops.
This is not the first time that Microsoft has come under fire for ignoring Chinese consumer laws. Back in 2013 when the firm first brought the Surface and Surface Pro into the country the firm offered a 1-year warranty on the device. Chinese law calls for a 1-year warranty for repair and a two-year warranty for parts.
The problems that the Redmond, Washington firm faced then, and appears to be facing now, are seen as part of something bigger. A Chinese tech expert called the 2013 battle, “the opening shot against the world’s largest software maker.”
With warranty rumblings once again in earshot, that firestorm may be about to break out once again.
Selling Microsoft hardware
It’s not clear how many units of the Surface Microsoft has sold in China since it began sales there in April 2013. The market was the third the firm entered, after the US and Canada, but sales of the Surface haven’t been great anywhere since launch.
The Microsoft Surface tablet is not a business that most with shares care about. The hardware segment seems to have stopped actively harming the firm, unless you count the $7.6B charge the firm took to write down Nokia in the June quarter.
The firm’s Surface might be the most healthy of all of its hardware businesses, including Xbox. Sales of Surface tablets hit close to 5 million in the second quarter, making up 9 percent of total tablet sales.
The problem is, however, that sales of tablets as a whole are falling, and Microsoft hardly seems like the firm to champion them. If Satya Nadella and his team aren’t able to work their way around laws in China, sales in that country may hit a cap. Those with shares might be happy to see the segment fail.