Getting a screen replacement for the Surface Pro 3

8:01:00 AM Dickwyn Y 3 Comments


The Surface Pro 3 announced in 2014 was a fine device, it looked like the future when comparing it against the original Surface tablet. Probably the best thing about Surface Pro 3 is it's form factor, thin and light while still having enough screen real estate for productivity on the go. But since it is still widely considered as a tablet, it must be taken care of properly as it is not built to be as strong as a conventional laptop. Long story short, a couple of weeks ago, the screen of the Surface Pro 3 cracked in front of my eyes. It was a direct face down affair onto a tiled floor and the Type Cover didn't exactly protect the Gorilla Glass 3 covered display from impact.

There was a noticeable break on the top right corner and the innards was exposed. In addition to that, a hairline crack has also formed diagonally on the screen and glass shreds popped out near the impact point which was on the corner of the Surface Pro 3 which became slightly dented. Look at the picture below to see what I mean.

TL:DR Replacing the Surface Pro 3's display

Step 1: Call Microsoft, pay the required fee and wait for an email
Step 2: Schedule a date with the courier company based on the email
Step 4: Re-package the Surface Pro 3 in any box other than the original one
Step 5: Pass the box to the courier when they arrive
Step 6: Receive your new Surface Pro 3 in 4-6 business days

The crack looked a little disastrous at first but the display was functioning and Windows did manage to boot after a few minutes showing the 'Surface' startup screen. Besides that, the Type Cover also worked but the problem is with the touchscreen, it was not registering clicks (properly) and the fact that the hairline crack will eventually spread makes the device a hazardous thing to use.

So, the screen needs to be replaced. From the ifixit teardown, I know that it is like nearly impossible to fix the Surface Pro 3 display manually as disassembling it will require some tools and is a little risky as the cover glass might break and cause injuries. I opted to Google for some advice to see how other people solve the problem and to my surprise there is actually not many stories about the Surface Pro 3 screen cracking. But from what I read, the Surface Pro 3 screen replacement from Microsoft will cost upwards of US$300 which is about RM 1,290.

I also learnt that the 1 year warranty that comes with Surface Pro 3 only covers hardware defects caused by manufacturing. My Surface Pro 3 was still in the so-called warranty period but yeah, accidental damage like a screen crack is not inclusive of the standard warranty. I did stumble upon the Microsoft Complete warranty package but like all Microsoft services, the $149 Microsoft Complete Accidental Protection was only available in the US.

Finally, I ended up bringing it to the Microsoft Authorized Reseller (AKA ex-Nokia shop) in hope that I will be able to send the device for a screen replacement. The Store was not help whatsoever, they just asked me to call Microsoft support. In the same time, I also contacted Microsoft Malaysia through Facebook and well, their reply sounded like one of those standardized ones. Like really, I told them that the screen cracked and they say their team will need to diagnose the exact issue before giving me a time frame as to when the repair will be completed. You will see why this advice is totally redundant later in this article.

Week 1: Calling Microsoft Surface Support


So, the procedure to get the Surface Pro 3 display replaced is to give Microsoft Surface Support a call at 1 800 886 295. Firstly, you will need to make sure that your device is linked in with your Microsoft account as you will need to use your Microsoft account to process the payment afterwards. The person on the line will first ask about the issue and after that I provided the Microsoft account associated with the Surface Pro 3 that I'll be sending in for repair as that will serve as the communication channel, payment channel and Microsoft will also be able to get your device's serial number from there.


Well after that, Microsoft will email a confirmation code to validate my Microsoft account for that session (keep in mind that each time you call them about resolving an issue, you will need a validation code. How'd I know that, well the first time I called them my call dropped halfway. So, yeah, have your email handy while making the call) and once that's over, I could start talking about fixing the display. And the price to pay is RM 1,340.

Now this is where the problem comes up, Microsoft wants you to pay the required fee before they take the device in for a repair. This is where the Microsoft account comes into play, through the payment options on your Microsoft account, you will need to pay from there. So, I keyed in the credit card details but I stumbled upon a problem when trying to input the billing address. It was set to United States and couldn't be changed to Malaysia.

Do note that I did all of this while still talking on the line with the customer service rep. So, I told the customer service rep that I have problems with the billing address and after 5 minutes of waiting, she told me that she was unable to override the country details even from her side. I was a little on the dead end right there so I asked if they will accept payment options through PayPal since it's listed there as a payment option but she said that it was not possible to do so.

Finally, I ended up just paying through the phone by telling her my credit card details. Make sure you ask them to stop the audio recording used in training and monitoring exercises before blattering out your credit card details. After nearly 30 minutes on the line, eventually the payment went through and the rep told me that a confirmation email will be sent regarding the courier collection.
That was not the end of the call as I had some questions regarding the repair. From the questions that I asked, I got to know that Microsoft will actually just send me back a refurbished Surface Pro 3 as they say that replacing the screen might cause some unwanted quality issues that Microsoft wants to avoid. Sounds reasonable enough. Also, the replacement will take up to 6 business days.

Week 2: Courier Pickup


So, the next week another email popped up regarding the scheduling of the courier to collect the device. They actually called several times before sending the email and I had to personally call them back to confirm that I will be at home to give the package to the courier the next day. After confirming that, I received an email with the consignment note to attach with the package. Within the email, they also warned not to put the Surface Pro 3 into the original box and also not to include anything other like the Surface Pen and Travel adapter.

At that time, I have already sealed it nicely in the original box. Why didn't they tell me that when I called them last week? So, I scrambled around the house to look for a box which can fit the device and eventually I ended up with a box for a water faucet which fits the Surface Pro 3 nicely. Then I added some inflatable packaging to keep the device firmly in place and wrapped it up nice and tight.

The next day, the courier company which was TNT Express arrived a little late than scheduled as the driver told me that he was given the wrong address but luckily he found my place eventually. Just so you know, the Surface Pro 3 is being sent back to Penang for a replacement.



Week 3: Brand new Surface Pro 3

After an email notification, the courier came the next week with a brand new Surface Pro 3. This doesn't need any extra explanation but the refurbished Surface Pro 3 came in a plain brown box that only has a sticker which shows the serial number of the device and inside the box is the Surface Pro 3 with some decent packaging foam.

As expected, this is a brand new Surface Pro 3 and it is actually one of the newer models as the old Surface Pro 3 has a Windows logo under the kickstand but the refurbished that Microsoft sent had the Microsoft logo under the kickstand just like the new Surface Pro 4.

Conclusion

In the end, it took about 3-4 weeks to get the Surface Pro 3's display replaced. Not as quick as the 1 week replacement the Microsoft Authorized Reseller quoted me when I asked them about replacing a cracked screen but this is the only way to get the display replaced other than outright buying a new device. Overall, I am pretty happy with Microsoft's customer service this time around unlike my experience with buying the Surface Pro 4 which also took 3-4 weeks. However, I would like to see a physical Microsoft repair center in Malaysia like what Samsung and Nokia had because going to a repair center is much more time effective than calling customer service.

So, the lesson learnt here is that you should take very good care of your Surface Pro 3 or any smartphone, tablet, computer and electronics in general so that you don't need to go through customer service to get it replaced.

Insider Talk

Well, now you know why I didn't want to go through Microsoft Support to get my Surface Pro 4's left speaker fixed. 

I Still remember when Panos Panay dropped the Surface Pro 3 on stage when it was launched early last year but that was on a carpeted floor and was probably tested to a certain degree.

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