Microsoft Store Holiday Marketing Experience #Fail
Microsoft tried its hand at an ‘exclusive’ holiday experience as pat of its 12 Days of Deals promotion. They offered early bird and doorbuster pricing on the new Dell Venue 8 Pro both online and at their retail stores. But rather than creating some positive momentum in the early holiday season for the struggling software giant, inconsistent information, website crashes, and lengthy hold times brought the ire of customers, undoing any goodwill that might have been created by the prospect of these VIP only deals.
Like many, I received the promotional emails about the event starting this week. I have been contemplating a move from a primarily desktop-based home computing environment to a more mobile setup composed of tablets using the new Microsoft OS. So the thought of getting to test drive a new Windows tablet with full 8.1 OS and MS Office suite for only $99 was intriguing. With a store at the mall down the street, I thought I would give it a shot.
Because of the weather and having no idea whether anyone would actually show up for a Microsoft promo, I did some calling around to confirm the details prior to making plans to venture out. The Microsoft rep gave me the basic details:
- Only 20 units per location at $99 price.
- The first 20 people in line when the store opened at 10 AM would receive the deeply discounted price.
- 10 units would be available at $199 after 10 AM for those who missed the doorbuster deal.
- $199 tablets would be sold on a first-come-first-served basis once the store was open.
- Stores would indeed open at their regular time: 10 AM (I asked).
Since school was closed (again) and I needed to get out of the house for a change, I thought I would swing by and, worse case scenario, work for a while at B&N if the line was too long. I was pleasantly surprised to see that, upon arriving at 9:15, there were only 17 people in front of me. It looked like a deal was in my future.
Until some guy asked around and found out that all of the promotional units, including the $199 tablets, had already been handed out.
Apparently the store reps went ahead and passed out vouchers to folks who showed up early, not requiring them to wait until the store opened, including the ‘after 10 AM’ deals. I suppose anyone walking the mall this morning could have swung by, picked up a voucher, and went about their day. Very disappointing. I initially thought it was an isolated incident, but a quick web search proved that the experience was a bust online and at stores all around the country.
Imagine if Apple handled their big events this way. But I guess that’s the point: Microsoft isn’t Apple.
Microsoft gave itself a pretty big black eye with this one. In a tough tablet economy, they can scarcely afford generating bad will and bad press among consumers. But it seems that’s exactly what they’ve done. It will be interesting to see the fallout in the coming weeks. Consumers have learned something about Microsoft from this experience.
I wonder if Microsoft has.