Is Microsoft emulating faulty hardware in order to trick people into buying expensive replacement parts?

How bizarre… the power supply for my Microsoft Surface Book with Power Base, the one wot I won 10 months or so ago, has been carrying on as if it’s had a broken wire, and would only provide power to the computer if I had the thing twisted around into an awkward angle. Otherwise it would simply flash its little white LED on the plug to say “Sorry, it’s not working”

So yes, I naturally thought the power supply cord needed replacing, which costs a whopping $150, with no generic ones available that have the correct amperage. I’ve even tried to contact JB HiFi to see how I go about getting it replaced under warranty even though I didn’t actually pay for the thing to start with because I won it from them in a Facebook competition from their official Facebook page.

Today, the stupid computer went all sluggish and silly and I thought it was time it had a reset back to factory settings. So I did that… and now the power supply is working perfectly without any need at all for the chord to be bent at a certain angle before it does its job… HOW THE HECK DOES IT GET FIXED BY REFRESHING THE OPERATING SYSTEM??? If it was an Operating System issue then WHY THE HECK DID IT NEED TO BE BENT INTO A SPECIFIC ANGLE BEFORE IT WOULD WORK???

Could this just be a ruse by Microsoft to make people think they need a new power supply periodically so you’ll fork out and pay the hefty price tag to get a new one from time to time when there’s actually NOTHING wrong with the thing to start with??? I think this all smells a bit whiffy.

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It would seem like you aren’t the only one with this problem. A good place to look for answers is
https://support.microsoft.com. I did a search using the keywords quoted above:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/search?query=Microsoft%20Surface%20Book%20with%20Power%20Base%20not%20charging

There are lots of answers to go through. Not knowing the specifics of your setup, here are two answer which may be of help:
https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/forum/surfaccesso-surfkeyboard/surface-book-wont-charge-using-the-102w-power/80b1761c-1d5d-4d50-a656-419cbf608393?auth=1
https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/help/4023536/surface-surface-battery-wont-charge

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So the problem has cropped up again after a few hours of having no problems with it whatsoever, but instead of having to bend the cord I now have to keep it perfectly straight. Has my Surface Book sneakily reinstalled the software that makes the AC adaptor look faulty again? I just went to the device manager and under batteries it also has the AC Adaptor listed. Do the adaptors normally have drivers? Ignore the two entries for the battery. It does have two batteries in the thing.

Had a quick look at the Microsoft sites you referenced @meltam, but couldn’t find anything specific to the problem I’m having. As I said though, it was a quick look.

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If it is a smart adapter yes they can. Some adapters are able to reduce the current to keep the batteries at just the right level. In this case the device needs a driver so it can communicate with the adapter. The drivers when first supplied are not necessarily well designed and this may be fixed by patches. As you have the problem I would certainly raise the issue with Microsoft support both by email and phone. Phone first then followup with an email to reinforce the issue you have. They may also have a hotfix for your issue that is not universally made available and requires a special internet address to access.

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My five year old laptop has the same, though only one instance of battery:

I’m not familiar with the Microsoft Surface Book with Power Base. Does it have two batteries?

Suggestion: You could try uninstalling the drivers from the battery section; and then let Windows rediscover and reinstall them.

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Yeah, it has a battery in the detachable touch screen and a battery in the power-base/keyboard, which also has a 3D graphics chip the thing. I was thinking I might try what you’ve just suggested. And now you’ve reminded me about it, I’m going to try… I’ll be back!

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Well, did that, with mixed results. The first time, the led stopped flashing and power started to flow into the batteries, but it was short lived. So I tried it again, but this time it stayed flashing with no power. It’s now back to the way it was before the refresh I did yesterday and the cable needs bending to get it to work. Disabling/re-enabling the driver didn’t make any difference either. Still no reply from JB HiFi concerning warrenty.

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I would still contact MS over the issue.

Just as a thought it may be the batteries drivers as well and it may be worth removing those I do mean the batteries in the device list not the adapter (uninstall not disable or delete) and see where it goes from there. Have you detached the Keyboard part to see if that made any difference?

Some other steps to try

1 try cleaning the power contacts on the power cord with a baby wipe, or if very dirty try a pencil rubber (gentle rubbing in either case not hard).
Check the magnetic connectors on the power supply’s connector tip and on the charging port (on the side of Surface itself). With the power cord unplugged from the outlet, clean the magnets on the Surface connector tip and the charging port with a soft cloth and a small amount of rubbing alcohol.

2 if you have another device plugged into the USB and/or the Micro SD card port unplug/remove it/them and see if this fixes it…some smartphones and powerbanks and similar drain too much power for the Book to recharge. Remove the keyboard as part of this

3 Do the battery task as I advised above

4 Hard Shutdown (varies depending on Book version so try both the two button and the power button version)

Shutdown your Surface normally (from the icon)
After your Surface turns off, press and hold volume-up button and the power button at the same time for at least 15 seconds, and then release both simultaneously
The screen may flash the Surface logo then go out, continue holding the buttons
After you release the buttons, wait 10 seconds then turn your Surface back on normally

Otherwise try disconnecting power cord, then press power button for 30 secs Surface Logo may flash but hold for the 30 secs. Connect power cord back then restart

5 And from an online post this the last bit “Ring MS and seek replacement as this is a “normal” issue”

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From the descriptions I wonder if the underlying problem is electronics that are hyper sensitive to capacitance/resistance in the power cable, and that causes the charge monitoring circuits to get confused. Otherwise it makes no sense that bending the power cable should make any difference unless the copper failed, and that condition should be fairly obvious. But how to test the theory?

Be prepared to present them with an ACL letter of demand citing the evidence it is a common problem and thus is unacceptable quality.

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Yeah the “normal” issue part was from a tech support in the Pro (Business) support section of MS so I am guessing this is fairly common as a power or recharge problem and seems to have afflicted the Surface from the very first models. They seem to be ready to replace in these circumstances so I am not sure it will need to get to an ACL letter after initial contact by @NubglummerySnr. This may even preclude having to argue with JB HiFi about what is going on thus saving time and frustration but doesn’t excuse their tardiness in contacting in this matter.

My cousin has had Surfaces for some time and every one has never experienced this issue so I don’t know what the underlying issue is, and perhaps even relates to whichever particular factory the problem Surfaces are manufactured/assembled in??? One would think this issue would however have been addressed by now as it is not a good reflection on MS to have this as one of their common replacement issues.

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Surely the fact that it was a prize doesn’t matter under consumer law? An expert may feel free to correct me, but in giving you the prize they are still as responsible as if they had sold it to you.

Presumably you had to do something to get the prize, and JB HiFi earned money from the competition - not necessarily directly, but in publicity etc. You are then being provided with ‘the prize’ which can be viewed as a fair exchange for the goodwill the company gained. If they gave you a piece of cardboard that was painted to look like a Surface Book, you would quite rightly demand recompense. They have given you a computer, and you are entitled to expect it to function properly. If a part fails unreasonably its replacement is the supplier’s responsibility - regardless of the financial exchange that led to JB HiFi owing you a Surface Book in the first instance.

I encourage anyone who actually has a clue about consumer law to correct me, but if they had no obligation post-prize-giving then I can imagine there are ways of getting up to all sorts of shenanigans (such as those used when you are told you have won a holiday in Guam and simply need to pay for…).

Definitely push the warranty claim - at a minimum, JB HiFi can earn itself some very bad publicity by not honouring what I would see as their obligation.

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I’m not an expert in the Australian Consumer Law, so it could be something to follow up directly with the ACCC for guidance specific to this case. Normally there has to be a tangible transaction at play, so if you made a purchase to enter, the ACL should apply. If not, that might not be the case.

Perhaps an equally important point is the companies should be motivated to provide good services and positive experiences (that’s partly the point of the competition exercise in first place after all) and hopefully either JB or Microsoft can come through on this regard.

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@NubglummerySnr
Vince - this is not the same as uninstalling/reinstalling!

Disabling just prevents the computer from accessing the driver(s) which in turn makes the component partially or fully invisible to the computer.

Uninstalling deletes the drivers. Re-installing causes the computer to look for either the drivers in the Windows setup folders, or if instructed to look on the internet for the latest drivers.

It’s worth a try :scream:

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You had to make me look it up, didn’t you?

So - let’s turn to our first reference: The Australian Consumer Law: A Framework Overview (PDF). This refers to prizes on page 2 (page 13 of the document), which states in part under the heading Unfair Practices that:

Part 1 of Chapter 3 of the ACL sets out specific protections against certain defined business practices. Unlike the general protections in Chapter 2 of the ACL, these provisions are targeted at specific kinds of activities that can be particularly detrimental, such as:

  • this ‘n’ that;
  • failing to supply gifts and prizes, or not supplying them as offered;
  • etc.

Helpful stuff, no? So what does Australian Consumer Law (ACL) actually say? And where? Well, the foreword of this overview states on page v (4 in the PDF - I have no idea who did their counting) that:

The ACL was implemented through enactment of the Trade Practices Amendment (Australian Consumer Law) Act (No. 1) 2010 and the Trade Practices Amendment (Australian Consumer Law) Act (No 2) 2010. The full text of the ACL is set out in Schedule 2 to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA).

Ah. No worries, then. Let’s go to https://www.legislation.gov.au and see what the Act says. The current compilation of the CCA as at time of writing is available online, for physical purchase, or as a download in PDF, DOCX and ZIP formats (I have not checked what file format is contained within the ZIP). If you choose to download the file, you want Volume 3 in order to see the schedules (as above, we need Schedule 2).

Please note that as at writing, there are three amendments to the Act that have not been incorporated in the version I am reading. I have not examined these to see whether they change the relevant section, but it’s a big piece of law that covers lots of stuff.

So what does the law say about prizes? For this, we turn first to Schedule 2 - The Australian Consumer Law. This commences on page 93 of the PDF. Future references to it need to be taken as being within ‘schedule 2’ - I’m not going to repeat it each time.

Section 32 deals with unfair practices relating to “Offering rebates, gifts, prizes etc.”. In summary:

  • If you offer a price, you must provide it as offered and in a reasonable time.
  • There are a few exceptions, none of which are relevant to the current discussion.

Section 154 details offences relating to unfair practices, in specific regarding “Offering rebates, gifts, prizes etc.”. It says:

  • If you don’t do what you said you do, it’s an offence.
  • This is the penalty.
  • Here are some exceptions.

TL;DR? There is nothing specific in consumer law about a prize-winner’s rights to future repairs. I would suggest that there is an implied right in section 32, as the product must be provided and any provision has implicit guarantees.

But wait… there’s more. Part 3-2 Division 1 deals with “Consumer guarantees”. These include guarantees of title (you now own what has been supplied), undisturbed possession (you now control what has been supplied) and so forth. Section 54 is a “Guarantee as to acceptable quality”. It requires that goods you are supplied are of acceptable quality.

Section 59 deals with “Guarantee as to express warranties”. S59(1) states that:

“If a person supplies, in trade or commerce, goods to a consumer; and the supply does not occur by way of sale by auction; there is a guarantee that the manufacturer of the goods will comply with any express warranty given or made by the manufacturer in relation to the goods.”

S59(2) goes on to state that:

“If a person supplies, in trade or commerce, goods to a consumer; and the supply does not occur by way of sale by auction; there is a guarantee that the supplier will comply with any express warranty given or made by the supplier in relation to the goods.”

This does not mention sale, purchase, gift, or prize. It simply refers to ‘supply’, and requires that any warranties be respected.


I am not a lawyer, nor am I an expert in consumer law; this is just a summary of what I suggest may be relevant parts of that law. Based upon the summary, I suspect that you have the same rights as someone who purchased the product. Based upon the website upon which I am writing this, I would say that there are probably experts who are able to better advise you. Regardless, I would in your position push for my rights under warranty.

One final note: presumably the Surface Book came with all the standard paperwork, including warranty information and cards to send off? Even if you did not complete this, it presumably comprises an offer to the owner - not to ‘the purchaser’ - and as such is relevant even to prizewinners.

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@meltam, driver was uninstalled twice just to be sure as well as disabling and seeing what difference it might make.

@BrendanMays, no money was exchanged to enter this competition. It was a 25 words or less deal and they liked my 25 words the most. Still no reply from JB. I’ll give them a call tomorrow to see if they can’t sort themselves out one way or another.

@postulative, I should probably dig out the box it came in and have a look at all the paperwork. Got to find it all first. It’s been a while since it was unboxed. Usually you need proof of purchase to show if the warranty is still in force, so that may be a problem in itself.

So, yes I’ll continue to try and contact JB to find out what they can do for me.

Oh, and for the question about have I tried the tablet without the performance base attached, the power cord has the same issues regardless of whether it’s plugged into the performance base with the screen attached or just the detached screen by itself.

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I should also add that the plug is now working and then not working at random intervals. Currently it’s plugged in as normal, not being bent and working fine, yet this morning I could barely get it to even think about giving some power to the batteries, even when bent. This afternoon it would only work if bent. Tonight, it’s working as if nothing was ever wrong with it. The whole thing just gets more bizarre by the day.

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I hoped my suggestions may have helped, so very sorry if they didn’t. If after trying all the steps you still don’t get a charge happening there is a MS support number you can ring 24/7 (132058) and that would be my next step. Just bypass JB for the moment and see if you can get an answer from the Support staff first.

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Perhaps not, but you sure sound like one!

Well researched. :astonished:

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My next thought is to take your system in to JB, and use one of their power cords to test your Microsoft Surface Book with Power Base.

If your system continues misbehaving with their power cord, there is a good chance that the power receptacle is faulty, as you have already uninstalled/reinstalled the drivers.

AND, try your power cord on their Microsoft Surface Book with Power Base to see if you can replicate the issue.

If their system misbehaves with your power cord, then you know that it is the power cord that is causing the problem.

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I reckon too. Check out the wording - specifically does it say the warranty doesn’t apply if it was a prize, or only applies if there was a transaction. I’ve seen wording like “Only applies to the initial purchaser” - but in some? cases I believe that is unlawful also? If it was an out, it could be argued the competition promoter was the initial purchaser, unless of course they were in cahoots with the OEM.

On top of that, assume you are right and let them prove otherwise :slight_smile:

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