Microsoft has quietly launched what it is calling Surface Membership, a plan that allows small businesses to stay up-to-date on the latest Surface hardware and accessories for a monthly fee.
The program gives businesses the option of purchasing a single Surface 3, Surface Pro 4 or Surface Book – or any combination of the three, or multiples of each for an entire fleet – without having to pay the full price up front.
Pricing starts at $32.99 per month for an entry-level Surface 3 and tops out at $220.99 a month for a Surface Book with all the bells and whistles (Core i7 chip, 16GB of RAM and 1TB of storage).
Note that Microsoft is offering three payment plans – 18 months, 24 months and 30 months. The $32.99 Surface 3 price is for a 30-month plan while the $220.99 monthly rate is for the Surface Book on an 18-month plan.
A Surface Membership also includes phone and in-store tech support, seven days a week, one-on-one personal training, in-store discounts on future purchases of hardware and software and Microsoft Complete for Business Extended Service Plan with Accidental Damage Protection. There's also the option to trade in your gear at any time although an upgrade fee may apply and you might have to sign a new lease.
While this may seem like a good deal initially, taking a look at what you’re actually paying over the course of the plan certainly changes its tone. In fact, it is an incredibly bad idea no matter how you slice it. Here’s why.
A fully decked out Surface Book sells for $3,199 through the Microsoft Store plus another $249 for a two-year accidental coverage plan, bringing the total to $3,448 out the door. If you finance through the new membership plan for 18 months, you’ll end up paying $3,977.82. Stretching it out over 24 payments results in a total cost of $4,319.76 while the 30-month plan is the worst as you would have spent $4,829.70.
With the 30-month plan, you will have paid an additional $1,381.70 more than you would have if you’d bought the system outright. Even with the personal training and tech support, there’s no way this makes any financial sense. Oh, and if you want to execrise your right to purchase at the end of the lease, you'll be charged an additional fee of $99 which brings the total to $1,480.70.