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Without much fanfare, Microsoft recently launched something called Surface Membership. The plan allows small businesses and users to stay up-to-date on the latest Surface hardware and accessories in exchange for a flat monthly fee.
Basically, you buy a single Surface 3, Surface Pro 4, Surface Book, or any combination of the three, without having to pay the full price upfront.
Pricing varies widely. It starts at $32.99 per month for an entry-level Surface 3 before topping out at $220.99 a month for a fully upgraded Surface Book (with the Core i7 chip, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage).
There are also three different term lengths, including 18, 24, and 30 months. You pay $32.99 per month on the 30 month plan and $220.99 per month on the 18 month plan.
It’s a lease, not a purchase plan. You don’t own the system at the end of your term.
Some Call it an “Unbelievably Bad Deal”
You may think paying a flat monthly rate for a Surface is a convenient way to get what you need. However, not everyone agrees with you. TechSpot is already calling Surface Membership an “unbelievably bad deal”.
Why is it a bad deal? Well, a fully-equipped Surface Book sells for $3,199 through the Microsoft Store plus another $249 for a two year accidental coverage plan, which brings you to a total of $3,448.
If you finance through the new Surface Membership plan for 18 months, you’ll pay a total of $3977.82. Stretching that to 24 payments leads to a total cost of $4,319.76. The 30 month plan costs you a total of $4829.70.
It’s a Lease and Not a Purchase
One important thing to recognize about the Surface Membership is that you’re not actually buying your Surface. Instead, you’re signing up for a lease on your Surface.
If you want to purchase your Surface at the end of the lease, then you’ll be charged a fee of $99.
In other words, you’re paying significantly more to use a Surface even though you never actually own the device.
The only real advantage to the Surface Membership deal is that you get some amount of personal training and tech support with your deal.
I wouldn’t get too worked up about the Surface Membership plan: we all pay a similar premium for our smartphones. We pay a lower monthly rate instead of paying a full price upfront. It’s a solution that makes sense for some businesses – while others will find that they don’t need the frequent upgrades and they don’t need to avoid the upfront cost.
Still, paying $1,381.70 more for a lease than the price you would have paid for buying the system outright is a weird price point for Microsoft to select.