ACCC urged to probe Surface storage claims

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ACCC urged to probe Surface storage claims

Consumer advocate body Choice has alerted Australia's competition watchdog to what it alleges are misleading claims about the available storage on Microsoft’s Surface RT tablet.

Choice has requested the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) investigate whether Microsoft "unreasonably" advertised two models of the tablet as having 32 GB and 64 GB of space.

Choice found only 16 GB of usable space on the 32 GB model and 45 GB of usable space on the 64 GB variant of the device.

It blamed Microsoft’s pre-loaded software for taking up too much space.

A spokesperson for Microsoft Australia said its customers understand the operating system and pre-installed applications reduce the amount of free space.

"Surface with Windows RT customers benefit from the ability to attach additional storage via the integrated microSD slot or full-size USB port," the company said.

"Surface also comes pre-loaded with SkyDrive allowing customers to store up to 7GB of content in the cloud for free. We will work with the ACCC if it has any concerns."

Further, Choice alleged the vendor did not adequately communicate the usable storage figures to customers on the device packaging.

Choice noted that Microsoft publishes the usable space figures on its website.

The consumer advocate said it was not uncommon for computer products to have less-than-advertised space, but claimed the advertising for Microsoft’s Surface was less than reasonable. 

It compared the Surface to two competing products — the 32 GB Google Nexus 7, which offered 27.33 GB of available space, and the 16 GB Apple iPad 2, which has 13.34 GB of space available for the end user.

The ACCC said it does not comment on complaints received.

Should the ACCC follow through on Choice’s recommendation, it would mark the third occasion this year a technology organisation has been targeted by the watchdog.

TPG and the ACCC have been locked in a court battle over allegations of misleading and deceptive advertising related to the telco’s broadband plans. The ACCC has also accused HP of deceiving customers over faulty products and warranties, and technology retailer Harvey Norman got in hot water with the consumer watchdog for allegedly ripping off customers on warranties and repairs.

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