December 11, 2012, 3:53 PM — Amid speculation that Microsoft will soon expand distribution of its Surface RT, giant e-tailer Amazon continues to offer the tablet through partners, who jack up the price or post inflated list prices to claim large savings.
Talk of broader distribution for the Surface RT, which by some accounts has struggled to sell in large numbers, started last week when long-time Windows blogger Paul Thurrott hinted that the move would come "within days."
But Amazon has had Microsoft's Surface RT on its website for weeks. Independent resellers, not Amazon itself, offer the tablet. They presumably buy tablets at a Microsoft retail store or from the Redmond Wash. company's online store, then turn around and resell the devices on the massive site.
Today, searches on Amazon for the Surface found several resellers with the tablet in stock. Amazon itself fulfills orders from one, Techno Intelligence, thus giving its Prime members -- customers who have paid an annual fee for bonus features -- free two-day delivery.
But those resellers price the Surface RT significantly higher than Microsoft, and often display an inflated list price, practices that have prompted criticism from customers.
Techno Intelligence, for example, prices the 32GB Surface RT without a Touch Cover at $599, or $100 more than Microsoft. The 64GB model with the keyboard-cum-cover costs $812, or $113 above Microsoft's price.
Amazon resellers also use inaccurate list prices to show exaggerated discounts.
For instance, Techno Intelligence claims that the list price of the 32GB Surface RT without a cover is $999.99, for a "savings" of $400.99. A reseller whose orders are not fulfilled by Amazon insisted the list price of a 32GB Surface RT with a Touch Cover was $899, $300 more than the actual Microsoft price for the same device.
Amazon's customers noticed.