rant

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Geek Squad Mafia

The most difficult part of this post was coming up with a title that reflected how I feel about the Geek Squad or Best Buy. Another contender was “Best Buy Is Not.” You might get the impression that I am a little pissed off by Best Buy and their Geek Squad, and you would be correct. Here is the tale of my impressions of Best Buy and their team of nerds.

A little over a year ago, I purchased an H-P laptop for my assistant to use for company related tasks. I thought it would be a good idea if I went ahead and purchased their “black tie” warranty that basically covered everything, including accidental damage, for two years. The main reason I got it was so if anything went wrong with it, we could bring it to their nerds and they would fix it for us with no downtime. I was pretty much misled with this presumption.

It was a matter of months before parts started falling off the H-P. Time to use the warranty. We brought it back to Best Buy under the impression that they would fix it and my assistant would be back in business. Wrong.

They informed me that they could not fix it there and would have to send it back to H-P, so we would be without the laptop for a couple weeks. It was not a convenient time to go without the use of it, so I said forget it and we just dealt with a laptop that was sans a few keys.

As time went on, more parts fell off, we got indications of the monitor going bad and RAM failure forced us into backing up our data and bringing the H-P back to Best Buy, knowing that they would be holding onto it for a couple weeks. This was really my first up close and personal interaction with these geeks, and I soon determined that these guys were not geeks at all; they were impostors. I know geeks. My girlfriend is a geek. I have friends that are geeks. These guys were wannabees.

While standing around, waiting for service I took a closer look at my surroundings. Best Buy puts up a lot of poster sized photographs of a bunch of nerdy looking guys that looked like they worked as FBI agents in the 60’s. White shirts, black ties, glasses. I then took a closer look at the employees behind the counter and it was obvious that if you looked like a nerd, you were immediately qualified to be part of the Geek Squad Mafia. This was further verified when we realized that my assistant had failed to back up her Thunderbird email. I figured that I would just buy a flash drive, back the emails onto it and let them take the laptop. Sounded easy in theory anyway.

I have never even looked at Thunderbird, so I could only guess how to back up the mail folders. My guesses were wrong. But hey, there were a slew of geeks behind the counter, one of them should know. Wrong again. Supposedly, there is not one Geek Squad member that does not own a Mac. Fine, but you mean to tell me all your customers are on Macs? You have only used a Mac? Give me a break! A real geek would know what they were doing instead of giving the lame, “I use a Mac” excuse.

We ended up taking the broken H-P back from them so I could go home and figure out how to backup the mail. After this was done, my assistant brought it back to the store. Then the fun began.

Geek Squad Victim

Geek Squad Victim

A couple days later, we received a telephone call informing us that the laptop could not be fixed and we should come back to the store for a replacement. When we arrived, I was informed that it was not “cost effective” for them to repair the laptop. They would give me a replacement that was “comparable”. Now, comparable does not mean they will just give me another of the same model, because according to them, laptops are only in the store for about three months. They also do not feel that comparable has anything to do with the cost of the laptop. They just find what they feel is close to monitor size, drive size, RAM and processor. While I was not entirely convinced this was the “Best” way to handle a customer that spends as much as I do there, it is what it is.

My assistant asked them if the warranty would transfer to the new laptop. I had not bothered asking because I naturally presumed it would. I was batting 1.000 this day. I was wrong with every presumption. Their contention was that they had honored the two year warranty by just replacing the laptop. I suggested that I still had a year left on the warranty and that they should at least prorate me for coverage on the new laptop we were stuck with. They disagreed.

So, in a nutshell, it was not cost effective for them to fix the laptop I purchased. It was more cost effective for them to give me a cheaper model than I had purchased originally, then charge me a couple hundred dollars for a new warranty. To me, this is theft. And bad business. I can not imagine the situation that would help me feel justified treating a customer like this. I know one thing for sure; the next time I have to get some warranty work done, I am going to accidentally drop kick the laptop across the parking lot. If it is going to be a matter of cost effectiveness, I might as well get a little pleasure out of the screwing I know I am going to get.

Now, if you have had similar experiences with the Geek Squad Mafia and took the time to read this entire post, I have an offer for you. Like I mentioned earlier, I know geeks. The geeks I know can work on PCs or Macs, and they have better rates than Best Buy’s nerd mafia. Go Go Techs will give you $50 off your service charge if you bring in a receipt showing that you have tried using the Geek Squad. Not a bad deal. The nice thing is these guys are able to do many things remotely. They are also quite knowledgeable about home and office networks, and they are not going to give you the same runaround with the “it will cost $xx.xx for us to look” b.s. that you get with the geek Squad Mafia.

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