Why We're Not Telling Geek Squad CEO Which Agent Stole The Porn

from ben@consumerist.com
to Robert Stephens
date Jul 5, 2007 12:49 PM
subject looking for comment re: VIDEO: Consumerist Catches Geek Squad Stealing Porn From Customer’s Computer

Hey Robert,

Just left you a message but we’re getting ready to publish a video about how we found a Geek Squad agent taking images and video from a computer we took in for repairs and copying them to his thumbdrive. If you have a second, I’d love to get a comment.

from Stephens, Robert (GeekSquad)”
to ben@consumerist.com
date Jul 5, 2007 2:29 PM

Ben,

If this is true, it’s an isolated incident and grounds for termination of the Agent involved. I’ll need the name of the Agent to launch an internal investigation immediately. Are you willing to provide this?

-Robert Stephens

from ben@consumerist.com
to “Stephens, Robert (GeekSquad)”
date Jul 5, 2007 4:57 PM

Robert,

Well, no. The main thrust of our story is that this is a systemic problem. We think it’s just luck of the draw this agent got caught rather than another. It’s an issue that needs to be addressed broadly in your organization, and across the computer repair industry as a whole. I’m sure you can make the point internally and remind agents of best practices without making an example of one person, perhaps even more effectively.

PREVIOUSLY: VIDEO: Consumerist Catches Geek Squad Stealing Porn From Customer’s Computer

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. IS that Paulie Walnuts from Soprano’s crew taking in his rig to Geek Squad for repair?

    More ball-busting please.

    [www.tian.cc]

  2. not_seth_brundle says:

    You won’t give him his name but you’ll post his picture? Hey, isn’t that the Dell dude?

  3. Sucko-T says:

    That pictures is creepy. Since when did Best Buy allow employees to have gaged ears?

  4. Notsewfast says:

    @ TIAN:

    YOU BEAT ME TOO IT.

    I was just Imagining him and Pussy shaking down the geek squad for stealing Meadow’s photos…

    We should write this stuff…

  5. lordbeef says:

    I love the photo that goes with this story. When put in this context, the man looks excited to learn that his pornography was stolen.

    “Thanks Geek Squad, hope you enjoy it as much as I did!”

  6. JustAGuy2 says:

    Huh? I can’t imagine a better way for Geek Squad management to make the point that this content is unacceptable than to promptly fire the person who did it.

  7. Amen. Better to have them look at the entire system than simply slap a single tech on the wrist.

  8. Skiffer says:

    @JustAGuy2: When China fired one guy at one factory for the melamine scandal…was that enough to make their point and stop the poison train?

    Of course the GS employee should be fired, along with all the other employees who do the same…But giving corporate the name of this particular employee will only give them a scapegoat to sweep the issue under the rug.

  9. nachas101 says:

    C’mon, give the guy a name.
    Normally, I’d say that it was very cool of you to not throw some random tech under the bus, but this is just plain ridiculous.
    The guy invaded privacy and copied sensitive material for his own use.
    This is not just a violation of geek squad policy, but of personal privacy.
    Plainly put, he had no business even looking in the folder.
    And I disagree with you- it is true that in some cases, systemic issues can be solved more efficiently through other means. In this case, however, someone needs to be made an example of.
    Hell, all parties involved should be terminated immediately.
    Period.
    Allow me to explain my position using my own experience as evidence…
    I used to be in the bar biz. I was moved to a new location of a bar/restaurant company I had been working for. I specialized in increasing profitability and efficiency of units without compromising, often increasing, morale. They would move me for a few months from unit to unit, I would clean it up, then they would move me again.
    I went to this unit and found that their liquor cost was high because staff was drinking on duty. Talk about systemic, virtually every member of that staff would help themselves to a beer or two during their shifts. It was bleeding money. Food cost was also high because waitstaff would snag a few beers for the kitchen to get free food for dinner, which was especially silly because the employee meal plan got them crazy good food for nothing (a $10 steak sandwich for $3 for example).
    I held a meeting and asked the staff to stop. I explained that the costs were too high and the risks too great.
    It continued. For 2 weeks.
    While working a shift aroudn two weeks after my first meeting, I observed a staff member get a little tipsier every hour. I knew what was up, so I let her spiral out of control. 5 hours into an 8 hour shift, she was wasted.
    I pulled her into the office and fired her on the spot.
    It sent shockwaves through the staff.
    That week I called a meeting and laid down the law – no drinking on the job. Unauthorized trips to the cooler would result in termination. Give a cook a beer and you lose your gig, plus the cook loses theirs.
    Within a week our costs had fallen in line and the staff obviously complied.
    Words don’t mean nearly as much as clear and definitive action.

  10. The HZA. says:

    Well played, Consumerist.

    I’d love to do the same to my laptop, take it in and see what they do with my files.

  11. ThinkAboutItPlease says:

    AMEN, BROTHER BEN!

  12. mantari says:

    EXCELLENT RESPONSE, Consumerist!

    Systemic. No need to isolate the individual here so they can be scapegoated. BRAVO!

  13. inboulder says:

    I’m struggling to care about this.

  14. nachas101 says:

    @Skiffer:
    or it will send a clear message that this type of behavior is unnacceptable and now in the spotlight.
    If the techs knew that they were being watched and that the penalty is swift and harsh, they likely won’t risk it.
    I don’t buy your logic – the factories in China put poison on the market because of executives, not low rung employees. The analogy doesn’t fit.
    It isn’t some low level worker adding poison to food – someone high up made a choice that affected the business negatively.
    That person is indeed likely fired. And it likely sent the right message – bad behavior is unacceptable.

  15. basherbot4000 says:

    What a crock. If it really happened the way you guys said it happened then the guy deserves to be humiliated and fired. Is the Consumerist about protecting consumers or creeps?

  16. iamtravis says:

    the next letter should read:

    Dear Robert,
    please note the proof you have requested on our internationally known site, consumerist.com; where you will find ironic video footage, as well as a log file, and high resolution images. Also note, we borrowed your daughters computer to do theses tests with.

    Sincerely,
    the consumerist.

  17. kaikhor says:

    Although I know this would probably be expensive for BB, I would suggest they do this themselves at all stores and fire anyone who gets caught. I know it’s expensive but I figure it’s probably better than the person who does decide to sue

  18. Peekaso says:

    The same happended daily at Compoosa (names are changed to protect the guilty) That is until they went out of business. yes i know they still exsist, but barely.

  19. ThinkAboutItPlease says:

    AMEN, BROTHER BEN!!!! You absolutely, positively did the right thing by not identifying the particular tech.

    It’s profoundly disappointing that Robert Stephens is apparently taking the “it’s one guy, let’s root him out, and the problem is solved” approach. I view this as shallow thinking.

    You get it, many of your readers get it. But the CEO doesn’t get it. The world is crazy sometimes.

    It’s not about “the one guy.” It’s about the system.

    It’s not about the guy Vinny Ferrari happened to call.

    It’s not about the particular Jiffy Lube guys who were subject to a sting that caught them charging for services they didn’t perform (to meet a sales “budget” for each customer, imposed by the company).

    It’s not about the one Home Depot remodeling franchisee who got caught being incredibly sloppy.

    What is it about, in this case? I would guess it’s about the general vulnerability of customers in taking computers in for repair, and Geek Squad simultaneously lacking a culture that consistently lives by the Golden Rule, where employees would be extremely careful to not exploit customers and their vulnerabilities — where snooping would be unthinkable. These are systemic matters.

    Robert: I hope you’ll read some books on basic systems theory (e.g., Churchman). And study Trader Joe’s. Their employees are consistently empathic to customers. While it’s a highly profitable company with a minimum of gimmicks, no upselling, and essentially no exploitation or either consumers or employees.

  20. charlesstricklin says:

    You know, if I were a suit at Best Buy, and I was given a single videotaped incident, I’d say the exact same thing: it’s an isolated incident… we’ll put out a memo… that employee needs to be terminated… blah… blah… blah…

    To prove systemic violations you probably should have set the honey pot up at several different stores in several different cities. As it is, all that will happen is there’ll be a company-wide crack-down and possibly one teenage geek will lose his relatively low-level job.

  21. Karmakin says:

    Good on you all.

    However, there’s no systematic way to stop this. Well, there is…constant supervision, or at least the threat there-of. But that may not be economically viable. Actually, a tool, installed by the supervisor before the tech gets it that records everything for quality purposes would probably work.

    But what if they forget to remove the tool? Eeek. Lawsuit city.

  22. bpotterr says:

    Couldn’t a secret-shopper-like program be used here? If Geek Squad periodically had people come into stores unannounced and incognito and had them do what Consumerist did in this investigation, wouldn’t that be incentive for GS employees to keep things on the up-and-up?

  23. masterdave says:

    What is this hoping to accomplish?

    I think you guys have this whole thing entirely confused. It’s like going after McDonalds because people are fat. You’re making some bigger deal about people being stupid and not keeping private things private, and acting like Geek Squad is doing something amazingly unique in the world.

    They’re not. Nothing written here is going to change a damn thing, and it’s ultimately not up to BestBuy, GeekSquad, Wal-Mart or Home Depot to educate consumers on the idea that nothing on their computer is private information, especially when you put it into the hands of a 3rd party, which in my “not a lawyer” opinion, pretty much invalidates your right to privacy.

    I know that we as ignorant consumers with problems want to believe that our computer is a sanctuary for data, and a place where we can just put whatever sensitive information we want in an unencrypted state right on the desktop… but at some point reality has to intercede and say “hey guy, your computer is not a fortress of solitude for your information” and be responsible consumers, rather than blame others for their lack of morals.

    So BestBuy fires this guy. And another guy. And another guy after that. Guess what? Moms are pumping out the BestBuy Class of 2027 Geek Squad Employees -right now- and they’ll still want to look at your boobs, and they’ll still want to copy your porn even after the guy who gets fired tomorrow is 20 years older and has a much better paying job doing something that doesn’t make him want to stab himself in the face repeatedly due to customers who know nothing about the $2000 piece of computer hardwware they operate on a daily basis. You’re pointing out an endemic moral failure in humanity, not Geek Squad hiring practices.

    So, you’ve proven that 1 in 10 random people of a small sample happens to be a person who doesn’t agree with your morals and privacy standards when you pass off the computer to a 3rd party. Congrats. You’re making yourselves look bad in the process. It seems like you just want some excuse to rail against bestbuy and stir up some trouble on this issue, because you’re twisting things around almost like Michael Moore when you push the angle.

  24. superbmtsub says:

    Shouldn’t be too hard to find out the tech who dunnit.
    1. Collect all the GeekSquad flash drives.
    2. Scan for similar folders/file structures.
    3. If no matches, run various repair softwares to pull out deleted files/folders until you get folders like “Secret Weapon” or “Propaganda” etc and nail the dude.

    But I hope they dont do that. Would hate to be the one dude who took the Consumerist-bait. Probably developing a fever at the moment.

  25. mac-phisto says:

    i think there’s a really easy way to stop this. it’s called an event log & it could load as a script with the diagnostic tools. tie in a utility that reports the data to a section of the thumbdrive that is hidden & only accessible with a manager’s password. reuire all techs to download the thumbdrives to a central server after diagnosis is complete.

    theoretically, the only way to bypass the logging would be to stop the process in task manager, but i believe you could key the log to report a stop also.

  26. sweetone4u says:

    A few years ago, I was hired as a manager of a new Gold’s Gym. One of the things I was hired to do was figure out where all the money was going, to cut costs where appropriate, increase sales, and trim staffing bloat. The first thing I noticed while on the job was how little the staff cared about inventory or company policies, and it didn’t take long to figure out. One of the owners, a young kid of only 29, would waltz in, late and hung over, open the cash drawer, take out a few twenties and go next door to buy himself lunch – leaving the front desk clerk to figure out the till and come up with the shortage! After a week of watching this behavior, I knew there would be nothing I could do about it until the kid was confronted by his partner. I set up a meeting, just the 3 of us. Of course the kid denied it and I was out of a job that same day. When shit like this happens, I say walk away. Unless the top dog is willing to deal, nothing will happen.

  27. SOhp101 says:

    I completely agree with Consumerist. While I know that Geek Squad wants to make an example of this employee, it was made apparent by plenty of ‘insiders’ or former GS employees that this is a common practice by MOST of their workers.

  28. swalve says:

    I agree with the idea that Ben isn’t giving up the name of the tech. However, I disagree with his reasoning and attitude in doing it. What business is it of a [supposed] journalist to be telling this guy how to run his business?

    One out of 12 does not necessarily show a systemic problem, but Ben’s email shows Consumerist’s lack of journalistic ethics…

  29. Thrust says:

    @Skiffer: Umm… China EXECUTED the guy. Results may be a little skewed comparing firing vs killing.

    The way to get this across to Bestbuy would be to sting em twice more. Three different techs from three different stores all doing the same crime, might make em look harder at the problem

    Oh and CONGRATS to Sir Dumbfuk of rTardsville from Geeksquad. Isolated incident? Any PR monkey with half a brain would make every assurance that they would examine the problem companywide (even if they truely weren’t going to). The Isolated Incident route is for stuff like a McJobbie selling hash through the drivethru.

  30. LTS! says:

    I find this entire thread hilarious and at the same time quite sad. It’s fairly typical of the comments here to throw their fairly worthless two cents in on the subject. The entire attitude of “well, it’s a systemic problem and firing one person won’t help” is fine, if you can suggest alternatives into solving the problem.

    What response did you expect from Best Buy?

    “Well Ben, obviously we know that the general public places great faith in the tech industry when they hand over their computers to us, and we know that it’s been a long standing problem inside computer repair that the technicians tend to look places that people think they shouldn’t and even copy files they shouldn’t. We’re trying to stop it, but we feel there’s nothing that can be done.”

    Yea.. right. The answer is, was, and always will be, I need the name of the agent and we need to address it. There is no other response. Are you expecting him to say that because 1 in 10 (and some me too’s from comments) have admitted to performing this act that he is going to shut down Geek Squad?

    What is your ultimate goal here? Do you have a goal are is it merely to add to malcontents who do nothing more than bellyache about what is wrong with this world but would rather sit back, rip through a six pack and smoke up while watching reruns of Adult Swim?

    As far as solving the problem… educate consumers. Stupid people have been taken advantage of throughout history, it’s not going to change. From used cars, to mechanics, to tech support, and so on down the line, if you don’t know any better then prepare to be screwed.

    Give him the name, let the guy get fired, and then post about it so all the other loser Geek Squad kiddies can realize that there are people who might perform this same action on their computer and catch them up to no good as well. The only thing that keeps people from performing an unwanted action is the fear of retribution should they be caught.

  31. enm4r says:

    Would the name be turned over if they had taken bank statements? Or fake kiddie porn? (Two examples everyone keeps bringing up.) I think they would, and SHOULD be turned over. The fact that you think this is a widespread issue doesn’t have any bearing on the fact that this tech wronged, the company is asking for you help in their investigations, and you are not. What purpose does this serve? What other penalty should the tech receive?

    He should be fired, so help Best Buy accomplish this. I assume it wont be too hard to piece the various evidence together and slowly narrow down the tech, but still, you’re sitting on the evidence for no apparent reason.

    Techs need to know what will happen, so let him be made an example of. At the same time, Best Buy, if they felt like actually correcting the problem, could also investigate the frequency of these events in other stores. I don’t see what protecting this tech is serving, so you can childishly hold it over their head? It’s obviously something Best Buy needs to confront, but it’s also NOT a company policy, and while they might have turned a blind eye, they will also be in a reactionary position with matters like these. The individuals are the problem, show them the consequences, and work toward actual improvement.

  32. maevro says:

    I really think nothing will be done. Without a name, at most you will see some type of internal email but are they going to use their resources to investigate every employee? I think not, that would be way too costly.

    Perhaps it will scare the person(s) who did it as their belly will flip with guilt, this stopping them from doing it again. I doubt it though…….

    Anyway, good job on catching them in the first place.

  33. tort47 says:

    This may, in fact, be the stupidest post I’ve ever seen on the Consumerist. Let us know when you’ve progressed further than an initial response from Best Buy. Why is this worth posting at this point, other than the obvious goal of generating traffic with a catchy, self-righteous headline???

  34. BoredAgain says:

    “Systemic”: affecting an entire system

    Not 1 out of 12, possibly even lower of a percentage if they would have spent another 3 months on this wild goose chase.

    Regardless, this blog is using the big name of Geek Squad to try and drum up some hits when really, all they discovered is that 1 out of 12 men like to look at porn, even if it isn’t theirs. Bravo, great journalism there…

    Why not make another 3 month expose on how 1 out of 12 auto mechanics looked at your personal pictures that you left on the passenger’s seat.

  35. ThomFabian says:

    I’m sorry, but I fail to see the logic behind not giving them the name. This guy obviously was not following Geek Squad procedure by copying files from your machine.

    You are right that a system needs to be put in place to address the issue at large, but there is no reason that part of that should not be making an example out of someone breaking company policy.

    I fail to see what will be gained by hiding his identity. He cannot be a scapegoat because his action was wrong. He can, however, be fired and hopefully with enough noise to perhaps help to change that “systematic” problem.

  36. Trumps says:

    Guys btw the Flash Drives are NOT issued by Best Buy, the techs purchase them themselves.

    And the whole porno stealing thing happens at EVERY computer repair. From HP/IBM/SONY/ALIENWARE/Geek Squad to smaller shops as well. Honestly it will probably never change. There is no way to stop it. Truth is bad, but nothing can be done.

  37. asherchang says:

    That’s a very good move. Scapegoating a single agent might seem good for Geek Squad, but nothing will change.

  38. dvddesign says:

    This points out more a general warning to all of you to check your computer and make sure you’re okay with a tech finding and potentially keeping anything they find on your computer. You’re trusting them to work on your computer and their level of respect they levy towards not prying into your computer is a fine line you can’t even know if you walk.

    I can do most of my own computer troubleshooting and used to work in tech support and I can tell you there were multiple times where it was just impossible to avoid your porn cache. You may think you have it well hidden, but likely you don’t.

    I had a customer who stored his porn in multiple locations on his second installed Hard Drive. We’d run a defrag analysis on his HDD and see that it was full. When our systems had full HDD’s they performed poorly and then content had to be deleted or moved. It was up to US to ID the large files to recommend to move. So AVI’s and large caches of MP3’s and JPG’s stay hidden for about as long as it takes to hit the search key.

    You want that stuff out of prying eyes? Keep it on an external drive, and on a drive you never let into anyone else’s hands.

    That and get to know your local techs, or make friends with techs in the family. Tech friends and family will be less tempted to dig around.

    No one wants to see their aunt or grandmother in compromising positions. Ever since I saw what weird shit my Dad downloaded off of Usenet one time, I never ever poke around on his system anymore.

  39. dvddesign says:

    One other thought. Ben, if you’d done a similar sting, but had somehow used compromising photos of minors, in a photo lab situation, they are obligated, usually by company policy to collect copies of those photos to submit to the local district attorney’s office. We had this case arise one time when I worked in a photo lab during college.

  40. Elan Arbitsman says:

    Consumerist shouldn’t be keeping anything it unconvers in an investigation private. It’s not the name of a source, it’s the name of a criminal. I can understand not posting the tech’s name here, but it should definitely be turned over to BestBuy after they asked. Please reconsider.

  41. PlanetExpressdelivery says:

    How can this be an isolated incident? We’ve heard for months about rumors (backed by former “agents”) that this type of “service” was going on. Is it merely a coincidence that an undercover sting revealed this type of perverted action? I think not.

  42. StationaryToranado says:

    “Stealing” porn? Wow, some slanted language there. It’s not like they’re a mechanics literally taking and carrying off the ancient copies of Hustler you left in your car. They’re _copying_ your hard-won jerk fodder. And let’s look on the positive side – we had a few cases in England of pedophiles being busted thanks to nosey techs snooping for porn. If anyone doesn’t want their porn to be seen and/or copied they should either have a porn-free system or encrypt a directory. End of story.

  43. dayjayvw says:

    I love porn and my computer is filled with it. That’s why I service my own computer.

  44. aikoto says:

    Good for you for not giving up his name.

  45. Shadowman615 says:

    OK, but I doubt the problem is EVERY agent, probably just a select few. I would ‘name and shame’ in this situation. If this really is a widespread problem, it would do the system well for this unlucky schmuck to be made an example of.

  46. bluemeep says:

    One person in twelve nipping private files off of a hard drive doesn’t really seem like much at first… But then I stopped to consider how many Best Buys are out there. Just how many service techs does Geek Squad employ? Suddenly it’s not just one in twelve but tens in hundreds, hundreds in thousands, maybe more growing exponentially.

    I say give up the name. Even if there’s suddenly a corporate mandate of “Stop copying customer’s nudie pics and MP3s” I can guarantee you that most of the employees are going to laugh it off unless there are obvious consequences. Making it known that people are getting canned for behavior like that is going to show them that.

    Would they all stop? Doubtful. I’m sure it would scare at least a few of them straight, though.

  47. sonichghog says:

    So this guy was 1 in 12 that actually did it? How is that a system wide problem. When does it not become system wide, then it is 1 in 50?

    How do we really know that they “all” do it? They should be given the guys name. Or at least you should go in a few more times to see if it is really a system wide issue.

  48. Even if there’s suddenly a corporate mandate of “Stop copying customer’s nudie pics and MP3s” I can guarantee you that most of the employees are going to laugh it off unless there are obvious consequences


    @bluemeep: Robert Stephens made it clear that there will be no corporate mandate if he gets the name. He sees it as an isolated problem. If Consumerist gives them the name that person gets fired and nothing else will happen. Making Geek Squad do the investigation themselves from square one may be the only way to get them to look at all of their employees.


    On the other hand, since they feel it’s an isolated incident maybe they won’t do anything at all.

  49. milty45654 says:

    Can’t you just see the caption to that pic?
    Customer(with sh*t face grin): “Hey, I need this fixed. Please try to save my pron”

    Geek Squad Member(with sh*t face grin): “Pron, you say? No problemo. I’ll just back it up to my trusty thumb drive. “

  50. tvh2k says:

    @milty45654:
    Laugh about it, but I work at a helpdesk and have more than once been asked if I could back up a user’s music and pron. I even once was asked if I could clear a machine of all evidence that the guy had been surfing pron b/c his wife was going to be using it.

  51. beyond says:

    I’m afraid you need more than just 1 incident for this to be statistically significant. If you had gone to 30 Best Buys and this happened 3 times, you’d have something. Repeat the test and see if you get the same results.

  52. savvy9999 says:

    If people think this is going to result in some sort of massive shakedown at BB/GS to begin some new epoch of consumer privacy, you’re sadly mistaken. The exact opposite is going to happen– GS is simply going to change its policy to now say that any and all data files on a computer you bring in may be subject to “inspection” by its techs.

    I am in IT, there’s simply no way to fix someone’s Windows PC without opening up an explorer window and looking around for malicious files in all the usual places. They simply cannot do their jobs without looking at customer data, period.

    Should a tech be permanently copying your data to a drive for personal use? No. But should he be able to make copies of it for backup (say, to make an image and install a new HD)? Absolutely. Is there a way to stop one and not the other? No.

    Some new craftily worded fine print will cover this sort of stuff somehow.

  53. bluemeep says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: That’s what he says, but it sounds to me like he’s putting on his PR face in that email. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if there will be (or maybe already is) some word being handed down to at least the district managers about this business.

  54. RandomHookup says:

    @dayjayvw:

    That’s why I service my own computer.

    I just love all the new euphemisms for masturbation.

  55. can we please have a caption contest for that photo!

  56. Thrust says:

    @discounteggroll: YES!

    Customer: So what did you find out about my computer?
    Geek: Yer daughter is hawt and you need a better webcam.

  57. thakat007 says:

    “” BY ELAN ARBITSMAN AT 02:08 AM

    Consumerist shouldn’t be keeping anything it unconvers in an investigation private. It’s not the name of a source, it’s the name of a criminal. I can understand not posting the tech’s name here, but it should definitely be turned over to BestBuy after they asked. Please reconsider.””

    The “name of a criminal.” Are you kidding me! The kid was just copying some porn! Get a life man. Expect that by having someone else fix your computer that your data is up for grabs. Yes, its not right but come on! Keeping your data on external media is a good practice in itself, but also comes in handy in situations like this. This kid is not a criminal. EVERYONE DOES THIS!!! Its like all you people saying… oh no! I don’t rub one out every now and then… I am all high and might and would never do that! Get off your high horse you sensationalists! If you were young and could still get it up, you would too. You are only making yourself look like an idiot by making such a big deal out of this.
    If the kid had taken some financial data or such, I could see this being an issue, but IT WAS JUST PORN!
    Lesson learned: (1.)Don’t leave your sensitive data on your machine when you are taking it to a repair man.
    (2.) If you thought this was some big deal…GET A LIFE!!!

  58. swalve says:

    “They simply cannot do their jobs without looking at customer data, period.”

    Of course they can see the existence of the data, but they should never need to see the contents of the data. That’s the difference.

  59. frogpelt says:

    I think you should give him the guy’s name. There’s nothing like making an example of somebody to discourage inappropriate behavior.

    After that, they can give everybody speeches and it will pack some punch.

  60. Hey guys, I found out that this guy, Robert Stephens, has a blog, and on the blog has a live chat where you can chat with him.

    [rstephens.blogspot.com]

    Have fun with it!!

  61. frogpelt says:

    @thakat007:

    Uh, yeah. He’s a CRIMINAL. He STOLE something off somebody’s computer. Furthermore, he VIOLATED their PRIVACY.

    He committed a CRIME. He’s a CRIMINAL.

  62. I’m chatting with him right now about the article. He says that Consumerist has some “freudian obsession with Geek Squad.” Go talk to him guys!

  63. markgm says:

    This happens everywhere. If you don’t think it does, hopefully this will be a wakeup call. If you went to 30 Best Buy stores, I’d be surprised if there were three stores that didn’t search for some types of files. It is scary, but maybe this will let some people realize that just because something is saved on your computer doesn’t mean it’s private.

  64. Elan Arbitsman says:

    @THAKAT007:

    Um, did you not watch the video? It was not “JUST PORN” that he stole. He stole personal files. It might vary by state, but it definitely is a crime in most jurisdictions. Maybe you don’t value your privacy, but most people have intimate photos they don’t want shared with The Geek Squad and their friends.

    Since when was “EVERYONE DOES THIS” a valid defense? Speak for yourself, I think most people don’t do this, including 11 out of 12 Geek Squaders in this investigation.

    I never said this was “some big deal”, but that doesn’t mean it should keep happening. If it doesn’t interest you, skip over the post next time.

  65. RandomHookup says:

    Of course, if you give him the name of the person and he is fired, they won’t make an example of him because they won’t want to violate the privacy of their personnel decisions. No one ever announces…”we fired him because he stole pr0n.” It’s always “Joe Smuckatella is no longer with us.”

  66. Primate says:

    It took you 3 months and you discovered that 1 in 12 agents might be doing this and you think it’s a systemic problem? What do you expect him to do about it? All he can do at this point is reissue a statement to his agents that it is unacceptable behavior. Something they know already and obviously isn’t going to stop this agent.
    I think you guys are trying to make something big out of something small.

  67. z0iid says:

    shame, shame on the geek squad employee. Don’t want to get caught? Bring a boot cd, and external hard drive. Boot from cd first thing, copy *.* to external harddrive, explaining to customer you are making a full backup in case of catastrophic failure. After fixing the problem, you can delete the entire backup in front of the customer. Then in the privacy of your home, you can run Easy Recovery Professional. (or some other data recovery utility). Recover all deleted files, filter *.jpg, *.mpg….etc. You get the idea.

    Or you could have integrity, and resist the urge in the first place….

  68. WhatsMyNameAgain says:

    According to the picture, even Mitt Romney has his porn stolen.

    Nice.

  69. z0iid says:

    oh, one more comment. for users – use truecrypt, and never save personal files anywhere except on an encrypted volume. Don’t have it auto-mount, slight hassle – but worth it if you care what others see on your computer. And if you use IE, shame. If you use firefox, and have it remember your passwords – don’t be dumb! Set a master password to at least make it a challenge for them!

  70. The Bigger Unit says:

    Mitt Romney?! The hell you say! That’s obviously Paulie Walnuts making another appearance at the Geek Squad store! They better fuckin’ fix it good.

  71. milty45654 says:

    (In my best Pauly Walnuts Voice)
    WHOAH! T, this guy stole my pron! I’m gunna have christopha take him out back…

  72. electromaggot says:

    Anyone have any idea what that sign says?

    …OMPUTER SUPPORT
    …GE, IT’S A RIGH…
    …ULD BE EMBRAC…
    …UNTIL YOU GO HOAR/HOAF/HOAP…

    ???

    …COMPUTER SUPPORT
    …GEORGE, IT’S A RIGHT
    …SHOULD BE EMBRACED
    …UNTIL YOU GO HOARDING MY PR0N

    (seriously, does anyone know what that last word might be? it’s driving me nuts! :-)

  73. Trackback says:

    Xeni Jardin: Ben Popken at Consumerist writes: The Consumerist’s 3-month sting operation snared a Geek Squad technician stealing porn from our hard drive, and we’ve got the work-safe video and logfiles to prove it.

  74. Trackback says:

    More Peep Squad action, this time the result of a sting operation by the Consumerist. After hearing from several Geek Squad techies that “stealing customers’ nudie pics was an easter egg hunt”, journalist Ben Popken loaded up a PC with porn and screen capture software and touted it around a dozen…

  75. evenglow says:

    The reason they don’t release the name is stated in the email and it’s the same reason the location of the store is not mentioned. It’s not just one employee but the whole system. When you spend millions on marketing and minimum wage on talent this is what you get. When you focus on numbers and not people, this is what you get. The first response from Best Buy is that it’s an isolated incident which everyone knows is false but is still said. This sting operation wasn’t to throw one guy in jail but to have a very large business clean house and improve how they interact with customers. Target = Best Buy and their practices, not one person who got caught red handed.

  76. flexprimo says:

    So you set the techs up to fall into your trap, only got 1 out of 12 to do so but you still think it’s a systemic problem and don’t want to reveal the guy’s name?

    I happen to agree that it’s systemic but come on – if you’re going to publish this as the results of your test you can’t pass it off as systemic if only 1 out of 12 attempts caught someone.

    And keeping that guy’s name secret is only protecting someone who deserves to be fired. Whether it’s a systemic problem or not, I highly doubt the GS training guide says “Hey, go ahead and score all the porn you want from customers’ computers”.

    My guess is they’re told not to do this, especially with all the bad press recently, so there’s no way this guy wouldn’t have known he was doing something wrong. You’re just fanning the flames without actually following it through to completion.

  77. Johann says:

    Right. It was just the luck of the draw that you caught this exact tech. So what? He was still doing something wrong. Why not turn over his name?

    If I ran a company and someone started claiming to have proof that my employees were acting unethically, of course I’d want all the info about the incident! I’d definitely want to know which of my employees were involved. If you withhold even that information, it’s going to be that much easier for Best Buy to dismiss your claim.

    You can claim that this is a systematic problem. All you apparently have proof of is one incident. And if you don’t actually tell them all the details of that once incident, I think it’s more likely they’ll just dismiss your account entirely rather than (as you apparently hope) overhaul their entire company.

  78. MrEvil says:

    I’d just like to say that in my years of being a computer Tech I’ve never gone through someone’s files. During Data recovery I’m just looking at the file and folder names, not what is contained therein. In fact, I make it a point to avoid opening anything because you don’t know what kind of Pandora’s box you’ll be opening.

    Back when I was a Best Buy black shirt though, the other techs CONSTANTLY went through customers’ stuff looking for free hardcore. It was really embarassing. I would have reported it too if management weren’t in on it.

  79. nachas101 says:

    Yeah, it’s not stealing because it’s porn, right nutbags?
    WRONG.
    Porn, personal photos, bank statements, documents, etc. are all classified as intellectual property.
    Hence, this tech stole something of value.
    It doesn’t matter that it was porn.
    It could be pictures of bic lighters for all I care.
    It is stealing.
    The reason the geek squad techs all seem to think the consumerist is a joke is BECAUSE they wont release the name of the guy who got caught.
    Does it happen?
    Sure it does.
    Is that okay?
    Of course not.
    Should people who steal files for their own entertainment lose their job as a trusted technician?
    Damn straight.
    But hey, Ben *feels* better about his little sting op because he is saving the job of some low level tech who will undoubtedly do this again. After all, what are the consequences? Nothing. Thanks to Ben and the consumerist.com.
    Great job.
    Another issue deemed ‘too difficult’ to solve or ‘too hard’ to enforce.
    If it is a systemic problem, why allow best buy to deal with it their way?

    That would just be silly. No, you are right Ben, they should invest millions into a program to stem the ‘systemic’ issue that took 3 months to prove.
    If only they were allowed to make an example out of the tech who stole the files, they might actually be able to do something about it.
    Stupid. Hippy. Crap.
    Someone does something wrong, they should be punished.
    As it is, best buy and geek squad now think this site is full of it.
    Me? I’m starting to side with them.

  80. bmoctta says:

    I would bet the geek squad won’t think consumerist is such a joke when those who read it inform friends and relatives who are less computer savy of what Best Buy does. After-all, most of us reading probably wouldn’t be taking it in there anyways…

    Props on no name though – it would just be a scapegoat. Let them find one themselves, then make an example. They will probably grab more than one and have a greater impact.

  81. Haultain says:

    Its a well known fact that the Consumerist hates Best Buy/Geek Squad. Its also a well known fact that they have copies of authorized Geek Squad Software… ie MRI. These stories seem to be just stories, give the guy up. Make him pay for his mistake if it really happened. Most of us really do know what we are doing and could care less what you look at on your computer, we just want to help.

  82. Xenuite says:

    In taking away the ability for BB to fire the tech who stole the porn you take away one of the best ways to stop the problem. There are rules and policies in place already that say “no taking personal stuff from peoples computers”. If someone gets fired for it then that creates an example. Yes, they may not all care that they get fired, but others will.

  83. hm2k says:

    I don’t believe this is approaching the right issue really.

    You’re complaining that these guys are stealing your porn. Just be thankful they aren’t stealing your credit card details or such, or using any of this new found information against you.

    Further more, wasn’t it Gary Glitter who got busted for having child porn on his PC when he took it into be repaired? If it wasn’t it was someone similar.

    I guess this goes both ways, but ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the user to ensure their private data is kept safe.

    If you have something to hide, hide it, it’s rather embarrassing for me as a techie discovering naked pictures of you and your wife on the PC I’m trying to fix for you.

  84. Javin says:

    MasterDave: Bravo. You pretty much summed up everything I was wanting to say, but I couldn’t have worded it quite so well. So you guys are handing people in their late teens a computer full of porn, and then railing about it when one out of ten take a peek. Find something “real” to bitch about instead of digging (hard) to FIND something wrong with Best Buy.

  85. gomakemeasandwich says:

    @charlesstricklin:

    As far as I read, they did actually take the computer to multiple stores, and they happened to find the employee in question after a number of stores.

  86. Anonymous says:

    To me, it’s scary how the CEO capitalizes the word Agent like five times. It shows that he’s not functioning as a real person, but as part of a machine. I think it was good that they didn’t identify the tech.