Best Buy To Sue Geeks Who Spoke Out Against Porn Stealing?

Word on the street is that following negative stories in the LA Daily News, and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Best Buy interrogated employees at the Santa Clarita store where former Geek Squad agent and Consumerist reader Brett Haddock used to work, and could be gearing up, or at least, wants people to think it’s gearing up, to seek damages against Geeks who spoke out about the porn pilfering.

Haddock wrote The Consumerist that BBY’s threats posturing is, “an obvious attempt by a big corporation trying to scare the little guy. This may work to silence other agents, but it won’t silence me, and they can’t scare me for expressing my first amendment rights. I’ve done nothing but told the truth.”

Hey Best Buy, guess what? The store where we got a video of your agent stealing porn? Yeah, it wasn’t in Santa Clarita.

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  1. Havok154 says:

    This should get interesting.

  2. nequam says:

    File this one under: The Coverup Is Worse Than The Crime.

  3. lore says:

    Can’t we email Robert Stephens and tell him of this problem? He’s been so helpful in the past. Oh, wait. He probably initiated this.

  4. hustler says:

    So much for ever spending another dollar at Best Buy. Good thing is was just porno, and not the “autocomplete” data from whatever browser.

  5. Bourque77 says:

    So instead of trying to weasel their way out of these accusations best buy just reinforces them? Nice show of class, well done. They’ll be lucky id customers dont start suing them. If you can prove it anyway. I fail to see how this could result in a class action suit quickly.

  6. Paradise says:

    who knew porn stealing was really a Best Buy trade secret?

  7. Coder4Life says:

    Wow,

    so now why are they charging customers for a data back up I mean.. Just say “Oh when we are done stealing your stuff of your computer, we will just make a 2nd copy for you”.

    Shoulnd’t they be making better use of their times than to copy other peopels stuff.

  8. KIRZEN2007 says:

    What a bunch of morons.

    Seriously, this is so widespread in the industry that it’s practically criminal trying to suggest that it doesn’t happen. Honestly if I was on the receiving end of any sort of cease and desist or legal threat, I’d literally boobytrap a laptop and send it in to a dozen BB locations, a full half of them would probably scope my well placed porn…

    Then I’d walk into court, -destroy- them, claim legal fees, claim duress, claim a wage for every hour I spent creating my defense, and claim back every cent of the repair costs for the 12 service arrangements on the laptop.

    Then I’d have a friend videotape the judgement, complete with me doing a little bit of gratiutous pelvic thrusting against a Best Buy sign…

    Then I’d post ‘that’ on YouTube, and watch the huge PR nightmare unfold, complete with gnashing teeth and horrible screaming noises from BB’s legal department while they flay their management alive for the most rediculous decision in the history of legal battles.

    But, hey, I’m vindictive like that.

  9. Art Vandelay says:

    This is probably the worst response to take regarding a looming PR disaster.

  10. There is another aspect: Who knows what was actually said when they started grilling employees, but one could consider that Best Buy is actually just trying to find a non-specific perpetrator (any perpetrator!) and this is the best lead they have, and the best chance they have at making an example. In essence, they may still be searching for a Geek’s head to serve on a platter.

    So it’s possible the incorrect assumption was made in the above scenario– and I think that’s where Occam’s Razor points. They’re taking quite a PR bargain if they attempt to pursue a lawsuit based on the concept that the downloading doesn’t occur– it would be a losing battle to pick on the little guy and would likely explode right back in their face.

  11. rmz says:

    This is right up there with State Farm suing that family after “finding” (based on crooked evidence) that their claim was fraudulent.

    Only stupider, because they’re doing it precisely when the publicity spotlight is the brightest.

  12. Landru says:

    Will this be an example of the Streisand effect?

  13. Havok154 says:

    Well if suing anyone who speaks out doesn’t work, I guess they could always resort to breaking legs.

  14. FortuneGT says:

    So…. Best Buy is suing people who told people Geek Squad was stealing porn?

  15. Buran says:

    Ah yes. “It’s not my fault” strikes again. It’s not their fault. It must be someone else’s. The people who blew the whistle on Best Buy’s illegal activities. (Yes, I consider it to be Best Buy’s fault. If you are employed by them and acting on the clock and are doing a job Best Buy was paid to handle, it is Best Buy’s fault.)

    Hey Best Buy. I don’t buy from you anyway, but if you ever want me to think about it again, grow up, accept some responsibility, apologize, and stop blaming anyone other than yourself.

  16. Trai_Dep says:

    Are these people idiots? Are they familiar with the concept of giving a story legs? Why would they want to extend this story in a way that makes them look so ugly? Who does their PR? Circuit City? Wal-Mart?

    Robert, if you read Consumerist, be the hero: nip this in the bud.

  17. enki says:

    Ridiculous

  18. MrEvil says:

    I thought my friends that work at the Geek Squad were better than this. When I mentioned the coverage consumerist has been giving this they said “Yeah, wo do it all the time.”

    Sad part is, these guys want to work for me if I ever get to the point I can afford rent on a shop (I work out of the house) and can afford employees. I’m sorry, I catch them doing this crap they’re GONE.

    Sure its pr0n. But A: I don’t want my employees browsing porn on the clock and B: it’s just wrong to begin with.

    They say “Its just porn” but if they’re willing to steal porn, what else are they willing to steal?

  19. Brett.Haddock says:

    The most disturbing thing out of the whole situation here is the fact that when I brought it to the attention of management some months ago, nothing was done. But suddenly because two newspapers, a news network and a website all confirm the same story from the same person that worked at a specific store they are all over it like white on rice.

    I’m so glad I quit.

  20. superlayne says:

    This just, again, makes me wonder what they would do if they were going through their nice stash of stolen pron, and boom, it’s all gay. The man on man stuff.

    Ugh, why steal it in the first place?

  21. tristan.dietz says:

    Its not like what everyone makes it out to be. At the geek squad that I work at noone even looks at pictures on peoples computers, we do so much other stuff that we couldn’t even have the time if we wanted to! As for them interrogating employees for speaking out? I doubt it is as what it seems. Best Buy is bigger on preventing retaliation law suits than stealing porn off of a clients computer. When a unit is checked in liability for the data is forfeited anyways.

  22. nequam says:

    @tristan.dietz: “When a unit is checked in liability for the data is forfeited anyways.”

    Is that the new Geek Squad mission statement?

    It’s sad because from the tone of your comment, it seems that you believe the statement above absolves GS techs who steal files. With that single sentence, you may have summed up why people should find alternatives to Geek Squad.

  23. blkhrt1 says:

    If you think about it…it technically could not be “stealing”. See, 99% of porn downloaded onto ones laptop is free or leeched. In essence, since no money was actually PAID to receive said porn, it therefore cannot be deemed stealing. That is…IF the porn wasn’t paid for. Granted, money doesn’t constitute ownership, but it sure provides a stronger case.

    On another note, by allowing service companies such as Geek Squad, Firedog, CompUSA, Jack Mihoff & Assoc., or whoever to work on your computer, you sign a waiver saying there isn’t anything on there you don’t want people finding. Videos can’t do much where signatures can.

  24. kingdom2000 says:

    I think that if Best Buy where to actually go forward with such an action, the only response should be a public call to boycott all Best Buy locations and spread this story as far as possible. They want damage control, they need to be shown what happens when they attempt to shut up people up rather then address the problem. In this case fix Geek Squad so its not a sales arm but what its supposed to be – fixing computers and helping customers.

  25. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Sounds like the Bush administration….prosecute whistleblowers instead of actually addressing the problem.

  26. crankymediaguy says:

    @IRSistherootofallevil:

    Took the words out of my mouth, Dude.

    So, the moral of this story is that any Best Buy employee who discovers any wrongdoing by any member of the company should just keep their mouth shut.

    Good luck ever finding out, say, which of your cashiers is ripping off the register, Best Buy. An honest employee would be insane to tell you what a DIShonest employee is up to.

  27. deedrit says:

    a true geek patriot

  28. mammalpants says:

    i hope Best Buy got the Extended Warranty with their PR contract.

  29. Buran says:

    @IRSistherootofallevil: Nah, that would be China, actually, they prosecute reporters who reveal abuses.

  30. @nequam: indeed…

  31. I find it interesting how the Giz posts these stories, right after Geek Squad advertisements…

    it’s like 10,000 spoons when all ya need is a knife

  32. hop says:

    best buy sucketh…..as usual……….

  33. Ncisfan says:

    this should be very entertaining

  34. MadMolecule says:

    What are they planning to “seek damages” for? Defamation? Man, that’s a stupid idea. Truth is a defense; the employees will assert that what they said was true, and then the trial will have to go deep into all the ugly details to establish whether it was true or not.

    Also, I wonder if the Best Buy folks are familiar with the tort of malicious prosecution?

  35. 00exmachina says:

    Well it depends, if best buy has anything in their employee manual about how to report things. They can go after the employees for not following proper procedures ie. most large companies have a process the employees are supposed to follow when talking to the press. At a few places I’ve worked at it was listed as a condition of continued employment the when approached by the press on an work issue you referred then to the head pr person. IF you didn’t you could be canned. (Though this may be different for others as PA is not a right to work state)
    It may not be malicious prosecution as much as now they have a good reason to go headhunting for violating company policies.
    As for the joys of whistle blowing try watching a movie called The pentagon wars, the movie’s satire, but it actually did happen.

  36. jeffj-nj says:

     
     
    Just last night, I was tasked with wiping a hard drive clean, installing a fresh copy on WinXP, all the drivers, updates, etc and getting the machine back to “out of the box” clean. Before I did all of this, I thought about checking the drive for stuff first. I really did. I opened up the “My Documents” folder just to see what was in there before I swept it clean. I also thought of running some full hard drive searches for .avi or .wmv. I’m not going to deny that I thought about doing it.

    But, ya know what? I didn’t do anything. I didn’t take. I didn’t even look. The “My Documents” window wasn’t open 5 seconds before I had to ask myself what I was doing. I mean, whatever was there, it was so easy. I could’ve taken it all. And, I thought I would’ve. As it turns out, I didn’t. It just wasn’t right.

    I backed up the drivers, popped in an XP disc, and formatted that sucker. Go me. ;)

  37. TurboFool says:

    Hmmm… I’m trying to remember a Brett in my Best Buy, but he’s not ringing a bell.

    I’ll ask my Geek Squad friends when I’m in there next weekend about it. That’s the store I work in every weekend.

  38. obvi0us says:

    I remember a chapter on whistle blowing from marketing class and what comes from it…

  39. MikeWas says:

    Oh, boy! Can I leave a stack of business cards somewhere around here? :)

    Oh, and to the person who said that you can’t “steal” porn which wasn’t paid for… even if you were right, it’s still against the law to raid hard drives for data without authorization. And it’s pretty clear that these users aren’t intending for Skeet Squad agents to grab their stash.

  40. Brett.Haddock says:

    It’s less about “porn” and more about customer’s pictures, which are pornographic in nature. No one seems to read that part. PRIVATE DATA that belongs to the CUSTOMER, pictures of them in various fashion. Not just porn you can find on the internet, but things that are NOT out there, or at least weren’t until a couple of bad apples got a hold of it.
    @TURBOFOOL: You and I never worked together, I do not recognize you.