Staples Tries To Charge Senior Citizen $390 For Basic Computer Repair

UPDATE: Staples Rebuts “Charge Senior Citizen $390 For Basic Computer Repair” Post

Reader Michael watched incredulously as a Staples tech tried to convince a senior citizen that his computer wouldn’t work properly without repairs costing almost $400.The senior, who had been lulled into Staples for a free tune up that suddenly cost $39.99, didn’t understand why he needed to spend money on a “diagnostic screening ($49.99), virus removal services ($150), and more RAM (~$150).” Michael intervened and offered to look at the computer free of charge. He couldn’t believe what he found when he popped open the computer.

He writes:

Thought your readers might find this information useful. While making a return at Staples (800 Lexington St, Waltham, MA), I happened to hear an elderly gentleman disputing a service charge. He had brought his PC in for a free “tune up,” and now was being charged $39.99 for that service, plus the service technician was explaining that he needed to purchase a diagnostic screening ($49.99), virus removal services ($150), and more RAM (~$150) to get his computer working. His PC had four viruses, the technician explained, but they would need to run the diagnostic to determine the extent of the infections and to determine if any hardware needed to be replaced.

Having done PC repairs for pizza money in high school, I couldn’t stand to watch a senior citizen get bilked that much to simply have anti-virus installed, run, and then (presumably) removed since it was just a “service.” I stepped in and offered to take a look at his computer for free, though I couldn’t make any promises about fixing it. The technician glared at me, but when the gentleman took me up on the offer he left us alone. I made my returns and followed the man to his house to see what I could do (OK, maybe I’m too trusting but I figure at 6’3″ and 230, there’s not much and 70 year old can pull on me).

He explained that his computer had worked well enough for e-mail and web surfing, but after he took it in for the free diagnostic it wouldn’t start up anymore. Sure enough, we plug his Gateway in and nothing: The monitor doesn’t even flicker, even though the power button turns green. I insert a live CD I’d brought along, and still no luck. I double checked that everything had been just fine before taking it in: He hadn’t dropped it on the way to the store, hadn’t ever opened the case up. He said the technicians had told him he’d need to have virii removed and more RAM added; he suggested he might as well get a new computer if they were going to charge him $300. Seeing how not even the BIOS was showing up, I was starting to worry he was right.

I opened up the PC, expecting the worst: A melted motherboard, fried circuits, or worse, nothing visible at all. I poked and pushed all the parts, making sure everything was tightly pushed in. Everything seemed alright, until I came to the RAM: His DRAM had been partially ejected from its slot, which only could happen if the buttons that held it in place had been pushed. Since he had never opened the PC case up, there was only one explanation: While rummaging inside his computer, a technician had (accidentally or on purpose) hit the button and caused the damage that they were now trying to charge him $390+tax to fix.

I can’t see why a “tune up” would require opening the case, except to check and see how many open DRAM slots were available so they could push Staples products. Whatever the case, taking advantage of the elderly by throwing terms like “computer virus” when a hardware problem you caused stops you from even turning on the computer is downright dishonest, if not quite actionable. I even went through Staples pricing sheets afterwards, and none of the services they tried to upsell even appeared on the list.

Anyways, just a warning to your readers to watch out with Staples services. Probably no better or worse than any other big box assistance, but at list in this instance more than a little odious.

Drive past the big box stores when your computer breaks. Their employees are trained to upsell, not repair computers. Instead, seek out the young, the ones who aren’t old enough to hold advanced degrees or a driver’s license—those who can be paid with extended curfews are ideal. Then, watch in amazement as they sprightly get your computer back to checking AOL so you can forward us that hilarious email Snopes disproved last year.

It should be noted that several Staples techs have chimed in the comments here and on Digg to dispute the prices Michael reports. Here’s a comparison of Michael’s prices, the price Staples charges for in-store tech service, and the price Staples charges for at-home repairs.
staplesprices.jpgIt’s possible that the Diagnostic was rung up in-store, the virus removal was done at the on-site price and he got the number slightly off, and the tech was recommending Edge 2GB Kit PC3200 DDR Desktop Memory. So we can say Michael misremembered or misrepresented the prices, the tech was trying to meet quarterly sales goals, or the tech was new and mistakenly punched it the wrong price for the virus removal. The only weird thing under a “newbie/incompetent tech” scenario is that the tuneup price. Staples used to charge $39.99 but it was dropped to $29.99 mid-2007.

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

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  1. ghnvt says:

    Wow, that is rediculous. You can remove viruses for free with all sorts of FREE programs.

  2. Fry says:

    Good job, Michael. More people should be willing to help out others in our society these days, whether they are helping the young or old.

  3. timsgm1418 says:

    actually I think this is what happens when it’s miniumum wage people working at the stores and not people that are actually trained to fix computers. I would think it would almost always be a better deal to find an independent person to fix, who doesn’t have anything to upsell, than going to a store, who’s main goal is to sell, not repair

  4. timsgm1418 says:

    kudos for Michael…

  5. sickofthis says:

    I have always considered starting a low-cost, neighborhood-based computer repair service. There are a lot of elderly people in our neighborhood, and they are probably very easy for the big-box stores to take advantage of.

  6. DeltaPurser says:

    Michael… you rock! Way to go, helping an old geezer out!

  7. weave says:

    My heater failed last February. I called a repair shop who sent someone out to look at it, said it was the circuit board and it’d cost $750 plus labor. I threw him out of the house after paying the $80 “dispatch” fee, then looked up the part number of the board on the net, searched ebay, got a replacement for $60 and installed it by removing three screws and an edge connector and replacing with new board.

    Seems like unless you are an expert in a field or know someone who is, you’re going to get ripped off royally, whether it’s car repairs, HVAC issues, computers, termite prevention, etc, etc.

  8. forgottenpassword says:

    ugh!, I dont see how people can work jobs where they are basically just ripping people off. Dispicable!

  9. dualityshift says:

    Blame the senior comments in 5…4…3…2…

  10. ClayS says:

    “I made my returns and followed the man to his house to see what I could do (OK, maybe I’m too trusting but I figure at 6’3″ and 230, there’s not much and 70 year old can pull on me).”

    That’s quite true, but conversely, maybe the old man should be a little less trusting of a large stranger he just met in a retail store.

  11. Trai_Dep says:

    Yay, Michael!

    Although I think somebody is owed a plate of fresh cookies and a large, ice-cold glass of milk.

  12. sickofthis says:

    @dualityshift: Whoa – that was uncanny. Not even a minute later…

  13. B1663R says:

    Good job buddy. i feel sorry for people that aren’t tech savvy in the slightest.

    my dad still thinks that the bigger the hard drive the better the computer. i don’t think he is aware of the existence of RAM, graphics cards, video cards, etc… he thinks everything is in the hard drive.

    every couple of years he’ll drop a couple thousand on a new free cell machine.

    i try and i fail everytime.

  14. laserjobs says:

    I do part time computer repair for seniors locally at $25/hr. Most of the time I don’t even charge them, it is more of a hobby than a business. Everyone should try to give back to thier community in one way or another.

  15. GearheadGeek says:

    $390? Even if a desktop computer really NEEDED $390 worth of work it’s not likely to be worth it. If your machine is not longer under warranty, odds are that technology has moved far enough on that you can replace a desktop with a MORE powerful one for $500 or so, and get a warranty with the new one.

    I definitely concur with the advice about avoiding big-box computer repair. It seems like 1/3 of the “I hate BestBuy” articles on here are about a computer-repair/geek squad issue, everyone already knew CompUSA was useless and now we hear that Staples wants to rape their customers as well. (I built my desktop machine, I didn’t even know Staples OFFERED computer repair services.)

  16. timsgm1418 says:

    I’d think you’d make good money out of it without cheating people, go for it. It makes me sick when people take advantage of anybody, but especially the elderly, cuz won’t most of us be elderly someday?@tmccartney:

  17. forgottenpassword says:

    @weave:

    I agree. Years ago I was having problems with an odd noise underneath my vehicle. SO I assumed it had something to do with the transmission (I am no mechanic). I took it to a transmission place where the guy in the office proceeded to chat me up about transmissions in what I believe was an attempt to find out how knowledgable I was about them. Then he starts talking about replacing my transmission & how when they pull the pan off they are not legally allowed to suggest any fix by what they find in the bottom of the pan (I thought this quite an odd thing to bring up). So the mechanic comes out about a half hour later to show me the pan & there are what looks like bright flecks of gold in the oil (suppossedly brass). The mechanic looks at me like I am supposed to suggest something has to be done. I know I am getting scammed right then & there, look the mechanic in the eye & tell him to put the pan back on. Right then they know that I am on to their bullshit. They put the pan back on & then tell me it was probably my catalytic converter that was causing the noise. I get charged about $130 for the “work” & the miserable bastard even jokingly asked for a tip while processing my credit card payment & even SAID that he wasnt trying to rip me off when I was walking out the door.

    The messed up thing about it all is that I felt I had no recourse … what was I gonna do? call someone in authority to say that I “thought” I was being ripped off? WHat’s the likelyhood anything would be done about it? Probably nothing. I’d feel better if I took a crowbar to the heads of these scumbags, than report them to someone who doesnt care.

    It is SO hard to find a good mechanic these days it just isnt even funny. I still havnt found one I trust.

  18. Bay State Darren says:

    So how much did you steal at the guy’s house? [Just kidding, of course.]

  19. goyzilla says:

    Staples should stick to selling staples, otherwise they should change their name to The Sneak Squad…sneaky computer services for the meek and tech challenged.

  20. GearheadGeek says:

    @weave: Angie’s List. I’ve found it quite useful in finding good service companies and contractors, and in avoiding bad ones.

    I bought a house last year that had central air, and the air handler had a gas furnace that had never been hooked up since the thing was installed in 2001. The dolt I bought the house from claimed he “preferred the floor furnace” but I’m thinking he didn’t include running a gas line to the furnace in the contract to get the HVAC installed and never got around to it… that old floor furnace was a bomb waiting to go off.

    Anyway, I was planning to have the furnace inspected before what passes for Winter in TX, and we got an early cold snap. The furnace didn’t work (I’d had the gas connected along with a bunch of other work I did on the house.) The exhaust fan cycled on, the igniter lit, but no flame.

    I checked Angie’s List, called a highly-rated one and they came out same-day, no extra fee. It turns out that the front cover was a little bent, keeping it from clicking in far enough to engage a safety switch. $60 basic trip charge/inspection fee, he checked out the system, made sure it cycled properly and thanked me for my business. I’ll definitely call them next time I need something related to the HVAC.

  21. Joedragon says:

    That is what you get when you hire salesmen over real techs and you cut the hours of the people who know what they are doing and don’t try to push unnecessary stuff.

    Any ways Staples prices are a big ripoff in the first place.

    Just look at this discussion about there prices best buy has better prices then staples.
    [www.dslreports.com]

    And that also leads to people looking at that you worked for places like Geek Squad and just push over you thinking that you where just ripping people off.

  22. mopar_man says:

    @Joedragon:

    A comparison against Best Buy? That’s fairly laughable. They’re just as bad as, if not worse than, Staples.

    As for the original article, this is why it always pays to know someone into computers. I’m sure the old guy must have at least a kid or grandchild that knows SOMETHING about computers or knows someone who does.

  23. sam1am says:

    Am I the only one who was looking forward to the end of the story? Something like “I got the computer all fixed up and the geezer ended up giving me $500 because he turned out to be a millionaire!”

    but. … nothing.

  24. elislider says:

    all too true. thought this is pretty low of them, if it is true that CC set it up to appear there was a problem and sell him BS to “fix” it. however, having worked at the tech shop at compusa, i know they will try just about anything to make sure you sell whatever you can. i would always feel bad about it, and i just shrugged off the requests from the managers that i sell more crap services for high prices. whenever a customer was in disbelief of their options, and expressed interest in taking it somewhere else, i would just give them my card. i made more that way working once or twice a month than i did in an entire month at compusa

  25. Landru says:

    Man, there at a lot of comments about the for-profit Angieslist showing up in various posts and on various. Creepy viral marketing push going on.

  26. rkmc12 says:

    I help my 86-year-old grandfather with stuff where he has to deal with salespeople and you wouldn’t believe how people try and screw him. As soon as I or someone younger shows up they change their tune. It’s infuriating.

  27. ObtuseGoose says:

    I hope there’s a special place in hell for that douche bag Staples employee. Ripping off senior citizens is about as low as it gets.

  28. MikeB says:

    @weave: I had something similar happen with my Heater/AC. Middle of February the heater died. Called and got someone to come out and left a check with my Mother-in-law. I forget exactly what it was but the repair cost $500. After she gave him the check he recommended that we not use the heater since there were other defects and the possibility of Carbon Monoxide leaking into the house was high, then he left. I was Pissed. After stewing all weekend, the person who could help me was off, I had the money refunded and the part removed. Got a new heater from someone else. Would have gone with them except for the crap I had to put up with over the weekend.

  29. funny, this happens to me a lot. sometimes I have to shop at bb/cc (if a client wants something setup immediately, for example). once in a while I overhear a geek/firedog explaining that for $400 they can have norton, spysweeper, office, a recovery dvd and their OS optimized (normally a ::gasp:: $700 value). I cringe whenever I hear this. From there I hand them my business card, tell them to get office student/teacher edition, and I will do the same for them AT HOME in under an hour (I charge $80/hr w/a 1hr minimum, and it always takes under an hour to setup).

    these people are always thrilled when I’m done (they usually pay in cash with a nice fat tip) since I saved them over $200, they don’t need to deal with going back to the store and picking up their computer, and I feel I did my part for society to stick it to the box stores.

    I only hope staples doesn’t become the next CUSA/CC/BB/TD. They’re one of the few stores I still respect

  30. kerry says:

    @rkmc12: Yeah, I’m like that with my grandmother. Every time she mentions she needs to buy something electronic I offer to go with her, because I don’t want her to get screwed. If it’s not possible for me to go along, I tell her what she should be looking for and how much it should cost, just to be safe.

  31. samurailynn says:

    @weave: My husband and I try to do anything we can ourselves (with some help from my dad). Almost all car work is done by the two of us. My husband takes care of any computer issues. We also bought a house last year, and pretty much all the repairs we can handle will be done by us. We’ve already replaced some wiring and put up drywall (after taking down lathe and plaster) and insulation in one room. It’s a lot of work, but it’s good to know that we’re not paying 8 times what the job is worth.

  32. Joedragon says:

    TD prices are at lot better then Staples and they have real tech that fixed a system that I built and got a bad cpu and mb FOR FREE.

    This was at the Naperville, IL Outlet Store.

    It is nice to have a place where you can get stuff form the big warehouse the SAME DAY!

  33. sickofthis says:

    TD?

  34. XianZhuXuande says:

    What Staples did here is appalling.

    @ghnvt: Virus removal is not always a simple matter of running some anti-virus software. Nod32 and Kaspersky can do a great job, but good luck with any others against newer viruses. The OS needs repairs after many infections as well. Spyware is even worse.

  35. rrapynot says:

    I was at Best But the other day and some dude was being charged $1,400 for repairing his computer. The guy obviously could not afford it and was pleading for a break.

  36. @tmccartney:

    Tiger Direct

  37. @rrapynot:
    $1400…for a repair??? That’s just grand larceny if it didn’t involve some kind of “clean room” data recovery.

    if it takes more than 2-3 hours to repair a computer, it shouldn’t be repaired at all. Get whatever files they want off of it, and get a new computer.

  38. nequam says:

    @ClayS: That’s what I was thinking!

  39. timsgm1418 says:

    sometimes you just have to do good things, cuz it’s the right thing to do..I was happy with the ending@sam1am:

  40. Daddyo673 says:

    A very similar thing happened to my wife when she took our computer into the local Staples (Toronto-Vic Park & Ellesmere)for an anti virus check. They wanted about $200 plus purchase Norton Anti Virus which is advertised for free as part of our provider’s (Roger’s)package.

  41. argosreality says:

    Ok, since I work at Staples I’d like to dispute a few things here. First off, the virus removal service isn’t $149 – its $89 which is a pretty dang good price considering the work it takes to clean up most peoples computers (however, the $149 might have also covered the cost of the software and removal) I’ve seen more horror machines in the two years I’ve worked for them than I ever did freelancing on my own; Kaspersky and spybot aren’t going to fix most of them. Nuking them from orbit is often the best way but even thats questionable considering the users. Heck, most of the people who come in don’t even have AV, let alone one thats been updated in the past two or three years. You wonder why the technicians try and upsell? 1.) So we don’t have to fix it again or get yelled at as to why we didn’t remove the massive spyware infections on a free service and 2.) We’re actually nice people and don’t WANT you losing $10k from your online bank account do to the trojan that steals your passwords that you type into an open phishing site.

    Also, if the technicians got the system to boot in the first place enough to run their analyzer and did everything else they do for the free tuneup they’re not going to accidentally knock memory out; the machine booted. Maybe, just “maybe” the memory module got knocked around at some point in the taking it from the store to the customers home? Thats just slightly more likely.

    As to why they go inside the computer in the first place – we clean them out. Most users don’t ever clean the PC out. The hair balls, dust build up, and yes, even dead mice are disgusting but hey – heats an enemy to your PC too.

    Now don’t get me wrong, maybe their store is run differently than the dozen or so in my district that I interact with on a daily basis (and have trained most of the technicians) but I could be wrong.

    Final note – the pc-tuneup used to showup as $39 on the invoice and ring up as that but then was instantly discounted with a coupon code. Now it shows as $0.01 and coupons out as well.

  42. argosreality says:

    Btw, if there is questions about how Staples does things or charges please feel free to ask. I wouldn’t mind setting the record straight

  43. evslin says:

    @ghnvt: The programs may be free, but the expertise isn’t a given. That’s why there’s a market for PC repair services, rotten as it may be sometimes.

  44. Joedragon says:

    Do you have higher ups that try to have you or other techs push stuff?

    Are you graded on how much you make for the store vs saving the customers money by not pushing over priced add ons?

    Why does staples want there techs to set recycle bin space to 2mb?

    Are you able to run Microsoft update or do they want you make customers pay more for that?

    How do you get parts that staples does not have?

  45. whitespider says:

    @ghnvt: Actually, mate, sometimes a virus or worm can so heavily take over your system that you cannot trust your antivirus or any antivirus any further. Simple technician trick; hook up the infected hard drive to a machine with an antivirus installed, run said antivirus on infected drive in safety. Though this works great in theory, the truth is most of the time it doesn’t get rid of everything, and viruses/spyware/adware love to call up their buddies and bring them along to the party that is your machine. They replicate. ******The safest and only way to be absolutely sure you are virus/worm free is to reload your windows from a fresh format and start all over again***** It’s the hard truth, but it’s the only 100.0000% way of being sure, and for a technician who gets paid to be sure, sometimes it’s the only way you can approach a customer who is tired of the struggling.

  46. Usama says:

    Nice job stepping in Michael.

  47. SomeoneGNU says:

    Before I get crucified I am not defending Circuit City OR blaming the old man – however, it is very possible the ram came loose in transit. Depending on how poorly it was slotted it could easily be knocked out with vibration over time.

    For the people who claim, “I can open my business and charge $25 a repair and it will be glorious!”, keep dreaming. Yes, you will have a large amount of volume. In fact, you’ll have more volume then you can imagine. But between the headache, insurance, and keeping the lights on, it’s not worth it.

    Long before Geek Squad came around, I did home PC repair. I’d come to your house, look over your machine, give a plan of action, and go to work. I charged between $25-50/hour. Why didn’t I keep up with it? Here are two of my favorite experiences..

    a) I had a business customer order a server under my recommendation. It was a non-profit and I had done some previous work for them so I did the server setup for free. Maybe an hour or two of work, so no big deal. Three days later I get a call from them as the server crashed. It crashed because they needed another PC and decided to work on the server as a workstation. The machine was loaded with viruses, and they wanted the work comped since obviously I set something up wrong.

    b) I had a user who’s install of Microsoft Office corrupted for some reason. I came out and tried to do the best I could but there was nothing to be done without the discs. They lost them(or perhaps they never had them). I tried to explain to them that they had to supply me with the discs, purchase another license, or there was nothing I can do. She threatened me with the BBB for trying to “extort” her for the cost of the license.

    It’s easy when it’s a hobby, it’s easy when you get paid in pizza, beer, or maybe a more intimate payment. But when you make it a profession, people expect something more out of you. In fact, they demand more of you because you are now a business.

  48. Woofer00 says:

    @argosreality: Memory modules don’t fall out on their own. They typically clip in with sufficient force that they can’t be released without a tool to depress them.
    w.r.t. cleaning out the comp, I worked at a Staples long ago, and we never cleaned out the computer or cracked it open without contacting the customer first. The particularly nasty ones were bagged and put on a shelf for pickup without repair – there’s no reason the risk disease or injury just to repair a filthy computer.

  49. Trai_Dep says:

    Sigh. Or just buy a fricken’ Mac.

  50. Typhoid says:

    …seek out the young, the ones who aren’t old enough to hold advanced degrees or a driver’s license-those who can be paid with extended curfews are ideal. Then, watch in amazement as they sprightly get your computer back to checking AOL so you can forward us that hilarious email Snopes disproved last year.

    Wowie. That’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read (*sigh*… repeatedly) on the internet. For one thing, the “techs” they have at “the big box stores” are young, don’t hold advanced degrees, and often don’t drive. In fact, they usually don’t know what they are doing, they only know the upsell.

    Do you take your car to the elementary school to have it’s engine serviced by the kids in imaginary cardboard cars? Do you hire girls at lemonade stands to cater weddings? The answer of how to avoid these scams isn’t to ask a prepubescent pizza boy, it’s to find a PROFESSIONAL.

    SomeoneGNU: you and I could share a lot of horror stories. I had to cancel my cell phone and change my home number because people would call me at 10:30 at night for free computer help because I charged them for computer help 4 years ago.

    One thing that gets my hair to stand on end every time is when someone says, “oh, you don’t need a professional, just get a young person! They know computers through osmosis!” Just because they know how to program a ring-tone doesn’t mean they know how to repair a computer. But if you’re that damn stupid, you deserve that level of “service” and all of the repercussions.

    • ProfessorEd says:

      Just got back from picking up a computer at Bethesda, Md. Staples after free checkup.

      They claimed to have fund malware and a trojan and wanted to charge $129 to remove it (followed by offer of using coupon to reduce it $99. They would not tell me the name of the problem “malware”. Although free, their diagnosis should have given the name of the “virus”, etc., which almost certainly their software revealed.

      I had hoped they would run windows update and install the Service Pack 3 (which for some reason I had been unable to install). I hoped they would know a fix for whatever prevented me from installing Service Pack 3. They apparently did not even try checdking to see if any updates were needed, or they would have mentioned it.

      They did claim that Macaffee (which I had) missed many things. They apparently used a Norton Technician Program. I cannot believe it does not tell what piece of malware it detected. I will try a different anti-virus and hopefully find the problem myself.

      After I got home I was unable to get the keyboard working again, although I cannot be certain that was due to them.

      While you may ask what I lost from a free service, it took two trips to the store (when I had inquired on a earlier visit they had not mentioned I would need to leave it) and deprived me of use of the machine in between visits, when I needed it.Ihave spent a good while trying to find out why I could nolt get it to recognize the keyboard it had previously recognized.

      It does appear their offer is a way of selling the virus removal service. I certainly would have expected a tune up to at least involve the removal of any easy to remove problem (or telling you what it was, I suspect a program that I had installed myself), and a running of windows update.

  51. lemur says:

    @argosreality:

    [In the following quotes the bold was added by myself for emphasis.]

    “We’re actually nice people and don’t WANT you losing $10k from your online bank account do to the trojan that steals your passwords that you type into an open phishing site.”

    Hmm… yes, screwing an elderly gentleman out of $400 dollars is truly what nice people do.

    “Maybe, just “maybe” the memory module got knocked around at some point in the taking it from the store to the customers home? Thats just slightly more likely.”

    That’s actually quite unlikely. Michael gave an accurate account of how a memory module would get out of its socket. That does not happen by chance, there are tabs keeping it in place on both sides and they have to be firmly pushed by someone to take the module out. There’s no away a module would get out of its socket if someone did not a) mess with it or b) break the holding mechanism. Take your pick.

  52. noretreat says:

    Former Staples technician here.

    Part of the normal tune up service at staples is dust removal, they pop open the case and vacuum it out. A inept tech could knock the memory loose while cleaning it.

    Note they are required to boot the computer first, run and print an analysis, clean it, then print a second analysis.

    That being said, this tech was clearly trying to upsell the services inappropriately. I’ll bet when corporate gets hold of this that store will hear about it.

    Staples biggest problem (btw its no different than geek squad or firedog and the rest) is they claim to use “certified” techs when “certified” means they passed a training course and quiz on the corporate network. I hold a number of certifications myself, but most of the guys I knew were kids working on their tech school diplomas.

    Contact Staples corporate about this. They are extraordinarily good about going the extra mile. The scariest thing you can tell a Staples manager is that you would like to have the number to the corporate customer relations number. Most will do anything to avoid you doing that.

  53. Woofer00 says:

    A follow-up thought to my above comment – even if the module did fall out naturally due to faulty factory installation, the tech should have checked inside the system to check it out w/o recommending needless repairs. If the module fell out prior to the tech’s power up, the BIOS spits out errors. If it didn’t, well that’s a dirty tech at work pulling modules. Either way, there’s no reason to recommend AV work or ram upgrades.

    @SomeoneGNU: “they wanted the work comped since I obviously set something up wrong.”
    I would counter that the ability to use the server as a workstation IS a faulty setup. Either the server should have limited functionality so that it functions only as a server, or the machine should be capable of handling the additional load without faulty (the latter option is undesirable at best).

    Anyhow, the reasons you cited are perfect reason to avoid getting into the business – aside from denying the user access to the machine, there’s no way to prevent them from creating the same problem and demanding a free repair.

    The best advice is just to go with a non-bigbox repair service that offers firm contracts for repair work. Never create oral contracts for work, it’s more of a problem than it’s worth.

  54. adam_b says:

    @Trai_Dep: Yes, because there’s no possibility of components becoming loose and causing problems in a Mac. I’m writing this on a Macbook right now, which I definitely like, but it’s not flawless.

    I get crashes and software issues all the time on this box. Hell, navigating away from Yahoo Mail (or even closing a tab where I had Yahoo Mail open), instantly results in a crash of the latest version of Firefox. Adium crashes pretty consistently on this box. Despite that, I bet some people would STILL find a way to blame “Micro$oft” for all that.

    I don’t want to turn this into a Mac-vs-Windows debate — obviously, I am using a Mac, so I do see some benefits. But responses like this just make me roll my eyes. Macs aren’t perfect. It’s okay. Nothing’s perfect.

  55. 5h17h34d says:

    Add H&R Block to the list. They were charging my elderly mother $110 5 years ago to do her simple taxes. When I say simple I mean it took me 15 minutes total from the time I started until she was signed and halfway to the post office to mail it.

    Also busted Time Warner Cable charging her for tiers of service she “had to have” to get the digital service. She didn’t “have to have” them at all. It was an outright fraud. Then several months after that they charged her $5 for something they couldn’t even explain.

    I mentioned the state attorney general and they waived the “charge” right away. Yes, I’m talking about YOU, Time Warner Cable Cincinnati.

    Buncha F’ing crooks preying on elderly people.

  56. SomeoneGNU says:

    @Woofer00:

    “I would counter that the ability to use the server as a workstation IS a faulty setup.”

    The software the used actually required the system running logged in so I had very little choice in that matter. I tried researching ways that made it possible to work as a service and such but no luck and they had no interest in upgrading.

    The original plan was to keep the station locked with only myself and the boss having the password(in case of issues with the software), but that lasted less than a day.

  57. rdldr1 says:

    Michael, you are a good man. I hope that kindness is payed “forward.”

  58. TammyTones says:

    Kudos Michael!

  59. noretreat says:

    “Drive past the big box stores when your computer breaks. Their employees are trained to upsell, not repair computers. Instead, seek out the young, the ones who aren’t old enough to hold advanced degrees or a driver’s license-those who can be paid with extended curfews are ideal. Then, watch in amazement as they sprightly get your computer back to checking AOL so you can forward us that hilarious email Snopes disproved last year.”

    Most asinine advice ever. I’d say find a local outlet that provides the kind of service you are looking for. Look for professionals with at least a “a+” certification.

    Last thing in the world you need is to have some asshat kid get his learning experience on your equipment.

  60. SomeoneGNU says:

    @Typhoid:

    My *FAVORITE* ever involved my boss’s father in law. He had two phone lines and the second one was dedicated to the internet. My boss CONVINCES his father in law to use the second line as well and tells him that I can run the phone wire.

    And yes, it was partly true. I *could* run the phone wire but I was hardly qualified to run the wire. In fact, I told him this and that I did not want to do the job. He begged and begged and finally I gave in with the words, “I’m doing this for free because I cannot charge for this with a good conciense and I still recommend you contact a professional.”

    The install went “ok”. It was ugly, and it worked. I didn’t have all the right tools so I had to make do.

    Flash-forward two months later – my boss’s wife calls me in a panic because her father in law’s phones don’t work. I explain to her that I was completely unavailable as I wasn’t even in the state. Two minutes later, my boss’s father in law calls demanding I come back from whatever I was doing and fix his phones. I explained politely “I am *OUT* of the state, I cannot come, there is no way. Call the phone company.”

    He must have called me ten times that night begging me. Yet somehow the concept of me not being in the area didn’t reach him. I finally got him to call the phone company. What happened? When I was working at the NID I had too much wire left over curled around the post. The wire began unwinding itself and shorted out both lines.

    Never do anything you aren’t comfortable doing. At least my boss didn’t dock my pay or make my life any more miserable the he already did.

  61. Mircea Suciu says:

    All this just gave me a business idea. I’m going to start a small repair shop, doing everything from installing components to virus removal. And I shall ask to be paid in hamburgers!

  62. Maulleigh says:

    My parents are starting to get to that age (sixty something) where they believe anything someone tells them. It frightens me because someday I’ll be old and the young kids will spring all sorts of stuff on me. :(

    Scary stuff!!!

  63. Woofer00 says:

    This thread is turning into an amusing horror story commentary. I think we can all agree that memory modules that were properly installed are extremely unlikely to fall out of the socket. However, a system will still run without locked in memory modules. I used to test for faulty modules on an old testbed by locking in just one side or doing a partial lockin to avoid having to deal with the annoyingly stiff memory clips (bad design? I digress…) Jostling a clip loose is a highly unlikely event, although I wouldn’t entirely discount the possibility when dealing with a substandard motherboard manufacturer (you get what you pay for when you buy a $500 email machine).

    As for the certifications, being an A+ certified tech means little to nothing. The certifications are outdated. Drive by a local reputable university and hire a computer science major or any engineering student. There’s a 75% chance (rough estimate) that the student can do an equivalent or better/more thorough job as the “certified” GeekSquad/Firedog/Staples tech can. BigBox repair services are only permitted to do certain repairs within the repair SKU and typically won’t go outside the bounds of the requested repair, while a college student will do it absent-mindedly.

    @Typhoid: I feel your pain. I used to build computer in my spare time at about $100-$200 per system depending on hardware and complexity until I started getting those weekend “halp me” phone calls. It’s worst when you know the customer personally as a close friend/relative and you have to tell them the system you built and took money for is now toast.

  64. Woofer00 says:

    @SomeoneGNU: Misbehaving customers are the worst kind. See: customers expecting to use email machines for games, $100 multi-purpose machines as heavy duty office machinery, shorted out machines due to inept overclocking/plugging the machine into a building prone to brownouts without a surge protector.

  65. Draconianspark says:

    Just an FYI, It is not impossible for DIMMs to pop themselves out of the socket, given enough time and enough temperature variances. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes, sorta an extreme version of the old ‘chip creep’ problem that used to happen with DIP memory; this is exasperated by the fact that when DIMMs first came out, nobody seemed to make up their minds on what the retention mechanism should be, or if there was even a mechanism to retain the chips instead of just eject the

    Either way it’s something that should have been checked by anybody popping the cover off the PC.

  66. Holy crap! I actually buy my business supplies at that exact Staples… or bought them. I’ll be damned if I set foot in there again.

  67. Scuba Steve says:

    I consider myself pretty knowledgeable about computers, repair, installation, assembly, best practices, but honestly, I refuse to fix people’s computers over the phone. I won’t do it.

    Why? Because people don’t know what to tell me. I don’t blame them, its just annoying since I don’t like talking on the phone at all.

    If someone does call with computer questions I just machine gun suggestions till they get flustered and either bring it over or get someone else.

    If the machine is in front of me I can usually debug very quickly. Machines are good about symptoms if you know where to look and what to look for.

  68. sburnap42 says:

    @weave: That happened to me with a water heater. I could a repairman out and he said I needed a pressure regulator and wanted to charge me $300 to put it in. I said “no thanks”, bought one for $12 at the hardware store and it took me all of twenty minutes to install it.

  69. soulman901 says:

    This kind of stuff makes me want to walk into a Staples store and punch them straight into the mouth.

  70. ph0nk says:

    I’m a technician at a Staples in New Jersey. I’m the only tech in my store, so I can pretty much do as I please. I spend more of my time figuring out ways to not charge my customers as much, because its not fair that computer services cost as much as they do. I have an AS in Network Enginnering and am a CIS major at a fairly highly ranked university. I’ve also passed the MCP and CCNA exams.

    My point is that even though Staples doesn’t really train us to fix computers, we’re not all idiots and we aren’t all liars.

  71. ferris209 says:

    Great job, that is a good deed you did there. Bastards need their guts knocked in for trying to bilk a senior, who probably fought in a war and is on a fixed income. Worse, that computer is most likely his only communication with his kids and grandkids who, I’m sure, find emailing tons easier than actually visiting. I say it again, BASTARDS!!!!

  72. ferris209 says:

    Also, if somebody already hasn’t said it, be sure you tell that guy to start reading this blog, so his money stays safe.

  73. Nighthawke says:

    A regular cookout eh? Interesting.. I wonder how old this Gateway was at the time. Perhaps it’s the same model that had those weak power packs in them that kept burning out.

  74. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Before I get crucified I am not defending Circuit City…

    @SomeoneGNU: Why would we think you were defending Circuit City when the story is about Staples?

  75. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Trai_Dep: NO! He needs to join a credit union and use credit cards instead of debit cards!

  76. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    I nominate Michael for the Consumer of the Year award…that does not exist yet.

  77. arbitrarystring says:

    If you can, and I understand that not all communities have such things, but seek out a small, independent computer repair shop when you need computer repair. You’ll probably get to deal with the owner(s) who are probably also the technicians. I own a little shop, and in my case, I have over a decade of professional experience in the field. The guys in the big box stores are usually kids with little or no experience. There are exceptions, but don’t trust them. Their jobs usually depend on “sell, sell sell!” not honesty and quality repairs.

  78. cmoo92 says:

    I’m a Staples EasyTech myself, and let me tell you, this is not how I operate at all. I will say that I’m probably more of a geek than most EasyTech’s, but you guys need to remember that this is ONE STORE. This ONE EasyTech does not represent the EasyTech department as a whole. Unfortunately, for many of you, he has.

    We have a Best Buy a couple blocks away from our store, and I have NEVER talked to anyone who had their computer serviced there and was happy. We get customers all the time coming into our store complaining about their horrible customer service. Nonetheless, I also have a friend who works in the Geek Squad at a different store and from what he tells me, they have a much different attitude than the Best Buy where I’m at.

    My point is, one store does mean the entire company as a whole is bad.

    I, personally, always go above and beyond the services that the customer is paying for, and if anything, I undercharge the customer.

  79. cde says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Fail. Consumer of the year would spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on products and services, not deny another company money by stealing it’s customers and providing free work :/

  80. pfeng says:

    My aunt (63) shopped at a LOCAL computer shop, and ended up with a $650 paperweight. No internal modem, about a 1 gig hard drive, about 128 megs of RAM, the asshole didn’t even include a KEYBOARD. Worst, he wouldn’t accept it when she tried to return it — it’s a custom job, sorry! — and she sold it for $20 at a pawn shop.

    After hearing all that after the fact, my cousin and I pooled some old parts to put together a machine for her, and told her to never buy anything computer related again without asking one of us first. Greedy opportunistic jerks can be found anywhere, not just big-box stores.

  81. 4ster says:

    This reminds me of the time I left work early and drove to my parents’ house to stop my mother from paying $79 for some guy to install an external 56k modem for her.

  82. Nytmare says:

    Writing the word viruses as “virii” always makes you look ignorant, whether or not your misspelling is intentional.

  83. jonworld says:

    Wow. I used to live in Lexington like two minutes away from that very store and I knew it was bad news from the moment I saw the “coming soon: Staples” sign. It replaced a god damn fun bowling alley and birthday party place. ): Every time I have gone there, the store has sucked. They only have like one cashier there and I’m convinced the employees just throw their items on random shelves because I can never find anything I need and its so unorganized.

  84. SomeoneGNU says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:

    I had Circuit City on the mind today, I meant Staples.

  85. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    I’ve been so surprised at how some people I’ve visited complain about how some mysterious “tool bar” keeps coming up and the satisfaction of loading “spybot S&D” or adaware and getting rid of that garbage FOR FREE. Those assholes at staples have a lot of nerve for trying to rip off some old man. It makes me shudder thinking of others who have’nt been as lucky to have a good samaritan walk by like this one. Just when I think our society has spun out of control I read about guys like this and get a jolt of hope.

  86. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @argosreality:

    Are you calling the submitter a lair?

    It doesn’t matter “how Staples does it”. This particualt Staples was trying to rip off a septegenarian.

  87. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    @Jaysyn: Yeah, and the worst part is that the company will probably stand by their employee and the employee will just say they were “trying to do their job” and not realize how inept and evil they are. Yes, I said EVIL because if you try to rip off an elderly person you are 100% pure concentrated evil.

  88. GearheadGeek says:

    @Landru: I can speak for no one but myself, and my posting in this thread is, if memory serves, the first time I’ve mentioned Angie’s List on the Consumerist. I am, as evidenced by my posting, an Angie’s List subscriber. I have no closer connection to them than that, and the only benefit I gain from them is through the referrals I’ve found. I suppose I might indirectly benefit by having more people use Angie’s List and post their experience with local service providers, but that’s the extent of it. It’s okay for you to be paranoid about other postings about Angie’s List, but not mine. You’re welcome to surf through all my postings on here to see if I’ve mentioned them before, I’m not going to do it.

  89. Snowblind says:

    @dualityshift:

    You kids get off of my lawn!

  90. Gorky says:

    I would avoid little mom and pop repair shops as well since most of them use pirated versions of windows and other software. I do PC repair for a living and I cant count the amount of times I started to repair a PC and when the client gave me their windows disc from a mom and pop show where they bought their PC it was a CD-R and almost every time I check the license key its the old FCKGW-RHQQ2-etc.. product key.

  91. cochise says:

    I work as an EasyTech for Staples and it’s sad to hear that this happens, although it doesn’t surprise me. Maybe I’m just lucky, but nothing like this would ever happen at my store. We only charge for the diagnostic when we know that it’s going to take a while to figure out the problem and fix it. Usually we just poke around a bit during the free TuneUp. As for virus removal, it’s only supposed to be $80 or so, which may seem like a lot until you realize that it may take 3 or 4 hours to clean up a heavily infested computer. If only a couple show up during the TuneUp then we usually just remove them without charging. If a customer doesn’t have antivirus, which is VERY common, then I’ll put on AVG for free if they seem like the type that will never remember to upgrade every year.

    I don’t know why the RAM would have been removed during the TuneUP but we are supposed to open the case and blow out any dust. Sometimes I’ll take out the PCI cards and re-seat them if it’s particularly nasty. Unfortunately it sounds like the asshole employee in question created a problem to get his manager off his back. If anyone at my store did that, they’d be fired on the spot. My managers are all to smart to fall for that trick and are genuinely nice people.

    I can’t speak for any other Staples stores, but this is not the kind of shit that happens where I work. In fact, I’d probably get in trouble if my boss knew how much I do for free.

  92. StevieD says:

    @SomeoneGNU:

    For the people who claim, “I can open my business and charge $25 a repair and it will be glorious!”, keep dreaming. Yes, you will have a large amount of volume. In fact, you’ll have more volume then you can imagine. But between the headache, insurance, and keeping the lights on, it’s not worth it.

    Right on !!!!

    The same in any business. The overhead costs can be dreadful and will chew up low priced service providers.

    Just as example I have a yard guy that mows the few undeveloped acres behind our business complex. The guy charges $50 per hour to mow (bush-hog) the ground. By my computations he is working so cheap (after factoring in the cost of his tractor, gas, liability insurance, health insurance and truck insurance to haul the tractor) that he qualifies for food stamps.

    I would gladly pay a few bucks more to give him an honest wage.

    And then we got people saying they will work for $25 per hour. Go ahead, give it try. Overhead costs will drain you down to $6.25 per hour real quick.

  93. slicenglide says:

    Well in this case, I’m going to stick up for staples. I hear a lot of people saying, “Oh wow, I could do this for free for this gentleman/nice lady.” Okay, you need to accurately reflect the free labor that you are giving away when you do that. Not everyone wants to donate their time and energy to removing viruses and spyware from other person’s machines.

    Also, I know that everyone always lists, “BUT THERE ARE FREE TOOLS!”

    You honestly get what you pay for. AVG while amazing, is not free. They ask that if you like the product and service, that you pay for it. A very small percentage do.

    Also, very virulent infections are not often removed by a single off the shelf software. The smitfraud, zlob pain in the ass infections are the ones that come to mind. My favorite is when Norton, Trend, or McAfee are listing the computer as being, “Clean” when in fact the machine is still barking at you to download some snake oil software because your machine is “Susceptible to haxor$.”

    In my experience, people bring in a lot of VERY VERY old machines and hope to get them to new condition. When DDR1 memory was cheap, this was possible. DDR1 memory is now becoming more expensive, and thus, the cost of repairing an older machine is going up. The good news is that ddr2 is insanely cheap, and so upgrading a newer PC is cheaper than ever before in history.

    I’m being honest when I say that most machines needing upgrade/maintenance/repair run in the 240-400 dollar range for the basic service and parts needed to bring them able to run XP with the lastest service packs and updates. You may say, “Well that’s almost a new cheap computer!”

    Again, you get what you pay for, and at the same time, we all know the fun boat that vista is(as I click away on a vista box.)

    So you have to think about the whole complete story. Staples while trying to make money for itself quoted what I imagine to be accurate estimate for costs for the machine.

    Saying that staples as a company is out to get the consumer is fear mongering.

  94. BugMeNot2 says:

    what happened to just backing up the data, wiping the drive, reinstalling the OS?

    removes the virus every time!

  95. Pec says:

    What Staples Store was this? City/State, Phone Number, or Store Number?
    The name of the technician who was assisting the gentlemen? Name of the manager on duty?

  96. DJRanmaS says:

    I’m a EasyTech at a local Staples in NYC. I’ve been doing tech work for 10 years. I for one am appaled by the actions of that tech. I do agree that there is no need to spend upwards to $300 on tech work, but there are people that are attached to their computers and will spend that much. I will say that we are nothing like Geek Squad because we don’t go snopping for porn and we don’t lose customer’s laptops.

    And don’t look at us a bigbox tech place… Most Staples locations have only 1 tech that does all of the work, so we’re fully responsible for everything.

    @slicenglide: Yeah bro, I back you 100% on what you said.

  97. dandd says:

    I bet they swapped his RAM out. The scam goes like: I have 512mb ram and his computer has 1gb ram. So you take his 1gb ram out and put your 512mb back in its place. He’ll never know the difference in the first place.

    I’m willing to bet if you check, he had more ram when he originally brought in the computer.

    Those techs should be fired, then taken out back and beaten to a pulp.

  98. FuryofFive says:

    As an ex-staples pc tech. this is exactly why i left.Staples wanted us to push unecessary crap.who charges 80-90 bux for a virus removal…i would do that stuff if they did the stupid tune-up…i had one kid who was doing a “free” pc tuneup, and yes it was free when i did it.after i suggested more ram, the kid wanted to play games iwth i believe 256mb of ram..Star wars battlegrounds would not run smooth with that. after finding the kid the best deal we had..and with staples thats far and few. 2x1gb for i think 110.the best i could do. since he was paying out of his own pocket,i felt i would be kind enough to do the work of putting it in free of charge..considering thats a i believe 40 charge from staples.
    i told management all the time, i dont believe in all these extra charges and warranty plans we have to upsell, and i would ask, but would not badger the customer if they were not interested.

    Moral of the story, like the poster said. hire someone who will do it for less, who actually cares, and knows there stuff. i know one of the techs i asked in my local staples…he said, “he knew what they taught him” which i had to laugh at that for a moment.

  99. amv09 says:

    My computer just broke down something with the wireless card that it won’t recognize it so i went online to the hp website and chatted with like a tech or something and they offered me to ship my computer and repair it for free even though my warranty is expired. Does anybody think this is kinda shady? I don’t really know if I should just ship out something that cost me 1000 dlls even if they did say it was free. I guess i’m kinda afraid they’ll hold it hostage until i pay them some money or something…

  100. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Good job, Michael.

    Hey, hey, Staples…keep that up, and you’ll be in the 2008 Worst Company nominations!

    And here I thought ripping off senior citizens was the job of unscrupulous car dealers and auto mechanics.

  101. failurate says:

    Seniors quite often pay with cash. This might have been one employee trying to put together an imaginary work order to pocket some real cash.

  102. iankasley says:

    @ slicenglide

    Actually, the basic edition of AVG *is* free. From their website… [free.grisoft.com]

    “AVG Anti-Virus Free is only available for single computer use for home and non commercial use.”

    Maybe Spybot S&D is what you were thinking of, they make the app available free, but do encourage a you to make a donation if you find it useful.

  103. nachmanides says:

    funny, one of the things staples techs keep writing is how they open up the pc’s and vacuum, if they knew anything, its never vacuum a pc, you use a blower. you can fry a motherboard vacuuming through static electricity.

  104. MechaBlue says:

    @adam_b:

    Your Mac is broken; they aren’t supposed to behave like that. It’s possible that you have a bad RAM stick or your OS is pooched but what you are experiencing isn’t normal.

    I had an iBook die on me out of warranty and my Macbook Pro would have kernel panics with 10.4.10 and WiFi. The first is probably due to the solder on the GPU cracking (it’s a known design flaw with that model) and the second was due to a buggy driver that didn’t like some base stations.

    I own a few more models, administer some more models at work, and have a few co-workers that use other models. Overall, there have been very few complaints. The only other issues that I know of were heat issues with the 15″ Core Duo Macbook Pro (a well-known issue) and a burned out CRT on an old eMac (it was 3+ years old).

    At the least, it’s easier to do research on them because there are so few models and any issues, no matter how minor (e.g., discoloration on the palm rests), ends up being well reported.

  105. KJones says:

    I have never understood why people aren’t afraid of fixing their own cars (or at least, checking their oil on the dipstick) yet are absolutely petrified of fixing their own computer hardware.

    Think of it this way: do those who put parts together to make computers even have a clue of how they work? No, they’re low-paid assembly line employees who just stick parts in and connect cables. Putting a computer together is no more complicated than putting together an IKEA table.

    I wouldn’t fault the older man for not knowing better, but come on, it’s not that difficult. In a few hours a person can learn all the maintenance necessary to fix their own PC or laptop. They only ways you can seriously damage your computer are fixing it while plugged in, forcing parts into their spaces, or dropping them.

    Why people aren’t willing to learn anymore is beyond me. It used to be that to use a computer, you had to know something about the hardware, just like you do with a car; now people want a plug in appliance they can be ignorant of, like their TVs. As I said above, we don’t take that attiutude with cars, so why do it with another big ticket item that is easy to repair yourself?

  106. slicenglide says:

    @amv09: Actually HP is aware of wireless card issues with their broadcom wireless units, and actually is kind enough to repair them. HP is doing you a great favor by repairing your unit for free. If you want protection, send the unit to them insured… and take pictures before you have it sent off, have the pictures notarized… and then you’ll be in the good.

  107. waitwhathappened says:

    Ok so I understand down with the big box stores however lets look at this from another angle as well…When you have a medical issue do you go to a vet? Or the hospital where you have trained professionals to take care of you? Seems like you ran into a shady store and that comes from the management 9.9 times out of 10 not the company. Until you work for FREE don’t expect someone else to…

  108. ShadowFalls says:

    Also a post here for Michael who sent in this horrible part of Staples service. You can run a program called CPU-Z to check what processor the computer has, motherboard, and how much RAM there is, the speed it runs at, and how many slots occupied. All that without opening the case.

    I have taken care of computers for many people who I would rather not see get ripped off by their local Best Buy, Circuit City, or other ones who charged ridiculous prices to do simple tasks. Plus, when I mention to someone they should buy a new computer, it is not a conflict of interest.

  109. sadistblue says:

    I agree it’s bullcrap. I also work at a Best Buy geek squad and we are trained to make the issue seem as bad as possible. Being computer savvy it’s always funny to hear the term computer fried I lost everything, because in most cases it can be fixed with proper troubleshooting. A quick fix to anything is to reset it to factory defaults and claim it was the only answer. Then charge them for a OS reinstall and say the hard drive fried for good measure.

  110. cde says:

    @nytmare: Wrongly being an ass about the correct spelling of virii is ignorant as well.

    @DJRanmaS: Ha. That’s such a broad blanket statement you know its untrue. Sure, you might not lose laptops, but I highly doubt no staples tech looks for porn.

    @slicenglide: Our 25 p/h over head is alot cheaper then Staples. All my overhead is 1 or 2 burnt cds and gas.

  111. bluerat says:

    I work at a local staples and I’ve never once seen anything like this happen. I’m aware that we’re told to upsale, but in general Our PC Tech guy is one of the best I know and he goes out of his way to try and prevent doing more work than necessary. The first thing any respectable tech would do if the system wouldn’t load to bios would be to make sure everything is plugged in inside of it.

    I’m not saying staples is great in general, but i’d trust this guy with MY computer, even though i do tech on my, my families, and my friends computers. Please don’t think this story is the case at every staples.

  112. cde says:

    @KJones: Better for us techs ;D But give it a few decades. People will be more willing to fix their own stuff.

  113. cde says:

    @slicenglide: Notarization only proves you are who you are, not that the pictures are in any way factual.

  114. argosreality says:

    @Jaysyn No, I’m not calling him a liar. Please learn to not read what you want to hear from comments but whats actually being said. Memory CAN work itself out over time. There’s no mention of the age, brand, build quality or anything else related to this store. I’ve seen laptops blue screen because the memory modules have loosened over time or from shock. Ditto to desktops, workstations and servers. The clamps can easily come lose over time let alone if it was worked on previously by someone else and not properly put back together. Im not saying it wasnt a mistake by the technician but we don’t TOUCH the memory; blowing the case out with compressed air isn’t going to shake a memory module loose either.

    I’ve been an IT guy for 10yrs now; I’m not exactly new to this. Its true that the tech at that store might have been a lying, stealing idiot but I find it far more likely things were misinterpreted and conclusions were reached without supporting evidence.

  115. argosreality says:

    @ShadowFalls: The staples techs use a similar application that does a more universal look at the system. Its Webroots PC Analyzer. It doesn’t provide as much indepth information as CPU-z or Everst but its much easier to read for the common lay person.

    Interestingly enough, Circuit City’s “Firedog” is using it now as well.

  116. Faerie says:

    @weave: Sounds a bit similar to what I experienced when my air conditioner wouldn’t blow cold air (in Sacramento… in the summer). I looked up 3 guys on Service Magic (which I had used prior) and ended up settling on one guy, he climbed up on my roof and ran some tests and came back down to show me pictures of what he had found. I can’t remember all the specifics, but he showed me wasps nests, said I was leaking freon, that some coils were bad… etc etc. All in all, over $1000 in repairs. I scheduled an appointment for him to come back and do the repairs. At the time, I was living alone – a single female who I guess he thought he could take advantage of.

    In any case, I couldn’t afford his “repair” so I called my realtor (I was trying to get my home ready for sale at the time) and he suggested someone he had used in property management. My boyfriend happened to be over when the new guy showed up and went up on the roof to check out the unit. They come back down and the repair guy goes to his truck to get something and my boyfriend comes in with wide eyes. He tell me that there are NO wasps nests, that the unit is basically fine, but there’s some type of valve that’s been broken right off (we all think the original repair guy broke it) that needs to be welded back on and the the unit just needs to be cleaned out and recharged with freon. He came back the next day and did everything for $200. Unit worked perfectly after that.

    As it turns out, the pictures the original repair person showed me of my unit weren’t even MY UNIT! What I described from the pictures didn’t match at all what my boyfriend saw when he was on the roof with the second tech. He knew I likely would never get up there myself and know the difference.

  117. Justinh6 says:

    Many of the big box stores are an absolute scam on computer repair. I am a trained PC tech, and even though I work for a bank now, I still do service calls for friends and family.

    Many of them will call Best Buy geek squad, and have them jack up their network, and charge them $149 for the service.

    Then I will come in and fix their wrongdoings, and tune up the computers basically for beer money.

    Its highway robbery. Installing ram on a laptop or a desktop takes no more than five minutes. If you are getting 100 in labor to do that service, its such a scam.

    I wouldn’t even charge someone 100 dollars to build a pc from scratch.

  118. katyggls says:

    Avoid Big Box stores like the plague. You’re way better off either taking it to someone you know that does computers or taking it to a locally run shop. If anyone is in NC in the Gastonia area there’s a great place called The Computer Guy. My DVD burner stopped working (ended up having to be replaced). They only charged me the $70 for the new DVD burner and about $25 for the labor. Plus while I was there, I asked the dude if he could pop some RAM in that I just bought (I could have done it myself but I figured since he had the case open) and he did it at no extra charge. So glad I didn’t go to Best Buy or any other chain place. Most of the time those people don’t know what they’re doing. I was browsing computers at Best Buy last year (I’d never buy from them I was just killing time) and this sales guy came over and started telling me all kinds of stuff that was 90% BS, but I just knew he was using this same spiel on less tech savvy customers and they were falling for it hook line and sinker. I cringe whenever I hear that someone took their comp to a place like that for repairs. They never escape for less than $400 and mostly on services that are either free if done yourself or completely unnecessary crap.

  119. stuny says:

    I hear that this is a scam perpretrated by lonely old men. They intentionally damage their PCs and wait in stores for helpful computer geeks and lure them into their homes, never to be seen again. You are luck you escaped with your floppy intact!

  120. stuny says:

    I remember encountering this same scenario at an old Gateway store. An elderly man was picking up his computer. They did something like install AOL and replace his mouse, for $200. And these prices were clearly listed on the wall. I know, if you are not technical, it is not unreasonable to pay the price for someone to do the work for you, but pricing should be based in reality. $99 to install AOL. AOL!!

  121. amv09 says:

    @slicenglide: thanks for the info!

  122. glorpy says:

    Kudos to Michael for helping out. And kudos to the elderly man for refusing to be ripped off by what amounts to a high pressure sales gimmick.

    @failurate: I think your explanation makes the most sense.

  123. othium says:

    I made a huge mistake by helping a client out at work who was having a bit of trouble with her computer. She had purchased a new mp3 player and wanted to install the software, but was a bit confused as to how to go about doing it. I walked her through it and she was quite happy.

    Word spread from then on. I work in a campus-like setting as a personal care attendant and there are seven homes with 28 consumers. Many of them have computers and limited mobility. It started out as something I didn’t mind doing, running a virus scan, checking for bad parts/connections, but it soon became more of a burden than anything. I would be cleaning a client’s drive of virii and a week later have to do it again. Other employees were bringing their computers to work in order for me to “Take a look at them” without even asking if I had the time or would mind. I finally cut off all requests as it was causing me to get behind in my regular tasks. These same clients then complained to the management and I was called into the office to explain “why I didn’t feel like sharing my unique skills to benefit the clients?”
    I explained to them that I was not employed as a computer tech and I wasn’t comfortable performing the service anymore. If they wished, I would continue to to perform the service, but I would have to re-negotiate my current wages. Management was a bit peeved as they hate having to deal with any consumer complaints at all, but accepted this answer. My boss actually asked me to “look at her printer” in this same meeting!

    I don’t mind helping out once in a while, but I do have a problem with selfish, demanding people who think because I helped them out one time, that I am now some sort of free personal tech.

    At my new job I plan to remain silent whenever computers are mentioned.

  124. JLoose111 says:

    @failurate:

    Youve got to me kidding me. Do not take this out on the employee. The Staples employee is commanded to upsell customers. It is his job to do this, not make moral judgements. Blame staples, but keep your sanctimonious opinions away from the sales associate! Hes just doing what he is told.

  125. soulman901 says:

    @ph0nk – Liar, you are the scum of this world and should pay the ultimate price for being that scum.

  126. AcidReign says:

        I can see charging $100 to install AOL, if you do it right. There’s a good bit of cleanup that needs to be done afterwards. Then, you have to log in, and go to keyword: settings. That brings up a screen with thousands of options. There’s a LOT of junk that needs to be turned off or altered. And the new 9.1 version hooks up a stunted version of Internet Explorer, even if you aren’t logged on!

        A better way to use AOL is Firefox/adblock plus on over to AOL.com, and use Thunderbird to get your AOL email. A lot fewer headaches, that way.

  127. “…seek out the young, the ones who aren’t old enough to hold advanced degrees or a driver’s license-those who can be paid with extended curfews are ideal. Then, watch in amazement as they sprightly get your computer back to checking AOL so you can forward us that hilarious email Snopes disproved last year.”

    Or, you can look for somebody like me: a 53-year-old grandmother who rehabs computers for fun–and who takes care of her YOUNGER friends’ computer problems.

    No need to be ageist. Geeks come in all age ranges.

  128. youbastid says:

    @othium: Would you like a side of cries with your root tear float? What does this have to do with the article at all?

  129. KJones says:

    @cde: Better for us techs ;D But give it a few decades. People will be more willing to fix their own stuff.

    In a few more decades, computers might be made too complex for anyone outside the industry to understand. Just as Microshaft hides APIs and forces software developers to tow their line, so might hardware manufacturers. Remember the DRM hard drive nonsense (Hitachi? Fujitsu?) from a few weeks ago?

    I miss the good ol’ days of the Apple II when motherboards were simple enough that a willing learner could rewire the board or rewrite the operating system with enough knowledge. Today, things are too complex, even for those who know how things work.

  130. chubbycheese says:

    I currently work at Staples as one of their EasyTechs. At least where I work the managers wouldn’t even allow me to pull crap like that even if I wanted too. I’ve done countless services for people that were either a lot cheaper than they were supposed to be or completely free. I refuse to charge some one $30 to install RAM. I’ve even agreed to come to customers’ houses to help fix their computers as just a guy who knows stuff about computers and not a Staples employee. Although our prices are better than the GeekSquad I still believe some services are overpriced.

    As far as that tune up goes, that tune up should have been free. Our tune ups are free until may if I remember right. The managers at my store do push to upsell things but nothing like this. I upsell services that they may need for their computer like when I do a system recovery I ask them if they want me to back up their data for them. Or after the tune up and I actually think their computer needs more RAM I offer to install it for them(at $30 unfortunately).

  131. Arrngrim says:

    Kudo’s for being an outstanding citizen, sir!

  132. jetsetter says:

    Staples is a terrible, terrible company. And we all know corporate is reading this which makes it even more funny. The main goal of each and every sales associate in Business Machines is to upsell, upsell, upsell. There were even stupid little competitions where you’d win something like $25 in Staples cash if you ripped off the most people in a certain period of time. Needless to say I never won, which didn’t bother me a bit.

    The Staples that I worked at was store #1727 in NJ. The two managers Ed Liguori and Brian Mahan were among the two biggest sleazebags I’ve ever had the misfortune of working with. Aside from reprimanding employees who didn’t do enough upselling, these buffoons did little more than sit in the office and field personal phone calls all day. No joke! Everyone knew this but no one ever said anything. Stay far away from Staples and especially store #1727.

  133. DJRanmaS says:

    @Furyoffive: I don’t know what Staples you worked at, but in my district, we focus more on Customer Service than upselling.

    @nachmanides: The same can be said about using compressed air… Go fig. :/

    @cde: Broad my left foot. Not for nothing, but I know half of the techs in my district and I doubt they’d even try to pull that. I’d like to see you run a department by yourself be soley responsible for everything.

  134. kerry says:

    @jonworld: I can one-up you there, my local Staples replaced the only supermarket within 1 mile of my house. I can buy several varieties of fast food without going more than 2 blocks, but not a blasted tomato.

  135. Kevmas says:

    Great job Michael! Really great of you to step up like that.

  136. doorsdownrk says:

    I am a Easy Tech for Staples Store 1230 in Warwick, RI and yes a good bit of our tech services do suck. They are overpriced and require extra charges for even the simplest things. Now I try my hardest to push the envelope toward the customer ever time. I know of some of techs from other stores charging the $30 to install each bit of software someone wants in or not using the generic $40 charge for doing 2 or 3 little things in together. Yes staples is a company that wants to make money but the in store tech does have some wiggle room where he can truly help the customer and not rip them off at the same time.

    Truly the best techs in any place are the ones that come in already fully trained and know what they are doing. I got the job there as i need money while in college and i can do the tech work in my sleep. But i have seen some techs they have brought in that should be fired on the spot because they need the stupid crappy staples tech training to know how to do it or rely on the system analyzer.

    To any possible customers, talk to the tech before committing to any tech work. You should be able to tell if he is going to take you for a ride or if he is really willing to help you. Any tech from any major chain or even a small shop that doesn’t seem interested in truly helping you solve your problem isn’t the one you want fixing your pc.

  137. algormortis says:

    a)good work, Michael.

    b)i went into that staples when i was home for Christmas to pick up a freaking basic firewire cable so i could transfer files between my mom’s old Mac and new Mac. the cheapest one was $30 and i asked the sales dude if they had any less expensive ones…and the kid told me “that’s the cheapest there is, missy.” i high-tailed it to micro center and got it for $8 and they were nice to me. (this was about 10 minutes before i realized that in suburbia in MA, there’s about three wendy’s, two chipotles, and nothing else edible.)

    c)i consider all big box stores untrustworthy by nature; it’s upsell and consume and lie to do it. i don’t even believe they approach competence so much as how to lie to do it. actually isn’t that how big box electronics stores work by nature?

  138. cde says:

    @DJRanmaS: IIf I ran the department by myself, wouldn’t that be the best way of getting customer porn? No oversight on technical work.

  139. cde says:

    Hey, another thing about staples. You know that ink recycling program they have? 3 ink cartridges for 5 bucks off or whatever? They just chuck the ink in their dumpster afterwards. They don’t recycle it. They don’t place it in the third part recycle box that they have around. Just straight to the WasteManagement Dumpster in the back. I have many a 3 bucks coupon for it.

  140. CSUSam says:

    @forgottenpassword: It’s called not having an option in a lot of cases. I live in a college town, and when you find job, you keep it. I have to pay for my housing and food, student loans pay for most of my tuition. I still have books and other school supplies as well. I get around ten an hour at Circuit City, and I do enough to keep my job. I help customers for free and give discounts (unbeknownst to the management) as much as possible. Especially with older people I will download drivers give them instructions to AVG and Ad Aware, etc. But if I don’t sell services, they will get rid of me and find somebody that will. As always, I can’t even vouch for other Circuit City stores, but I can tell you that I don’t recommend or charge for anything that isn’t necessary.

    So, if you or anybody else is willing to pay me ten dollars an hour to not work there, by all means I will quit tomorrow. Until then, realize that for every loser like that willing to bilk an old man out of his money just for his performance review, there are people like me directing people to Target or Newegg or AVG whenever possible.

  141. Ben Popken says:

    Paul writes:

    “Hello, I am writing this in response to your story, and the readers comments, about the elderly gentleman and Staples Easy Tech. [[consumerist.com]] That was just one Staples, and one single Tech, yet most the comments reprimand ALL of the Techs, and ALL retail chain tech service places[OK, BB Geek Squad does suck] but not all of the Staples Tech Centers are bad, however, I can only I can speak for my store. We would never do that to a customer, even if they were total [expletives]. Sure, we would get as much as we could out of the horrible customers, but that was the extent of that.
    This is both a “Confession of a Staples Tech” and correcting errors and hate speech made against Staples in the comments:

    1) About the PC Tune-Up charge of $39.99, The regular price since October [when I started] has been $29.99, and has been free for a while, and will be until 6/31 unless they extend it again. And, yes, the Free PC Tune-Ups DO let us know if there is any other services we can offer, such as more RAM on an XP machine with only 128MB, offer a virus removal(we have had 4 or 5 zlob infections over the past month), or in a few cases telling them in nice terms their computer is a piece of crap, and they should look into a new system. Sometimes they look into one, other times they say no, and a couple times they bought one.

    2) Yes, some services are over-priced, $60 for 4.7GB of data transfer/backup? That is a horrible price, if someone didn’t need their old system, I would recommend putting the old HDD in the new system, or to buy a good sized flash drive and do the transfer at home, unless they still wanted/needed the first system.

    3) As for the prices and services offered, I don’t know why the tune-up was quoted as $40[Must have been a new guy? I don't know.] $50 for the diagnostic is a flat fee to assess is we are able to remove viruses/find the cause of a problem if it is unknown. We need to charge it, because if we charge for the virus removal, and we cannot remove it, we would need to refund that charge, and we would have nothing for the labor done for the attempt. The $150 quote for the virus removal is horribly wrong, why would the tech give the on-site price(well, close to it) for service that would have been done in-store? Also, we try to recommend a system restore if the person has a back up of their data, because it is cheaper, and also faster for both parties.

    4)Answers to questions posed by commenter joedragon:
    4a) Are you able to run Microsoft update or do they want you make customers pay more for that?
    We have to charge a flat fee of the software install fee for all windows updates[one update = $30 and 20 updates = $30]

    4b) How do you get parts that staples does not have?
    If we need parts Staples does not carry, we tell the customer we cannot, and tell them either, they can order it themselves and then bring it in, or we use a place in Boston called Blue Raven, I do not know if they are just what our area uses, or what the whole company uses though.”

  142. Draconianspark says:

    @jetsetter: Ed’s up to his old games, eh?

  143. Cicatriz says:

    Time to throw in my 2 cents. I worked at a Staples in Canada for a year and a half. I was a sales associate who also happened to do Tech work when our technicians weren’t in or were too swamped to take care of everything they had to do. Staples does not train you to “upsell”. The thing my managers placed the biggest emphasis on was finding the product that is most appropriate for the customer’s needs. I don’t know if the training is different in the American chains from the Canadian ones, but associates don’t get commission, and the measures for performance have nothing to do with how expensive the laptop you sold is. In regards to technician services, you wouldn’t believe some of the crap I’ve had to deal with, and charged the customer next to nothing for it. I cleaned out a computer that had 20,000+ viruses on it and charged the customer just the $80 for virus removal. Some jobs take hours, some take a few minutes, but you can’t make your Anti-virus service on a per-virus basis. That computer I mentioned took about 8 hours to clean out, while some I’ve done only take 30 minutes or so. When I worked there, I made every effort to charge for cheaper services (or not at all), often opting to charge the $50 formatting charge instead of the $90 format+recovery (even though I performed the recovery as well).

    I think you guys are just a bit too paranoid when it comes to these organizations. I’ve never once experienced one of my managers trying to “bilk” customers out of money. They care more about the customer service surveys and issues than they do about the laptop sale. I’ve seen them bend over backwards to satisfy unreasonable customers. So while this store in particular may have been shady, I don’t believe it’s a reflection of the chain as a whole. Most associates couldn’t care less whether you buy the shitty $500 Acer laptop or opt for the fully loaded Macbook Pro. They’re being paid just above minimum wage to help you make a purchase. They won’t benefit from you buying that Macbook. Trust me, I know.

  144. Woofer00 says:

    @chubbycheese: Careful with that behavior. Technically speaking, what you described looks like unfair competition / stealing business opportunities from your employer, aka sufficient grounds to terminate employment. Unless Staples doesn’t offer the service you provide, you should be wary of any such requests. If a customer rejects Staples’ services, you might then offer your own discounted services, but your lower price /better service can’t be a part of the decision (you can’t let them know before they decide).

  145. XJSGUY says:

    I have a sole prop appliance repair business(washers, dryers, refrigs, etc).
    I had a call the other day about a washer that wouldn’t drain and could barely spin.
    They sounded like an older couple and, the man seemed able to still do some repairs.
    I walked him through what may be wrong and told him to call me if he needed more advice.
    He called back and said my suggestion corrected the problem as, there was a towel stuck in the pump.
    He asked my address and said they’d send me some $$.
    I told him that it wasn’t necessary.
    I said there’s more to life and beimng ok with yourself than taking someone’s money.
    The insisted on sending me a check and said they saw my address in the phonebook.
    I’ve often done things for older people who I know cannot afford my regular charges.
    I don’t care as, I can afford to do this more than they can afford to pay someone.
    Too many peoplle in my business have the attitude of, “It’s too expensive to repair but,I sell new ones.”
    I hate that attitude.
    I’ve always run my business like I do now and, I have people who will wait till I can get there rather than call someone else.
    It’s so much easier to live with yourself if your like that.

  146. PaperBoy says:

    Had a similar deal with my beloved Yamaha stereo. The led went out on the tuner, so I couldn’t tell what station was tuned in. Authorized tech wanted $75 min. to open the case and 2 weeks to tell me what was wrong. At that price, a new tuner was a better deal, so I opened it up and found a thin plastic shell behind the tuner panel holding a single tiny burnt-out LED. New one was $1.29 at Radio shack, installed with just a few inches of electrical tape. Still works 8 years later.

  147. stagefright says:

    I am a ‘Resident Easy Technician’ at Staples. I’ve been doing this for about two years, since the EasyTech program was initiated. I have never, EVER been coached or encouraged in any way to upsell any customer in any way. Sure, we offer add-ons & accessories, but are trained to NOT hardsell the customer. Of course, our free tuneup offer is designed to drive business and get customers into the store. The analyzer does scan for virii/malware and identifies such. I offer to remove the malware for a fee of $89.99 (as advertised) but also tell them that they can do it themselves. I believe this story (if true) is an isolated case. I take great pride in my work and would never cheat a customer, even if coached by management to do so. There are a great many honest and respectable service techs in ‘big box’ stores all around the world. By the way, I probably qualify as a senior citizen in some circles. I just turned 56.

  148. SHUDUPAHYOFACE says:

    I live in Waltham! The staff there are pretty incompetent, I didn’t even know they had a service tech repair center (I only find myself there for an occasional deal on blank media). I signed up for a basic Staples reward card there, which entailed just filling out a sheet of paper with my address, etc. And the guy at the front desk was all confused and he had to juggle another customer with calling management to answer a basic question I had about the card. Also, regionally, Waltham is pretty hard-times. My two cents

  149. MrEvil says:

    Back when I worked at Best Buy (before Geek Squad) it was always about sell sell sell. We weren’t there to fix anything. We were there to bilk customers for every red cent we could get out of them. Fixing the computers came secondary.

    Its still all about the $ figure on the tote-board even now that its Geek Squad.

    take your PC to a local shop if you can’t find someone who’ll do it for a free meal. At least the local shops are in business to fix things.

  150. gruffydd says:

    Michael – you are truly awesome.
    My father is 77 and lives with us, and I am always scared about what people might try to pull over on him.
    Thanks for looking out for the old guys!

  151. Gina Banina says:

    My question is this: where do I find a tech for computer repairs who is not located at a big box retail store? I live in a major metro area (St. Louis) and even here it is impossible to easily locate a tech repair person other than those at the big box retailers. I am in desperate need to get my laptop’s fan looked at right now, actually, and was planning to take it to Best Buy, as my only option; but if anyone has better ideas of where I might take it to or how to find someone better to take it to that would be great.

    Thanks.

  152. vdragonmpc says:

    The heating story seems the same all over. I had my heatpump die in November right after my son was born. I called Colonial Plumbing and heating and they sent a repair guy, figuring it was old I had a sales rep coming from them too. The repair guy shined his light under teh house and said ‘yup its bad youse needs a new one’ then demanded payment before he could leave. The sales rep was in the driveway getting stuff together and I asked if they could work something out since I was going to buy a new unit from them. No go he demanded the full payment. I asked him why he didnt feel the need to actually look at the unit. He said it looks rusty. We argued and from talking to them I realized I was on the rip-off express with these jerks. The salesman was pissed at the tech and pulled him aside but I told them both to go ahead and leave.
    Then I talked to a couple of other reps… A guy from Carter Heating and Air heard me talking about having a newborn in the house and said no worries he would come over and see what he could do. He was awesome and not only priced me a great Trane unit and reasonable install he made sure I had heat!!! Granted it was the emergency heat function but it was something. They were very quick and I had absolutely no extra charges or surprise issues. Even better was that everyone advertised a ‘Trane rebate’ Carter just asked if I wanted them to lower the price rather than deal with rebate hassles.
    Colonial plumbing and Heating still sends me mail but it goes right into the shredder along with those ‘vent cleaning’ offers (scams)

    V

  153. Scatter says:

    I’m another Staples tech who would like to offer my comment to this debate.

    When you’re part of a company with over 1300 stores the odds are that stuff like this is going to happen from time to time. I don’t think that the tech in question was trying to be crooked. The odds are that he just wasn’t trained very well.

    I’ll let you in on the real problem within Staples right now; they’re too cheap for they’re own good. they just aren’t willing to spend money to make money which is really necessary.

    Rather than hire and pay real technicians they’d rather hire some 17 year old kid who’s still in school and pay him a fraction of what a real technician demands. This of course leads to a situation where most associates leave after a few months one they gain SOME skills and see that they can make more almost anywheres else. Because of this there’s high turnover within the department and it’s pretty much a given that the tech in most stores won’t be able to solve a problem unless their system Analyzer tool or one of Staples’ flow chat training documents tells them what to do.

    Another big problem is labor hours. Staples only allows most stores to spend 15-20 hours a week tops actually performing tech work because labor hours are so tight. I don’t think I really need to describe what happens when you combine new technician + rushed job do I?

    That’s not to say that Staples is the worst place to have your PC repaired. Our prices generally are cheaper than the Geek Squads and I truly believe that Staples does try to take care of their customers more than most of the competition does.

    One thing I would recommend though, ASK the technician questions. Ask them what their experience is that makes them qualified to repair your PC. Ask them where they received their training. Ask them if they’re A+ certified and if they say they are ask to see their card. If you aren’t satisfied with their answer then forward a complaint to Staples Home Offices asking why they’re letting unqualified associates repair PCs. It’s key that you complain to the Home Office as they’re the people to make decisions. Don’t even bother complaining to the local store manager though. As sad as it sounds local managers really don’t have much say in what goes on, even in their own store.

  154. jetsetter says:

    @DraconianSpark: he sure is. im no longer there but when i was the guy did absolutely nothing but field personal phone calls and preach about upselling.

  155. blazingwing says:

    This is kinda sad, I’ve seen this happen too, and i work at staples myself, to see it happens makes me sick. i am i computer tech myself, 5 years of schooling and much experience, and they wont give me the job, but i watch as the actual “tech” rips people off in the exact same way, i know I’ve seen on at least 2-3 occasions that the tech has told a consumer that he needs more memory than needed for a system. 1 gb is enough for xp, 2gb for xp is extreme sometimes, but when we’re talking about a normal internet user… no photoshop, no video editing, thats insane!

  156. SandmanET says:

    well I’m a tech in a store not to far from waltham and what that tech suggested is a little extreme

    the diag was useless but the virus removal and suggested ram upgrade is correct. the tune up is free it cannot be rang in at more then a penny. when you enter the sku 512336 (PC Tune up) it automatically applies a paperless coupon to make it free.

    and most of our prices are cheaper then Geek Squad’s

    now I realize some people can do a virus removal but most people can not it is pretty simple that most customers are computer illiterate

    ~The Sandman

    ps funny how I found this as I have a meeting for Easy Tech none the less today

  157. bjuser says:

    Hey Michael, I am a fellow repair guy, currently work in a support department, and I just want to say “if only there were more people out there like you.” [pat on the back] All of these companies, Staples, Best Buy, etc. all charge outrageous fees for what sometimes can be fixed within 15 minutes or less. And what you did was really a random act of kindness. I was actually inspired by this story, not many people anymore today would take the time to do what you did. Thanks for posting it.

  158. tarpleyc says:

    Very Good Job Michael. I own a small computer repair business and I am always hearing from people that went to the geek squad, staples or wherever. The reason why I got into this business is because I got tired of hearing people get ripped off by other computer repair companies. If small companies could only compete with the other ones. We just arent able to do the advertising.

    • Anonymous says:

      @tarpleyc:
      You’d be surprised, while my company spends millions advertising 2 page ads in the major computer trade magazines,
      I see local shops finding just as effective ways to advertise.

      Don’t be fooled by thinking you’re a small company, you don’t realise how much power you have in this market. Van or car advertising, a website that doesn’t look like it’s singing “all by mysellllfff”.. Business cards can be had cheaply, bring at least 20 in your wallet, someone wants your # to talk to you about a car show? something off topic,..give them your business card, it doesn’t matter. Why not do consulting work? Lot of very small businesses that don’t have an IT staff.

  159. jwshgeek says:

    I’m an EasyTech at Staples #0655 in Fremont, CA. What this tech would have gotten me fired on the spot. First of all unless it was a big infection he only needed to be charged $40 for a “custom configuration”. Also, we don’t try to upsell, each store has a goal of $300/week, but there is no penalty for not meeting it (I’ve never seen our store meet that goal, and have never been coached for not meeting it). Also, our managers try to get the customer the best deal, for instance a while back we had to replace an toner cartridge offsite and we charged him only the minimum offsite service fee of $100, as opposed to the $130 or so he should have been charged (it’s still a ripoff for us to go offsite which is why I advise all my customers to just bring the computer/printer/whatever to us.

  160. thefrecklepuny says:

    I used to work at Staples here in the UK. Not a happy experience. I can well believe this story as Staples simply wanted you to sell warranties. Thats it! They did not care how you did it, even though they were not worth the paper they were written on.

    There was no tech centre in the store I worked at. However, I had more technical knowledge than all of the staff, including managers!

    Once, a deputy sore manager was attempting to sell a customer a laptop. “Does it have a CR-RW?” he asked. “Err… hang on, no” was was the reply, “but you can back up on USB memory sticks” was the response. Another member of staff had to tell her that the machine was equipped with a CD-RW. Unbelievable!!

    On another occasion, a customer came in with a very slow Socket A Athlon XP PC she’d purchased from the very same store. It was slow due to having just 256Mb RAM. Also the CD-RW was kaput.

    I told here I could fit a new one so she purchased a new one in-store and I fitted it in a few minutes. Win XP detected the drive a few seconds later.
    During all this, the store manager walks in, see what I’m doing and has a face like a kicked arse.

    After the customer left, he pulls me to one side and asks me what I was doing. I explained that I was simply fixing a customer’s PC. “We dont do that here, we’re not technicians”. He wanted me to fill out a form and send the machine back to the manufacturer (NEC). What he failed to realise is that I created a win-win-win situation. The sale of a CD-RW drive, no paperwork and most important, a happy and grateful customer. He was only happy when I told him I’d sold a CD-RW as he thought I’d written the device off and fitted it for free.

    Many people are unfortunately promoted to a position of incompitence. Staples management are a prime example of this.

    I spant a lot of time advising people on technical matters and telling them whre to buy the same or better items cheaper! I have no regrets doing that.

  161. SahilaAcastus says:

    Wow, I am usually a lurker but I just had to comment on this one and tell my story.

    Here in my area I was an “EasyTech” at my local staples. Actually I was the original EasyTech there. Notice the past tense. I eventually quit due to the fact that they basically wanted me to pull this kind of thing in order to get sales.

    I will say though, a staples “tune-up” includes opening up the case and vacuuming out the dust. So that’s probably when he unseated the ram. Seriously, people if you need tech support go troll craigslist for 5 minutes, there are plenty of small businesses and individuals who are better trained offering their services for much less.

  162. Anonymous says:

    Wow yea! Great job! You’ve managed to generalize ONE tech at ONE store and you say WATCH OUT WORLD! Staples will eat your soul!!

    I was an EasyTech for a full year before starting my new job at Borders. I still have EasyTech Brochures, the numbers you have about the virus removal are entirely false!

    I will agree that this PARTICULAR TECH seemed to be ripping this guy off and I commend you for helping him. I would have done the same.

    But just as well, at the store I worked at, if someone was about to spend more than $200 repairing a laptop. I would give them the OPTION to consider whether or not it’s worth it, or just get a new one.

  163. Anonymous says:

    I sell IT equipment to MIS departments and hear stories all the time about best buys, staples, circuit city, etc they work on a used car salesman mentality, ie charge a lot, “you’ll never see them again anyway”. Recently a client was faced with buying $90,000 in software, I told him save your money another solution is less than $10,000 something I didn’t sell as the software was sold direct only. Why? Repeat business, I’d rather lose a sale than lose a customer. Sad state of affairs when companies, big companies don’t pick up on that simple business 101.

  164. Anonymous says:

    I work at Staples, and even though I dont fix computers my self I do sell them and know quite alot about them. I can probably explain to you everything that went wrong in this situation. While doing the free pc tune-up we dust and vacum the computers. While doing so we could’ve by accident pressed on the RAM release knob. If the computer did not work after that we really should’ve made a free diagnostic on the computer because it was probably our fault that computer stopped working, but because the person was new he didn’t know the policy on staples easy tech service. So this is why he offered a diagnostic test for 49.99 which is currently 69.99 (inflation). ahahaha. While doing so he also offered the diff things that could resolve the problem, 1-virus, 2-ram. Both of them were lagitemate reasons. Seeing that the customer is older he offered the home sollutions which are more exp because we are sending a proffesional over to their house and not just joe shmoe who used to fix computers for pizza money. There are reasons for everything, I do agree that not all staples workers are trained to their best, but at the same time we dont have a quota or anything like that, and the customers can be quite an exp to deal with…. You dont want us to start complaining about every single thing that customers do wrong.

  165. mike_bassist says:

    Staples, called “Bureau En Gros” in the province of Québec in Canada, is the compâny that probably is the biggest theft. I presently work for Staples, repairing computers half of the time (since they supposedly have three “easy techs”, myself, one certified Staples technician, and another Sales representative repairing computers.) You would be disgusted by how much staples try to rip people off. I got hired there thinking that it looked like a decent place, but I was betrayed and now Ièm working in thieves hideout. If you are going to go get your computer fixed, PLEASE take the advice of a Staples employee ( well, employee for the moment, Im quitting this disgusting fraudulent job)and go and get your computer fixed elsewhere, if you donèt want a 400$ bill after your supposed free diagnostic.

  166. slrman says:

    At one time I was doing in-home computer repairs in the Phoenix area. Not too surprisingly, I had a lot of regular customers in the Sun City retirement area.

    My policy was always, “No fix, no charge”. Most of my calls were for printer problems and they usually required no more than a software upgrade.

    I never charged for installing one of the free virus removal programs. I normally carried a CD with one or two on it in case they had a very slow on no internet connection.

    Most of the “tune-ups” were no more than a defrag and a registry scan. I like to have the user do it themselves while I walked them through it so they could take care of it themselves. I did have a book I wrote to sell them, “Living With RAM Without Getting a Mega-Byte”. But if their hourly charge was more than $50, I’d give it to them for free.

    From giving customer service seminars I knew that, “It’s always cheaper to make a customer happy than it is to make them mad.” Maybe Staples needs a seminar?

  167. lawman says:

    ….isn’t it against the law to go in to a business and do what you did? i mean good for the old person but the concept is obvious for example, it is your duty to make love to your wife, and staples comes into your house and offers to do it better. the only difference is one is legal. just as if someone came into a store and trys to recruit a person for his/her business, the company can press charges, i hope justice comes your way. but good job for the old person

  168. lawman says:

    also maybe it was illegal to do what staples did but you will be the one at fault, as for if a cop enters a house without permission (against the law) and notices drugs (against the law) the one with the drugs will not be in trouble do to the illegal action to obtain the illegal case you the cop, as staples the victim