Geek Squad Laptop Comedy of Errors

Reader George is having serious trouble with Geek Squad. It started when he bought a laptop from Best Buy a few years ago. He sent it in to get a loose AC jack replaced. They replace it. Two months later, it’s loose again. It’s replaced again, but this time, when his picks it up, the door to the DVD/CD drive is warped and won’t open. George’s in a hurry, so he asked the Geek to make a note about the damage, and he’ll bring it back for repair. From here on out, nothing goes right. First they can’t find his account, then they can’t find the note, then they can’t find his computer, then they can’t work their own computers. His full story, inside.

I bought a Gateway laptop from Best Buy with a warranty a few years ago.

Powercord was loose and wouldn’t stay in laptop. First time I brought it in, they sent it away to have the AC jack on the laptop itself replaced. When it came back, now the AC power supply cord was loose because of the jack being loose, so they had to send away for a new one.

A few months later, the AC port was loose again. This time it took them two months because they had to replace the motherboard. When it returned the DVD/CD drive door was warped open and it wouldn’t work because according to the guy at the counter, it was jammed in at an angle incorrectly. Because it was my computer I did work from, I couldn’t afford to have it gone two more months so I asked the guy at the counter to add a note in the system, under my name, that it came back this way so that when I did return it, they would know they had to fix what they broke.

Flashforward to last week when I took it in to a different location (where I had to wait for 10 minutes for the only two employees to come out of the back) which was a comedy of errors in itself:

1. They had trouble finding my complete history because under my phone number my name is under my first and last, as well as my first and middle initial.
2. They determined that it had to have been a shipping accident, and when they checked my account to see the note I asked the other employee to add they found he didn’t put it in there.
3. It took two employees to do all this, because one geek along couldn’t determine how to enter a work order in their computer.
4. When it was entered, he printed it too early and promised he would fix it immediately and call me with a new work order number (never called).
5. I did get a call the next day from their computer telling me the laptop was ready. This was an error and was a result of the employee fixing his previous mistake 24 hours later.

One call to the Best Buy to get my new tracking number had me on hold a half an hour before I hung up. The second had me on hold for fifteen minutes. Requests to have them call me back with a new number, three in total, were never returned as they promised.

I called today to get a status update, because the tracking system on their website still said it was arriving when I knew a week ago it already got there.

Today the employee apologized to me that it was going to take a bit to check on my order because he had to log in twice, which led to it crashing all together and him having to use another computer.

And with all of this, they aren’t counting having to replace my AC power supply twice as part of the “hardware repairs” even though both times my laptop couldn’t power up for the two weeks it would take them each time to replace it. That means that even though I have been without it five times total, it doesn’t meet the “lemon policy” of a computer having to be serviced four times in order for them to deem it a lemon and replace it.

They send you paperwork with each replacement and repair telling you what it cost them each time. I determined that when you add what I paid for the laptop to what I paid for the warranty, they still lost money by the hundreds. When I told the kid at the counter that (that replacing it a long time ago with a more reliable laptop would have saved them hundreds in repair costs) he told me the name of the insurance company they use and how they are the ones paying for this, not Geek Squad, not Best Buy.

They are horribly inept on all levels and I regret ever doing business with them. I have found that it didn’t matter what location I dealt with or where they sent it away, there was always numerous mistakes and horrible customer service.

People need to be warned and until Best Buy replaces Geek Squad with a better service and system, they shouldn’t buy any computer equipment from them.

Well, George, I’d suggest writing to Geek Squad CEO Robert Stevens, but he may be blowing us off. I wonder if he realizes that this kind of rampant incompetence undermines Geek Squad’s recent statement in Kiplinger.com, “Says a Geek Squad spokeswoman, ‘We have been the target of a blog that prefers to focus on the exceptions to our service and not the overall, vast majority of successful services we provide to clients.'” They have a perfect chance to step up and make sure George gets a working laptop, one way or another.

(photo:meghannmarco)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Well, George, I’d suggest writing to Geek Squad CEO Robert Stevens, but he may be blowing us off.

    From my reading of it, it looks like he offered to resolve any problem just weeks before Consumerist’s much-hyped porn-stealing expose, which was followed by total dismissal of their response: the great nationwide Geek Squad pornhunt, policy-shift, and house-cleaning. Sort of seems like those bridges were charred a little, if not burnt. Or maybe annihilated in a total conflagration.

    So maybe just don’t mention that you got his email from the Consumerist.

  2. morganlh85 says:

    I stopped reading at “Gateway.” That was OP’s first mistake!

  3. Leiterfluid says:

    You know, I wouldn’t get my hair cut by someone with a mullet, either.

  4. warf0x0r says:

    That’s what happens when BBY buys a reputable company and then re brands all its service techs with “Geek Squad” logo. While the label may have meant something along the lines of quality and competency in the past, it now, sadly, means… Best Buy.

  5. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Are they ‘taking it seriously’?
    Oops, and it’s the poster’s fault for buying whatever.

    Seriously, Geek Squad? I wouldn’t trust those guys to fix a sandwich, let alone anything more technical (and a jam sandwich at that…you take two pieces of bread and jam them together).

    Bought the warranty and have no choice now? Poor choice to begin with.

  6. Blinkman says:

    I bought a service plan on a Vaio once. I typically buy them because I travel a lot and my laptops log a lot of miles with me. I got nothing but the run-around from them, and simple fixes that could’ve been done by anybody with any computer skills were never completed.

    How many times does a optical disk drive have to fail before you’ll just replace it? Of course, every time they’d just do a clean wipe and think the problem was software based. “Could not reproduce error.” Yeah, right.

    The only positive experience I’ve ever had with Geek Squad is having one of their ISF certified techs do a calibration on my television. He was knowledgeable, personable, and tons of fun. If they could clone that guy 10,000 times and train him on computers, they wouldn’t have a problem.

    Instead, most of my friends that work for Best Buy, and eventually Geek Squad, were just salespeople with good numbers and knew how to turn on a computer. Let’s put it this way- my buddy who works comp tech for them is about 15th on my list of people I’d take my computer to.

    Geek Squad – Wipe the HD. If it doesn’t work, try to make the customer go away so we don’t have to follow up on our lemon policy.

  7. Noiddog says:

    Geek Squad Associate = Trained Monkey.

    You’d have better luck going to your local zoo and having a chimp fix it. About the same thing.

  8. cmcd14 says:

    Don’t take your broken computer to Best Buy! Take it to a local computer shop. They charge less and let you know what’s wrong as soon as they find it. They also have something called customer service.

  9. jmschn says:

    Why is it that most of these consumerist stories involve the consumer being in a hurry to some place…not knocking OP specifically, just wondering…sure we have busy lives but i’d think if it were important issue, you wouldn’t run in and out so fast. At least allocate a better time to deal with the problem. Just my 2 cents…fire away.

  10. geekinpain says:

    I am one of the “Trained Monkeys” at Geek Squad and this type of things happens two to three times a week where I work. Most often the fault for botched repairs comes from our Kentucky “Geek Squad City” facility. Even the in-store Geeks have to send their laptops there if it’s a part issue because we cannot get OEM parts to the store. My own laptop repair was botched and I lost it for six weeks within the first year. We’re helpless because the most we can do for the customer screaming at us is send a polite email to GSC asking them to correct their screw up. It’s incredibly frustrating for us too and at my location we do everything we can to avoid sending any unit there. Often we document failures on video and send that video up to GSC to force them to fix the issue.

    In regard to in-store Geeks not being able to do the job I have to agree as well. We receive poor technical training, the computer systems they give us to work on crash more often than they work and we are always short-staffed. Our store and some of the others around us rely on about three strong technicians to do all the real technical work and direct the weaker members of the “Precinct”. Because there are rarely more than 2-3 Geeks on duty we get swamped with customers, phone calls and supporting the sales floor and machines are hooked up to mostly incompetent remote technicians or ignored until the next morning when someone comes in at 8:00AM to work for two hours before the store opens. More good work gets done in those two golden hours than the rest of the day. Never forget the focus of The Geeks Squad in not service, it is sales, which brings me to my final point.

    That service plan is the food in our belly and the roof over our head. We sell computers with virtually no profit so we need to sell the cables, service plans and services in order to turn a profit. Some customers need that service and some don’t. If you do buy it please buy it with the understanding that we will fix your machine if it is physically broken but we make no warranty on loss of use. Over the course of your two or three year warranty you may be without your laptop for months. That really sucks but there is nothing I can do about that. If you really rely on your computer for daily functioning; if your business is on that computer or your Doctorate Thesis is due in a week make sure you have a backup plan in place. Computers fail, if you rely on a single machine for all your needs you are aching for the kind of pain I work with all day.

  11. saint44 says:

    Computer PSPs:

    Cover any manufacture defect or hardware failure (not due to physical damage)and fixes it free of charge. Doesn’t cover ANY software or operating system defects. Doesn’t guarantee how long the computer is out for service. If issue isn’t fixed, computer will be sent to express repair center with expedited repair.

    Computer ADH PSP:

    Accidental Damage and Handling plan covers everything the regular PSP covers but also covers any ACCIDENTAL damage, like dropping some coffee on it or dropping the laptop. Gross mishandling of the product, like purposefully driving over your laptop or complete submersion in liquid, may not qualify for repair or exchange.

    None of Best Buy’s PSP will cover “everything” like some associates may say. You will also not be guaranteed an exchange if your computer goes bad, only if it is not cost effective to fix, or if you’ve had 4 qualifying repairs and a 4th diagnosis (but not if you get a renewal PSP).

    What is a qualified repair? A hardware repair, not software. If something is replaced, it’s a qualified repair, however if it was already fixed and is brought in within 90 days of the original repair, depending on the situation it can be considered a redo, and not another qualified repair.

    Also, PSPs don’t guarantee you will have your data when the computer comes back. If the repair requires the technicians to take the hard drive and trash it, your data is gone. They drill a hole in it to make sure the data can’t be extracted by anyone who shouldn’t be. It’s recommended you back up your data regularly, especially before bringing the computer to Best Buy to get it fixed, because they aren’t responsible for it.

    The PSP’s are generally worth it for people that don’t want to worry about paying for repairs (1 repair will easily pay for the psp itself) and don’t need there computer if it was to go out for repair for a little while. If you have to have your computer all the time, I recommmend having a backup plan. Computers are complicated peices of machinery, and often what seems is the obvious problem isn’t. If the technicians don’t get it right the first time, be patient, it’s not that they aren’t trying or arent trained to fix your computer.

  12. Lucky enough i can fix all of my own computer problems, so i don’t have to waste time or money with some 3rd party company to just jack off and barely fix what ever is wrong.

  13. sheik_geek says:

    @saint44

    I hear that line a lot, the “1 repair and the PSP will pay for itself”. This may be true of BB’s ridiculous service rates, but many times you can save by taking your system to a local shop.

  14. Draconianspark says:

    I know bestbuys who would solder DC jacks back on mainboard without sending the notebook through the system to save on turn time.

    With most gateway computers, your service tags would say DTV ( direct to vendor ) on them; if they don’t they’re either not set to be sent out of the store, or if they do go out they’re going to a bestbuy internal repair center, which GW didn’t do at least a year and a half ago.

  15. cerbie says:

    With abuse, the jacks can get loose. There are places that sell just the right jack for a certain laptop, so someone other than folks at GS could order it, get it, solder it, and you’d be on your way.

    Don’t use GS!

  16. EvilSwine says:

    I’d rather have hemroids removed with a chain saw then ever deal with geek squad. Half of their ‘ technicians ‘ were working the soda machine at Mc Donalds a month prior.

  17. ElizabethD says:

    “It started when he bought a laptop from Best Buy a few years ago.”

    Say no more! It’s George’s fault.

  18. Agent_Frustrated says:

    Alright already, enough of the generalized agent bashing.
    I am currently an Agent of the Geek Squad and I do take my job seriously, and I have been fixing computers for over 20 years now, so not all of us are “Trained Monkeys” that came from McDs.

    Some things to clear the air on:

    1) You the consumer buys a $400 laptop and expect it to be good quality. (laugh) Spend the money and buy a $3,000 laptop if you want quality, craftsmanship, non-cheap parts inside, and a lesser possibility of it breaking. (Cause even the expensive ones can crap out too just not as much as the $400 ones made of Aluminum Foil)

    2) You the consumer buys a product you are clueless about, you expect to take it home, turn it on, and it works. You have no clue how or why it works, but when it doesn’t you get all mad at the company (BBY) that sold it to you.

    So my second piece of advice is don’t be a Button Pusher, learn something about the equipment you are using so you can keep better care of it! Most of our major headaches come from clueless customers, that just start pushing buttons when things don’t work, and make things much worse.

    So some simple things to keep in mind, that you can fix on your own with out bringing your computer to the Geek Squad. But if you don’t do these things you will bringing your computer into some repair shop regardless if it is to a Geek Squad Precinct or not.

    i) Install Anti-Virus Software (the purchased kind the the el freebie stuff you got off line) No Antivirus Software = Virus’ on you computer

    ii) Install Anti-Spyware No Anti Spyware = Malware, Adware, Spyware on your computer. And trust me no one piece of software is going to find everything (I currently scan my computer with 4 different programs, 2 of which are paid for, and 2 which are free off the internet for personal use)

    iii)If you don’t have Windows Firewall turned on or have a third party Firewall (like ZoneAlarm) you leave your computers ports wide open for invasion. No Firewall = possible Hijack

    iv)Not emptying your Trash, Temp, History, Cookies, Temporary Internet Files = Slowed down computer

    v)Not having enough RAM = Slow performance, with Windows XP you want a minimum of 1GB RAM (2 is better), and with Windows Vista, you want 2GB RAM (4 is better)

    vi)Installing tons of software (probably most that you will never use onto your computer) = 60 processes running in Taskmanger and then you bring it to us and say why wont it do anything, and it takes 10 minutes to get into windows.

    vii)Not Defragmenting your Hard Drive leaves pieces of files thrown all about your Hard Drive = Slow running system because it has to look through all that clutter to find what it needs.

    viii)Maxing out your hard drive space = Slow running, if it can still run, computer. Never let your drive(s) get more than 10% fragmented, and never fill them to more than 80% capacity!

    ix)Not properly uninstalling software = junk left in your computers Registry which can bog down a computer, and cause crashes and errors.

    x)Turning your computer off by unplugging it or pushing the power button = Corrupted Operating System, or Corrupted Boot File…..My computer won’t boot….waaaaaaah
    (I don’t know how many times I heard that one)

    xi)Customers trying to do their own destructive restore and messing it up = Just buy another cheap $400 computer.
    (General rule if you don’t know how to do it DON’T)

    xii) And finally clean the dust, cat hair, human hair, dog hair…etc out from the inside of your computer at least 3 times a year. It is just gross for us Agents to have to work with that crap when you are just to lazy to clean it.
    Dust in CPU fan can cause computer to overheat or not turn on at all! Dust on RAM can cause memory errors or BSODs.

    So by doing all the above you will save the most money possible, with out having to pay someone else to fix it.

    3) Back to where I was before. You then don’t do anything listed in item 2) and therefore have to bring you computer in to be fixed. You bought a service plan PSP from BBY so you brig it to us at the Geek Squad to fix.

    1- We don’t do miracles
    2- We have to follow BBY SOPs
    3- We are not allowed to do any electrical work
    4- We have to use ancient computers

  19. tortcat says:

    One thing I would say as a life lesson…NEVER just ask someone to “make a note” and have them correct it next time. It’s not the posters fault of course for the problem, but I would have dealt with it then and there..otherwise you are at the mercy of someone notating the account , believing you etc etc.

    One loses allot of “power” in those kinds of situations.

  20. Donathius says:

    I work in IT at a college handling mundane support stuff for students (mainly, but faculty too). We do a lot of anti-virus and anti-spyware-type stuff. As part of this I had a student in here a few weeks ago who was wanting to get her computer set up for the on-campus wireless network. I noticed that her anti-virus was expired (Trend Micro) and I went to uninstall it and got an “out of disk space error.” I looked at her C drive in My Computer and it said there were a good 30 gigs free. I also noticed that the D drive (recovery partition in her HP laptop) had 300 megs free. So I right-clicked an icon on her desktop and sure enough the path said it was on the D drive. I asked her if someone had worked on it recently and it was our favorite friends at the local Best Buy. She had taken her laptop in there to have it looked at for virus and spyware problems. They reinstalled Windows over her recovery partition, copied her virus-laden files over (without scanning them) and charged her $300 bucks for the trouble. Basically GS just made it worse. One of our techs here offered to do it right for $65, and she gladly accepted.

    Yeah, I’m never going into Best Buy for anything ever again.

  21. sublicon says:

    I hate Best Buy.

  22. zebtron says:

    Don’t go to the ‘Geek Squad’. They are one of the worst things about Best Buy. They are just kids and most have no real idea what they are doing.

  23. kingdom2000 says:

    You get what you pay for and getting glorified salesmen as tech heads is getting the worse that can be payed for. Talent costs money and BB doesn’t want to pay for the talent. This could almost be understood if they charged wal-mart prices for services but they charge high prices for simple procedures.

    Its pretty clear that spreadsheet menagement is what runs Best Buy (not customer service) and all they care about are the profit margins. True, all companies are like that, but the really good ones fake it. Nevermind that a solid customer service reputation would help those very same margins with more business. Sadly this loss of potential can not be measured on their spreadsheets and thus ignored.

  24. OMG! eric89 says:

    Well theres your problem! You bought a Gateway!

  25. evilhapposai says:

    @Agent_Frustrated: Sound like someone’s a wee bit emo from the crackin’ down on the porn stealing.

    Best-buy sucks and Geek-squad is no better. When I worked there I did not see any anti-static gear or mats used ever, I seen tubes of super glue in the precinct trash often, I (in media) had to explain to an agent what Firefox was, and ANYTHING $300+ in my opinion is EXPENSIVE and it had better be a quality item or be properly repaired when there are problems by a tech that is NOT certified by a retail store training program.

  26. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    @morganlh85: haha, i was going to say the same thing

  27. computerfixup says:

    One thing that you guys have to remember is that all of the Geek Squad Agents are HUMAN. Like all HUMANS, some of them happen to be bad apples or some of them don’t seem to know what exactly is going on with your computer. Just because of a few mistakes (maybe even a few hundred due to the size of Geek Squad?), doesn’t mean you can just create a stereotype about the entire company. If I see on the news a teacher molested some poor student do I automatically decide that I will home school all of my kids from this day forth?

    To those of you who know how to fix your own computers I commend you for your technical knowledge. That knowledge, however does not grant you the authority to rip on the “big box” tech support companies. If I was on an automotive website and I was a mechanic, obviously I would think the standard prices for some places were outrageous, because I WOULD KNOW WHAT I WAS DOING. We are here to help those in need and assist with BBY’s warranties. If you got poor service during your time with us I apologize and hope that someday you’ll understand how many Geek Squad Agents actually do care about the customers. Props to Agent_Frustrated for your post.

  28. freejazz38 says:

    You bought a Gateway – STRIKE ONE. You Bought it at Worst Buy. – STRIKE TWO – You brought it to Dork Squad for repair. YERRRRR OUT!!!!!!!!!!! I NEVER feel sorry for people who bring their follys on themselves by doing ZERO research before making a purchase or seeking service

  29. againstme69 says:

    I work for Geek Squad and I have an associate’s degree in computers and I’ve done tech work for about 9 years…I’m probably one of the least knowledgable agents at my particular store. There’s a few guys in their early 20’s that know way more about computers than I do…they’re true geeks. There’s a couple other agents that are pretty knowledgable about computers but not experienced in actual compter repair, but those agents don’t do any tech work…they install software on new computers, ring out customer’s purchases, contact customers about their items being serviced and a lot of other basic things…everyone learns from the experienced techs and they all do an excellent job…

    but most GS agents hate their job (they are doing a job that should net them $20/hr easily yet they only make $14 or so) and the customers treat us like shite and are typically very dumb…

    so if you’ve experienced bad service from GS (the actual employees in the store, we have no control over the service center) then you most likely were an a-hole to that employee…I try to do my absolute best work when the customer is an attractive young female :)