Denver TV Station Tests Computer Repair Techs

A Denver TV crew unseated a RAM chip and then took it to seven different repair centers for a diagnosis. The resulting displays of incompetence were pretty evenly distributed, with two Best Buy Geek Squads, one Circuit City Firedog, and one locally owned repair center (CTI) all failing miserably (“It’s the motherboard!” they each said). Of the three locations that correctly diagnosed and fixed the problem, Action Computers charged $50, Geek Squad charged $30, and the Firedog tech who hands-down won the challenge “reinstalled the memory cards in less than two minutes, free of charge.”

So what does this prove? That you should learn to troubleshoot your own damn computer! Or more realistically, that you should troubleshoot the computer technician before taking him at his word:

Powis said customers need to ask questions when bringing a computer to any repair shop, including if the employees are qualified and what if any certifications and formal training they have.
 
He also said knowledgeable technicians would, in most cases, ask to keep the computer to perform diagnostic testing.

“Computer Shops Fail Undercover Test” [Denver’s Channel 7 News] (Thanks to Jim!)
(Photo: redjar)

Comments

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  1. EWGF says:

    Urge to re-kill Geek Squad clowns who recked his mother’s CPU rising…

  2. t0fu says:

    sales reps != computer technicians

  3. Nighthawke says:

    @EWGF: Give into your hate, your anger, UNLEASH your fury!

    But at least wait until I can get a camera to film it all, eh?

  4. APFPilot says:

    sad part is the firedog who did it for free will probably get fired for theft of time or something…

  5. dragonfire81 says:

    @APFPilot:

    This happened to me once when I worked at a computer store, the store was dead so I spent a few minutes helping a customer reset a windows access password on her laptop. When I got it fixed I told her it was on the house. She was thrilled with the great service.

    Moments later the assistant manager comes up to me and scolds me for doing the free of cost repair, telling me we are a business, not a charity and we charge $x/hr for labor and that’s what that customer should’ve paid.

    Nevermind the fact this customer was very happy with the service she got and would likely recommend us to all her friends and nevermind the fact she fully understood we usually do charge for repairs and I made an exception for her. Nope, it’s all about the money.

    • AL Briones says:

      @esd2020: I have to say, and maybe it was the location. Here in Los Angeles, there are alot of older house with pre-1950 electrical wiring.

      Now this was my experience here at circuit City for the last five years…1 in 6 desktops I serviced, had a bad motherboard.

      Whats funny, (note, I was the lead at my store. I got every computer working, like 99.9% of the time)
      was that I one unit that came in with a bad ram!

  6. nweaver says:

    One other observation: Unseated memory seems to me like a rare fault. I’ve had bad RAM, bad disks, bad motherboards, bad video cards, but I don’t recall ever having a RAM stick BECOME unseated.

  7. Mr_D says:

    The point isn’t the likelihood of the repair, it’s that RAM not being seated is a basic thing. It’s probably one of the first things I would check. Of course, I’m not a PC repair technician.

  8. SarcasticDwarf says:

    Just once I would like to see these news stations break the systems in ways that ACTUALLY HAPPEN in the real world. Unseated RAM? Sure, it can happen, but the frequency is extremely low (though this is not as bad as the station that removed one of the chips from a memory module and put it back in).

  9. SarcasticDwarf says:

    @Mr_D: Um, it is NOT one of the first things that would be normally checked. It certainly should have been caught, but it would be pretty much the last thing checked. Also keep in mind that in most desktop systems it is difficult to see if it is unseated as you are looking down at the motherboard.

  10. t0fu says:

    @nweaver:
    One of the first things to check is make sure everything IS properly seated.

  11. tvmitch says:

    One of the first things to do is to find a local independent repair shop, or your local PC geek, rather than taking your computer to a big-box chain. Ask your friends and co-workers; they should be able to give you a quality referral.

  12. esd2020 says:

    @SarcasticDwarf: Unseated RAM (or just bad RAM) happens more often than you think. I worked at a local computer repair shop for a few years and loose/bad RAM is one of the very first things to check on a computer that won’t boot.

    Reseating the RAM and then swapping it for a known-good chip is probably the first two things I’d try–preferably with the customer hanging around because if it’s a <5 minute fix, we don’t charge for it.

  13. Micromegas says:

    As a former computer tech myself, I have to agree with the other comments that unseated RAM is extremely rare. In fact, it was kind of a joke where I worked. If someone was struggling to diagnose a particularly difficult problem, someone else would often jokingly ask them if they’ve checked for certain “mythical” problems, and unseated RAM or other cards was one of those.

  14. Dobernala says:

    @tvmitch: RTFA

    and one locally owned repair center (CTI) all failing miserably

  15. esd2020 says:

    In fact, having a “bad motherboard” is *FAR* more unusual than having a loose card or bad memory.

    It’s very rare that a working motherboard goes bad (absent a lightning strike), so a good tech would only report a broken motherboard aftern eliminating all other causes.

  16. satoru says:

    Seems like this station did a dupe of a Toronto ‘undercover’ segment. They even did the exact same thing, which was to slightly unseat the memory.

    The problem with this is that unseated memory sounds like a simple solution. But in reality this almost never happens. Most PCs today clip in their memory, so the odds of it being unseated are almost nil. You could throw a PC down a flight of stairs, and the mobo would crack before the memory got unseated. So the solution isn’t nearly as obvious as its made out to be.

    Besides motherboards fry all the time. It’s such a common occurrence with desktops or laptops. So it’s not unreasonable for the tech to assume this.

    Also let’s assume I even look inside your dusty disgusting case. If it’s a desktop model, there might be a chance I see this. But if it’s a tower, the memory could be hidden behind a mess of wire, the power supply or god knows what. A cursory glance or even a good look might not reveal the RAM is unseated unless I rip apart half the system.

    I’m not saying that these guys aren’t incompetent in general. It’s just that they gave them a problem that is so extremely rare. I mean if you go to do doctor with flu-like symptoms do I assume you have the flu, or bacterial menengitis, or MRSA?

  17. satoru says:

    @esd2020: I’ve seen bad RAM modules happen all the time. But unseating the RAM almost never happens. The only time it does is when some techie goes in there to install a hard drive or something and unseats it by accident. This does happen. But for a ‘regular’ user to have this happen is basically 0%

  18. yorick328 says:

    Not only should the consumer ask questions, but they should also notice if the tech asks questions. Sometimes it is extremely hard to diagnose a hardware problem unless you have an idea of the symptoms that the machine is exhibiting. The best way often is to ask the customer. Although they may not be very computer literate, sometimes the consumer can at least point you in the direction as to a hardware or software issue. I have repaired lots of systems and I always start first by asking what does the computer not do. Usually the best thing to do with a hardware problem is start from the power supply and reseat the memory, listening for the boards beep codes which can often narrow down the hardware issue.

  19. t0fu says:

    1. Machine fires up and doesn’t POST
    2. Machine is probably giving RAM beep codes
    3. Strange beep codes means something aint working right, better check the easy stuff first.
    4. Everything seated OK?

  20. satoru says:

    @esd2020: This is a bit harder to unless you’re in a corporate environment. At work, we always had spare RAM, hard drive, other junk to swap out to troubleshoot issues. For desktops RAM wasn’t too big a problem. But laptop RAM was pretty expensive and the size/timings for each laptop were all over the map. Thus swapping out laptop RAM isn’t necessarily going to solve your issue unless you happen to have the right one in stock.

  21. satoru says:

    Unseated laptop memory is definitely something I’ve never seen. It’s hard enough to get those into a Dell or IBM let alone having one fall out by accident. Some IBMs required you to rip apart the keyboard assembly to get to the extra RAM slot.

  22. Woofer00 says:

    Better test would be installing a faulty RAM module and seeing if that could be diagnosed. Faulty modules are always the most irritating to try to diagnose, in my experience. The module I have in mind posts starts up the OS, and fails at some random point and causes errors in a variety of programs.

  23. orielbean says:

    For those of you who say that the unseated memory is unlikely – I disagree. If you try to turn on the machine and get very basic failures, like those that result from an unseated chip or a loose IDE cable, you are supposed to open the machine before you keep rebooting into safe mode or replacing motherboard items. I’ve had that happen to repaired machines several time – those ram clips can be tough to push in, especially if the motherboard design puts other things on top of that area. And it may work for the first 10-20 boots with no issue, then you jostle it one day and it moves out of sync.

    By the way, bad ram is a high cause behind major blue-screen crashes and windows shutting down on you unexpectedly. It happens more than you think – those chips work very hard.

    That’s a basic repair philosophy that extends over to car repair and other electronics. “Is everything plugged in correctly?”

  24. orielbean says:

    We once had a bad ram chip that was corrupting processors and motherboards due to a build defect that we verified with the ram manufacturer. Those things are a total pain in the ass.

  25. ShortBus says:

    I’ve been in the computer service business for 12 years and I’ve never heard of “chip creep.” I also don’t think too highly of the vast majority of computer repair training schools. Is this is just a term that exists in that world?

    I could understand DIPs becoming unseated from their sockets due to “extreme, sudden temperature changes”, but DIPs haven’t been used for RAM in probably 20 years. Sorry, I can’t see the retainer clips on DIMM popping open due to temperature.

  26. seamer says:

    I had a mobo that worked fine for a few months and suddenly quit. I tried all the tricks I knew and was stumped, took it to Frys and they came back and said it was faulty ram. Sure nuff, puter switched on again correctly.

    Later on, added more ram. Wouldn’t boot up (same issue). Turns out a faulty memory slot was the culprit, didnt figure it out the first time since the memory was tried in different slots (1 and 4 instead of the 1 and 2 I started with).

    Not sure what the moral here, except its something about Frys..

  27. Kaisum says:

    For the record, “Certification” means that they can pass a multiple choice test. It speaks nothing towards their reputation for computer repair. I’ve been in the same business for a while and I don’t have a cert. People call me because I know how to fix their stuff, not because I have a piece of paper saying it.

    And I doubt anywhere on one of those tests would it ensure that they knew to check the existing components to make sure they were seated properly.

  28. IssaGoodDay says:

    When you press power and there’s bad/missing/unseated RAM, IT BEEPS. It makes a series of beeps and won’t start up. All you have to do is look at the motherboard to determine the manufacturer, do a quick google search, and voila, you’ve found your answer (i.e. 2 long beeps with one short beep means “BAD RAM”)

    And I’m not even a technician…

  29. Buran says:

    @satoru: Mine has a small panel that you unscrew to get to the memory, with the tiniest Phillips screws I’ve ever seen. My last one had the RAM slots located under a flip-up keyboard. That one had the RAM go bad (never had THAT happen before or since!) but it was still firmly seated.

    Apple sent me new RAM (it was still under warranty) and I shipped back the dead RAM. I’d already figured out that it was the RAM because I borrowed a stick from another machine that used the same type and it booted right up.

    The tech I talked to about that one was the only one who’s actually respected the troubleshooting I’ve already done, unlike every other tech…

    … I guess the magic phrase “I do this for a living” is beyond the comprehension of phone monkeys.

  30. Moosehawk says:

    When RAM is unseated, it makes a loud annoying beep. The first problem this indicates is unseated RAM. Shouldn’t cost $50 to diagnose in 30 seconds and push down with your fingers.

  31. eelmonger says:

    @sourc3,Moosehawk: For kicks, I tried this on my own laptop (since they used a laptop in the story) and it didn’t make any POST beeps, the lights came on and then it turned off. One of the lights flashed differently than normal, but if you were familiar with the normal startup for that particular laptop, I don’t think it would be easy to catch.

    I really wish they would do these stories with real problems, I agree with most of the posters that unseated RAM is so rare that most technicians wouldn’t even think of it. In fact the only people that run into this problem are people who work on their own computers and probably wouldn’t be taking to any of these places. Bad RAM would be a good test, as it is a somewhat difficult problem to nail down, but it is easily checked (run the RAM diagnostics that come with most prebuilt PCs or use some other RAM testing program).

  32. t0fu says:

    It is not rare, nor is it difficult to diagnose.

  33. Gokuhouse says:

    Every tech has their day, and for most of them that wasn’t their day! I personally worked at the helpdesk of a mid-sized company for 2 years and of all the things I found wrong with computers(aside from software problems)RAM, motherboards and hard drives from Dell and IBM were absolutely worthless. All our computers had 3 year warranties and with Dell we had over a 50% replacement on all hard drives in our laptops. RAM was the culprit numerous times as well, although rarely was it just loose. Motherboards did go bad more often than most people would think too. BUT being company property people didn’t take care of their computers the same as they would their home laptop. I remember one guy checked his laptop while flying and was surprised that it didn’t survive the trip! I’m sure that the airport threw it like they do all other luggage…..Some people. The biggest killer of motherboards was liquids though. We had 1 woman who destroyed 2 laptops literally within a month’s time by spilling water on them. Aside from dropping the laptop, electrical surges or liquid though, motherboards rarely just die. The first few questions coming from the techs should have been when did it work last, what were you doing when it stopped working did you make any changes software or hardware right before it quit working.

  34. edosan says:

    As others have said, unseated RAM is not common in today’s computers. Heck, often it’s a real pain to remove RAM with those clips holding it in place.

    On the other hand, if you looked inside the computer, it would be pretty easy to notice the clip for the ram pushed all the way over to the side.

    Anyway, I’ve heard of this being done several times before and it’s one of those stupid “slow news day” things local news stations love to do. I’d like to see it done with a actual piece of failed hardware, like a bad NIC or something — I bet everyone would catch that.

  35. AndrewJC says:

    @t0fu: YOU ARE THE WINNER.

    Seriously, unseated RAM will produce BIOS beeps. The same with an unseated video card (different beep sequence, though, and obviously a video card can’t become unseated on a laptop). But ALL ATX-based motherboards, even laptop ones, will produce a standard set of beeps for certain problems. No RAM = beeps.

    There’s no excuse for this not being detected, period, regardless of experience level. If ANYTHING, a strange sequence of beeps at boot should trigger a Google search for “computer beeps at POST, won’t boot” which could give you a description of what the beep sequence means.

  36. jtheletter says:

    The issue is not whether the problem is rare or not. The issue is whether the actual problem was found. It is entirely possible to have a rare failure occur, whatever it may be. Diagnosing a problem totally incorrectly is bad service, end of story. It’s just like with a mechanic, ask for an explanation of what failed with an eye for “hand-wavey” explanations, and request return of all replaced parts.

  37. gregcuc says:

    I used to own a computer repair shop with a friend in college. Bad RAM happened every now and then, but usually never unseated. Either way we never charged a diag fee if the customer repaired through us. Also, on a thing like bad ram, 9 out of 10 times we’d plug it in while the customer was filling out the contact info, hear the POST beep codes and check the ram from that. Our charge would only be for the parts itself because it only took about 30 seconds to figure out, and solve the problem. I guess i could have been more “aggressive” on my pricing like those companies.

  38. sardonumspa says:

    I have been caught by this before, also. I had a brand new Dell laptop that was dead out of the box. I called their support and after trying a few things, unseated RAM was the culprit.

    Imagine how embarrassed I was having been a computer tech for over 10 years.

    I got caught by the fact that “chip creep” is unheard of, and that I was pissed at Dell for shipping me a computer that didn’t work; I figured it should be their problem.

    I would guess that the chip came loose in shipping; when I worked at Best Buy (before the Geek Squad merger) we had a near 25% failure rate on new PCs due to rough shipping causing components to come loose. We insisted on a (at that time, free) in-store setup to fix these problems before the customer got home and opened up a dead computer.

    As a side note, laptops tend to be a bit of a mystery to a lot of retail bench techs. We almost always shipped them to a central service center because they are completely non-standard when compared to desktop PCs. You want only trained techs working on expensive laptops. So, it’s not surprising that these techs mis-diagnosed machines they aren’t really allowed to work on.

    And to reiterate what was mentioned before, if the machine had been left overnight, a couple of different techs may have been able to look at it. Hopefully one of them would have had some experience with laptops.

  39. MrEvil says:

    This isn’t about the liklihood of memory becoming unseated (In my professional experience it happens more often on Laptops than desktops). This is about the techs not even knowing a basic troubleshooting procedure and process of elimination.

    When I have a system that doesn’t POST I remove peripherals and components one at a time in an attempt to isolate the problem part. It’s very easy to figure out an issue like this by completely removing all the memory modules. Powering the system up to check for beeps (lets you know if the motherboard is working). Then installing memory modules individually in all the sockets.

    Did you know, when someone wants to work at Geek Squad the ONLY requirement before moving you to Geek Squad is to work the PC sales floor for several weeks. Heck, you can be a very experienced technician and they’ll still want to you be on the sales floor for at least a month prior to being over at GS. Shows you what Best Buy’s priority is. You’re a salesman first and a repairman second to them.

  40. While uncommon. Shouldn’t this problem have been solved as soon as the opened up the computer. How do they say the board is bad without checking the ram first

  41. revmatty says:

    Having lived in Denver for many years, I’m not at all surprised that Action was able to do it, but I’m surprised they charged for it. They’ve always been a great local shop.

  42. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    Do ram chips get unseated through normal use or do you have to take them out? If it’s an exceedingly rare problem (only caused by deliberate action) perhaps it’s tougher to find than we think?

  43. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    @notallcompaniesareevil: Looks like MrEvil answered my question! :-)

  44. marsneedsrabbits says:

    FTA: Powis said customers need to ask questions when bringing a computer to any repair shop, including if the employees are qualified and what if any certifications and formal training they have.

    Customer: So, are you um, qualified?
    Them: Yeah, I have a certification in…” (drones on until the conversation trails off as the customer loses focus and finally passes out from boredom and ennui).

    Would most customers know what a useful certification was to start with?

    Doubtful.

  45. I wonder if they tested the Apple “Geniuses”. I’ve gotten minor problems solved by them for free.

  46. t0fu says:

    question 1 and get the answer in writing from a manager.

    Is this person’s primary responsibility to sell things or to repair computers?

  47. golfer2004nh says:

    I agree with many people here, this is not that rare of a problem, and it is not difficult to diagnose.

    I can not think of an easier problem to figure out besides the OS not found by disabling the hard drive (which most of these places have also failed miserably on).

    How hard is it to find someone capable of working on a PC? Do they pay that bad that no one wants to work there? I know a ton of 18-21y/o’s that could figure that problem out in a minute…

  48. FLConsumer says:

    Loose RAM depends on quite a few factors. Having built numerous compact PCs that are presently bouncing in road cases around the world and in TV/satellite broadcast trucks, I can safely say that RAM definitely can come loose, especially with cheaper motherboards & cheaper RAM which use thinner contacts & cheaper clips.

    @marsneedsrabbits: I agree with you on the certification crap. The last certification I held was a Novell CNE and that was when I was 12 years old. I tend to think of certifications much like I think of college degrees — good for those who can’t hack it on their own. Neither means you know what you’re doing, they just mean you can jump through a few hoops. I’d say 99% of my business is fixing things certified/degree’d people either screw up or say can’t be done. It also means I get to charge substantially more than the masses who sat/slept through the courses & cert. exams.

    @golfer2004nh: Apparently it’s quite difficult. I turn away work every single week. I’m still appalled that the big computer/software companies (and electronics co’s for that matter) think rebooting is an acceptable “solution” for “fixing” problems. It’s neither a solution nor a fixing if the problem comes back. Yet I see tons of corporate IT drones telling users to just reboot.

  49. OsiUmenyiora says:

    God bless this Denver TV station. From now on every mass-market PC repair site in the country will be on its toes (well, at least for the next month or two).

  50. VeeKaChu says:

    Jesus Poindexter all you rocket scientists proclaiming that it’s a shoddy example because “RAM today never becomes unseated but, OMG MOTHERBOARDS BURN OUT ALLA TIME, YIKES!!!” need to step back and re-consider your pedantic positions.

    Yes, RAM being physically un-seated from its clips is rare, and it isn’t something that would occur “naturally” very often. That is not the point of the exercise. The experiment is about testing the process and the diligence of ostensibly qualified professionals.

    The testers created a hardware fault at one of the higher levels of the operational schema. Any high-school graduate geek with an A+ cert should, in trying to diagnose that fault, start by testing the RAM, because that’s the easiest to check and the next logical step between ‘does it power on?’ and “OMG MOTHERBOARDS BURN OUT ALLA TIME!!!”

    Checking the RAM would be accomplished by either removing a stick at a time, or if it’s a singleton, swapping it with a known good stick.

    But oh, what’s this? - “Well look here, sir-or-madam, it appears one of your RAM modules isn’t secure in it’s bracket. Let me just give that a snap…”

    It doesn’t matter one bit whether it’s “likely” to be a “real-world” fault that retail techs might actually encounter. It’s a perfectly legitimate test.

  51. Archavious says:

    If the RAM wasn’t seated then during POST the beeps should have told the tech that there was something wrong with the RAM.
    No wonder the industry is dying, too many mindless idiots just looking for a paycheck.

  52. jamar0303 says:

    @satoru: For Panasonic, the RAM is in a panel on the bottom of the case. Very easy to get to. Dunno about the clips though; I’ve never upgraded mine past the 512MB it came with.

  53. redhelix says:

    They should have tried reseating the ram as a basic troubleshooting step, but whenever news stations do pc repair tests by deliberately sabotaging the machine, my media bullshit detector starts blaring.

  54. RandomZero says:

    A good shop would check this sort of thing, regardless of rarity, before diagnosing a mobo. A great one would check seatings anyway, every time. Rare problems do happen – I have personally been the recipient of a slightly-warped video card (whcih caused it to come unseated on rare occasion) and a hard drive with power-connector issues (requiring reseating once every couple months or so). The former was brought to a great shop; the symptom and root cause were both found, and I was out of there with a new video card inside 5 mins. Why even the local guys didn’t do this is beyond me.

  55. capnjack says:

    Well, it’s really no wonder. Being a computer technician doesn’t pay anymore. They pay these kids peanuts instead of looking for knowledgable employees.

    Incidentally, the crappy pay is why I’m no longer a tech and climbed up to Project Manager at another company. If I were the tech looking at that RAM, I would definitely have asked to see the computer for a thorough analysis.

  56. FearlessUser says:

    @Kaisum: Agree with you 100% there. I’m almost at an MCSA, just one test away. There are no questions there about anything physical with the hardware. Obviously, since it’s for MS software. I would think the A+ would be the closest to telling you to do that. But at least in the classes I took, they said to always start with the physical when troubleshooting anything. They always threw a question in there about that in class just to get us thinking about it, and it made even more sense if you look at the OSI model, start at the physical layer and move up from there if you’re having problems with a network connection. Troubleshooting 101. Even without that, it’s so obvious. “Is everything plugged in and on?” should always be the first question you ask. I do anyway…

  57. Snullbug says:

    @SarcasticDwarf: Are you kidding? As soon as you open the case open it takes less than 2 minutes to make sure all the cables, cards, and memory are seated. It’s simplest proactive thing you can do before exhaustive testing. But then if you expect to do all your diagnostics with the case closed, you must be from Geek Squad.

  58. freejazz38 says:

    the problem with these “tests” is that, in the REAL world, memory chips don’t become “unseated” unless the customer does it, in which case, he would know it. Idiot reporters try and make stories. If they wanted a TRUE test, then they should create a more realistic and fair one. That being said, certifications mean NOTHING. There are PLENTY of certified morons, and uncertified geniuses. And, you have to be a MORON to bring your computer to Dork Squad or Fireslog. Again, THINK about it. If you were good in your field, would YOU work for minimum wage in an embarrassment like those???

  59. jimbobjoe says:

    I remember once a local Cleveland area station doing a semi-similar test. This was in the days where hard drive cables didn’t have the blank space and could be attached to the hard drive or motherboard upside down. I don’t believe anyone passed. I tried to explain to people that this test was akin to testing a car mechanic by installing the spark plugs upside down and then not telling the mechanic that you tried your own car repairs.

    While I could see RAM unseating as possible I think my simile above is still valid.

  60. freejazz38 says:

    Motherboards have clips that keep the ram in place. There’s no such thing as “ram creep” as this idiotic lazy reporter calls it, and I’ve been in the business for over 15 years. I HATE ignorant lazy reporters and their producers who try and pass of their shoddy stories as useful

  61. Consumer007 says:

    The suggested prevention advice of this piece stinks. While it sounds good “ask about experience and credentials”, here is what is (predictably) going to happen. The store is going to LIE to you and say each and every technician is qualified and then offer nothing to back it up. The bottom line here is the reporter didn’t teach consumers how to recognize a good answer to that question, or what Microsoft or other non-MS certifications look like, or whether indeed they even really mean anything at all, since most MS tests you can buy software that will teach you to pass the test, and that doesn’t mean you know how to fix pc’s. What would really make a difference for consumers which these corporations won’t do, is scrutinize and supervise closely the work by some really advanced super-seasoned techs that have been in the field for 10 years or more, or certifiy them with Sony, HP, etc. to fix their pcs. Further each store producing a list of each tech by name, what certs each tech has, and letting customers select which techs will work on their pc’s.

  62. redhaski says:

    Well, get ready to flame me… I’m a former Geek Squad agent.

    None of the guys I worked with had the proper training or experience to know the first things you check when a computer won’t POST (RAM, expansion cards, IDE cables/drive configuration, etc.) Our store was lucky enough to have a POST code reader that some previous agent had left there when he quit, so more often than not we avoid ignorant diagnoses such as what this reporter experienced.

    For what it’s worth, not all computers produce audible tones to dictate the problem anymore, and often times when you ask customers “What have you done recently with your tower/laptop?” they won’t mention they moved their desktop into another room and smacked it against the door frame, or that they dropped their laptop case the other day. People don’t want to admit that something they did would be the cause of their computer failure. It’s that simple.

    So, while I don’t want to defend poor work (because I hated having to clean up the messes of my coworkers), I just want to point out that often times the rarest problems are overlooked when there is no reason to look for them.

  63. againstme69 says:

    the reason that Geek Squad wasn’t able to figure out the issue is simple – the undercover person brought in the computer and said it would not boot, the agent set up the computer and powered it on. Once they realized that it doesn’t boot they suggested having the computer checked in for a diagnostic ($70) – the undercover person declined that as it would take a couple days to get to it (lots of other computers to work on) – so the person left assuming that GS had no idea how to fix it.

    The GS agent did their job, they’re not supposed to open up the computer to look for things like unseated RAM, they don’t have time for that, there’s a huge line of customers that need help. Their job is to figure out what needs to be done to get the computer repaired, if they can see right away that there are viruses, they can check it in for the virus removal service, if they computer does not boot the OS they have to check it in for diagnostic.

    Buying a new computer is the last option as it’s more profitable for GS to sell their services than to sell a new PC that has very little margin.