Walmart To Unleash Its Own "Geek Squad" In Dallas

What began as a troubling rumor has evolved into a troubling fact. Walmart will soon be launching its own version of the Geek Squad as pilot program in 15 stores in the Dallas area. The new “Solution Stations” will supposedly help customers with such tasks as flat panel TV installation and computer repair and will be managed with Dell Inc. Details, inside…

PCMag’s article says,

In a statement on its website dated July 14, Wal-Mart says the “program provides an opportunity for us to understand more about what our customers need and expect in home installation and technology services, within a specific market.”

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, describes the program as a small pilot.

“There are no plans at this time to expand the service outside of Dallas other than to 15 select stores,” Wal-Mart states.

When we hear the words “Walmart” and “computer repair” together, it’s difficult to be optimistic. We just hope that they excel in all aspects of technical support and not just porn-recovery.

Wal-Mart Computer Repairs – Solution Stations vs Geek Squads [TrendHunter]
Wal-Mart Using Dell to Provide ‘Solution Stations’ [PCMag]

Comments

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  1. TCameron says:

    Lose Julie Roehm and you end up with “Solution Station” featuring pastel circles. No wonder that person looks terrified working behind the counter. No healthcare, forced, unpaid work through breaks and now “Solution Station”?

  2. unpolloloco says:

    Walmart’s can’t be worse than Geek Squad’s service…

  3. So illegal aliens can cross the border AND receive cheap computer repair in Texas?

    It’s official, folks. Texas is perfect.

    /sarcasm.

  4. Let’s just hope it’s not as bad as their “Grease Squad” auto mechanics.

  5. BoomerFive says:

    @unpolloloco: Oh yes they can…Oh yes they can. I foresee many many consumerist articles about this in the future, mostly starting with “Walmart techs destroyed…”

  6. @BoomerFive: I foresee many many consumerist articles about this in the future, mostly starting with “Walmart techs destroyed…”

  7. @BoomerFive: I foresee many many consumerist articles about this in the future, mostly starting with “Walmart techs destroyed…” More after the jump.

    So and so writes,

    “I was traveling to another state when I realized my hard drive could use a good defrag/I couldn’t get my Wifi to work. I stopped by Wal*Mart to get my computer fixed. After 25 minutes, they brought my computer out, and I drove off. I got about 30 minutes away, when I got a blue screen of death. I tried to run my virus scanner, only to realize it had been disabled, I re-enabled it, and discovered instead of removing things, they ADDED spyware! I brought my computer to the closest reputable computer technician, AKA Geek Squad. They checked under the cover, and told me I no longer had 2 gigs of Kingston RAM, but 256mb of Kirkland RAM! I went back to confront Wal*Mart with the bill from Geek Squad, but they refused to reimburse me b/c I didn’t bring it back to them.

  8. BoomerFive says:
  9. Pro-Pain says:

    I see they are partnered up with Dell Inc. That’s going to be a disaster. Just wait…

  10. boss_lady says:

    They can’t change the oil in a car properly, so what makes them think they can fix computers? And, yes I do realize that it will depend on the people they hire, but most people who have qualifications to do this sort of work don’t really want to work at Wal-Mart for eight bucks an hour. The second I read this headline, I immediately thought about the Hindenburg.

  11. chrisgeleven says:

    If they do as well with oil changes as they do with computer repair, this should go really well.

    I will never forgive them for putting oil in my brake fluid during an oil change, completely ruining my brake system and causing me to lose my brakes when pulling up to a stop sign. Luckily I pulled the emergency brake before I went into a busy intersection.

  12. @boss_lady: We have this audio taken by a friend of someone whose computer was fixed at Wal*Mart. We must warn you, some people may find this audio disturbing. Again, this is audio of someone who just had his laptop fixed at Wal*mart:

    “It’s burst into flames! It burst into flames, and it’s falling, it’s crashing! Watch it! Watch it! Get out of the way! Get out of the way! Get this, Charlie; get this, Charlie! It’s fire-and it’s crashing! It’s crashing terrible! Oh, my! Get out of the way, please! It’s burning and bursting into flames….Oh the humanity.”

  13. boss_lady says:

    @Git Em SteveDave is a poor substitute for LindsayJoy: Oh man, thank you! I was hoping someone would would bust out the ‘humanity’ stuff this morning to make me laugh. :)

  14. Ubermunch says:

    Wow. I can’t think of a worse combo than Dell and WalMart.

    Hmmmm… Let me try…

    How about: Comcast/USAir? Or perhaps: WaMu/Best Buy?

  15. invaderzim says:

    Computer repair is like car repair… you can go about it 100 different ways and come up with 100 different costs to get the job done. They will fit in just fine with CompUsa, Best Buy, and Ccity.

  16. EyeHeartPie says:

    @boss_lady:
    +1. Same thought crossed my mind. If WalMart can’t hire people with enough know-how to change oil, I dread to think of the damage the “techs” it hires will cause.

    Actually, it’s like a car crash. It’s horrible, but you can’t look away. I look forward to the inevitable articles on the vein of “WalMart techs destroyed my [plasma tv/laptop/PC/iPod/left arm/car/...]“

  17. dejay181 says:

    people of america…this is walmart, look in the mirror…” don’t you see? That is the heart of Wall-Mart. You. The consumer. I take many forms, Wall-Mart, Kmart, Target, but I am one single entity: desire.”(southpark) hahahaha. embracing me is embracing yourselves…i am you. i foresee target and kmart doing this too….then who? hmmm…believe it or not..i think kroger stores. its inevitable

  18. PunditGuy says:
  19. jwlukens says:

    Honestly I’m excited I plan on going to walmart grabbing some snacks and a chair from one of the aisles and setting up in front of the station. I’ll be enjoying a nice box of chocolate covered raisins while I watch people line up to have Walmart break their computers for them.

  20. What The Geek says:

    I can’t wait til this comes to Jersey…. not ’cause I want to take a computer there though.

    No, actually I’m excited about this because I’m a freelance repair technician, and like 80% of my business comes from people who originally went to best buy or circuit city, and got ripped off. With walmart and dell working together to provide what I’m sure will be blindingly horrible service, my profit margins are likely to increase by around 25%….. sweet.

  21. I actually find myself unable to turn my sarcasm setting up high enough to make an adequate comment.

  22. Thorgryn says:

    @unpolloloco: I would take my computer to the geek squad long before I would even consider taking it to Walmart. Not that I would take it to either place since I built my own systems.

    Considering that Walmart blew up a lady’s engine not too long ago, I don’t want them anywhere near anything I own.

  23. Triborough says:

    So are they going to import illegals from Red China to staff this?

  24. jeffimix says:

    Mmm, as a qualified computer technician I’ll say flat out I won’t work for under $20/hr. after college. Right now that’s what I’m qualified for at a number of internships even.

    Walmart’s best fair bet is highschoolers and the ilk. Unfortunately, with all those pesky child labor laws, it’s unlikely that’s who they’ll hire. Instead they’ll probably take unqualified people and put them through a computer boot camp. (heh)

    I’ll be fair, and say that 90%+ of home computer issues can be solved by running an up-to-date anti virus / spyware suite or making a backup and re-installing. The other 10% unfortunately, can be really pesky. The “ohh, only one release of their driver actually works right, and it’s three versions back” kind of problem.

  25. What The Geek says:

    I’m also excited to see what kinds of mistakes the undertrained walmart repair techs make…. one time someone brought me a pc that had been *serviced* by the geek squad that had scorch marks on the inside of the case. Scorch marks – that implies that, at some point, something in there had been on fire, or gave off an intense electrical discharge. The messed up part? All the guy wanted was new ram.

    I can’t wait to see how walmart trumps that.

  26. The woman in the background picture looks like she’s screaming in pain already. Even she’s upset with Walmart.

  27. What The Geek says:

    @jeffimix: You’re almost right – I’ve been repairing pc’s for seven years, and I’d say it’s more a 70-30 split, and here’s why: A lot of problems CAN be fixed by reformatting but shouldn’t be. I had a customer recently who somehow managed to damage his ntldr, and boot.ini. All I had to do was replace them w/ working copies, and the problem was fixed. He went elsewhere before seeing me, and they told him it would be a reformat. Reformatting would have worked, but it would have taken longer and cost him all his data.

    The techs at bb and cc (and I’m sure the same will be true of walmart( don’t know how to look for, or fix problems like that. They’re under trained, and unqualified to be messing around in people’s computers.

  28. Average_Joe says:

    Maybe they are trying to capitalize on all the layoffs in the technology sector.

  29. jwlukens says:

    I can only imagine the rigorous hiring process-

    Manager: So in experience it says here that you know Microsoft Word, O and you’re willing to work for minimum wage!? Excellent…

  30. Cap'n Jack says:

    Oh boy, I cannot wait to read the thousands of complaints from people whose computers are destroyed and personal files and photos are lost forever.

  31. @jwlukens: More like

    Store Manager: OK, you’re applying for the head IT position in the squad. It says here you know Microsoft.

    Applicant: Yeah, I’m good at Word and Axle.

    Manager: Axle? Do you mean Excel?

    Applicant: Yeah that too.

    Manager: Any other Microsoft training?

    Applicant: I have an Xbox.

    Manager: You’re hired!

  32. ToiletJack says:

    Just FYI – the techs that are staffing these are hired and trained by a third party company. They’re not employees of Wal-Mart or Dell. And I think the are making like $16 an hour. I still think it’ll be a disaster, but they’re not just regular Wal-Mart employees.

  33. quail says:

    @What The Geek: Lots of these guys are robots. They’re told to put in the ‘magic’ CD-ROM and let it figure out the problems, and they charge outrageous money for it too. Much of what passes for PC care is stuff that the average Joe or jane can do for themselves if they just take the time to research it.

    What Wal-Mart should really worry about is the lawsuits that will be brought when these guys start stealing sensitive financial data and selling it.

  34. And soon to come the articles about people who take their PCs to Walmart for “Repair”, and being challenged for receipts when they go to take it home. When they cannot produce a receipt for purchasing the PC they will be falsely arrested for shoplifting, and on top of it once they get out they’ll find their computer with “Previous Water Damage”.

  35. Snarkysnake says:

    @jeffimix:

    A couple of points to consider :

    1) Another competitor will be good for consumers. This should be so obvious that it doesn’t need pointing out,but some of you folks are so blinded by hatred of WalMart that you don’t see this. You don’t have to go there to get your computer fixed,but if they put the fear of God into the Geek Squad nitwits,you’re already a winner…

    2) True,they are not the best trained techs for working on your car. For the most part,they are not ASE certified (at least where I live). That means that you should not take your car to them,period, full stop. That is,unless you just want a low price (like when you are about to sell the car). Real mechanics with real training cost more money.If you would gamble your well being to save a few bucks,then stop bitching.

    3) Computer repair IS different than car repair.Just like Jeffmix said,a qualified techie won’t work on them for the peanuts that WallyWorld is likely to pay. As a Consumerist reader,you should already know not to take your valuable computer there for repair.The best thing you can do to keep Geek Squad and WalMart honest is play one off against the other…Or better yet, establish a relationship with a real expert in your town that works on these things. He/she will do better work and keep the big guys honest.

    WalMart is great at delivering cheap goods to be consumed quickly and repeatedly (dog food, detergent,food) but they are the last place you want to go to get services delivered. It’s not in their culture.Their employees are not paid nearly enough to give a damn. Remember this and you will never be stuck with oil in your brake fluid or any other horror story.

  36. SacraBos says:

    Yesterday, I had a co-worker ask me about a problem with her laptop. Advised her against taking it to a big-box store, since they likely would just wipe the drive as the least damage they might do.

    You know, it would be interesting to take a perfectly good computer into Wal-Mart for “repair” just to see how bad they screw it up.

  37. theblackdog says:

    @Git Em SteveDave is a poor substitute for LindsayJoy: Shouldn’t that be Great Value RAM? Kirkland is Costco’s generics.

  38. theblackdog says:

    @TakingItSeriously: And their wallpaper is now a Nazi symbol.

  39. rainrunner87 says:

    @SacraBos: I was actually thinking about that. Maybe load it up with sensitive data that’s designed to act like a tracking device when copied, put some good (but trackable) porn on it, take a full backup, break something subtle, and then go in.

    Enjoy the show. If done properly, we’d wind up with proof they had our data and our porn, proof they destroyed the data on the computer, and proof they can’t fix things right.

  40. nsv says:

    Whew! I was worried that we’d be stuck only with grocery shrink ray and bank failure articles from now on. This is a relief.

    I can see it now: “Dude, your computer is, like, really messed up. You need to buy one of these Dell computers…”

    That photo is really creepy, BTW.

  41. AMetamorphosis says:

    Walmart & Dell …

    I wonder if the stoner from the Dell commercials will get a job repairing them now …

    DUDE … your gettin a … ummm, I forgot … so can I see your receipt ?

  42. Taydin says:

    I hope they have their PI licenses…

  43. What The Geek says:

    @Snarkysnake: I agree with a lot of what you said, but I have to point something out here. As I said above, I’m a freelance IT tech. I have both business and individual clients. I’ve been doing it for a long time, and I’ve got a pretty good reputation in my area, HOWEVER, no amount of good word of mouth can compete with best buy, circuit city, or walmart’s ability to advertise. People see the little guy with his ad in the phone book, or on craigslist, and assume right away that he doesn’t have the same equipment or training as the mighty geek squad. So they take their computer to BB, and it comes back more broken than when it went in. Then and only then do they consult a local technician or shop.

    Of course, I’m not referring to consumerist readers here, but the other 90% of the population. They assume that the big name store has money to blow on better testing equipment and repair methods than the little guy. For the record, I can guarantee that I use better hardware and software than any of the big box stores in my area.

    Now to finally get to the part where I diagree with you. The little guy isn’t keeping the big guy honest. The little guy is getting trampled under the sheer weight of the marketing campaign of the big guy. Everyone knows what the geek squad is, not everyone knows how they operate. These public misconceptions actually really hurt local technicians and shops. People think “Well if I can’t trust the geek squad, how do I know I can trust the little shop around the corner??” not “Oh the little shop around the corner will save me from the big bad geek squad!!”

    So no, it’s not a good thing for walmart to be entering into this space. It’s only going to encourage people to go to yet another big store with fancy ads instead of going to a trained professional with the proper tools and knowledge to get the job done.

  44. iheartconsumerist says:

    If walmart sends one of their “techs” to your house, do you think its ok to steal a move out of walmart’s playbook and lock them in your house until their work is complete?

  45. What The Geek says:

    @iheartconsumerist: Lol, not only do I think it’s ok, I suspect it might actually be detailed in the repair contract.

  46. Is this their new logo?

  47. jglessner says:

    As an IT Professional I am actually offended by this, for any and all of the reasons mentioned above.

    This country desperately needs some sort of standards body for IT work, like ASE does for car work. Some of the horror stories I’ve heard from Geek Squad and CC and the like make me ill. In a dark and shady past I worked for WalMart, so I KNOW they’ll dick this up.

  48. AskTheAdmin says:

    Woot! So another store that will mess up peoples machine and they have to bring them to me :)

    @jglessner: I have seen some EVIL stuff the geek squad has done! VERY EVIL!

  49. Imaginary_Friend says:

    I made this just for Consumerist:

  50. Snarkysnake says:

    @What The Geek:

    “Now to finally get to the part where I diagree with you. The little guy isn’t keeping the big guy honest. The little guy is getting trampled under the sheer weight of the marketing campaign of the big guy. Everyone knows what the geek squad is, not everyone knows how they operate.”

    Good points,well stated,but the local guy’s competitive advantage (in my view), is delivering what they promise.The reason Geek Squad and soon,WalMart, have to spend massive amounts of marketing money is that they have to bring in lots of new customers that are not aware just how little they do for the money. That is a huge expense that the little guy doesn’t have.The local guy is not going to make them park miles away and carry the computer in the store. He’s/she’s not going to get bogged down in the beauracracy of a massive company for which computer repair is just a small sideline.The local guy can connect with the customer in a way WalMart or Geek Squad can only dream of.
    Size is not the determinant of success. People aren’t writing Consumerist with sob stories about local computer repair techs. The do,however, keep these pages pretty full with horror stories about Geek Squad. Every one of those stories does them some damage and is a wonderful ad for the local provider.
    Finally, I live this stuff every day (but not in the computer field).I provide a service in a hypercompetitive field and I hustle. I work harder than the other guy,move faster and treat my customers like they are the reason for my being.I get to know them and really listen to what they want and waht is important to them. Its hard. Damn hard, sometimes. But my taking care of them is taking great care of me.

  51. domo-arigato says:

    I’ll bet this is going to be as high-quality as Walmart’s auto repair!

  52. ELC says:

    @TCameron: That’s not a person behind the counter. That person is on the “poster” on the back wall.

  53. *Soul Shudder*

  54. @unpolloloco: Walmart can’t be any worse than Geek Squad? You’ve been reading Consumerist a little too much… :P

    Geek Squad, at least, does have a foundation in skilled employees (even though they are working very hard to utterly destroy that) and does have some managers who honestly care about the brand and customers. Furthermore, Geek Squad tends to draw from the most talented Best Buy employees (I know that was painful to read… bear with me).

    But you are comparing them to Walmart? A Best Buy employee is generally not hot stuff, but they’ll be much more skilled than a Walmart employee (it may sicken you to know that within the retail industry Best Buy is considered to be a good employer). You can still list Geek Squad on your resumé and not be laughed out of most employer’s interview rooms. Solution Center at Walmart? What self-respecting person would ever want that? And let’s not forget how the workplace environment affects work ethic and productivity. Best Buy is fairly decent when it comes to soul crushing, but compared to Walmart they are just sheepish imps, barely schooled in the art of ruining lives. Walmart is the all-powerful demon, capable of crushing thousands of souls all at once while eating Bon Bons and watching soap operas. It is something Walmart does in its spare time.

    What a terrible thought… trusting Walmart with a computer… or even trusting them.

  55. mrearly2 says:

    Just say NO! (to Wal-Mart)

  56. Methusalah says:

    @XianZhuXuande: Unfortunately Best Buy’s geek squad prices are rediculous. $130 to install an OS is not just excessive it’s robbery. [www.geeksquad.com] I have no doubt that they can successfully install software, but it’s just another item in the list of horrible deceptions that best buy pulls on unknowing consumers.