Best Buy Sells You Backup Plan, Fails To Backup Your Data, Then Replaces Your Hard Drive

Best Buy charged Nicole $99 to backup her data but then replaced her hard drive without backing up a single byte. Nicole’s service contract clearly stated that Best Buy would perform the backup before any other service. Now Best Buy is claiming that her old hard drive is their property and that she has no right to the data that they failed to backup or restore.

Nicole writes:

I took my computer into Best buy on February 17 because it wasn’t recognizing the hard drive. I’m self-employed and that hard drive contained all the information for my business including the files for my website, my financial information, etc… as well as personal things such as thousands of pictures that I’ve taken and stored on the computer. My brother, who fixes, programs, and builds computers told me that if they have to replace the hard drive then to ask them for the old hard drive so he could try and get all my important data or send it off to someone who could get it.

Well, I spoke with the Geek Squad employee and explained to him how important all the information was on the hard drive and asked if I could get the old hard drive back if they needed to replace it. He said “no”, but convinced me that he would be able to back-up the hard drive for me before sending the computer off to get repaired. It would cost $99, of course. He went on to explain how fancy the data retrieval machine was (which is why it cost $99) and that it could get the information of my hard drive and not to worry. So, I took his word for it and gave them my computer to send off for repairs.

On February 27 I got a call from a woman who worked at Best Buy and she left a message saying that my computer was back from the Service Center and that they had to replace the hard drive. However, because the hard drive needed to be replaced, they needed me to bring in the reboot discs that came with the computer… We recently moved and half our stuff is in boxes so I have NO clue where the discs were(or if we even still have them) so I explained that to the woman and she said that without them they couldn’t do anything and that I’d have to buy new ones from HP, but they’d look around and see if they had any and would call me back.

A few days passed and I didn’t hear back so I called them up to see what was going on. She said they didn’t have the cds and so it was my responsibility to buy new ones. That, of course, got me angry because they ought to have that kind of stuff there. What’s the point of repairing a computer if you can’t get it back in working order?! The conversation led to me telling the woman that I just wanted to pick up my computer and then I asked her about the back-up discs as well…

This is when she told me that they had been unable to back-up my hard drive before sending it off for repairs and I completely flipped! I ended up hanging up and heading straight to Best Buy!

When my husband and I got to Best Buy we stood in line at Geek Squad for about 45 minutes and when it was my turn I ended up being with the same GS employee that I had originally given my computer to. I told the guy that I wanted my computer, the old hard drive and a refund for the $100 I paid to have my hard drive backed up! I pulled out the contract I’d signed and pointed out where the contract states, in CAPS, that the back-up was to be done PRIOR to any services being performed on the computer and that when I brought the computer in I made is VERY clear that I needed to the information on the computer and expressed that I’d like the old hardrive back if they had to replace it(to which he had told me “no” and assured me that he could back-up the info). I even said that, if they needed to, they could take back the NEW hardrive, if that’s what it meant to get back my old one.

I told him that since the contract states that the back-up is going to be done prior to the repair services, then when they were unable to back-up the data, then I should have been contacted BEFORE the computer was sent off. Especially since I had made a huge point of telling him how important the hard drive was to me.

I also pointed out in the contract where it states that I am to be contacted if the repairs go above the estimated cost(which was $0). The GS employee had told me that there was a chance that the hard drive would need to be replaced, but no one ever mentioned anything to me about needed to reboot discs. The reboot discs, of course, cost money. Sooo…I feel that I should have been told that ahead of time because that is part of the repair cost(a hard drive is useless if it doesn’t have the software on it).

He ended up having me speak to the manager on duty and after about 10 minutes of speaking with her she said that there was nothing she could do and she told the Geek Squad employee to simply call the Service Center and request my hard drive back. I was elated and relieved to hear her say that!

Well, as soon as she walked away the employee told me that he needed me to talk to the GS manager, but that he was on lunch break. So, my husband and I told him we’d come back in 30 minutes so we could talk to the GS Manager, Steve.

When we got back the GS manager was right there, but we had to wait in line and during that time he was off doing something else. 45 minutes later we got our turn in line only to be told to wait because the manager was busy with another customer. We had originally gotten at BB at 5pm and didn’t get to speak with the manager til after 8pm and didn’t leave til around 9pm!

Anyways, he finally came over and after talking with him for a while he said he’d contact the “Service Center” and ask them about the hard drive and that he’d let me know what they said and couldn’t make any guarantees to get back my hard drive back.

I asked him for the contact information for the Service Center and he said that there’s no “public contact #” for them. I asked if I could come back tomorrow when he calls them(to ensure that he really does call them and doesn’t just sweep everything under the rug because the GS employee told me it would take around 2 weeks to hear back…) and he said that they don’t have a contact #…(YEAH RIGHT!) I was told that the only way to contact them is via email and that information was private so he refused to give it to me.
Also, the entire time he was sitting back in a chair and give us a “better then thou” attitude, which just made me that much angrier!

Oh yeah, the manager said that the hard drive is their property, not mine. He told me that the contract from my warranty states that any hardware that is taken and replaced from my computer then becomes Best Buy property. However, when I asked him to show me that contract, he said that they no longer have it. I said that if I signed it then they HAVE to have a copy, but he said I didn’t actually sign it, but that it was in the pamphlet I got when I bought the warranty. Soooo….yeah….

Now, to today…

I got a call this morning and a Best Buy employee ended up leaving me a message on my phone letting me know that the Service Center contacted them back and they refuse to give me back my hard drive. However, they, of course, said that they’d be more then happy to try and retrieve the information from my hard drive for me (which would cost a VERY large sum of money!).

Sooo…according to the call I got today, that means that they DO have my hard drive and are holding it hostage, so to speak.

All in all, this could have been avoided if they’d just contacted me when the back-up was unable to be done. I find it odd that they’d rather keep my old hard drive and have to deal with me as an upset customer rather then accepting my offer and taking back their brand new, perfectly good hard drive and giving me back my old, broken one instead.”

To us, messing with someone’s data is on par with taking a kid hostage. You can try to get in touch with Best Buy’s executives, but executive email carpet bombs are designed to eviscerate incompetence. This isn’t an ordinary customer service failure. This is evil.

Update: Nicole writes in with good news:

I just got a call from Randy Ratcliff who said he is an ambassador for Best Buy and he said that he has my hard drive and that he will be getting my data for me(for free!)! He apologized for everything and said it might take a few weeks, but he WILL get the data, even if he has to send it off to a clean room!

Thank you all SOOO much! I’m positive that if it hadn’t been for you guys posting my story that I would have never gotten this response from Best Buy. You all are awesome for helping us “little people” get our voices heard!

(Photo: Sal Paradize)

Comments

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  1. Zwitterion says:

    WORST BUY.

    • AndrewJC says:

      @Zwitterion: The thing I don’t understand is, if you can’t show me where I legally agreed to allow you to take my property from me, then you have no legal right to that property and the next time I return to your store, it’s going to be with police and a court order to return hard drive that you’ve stolen, or an arrest warrant for theft.

  2. voteccow says:

    You exhausted the normal routes, just go to the EECB, they’ll magically be able to give you your hard drive back and get all your money refunded as well.

  3. Zclyh3 says:

    This is why you use Acronis True Image and never take your computer into WORST BUY for computer servicing.

    • KCChiefsFan says:

      @Zclyh3:

      I use Acronis in concert with a RAID array to keep my data safe. I let Acronis backup my data to an external HDD once per week or so, and combined with the data redundancy of the RAID array, the risk of loss is negligible.

      I don’t think that would have been a good solution here though. This is a personal ill informed enough to bring her computer to geek squad for servicing for one thing, then to trust them to backup her data for her for another thing. Keeping a software backup solution going takes a bit of computer know how. She’d have been better off manually copying files to an external HDD every now and then. It sounds like (and I could be wrong) that her drive was dead before she ever brought it in to the geek squad. It could have been something as innocuous as a faulty cable or controller, but HDD’s simply dying is much more common. In this situation, geek squad isn’t going to be of much help to you. You need professional data recovery services, which are probably going to run you a bit more.

      This lady should have been backing up her data to DVD’s or an External drive or something, which would have prevented this unfortunate situation. I know that the consumer is always right, but is Geek Squad still evil if the drive is dead, and they simply can’t get the data back off? If it is dead, are they evil for offering to sell her data recovery services that she’d have to pay for anyway if she wanted that data off? They should refund her money for the service they failed to complete, but I don’t see why they should foot the bill for a third party data recovery. Geek squad is guilty of many, many evils and they basically function by ripping off unwitting consumers, but I don’t think we have all the facts here. I guess it’s just a stumbling block for me that she was told point blank that the drive could not be returned, and now she is surprised that it can’t be returned. It was most likely a lie told to sell the data recovery (which is most likely third party) that the drive couldn’t be returned, but she agreed so…. I don’t know. 99% of the time I’m willing to bash Geek Squad for anything they do, but this time I can’t help but think that it isn’t entirely their fault. That said, they should do everything in their power to get her the drive back. I wouldn’t be surprised if data recovery is going to cost her double the cost of a new hard drive though. It’s not a cheap service, especially when the HDD needs to be rebuilt by hand.

      Above all else, she should take her brother out behind the woodshed and give him a good beating for not trying to recover the data himself first. Why would he let her go to the geek squad if he is a real IT professional? I’d never subject my family members to their brand of unprofessional nonsense.

      I hope she gets her data back, I really do, but this should be a stark reminder as to why you should back up your data often, if not daily, especially if your entire business is on it.

      (Oh, and I realize that not everyone is an IT professional, and that I’m speaking as someone that is. I understand the basic idea non IT people have that the Geek Squad is an actual computer repair specialist, and not just a way to sell high margin “services”. I don’t blame her, I blame the brother who should have known better)

      • suzieq says:

        @KCChiefsFan: What I don’t understand is if her brother know about this, why did he send her to Geek Squad without imploring her to backup the data first? The rules of working with PCs are:

        1. backup your data
        2. backup your data to another source
        3. backup your data again to an offsite source

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      @Zclyh3: did you just blame the customer?
      i think you did.

    • heltoupee says:

      @Zclyh3: I’m calling shenanigans on the whole thing. I think that this is either completely fabricated, or liberally embellished.

      1.) Brother programs, builds, and works with computers, yet she takes her computer with her whole home business on it to the ham-fisted retards at GS. Right.

      2.) Again, knowledgeable brother, but she’s continually referring to the RESTORE disks as ‘reboot’ disks. More fail.

      Personally, if I had to take my machine to GS, I’d just run the restore disks and flush a couple hundred dollars down the toilet. You get the same effect that way, plus, you get your computer back quicker.

      If this is all legitamate, then she needs to go talk to a lawyer, pronto. Missing all that data for as long as it’s been gone has got to be messing with her business. Document losses, take that contract you signed, and sue the bastards till they can’t see straight.

      Then, I hope the lesson is learned. If you are running a home business, get a computer specifically for that business. Do not play online games on it. Do not surf the net on it. Conduct ONLY business on it. Any data having to do with the business should be backed up daily. Think of it as the last thing you do before you “go home from work”. Something as simple as copying files to a USB flash drive or a burnable CD or DVD will suffice. SAVE THE RESTORE CD’S! Tape them to the side of the machine if you have to. Then, the hard drive in the machine can be recreated by 1.) running restore CD’s, 2.) install business-specific apps (Quickbooks, Outlook, etc.), 3.) restore backed-up data. If worse comes to worst, you can always find a brand-new computer and perform steps 2 and 3 on it.

      • Thanatos says:

        @heltoupee: Did you ever think that maybe the brother is in another state and cant work on a non responding HD remotely? Ive had to send people to GS before *shutter* do to being thousands of miles away. Im an IT Helpdesk and sometimes (very rarely) work on personal computers and the biggest thing that annoys me is no one thinks to keep the restore CDs so no CD no work, another thing that annoys me to no end how people expect me to do it for free because i know about computers.

  4. enthreeoh says:

    how many times does best buy have to screw people over before people stop going there?

    • SabreDC says:

      @enthreeoh: I know! I can understand when people continue to shop at Walmart or something because the prices are usually cheap. But Best Buy doesn’t even have good prices or a good selection of products.

      • coren says:

        @SabreDC: Most of the “good” places to buy tech are regional or online – some people want that face to face.

        • SabreDC says:

          @coren: And you get “face to face” from a chain store cashier who doesn’t even look at you when he/she rings you up? I get more “face to face” time from mail order than Best Buy.

    • KCChiefsFan says:

      @enthreeoh:

      I haven’t gone very many times since I realized that there is a Microcenter in the area. I’d kill for a Fry’s, but I know it’s never going to happen. Most of my purchases are made at Newegg or Amazon these days, but when I need something TODAY, I’ll usually go to Bestbuy, since they are so much closer than any other store to me, and they have much more stock than, say, an office max. I’d never buy anything big ticket from them though. Not in a million years. I recently bought a TV from Amazon for 1k that was 1300 at Bestbuy. Not only did I not have to pay any taxes, but the delivery people carried it (100lbs) up the stairs, attached the stand, plugged everything in, and it didn’t cost me a cent. No retail location can come anywhere remotely close to matching that.

  5. Zclyh3 says:

    I hope she gets her hard drive back too.

  6. Technick says:

    I don’t know if I feel sorry for you or not since you did take it to geek squad. A simple search on consumerist or even google would tell you how incompetent geek squad really is. Anyhow, your best bet is to file a claim against them in small claims court for the return of the hard drive and for them to cover the data recovery from a professional data recovery center.

    It is true, data recovery isn’t cheap on a completely dead drive. I’ve seen costs go up around 10k dollars for data recovery.

    The ultimate lesson here is, if its important to you, back it up, otherwise, you are the only person you can hold at fault here. Oh and geek squad sucks =)

    Have a nice day.

    • MauriceCallidice says:

      @Technick: 13 minutes from initial posting to the first blame-the-victim comment.

      • ohenry says:

        @MauriceCallidice: No kidding, right?

        Whether she should have gone to the Geek Squad or not is besides the point. They’re doing something pretty clearly unethical, hence the reason for writing in.

        Though, one thing I can agree with Technick is that if you have that much information on your hard drive, you really should invest in getting an external harddrive and backing the information up.

      • SabreDC says:

        @MauriceCallidice: And 35 minutes from the posting of the blame-the-victim comment to someone pointing out that it is the first blame-the-victim comment… *sigh* that gets equally old.

    • krispykrink says:

      @Technick:I always have believed that everyone should have to get a license to own a computer, just to demonstrate they know what they’re doing. Maybe obtaining A+ certification before purchase as the basic bare minimum.

      Yeah, Best Buy is at fault for failure to provide the backup service. But, I have zero sympathy for anyone that fails to complete such a basic computing task on their own.

    • godlyfrog says:

      @Technick: She doesn’t make it clear right away, but does later on: the drive replacement was a warranty replacement, not a replacement that she purchased, so the drive does belong to Best Buy.

      That having been said, BB could have alleviated this whole problem to begin with by simply calling her and telling her they couldn’t back up the drive, then offered the data recovery service. They dropped the ball pretty badly here.

  7. Ronin-Democrat says:

    why didn’t her brother just do the job for her in the first place….

    but bb is evil.

    also all you people out there, back up your shiz today before disaster strikes

  8. bobcatred says:

    Bet you she remembers to back up regularly from now on.

  9. MSUHitman says:

    What about filing a police report for stolen property?

    • SabreDC says:

      @MSUHitman: Or just a small claims suit for breaching the contract. She should easily be able to get $100 for the refund and the old hard drive.

  10. ZoeSchizzel says:

    Wow! Just wow! Based upon comments here in the past, I’ve steered everyone in my family and all of my friends away from Best Buy — particularly for computer products and services. I wouldn’t DREAM of purchasing anything significant from them, nor would I trust their Geek Squad to lay a finger on my computer. While every company has their customer service problems and failures from time to time, Best Buy above all other companies seems to excel at providing poor service, poor products, poor knowledge, at a poor-value price.

    I hope she’s at least able to get her hard drive and her $100 back. If it were me, I’d be preparing my small claims paperwork.

    • PriceIsWrong says:

      @ZoeSchizzel: @ZoeSchizzel:

      I’ve tried to do the same, but my mother decided to go the whole Best Buy, Geek Squad route and now she won’t leave me alone about all the crap it keeps giving her.

      I fucking hate Best Buy, but I love Newegg. I try to steer everyone that way when I can.

  11. Herbz says:

    You would think that this would be a fundamental breach of contract on Best Buy’s part.
    If she doesn’t end up getting her money back and her hard drive, I would sue Best Buy for damages related to the data being mishandled.

  12. Mike8813 says:

    I hate it when I see these stories, and also see that the majority of the comments are along the lines of either:

    “What were you thinking taking it to Best Buy?”, and
    “You should have been doing regular back-ups.”

    I know these things, you know these things, but not EVERYBODY knows these things. Not everyone is tech-savvy. How is the average person supposed to know that the hard drive in their $1000+ computer is not bullet-proof? You would think that there isn’t a sizeable chance of your data being lost, but it is a real possibility.

    Also, I feel terribly for people that lose all of their photos. I have 1500+ on my computer, and I would be crushed if I lost them all.

    • Michael Belisle says:

      @Mike8813: They have white shirts and black ties. They must be good, right? (Actually, in the old days before Best Buy bought the Geek Squad, the answer was yes.)

    • TanKill3R says:

      @Mike8813: But she did have a tech savvy brother & her biz info is on her computer plus thousands of photos. Its almost idiotic not to have had some type of backup in place to protect that files. A day of research into how to protect her investments on her computer would have given her many options.

    • AndrewJC says:

      @Mike8813: Face it, nobody backs up their data, not even IT professionals. They know it’s bad practice, but they do it anyway and get just as pissed when a hard drive fails (although for a different reason; IT Pros get pissed off because they knew better and still didn’t do it).

      • SpdRacer says:

        @AndrewJC: I don’t know what kind of “IT professionals” you know, but all of the ones I work with have an automatic b/u (my b/u included) so they don’t have to think about it. It is just done.

      • quadrant6 says:

        @AndrewJC: I’m an IT Professional, and guilty as charged.

  13. raincntry says:

    Comcast better watch out because Best Buy is making a serious run at their title of World’s Worst Company. I simply won’t deal with Best Buy on any level. I’ve personally never had a problem with the products I’ve purchased there but too many of my friends and family have shared and included me in horror stories about their service contracts and I’ve spent hours on the phone with their CS staff trying to get them to honor a warrantee on my sister’s stereo. I hope the economic downturn forces them out of business. I feel no sorrow for their employees if that happens because they are the root of their problems.

    • SabreDC says:

      @raincntry: I hear that they are really upset about not winning the Golden Turd last year… so they’ve vowed to do worse this year. Best Buy should be a shoo-in.

    • Joeb5 says:

      @raincntry:
      It’s not the employees it’s the manager who only want people who can sell and cutting the houses of people who know what they are doing and don’t over upsell / overbill people.

      Did they even try to make a backup? just try the bare basics of trying to do it and it did not work they they just sent to off to Service Center and the Service Center not having the restore disks or some kind of a basic windows install disk?

      Did they even test the system to see if was hard disk or anything else was not working. Also you should get the bad parts bad as there is lot of scams where places Service Centers like Jiffy Lube bill you for a new part but just keep the old in there.

  14. emptydarkone says:

    Instead of standing there arguing with an arrogant ‘manager’, why doesn’t she just call Best Buy customer service? A quick look at the website includes the information in the ‘contact us’ portion of the website:

    Customer Service, Web Site, Store and General/Corporate Inquiries
    Best Buy Corporate Customer Care
    P.O. Box 9312
    Minneapolis , MN 55440
    1-888-BEST BUY (1-888-237-8289)

  15. LordofBacon says:

    While best buy really screwed this lady over on the data backup service, she really needs to understand that they can’t just whip out copies of the computers operating system on demand. That costs money, and you can’t simply activate unlimited copies of XP. Each copy costs the OEM (Origional Equipment Manufacturer) money to install on a computer.

    If she didn’t have her disks, then the responsibility is hers to get a new copy of XP or to find her origional install disks.

    • taking_this_easy says:

      @LordofBacon: yes, but there is a CD-Key label ON her laptop(physically) that shows the license type(eg XP pro or Vista Ultimate or Home PRemium) with the CDKey that would activate it… all you need is any Vista DVD(retail or OEM of that specific laptop), or any XP disc..

      sigh…

    • heismanpat says:

      @LordofBacon:

      This is Best Buy being lazy. When I was working in a small computer repair center/store 4 years ago, this was a relatively common occurrence. It’s always preferable to have the “reload” CDs, but if all else failed, we had a generic OEM XP CD for this very situation. As long as there was an XP product license (with a valid serial number) on the case, it wasn’t a problem. It wouldn’t always activate over the internet, but I never had a problem calling into Microsoft to activate it over the phone.

      The biggest pain in the ass was finding drivers and installing them manually. Although, most major manufacturers (Dell, Gateway, HP, etc.) have gotten much better about posting drivers for each product online.

      • Anonymous says:

        @heismanpat: Microsoft’s License agreement with OEM’s only allow for the owner of the computer or the manufacture to have the restore CD’s. The Generic disc aka “Gold” disc can only be given to companies who build computers using OEM licenses. Best Buy doesnt have an OEM agreement with MS.

        They actually went through a major clean up years ago to make sure no store had the 7in1 discs aka OEM discs.

  16. lodleader says:

    best buy support is pure evil and complete dumb a$$es too. yes i put in dollar signs there because all they care about is the $$.

  17. aguacarbonica says:

    @ Lord of Bacon I don’t understand how anyone could possibly say it was this woman’s fault for sending her computer to Geek Squad. I say this even though I’ve had awful service from them over the years, and no longer go to Best Buy. Why? Because Best Buy didn’t just botch the repair job, they chose not to do what she paid them to do, and then requested more money to go back and fix their mistake. That sounds like a legal issue to me. Stop blaming the consumer.

    • Mister-e Tarot says:

      @ Lord of Bacon: I couldn’t agree more. Quite tired of all the armchair quarterbackers who love to blame anyone and everyone after the fact for being “stupid”, as if they are PERFECT 24/7 and never have the same problems themselves. Whatevah.

      The new Consumerist guidelines say not to play the “blame the consumer” game, Lord. So maybe save your comments for your own Digg page rants, or go over to RipOffReport or My3Cents.com. There is plenty of attacking of consumers on those sites, which is why I’ve stopped posting there.

      Blaming the victim / consumer is just a sign of lazy blog window shoppers who have given into cynicism in their own lives instead of constructively working together here and elsewhere to take on corrupt stupid corporations and win.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Geek Squad asked for the “boot disc’s”……NOT the OEM disc’s, big difference. A boot disc won’t do dick on a new HD.

  19. Xero says:

    Actually, it IS fairly ordinary customer service from Geek Squad. I used to work there for about a year and finally quit (at the worst economic time I possibly could have) because I was sick of being treated like crap from the company and pissed off customers because my entire company was a complete customer service disaster.

    I would constantly have people pissed that not only would they have to pay for backups on our ‘fancy machine’ (it’s just an external hard drive case taken apart…), but also having to order OS discs and usually taking home an even more busted computer.

  20. Hoss says:

    Ok, the part about not being able to recover off a dead hard drive makes sense, the part about not having the system software makes sense, the other static about waiting in line, dealing with incompetent customer service people is expected — BUT what is the business reason Best Buy would hold on to parts that have been replaced and not let the customer have them? If there is some insane reason to keep replaced parts — then why do they still have the harddrive???

    • Anonymous says:

      For the same reason you do not get a broken car parts back… most of them are sent to either a recycling facility or to a refurbishment company…

      Here is the problem though, If the computer was home-made, then the old harddrive is her property and she should get it back. If the computer is from a manufacturer ie. HP, then when they replace the Hard Drive, the old one does indeed become their property. Because the companies that provide the warrenty, which is pretty much insurance, they want the “defective” part back… As for the OEM disks, HP and Compaq disks can be ordered from the store, with nothing needed from the customer, it is a pain in the ass, and usually takes 2 weeks or so, but the customer should not need to do anything…

  21. Skaperen says:

    In the mean time, everyone needs to learn to make not just one, but two, backups of all their data. This should be done on a regular basis depending on how often the computer is used. External drives are a really convenient way to do this. But you need two of them because these can break down, too. In addition to alternating between the 2 backup drives, you need to also test to be sure everything that is backed up is readable. It’s no help if your hard drive dies to find your backup is not readable. It is possible for hard drives to succeed at writing, but fail at reading that data just written.

    For especially critical data, if it’s small enough, USB flash memory sticks are also usable.

    I have done data recovery, and it’s almost never straight forward, especially for older drives where control boards are not available to swap out for dead ones. The most interesting data recovery I did was a computer that sat under muddy river water for a week in a flood. I managed to get 99% of the data with 2 weeks work on it.

    • Amish Undercover says:

      @Skaperen: Agreed. Now with 16GB flash drives, I’m unclear why anyone wouldn’t work off of one of these wherever possible.

      I keep everything on a flash drive and just back it up on on my office computer every couple days (and on my home computer 1-2 times per month). Backing up is now a snap and I always have my most up-to-date files in a portable format.

  22. johnarlington says:

    If she’d been a porn store she would have had no problem with backups

  23. Stream Of Consciousness says:

    And Best Buy just keeps getting better!!

  24. CaptZ says:

    OP…..if you get your HD back from BB, I can retrieve the data for $10, you pay shipping back and forth between us. I am not sure why companies think they can charge tons of money for data retrieval. It’s actually a pretty simple, yet can take a painstankingly long time depending on the size of the drive. I have yet to not retrieve data, unless the controller is dead. Then, well…..your pretty screwed. But I doubt that is the problem here.

  25. fantomesq says:

    This customer’s rightful position would turn on the type of repair.

    If this was a warranty repair (either manufacturer’s or extended warranty) then she has a right to a repaired computer (which she got). She does NOT have a right to the replaced hard drive. The replaced parts belong to the insurer.

    If this was a non-warranty repair she has a right to all replaced parts (since they remain hers).

    The restore disk is solely HER responsibility. The store does not have access to replacement disks and it would be copyright infringement for them to use another disk they did have access to. If she doesn’t have the disk, then the service center has done everything they can after they replaced the drive.

    On the non-performed Data Transfer, she would appear to have a case for return of the non-performed service.

    She deserved better treatment from Geek Squad but we’re not hearing how she treated them either. She doesn’t have much of a claim here. Good luck

  26. madanthony says:

    Hmm… I wonder how bad the hard drive was damaged. If it is physically dead – damaged read head or the like – recovering would be expensive, and I wouldn’t expect anyone except a professional hard drive recovery firm would be able to recover it. I’m also wondering if the machine was repaired under warranty or not – if it was, I can understand about not giving it back, since most warranty replacement requires a core return, ie the item being replaced.

  27. legwork says:

    A trainwreck of fail.

    It could only have been worse if Bubba’s Pizza guy had been around to help.

    Involve a local newspaper?

  28. Brad Endsley says:

    The Best Buy service centers of course have phone numbers that stores have. There are a few service centers around the country and the stores around the general area would ship their products for repair to.

    If you live anywhere in and around Texas, the service center for Best Buy is in Flower Mound, TX, just outside of Dallas. I believe there is also one in Louisville, KY and Phoenix, AZ (the ones I know of).

    I didn’t see anywhere in the story that you asked for a refund, and maybe you’re waiting to get this resolved and ask for your money back as a last resort, but either way, I would at least get your money back. Do the EECB like others have suggested and see where that goes.

  29. Corporate-Shill says:

    Hard drives are under $100. Hells Bells you can buy a HD for less than $50.

    And installing a second HD (to backup data files only) is something even the most dimwitted of us is capable of doing.

    If you don’t have a second HD or an external HD may I suggest you buy one TODAY!

  30. Anonymous says:

    This is why every PC user should have a copy of SpinRite from GRC. It is one of the best drive recovery programs available and only costs about $90. It can frequently recover a drive that is non bootable or produces the dread BOS. If she gets her drive back she should put it in any PC and run SpinRite.

    I am not affiliated with GRC or SpinRite, but am a very satisfied customer.

  31. Outrun1986 says:

    I don’t think the customer was informed properly of what was needed or how much is involved with the repair. Geek Squad has to realize that most people who use them know nothing about computers. The average Joe isn’t gonna realize they need the restore disks and how much it is going to be for data recovery, so BB needs to inform the consumer about this. She should have been informed about everything before they even took the computer, including the restore disks, especially since she explained what the problem was before hand. At this point they should have explained about the restore discs and that they shouldn’t just magically be able to place a copy of Windows on the drive. This is a very, very common problem when dealing with computer repair. I understand that you can’t just stick a copy of Windows on the computer illegally, but most consumers don’t know this, so they need to be informed.

  32. Michael Belisle says:

    Part of the problem here is that it sounds like they lied to her about the backup in the first place.

    How is the Geek Squad going to use their $99 automated backup tool if the laptop isn’t recognizing the hard drive in the first place? Answer: they can’t. From the description of the problem, it sounds like data recovery is the only option. But of course it isn’t cheap, starting at $259. It also requires the hard drive to go to Kentucky.

    If she can’t get the hard drive back, then she needs to send it to a place like DriveSavers (or her brother). If not, then hopefully Best Buy can cut her a deal on the data recovery since they dropped the ball here.

  33. suva says:

    Except that Microsoft is aggressively going after both manufacturers and retailers for those generic OEM discs. Consumerist loves to talk about all the legal crap well guess what, Microsoft specific says generic OEMs are a no no. My buddy that still works at Geek Squad informed me that about 6 months ago they forced all the stores to throw out those generic OEMs so that Best Buy wouldn’t get sued.

  34. XTC46 says:

    The deopt is very unlikely to give you the drive back, tat is common practice. HOWEVER they are at fault for replacing the drive without being able to do the backup first, so I would certainly go as high up that chain of command as fast as you can, becasue the depot will scrap the drive pretty quickly.

    As far as the restore disks go, this is not their fault. It sucks that they didn’t tell you, but they don’t keep them on hand, becasue most models have a different restore disk (restore disks include the OS, drivers, crappy bloatware, etc. Everything that came on your computer) They go and install windows from a disk they have (and any tech worth their salt has the disks to do this becasue they are needed so frequently) and use the CD key on the computer, but they would then have to go find all the drivers for the computer (about 2 hours in all to get it running properly) and you still wouldn’t have the software that came with it (a perk in my opinion, but many customers get mad about this).

    anyway…move fast, get a hold of corporate and get this resolved from there. The store level really is as useless as you describe, and the manager probably doesn’t have a phone number for the service center.

  35. LordofBacon says:

    aguacarbonica
    I’m not blaming the consumer. I clearly said that Best Buy screwed the lady over on the backup job. But when it comes to the OS install CD’s, that’s HER responsibility. And it is.

    So the clear solution in this case would be for best buy to refund the money they charged for the backup, and return her original hard drive.

  36. yevarechecha says:

    I had a hard drive failure on my Dell laptop a couple of years ago and also didn’t have the OEM disks to reinstall Windows XP and all the drivers. I called Dell and they overnighted me all the disks free of charge. Has the OP tried calling HP and asking about this? Now, my laptop was still under warranty, which I am assuming hers is not since she took it to the Geek Squad. But maybe HP would send the disks. I’m probably naive.

    I once contemplated using the Geek Squad when I popped the C key off my laptop and couldn’t figure out how to get it back on (the rubber foot also came unglued). I didn’t want to take the trouble of mailing it out to Dell and losing it for 3 days, so I thought I’d just pop in to Best Buy and they’d put the key back on for me. I decided I was too scared to so I just learned to type C by hitting the sensor with no key. It worked just fine for months. Dell eventually fixed my C key when they replaced my hard drive. I think I might just buy another computer rather than using the Geek Squad after stories like these.

  37. runswithscissors says:

    I read the article and at first thought “Wow! What terrible customer service and what an appalling failure on Best Buy’s part to provide the service they were contracted for and paid to do!”…

    BUT

    Then I read the comments and learned how this is not Best Buy’s fault! It is actually the poster’s fault for:
    1) not being aware of the need to have backups of all her data
    2) going to Best Buy at all
    3) engaging the services of Best Buy technicians
    4) overall and most importantly, for not being as computer savvy as the commenters here are.

    Wow! What a revelation! Good to know that Best Buy is off the hook here and blameless in this situation due to the abhorrent lack of technical proficiency on the part of the customer.

    I now know that anyone who lacks knowledge in any area of life and thus engages a professional to provide services in that area DESERVES any scam or ripoff that professional visits upon them.

    /sarcasm

  38. HykCraft_Returns says:

    I really wish people would stop going to Geek Squad for their computer problems. I run a side business doing this stuff with computer troubleshooting and repair and I charge 70% less than these guys won’t hold your data or computers hostage.

  39. kathyl says:

    Come on people, I’m BEGGING you. Do not buy big box store warranties. If you must buy your electronics and appliances from a chain store, tell them to stuff the extended warranty at least. Find a local, competent repair shop for computers and appliances (ask friends, check internet reviews, make calls, whatever you need to do) and when something breaks, take it to someone who can help you instead of the big box store which a) doesn’t know jack most of the time and everything gets sent out to people you’re never allowed to talk to or reason with and b) already has your money and will avoid losing their profit margin on your warranty to their dying breath.

    Save the money you would have spent on the warranty and then spend it at the most reputable local repair shop you can find, where they will be motivated to earn that money and your future business by doing a superior job for you.

    (And no, I don’t work for a repair shop. I’ve had marvelous experiences with most of the ones I’ve used, and I’ve heard almost nothing but regret from people who try to use their big box extended warranties. The last time I had my computer serviced, they had it for less than 24 hours, they did a great job fixing the problem for me, and it cost a FRACTION of what any extended warranty would have cost me at the time of purchase.)

    Please, please, PLEASE give this a try. I hate to think of people arm wrestling with Best Buy over these warranties. Pay for your repair services at the time of the service and that way you are not a hostage to the place that already has your money.

  40. cortana says:

    File a local lawsuit for breach of contract, watch how fast they find your HD.

  41. lakecountrydave says:

    1) Never go to Best Buy!

    2) You need to contact the attorney whom handles your business’s affairs immediately. He needs to get a judge to order that the hard drive be preserved. Otherwise you have no hope of ever recovering your data. You need to file a suit against Best Buy. My guess that this will not be in small claims as the value of your business’s data will exceed the allowed amounts although they vary by state. As you have relayed the story they have clearly violated the terms of the contract that you signed, and attempted to enforce a “contract” that does not meet any of the elements (offer, acceptance, objective, consideration and competent parties) necessary for a binding agreement.

    3) Next time take the computer to your brother or a reliable, competent company (read: NOT Best Buy)

    4) See #1

    I am not an attorney, nor am I your attorney. As such the above is just my personal opinion, and should be treated as such.

  42. endless says:

    ok:

    if the laptop wasnt recognizing the hard disk. its very unlikely that the local best buy could get data off of it. they do have some tools available to them, which would be useful if the computer was having trouble, but the HD was fine.

    if the HD was indeed dead, and they replaced it at the service center under warranty, yes, i believe that is best buys property. its still possible they could try and do true recovery on it, but be prepared to spend over 800$.

  43. nevets68 says:

    Again what I don’t understand if this woman’s brother “fixes” computers…why didn’t she go to him from the get go?

  44. nevets68 says:

    PS – what the heck is ” reboot disk”?

    Does she mean “system restore cd/dvd”?

    • mewyn dyner says:

      @nevets68:

      Yes, that’s what she meant.

      Average people don’t understand the difference between technical terms. Rebooting can mean to them either restoration or just restarting the computer or even closing and reopening a program. It’s a matter of fact that people who aren’t good with computers won’t get the terminology right. You have to learn to accept it and move on.

  45. Barney_The Plug_ Frank says:

    Your brother sounds like he may have the knowledge or ability to swap out a HD and backup data. Wouldn’t it have been a wise choice for him to make the repairs???

  46. Tamar Weinberg says:

    “He went on to explain how fancy the data retrieval machine was (which is why it cost $99)”

    And later on in the article, it says it costs a “VERY large” sum of money. That just so happens to be normal. Most data recovery firms recover data in the range of $1000 and up. I believe the overhead costs cover the equipment used to retrieve the data, though it helps to comparison shop. I’ve gotten price quotes that range from $1000 to $2700, with the former service being just as competent.

    I think it’s about time Consumerist readers take heed from the multiple complaints about Best Buy and related retailers and stop going there.

  47. psm321 says:

    Didn’t the Consumerist use to have a special line for Consumerist readers to the head of the Geek Squad’s office?

    Err, actually looks like they stopped doing that :(
    [consumerist.com]

  48. TanKill3R says:

    “they didn’t have the cds and so it was my responsibility to buy new ones…they ought to have that kind of stuff there”

    Looks to me like OP not BB is at fault, sounds like they where trying to reinstall the OS on the hdd and needed a CD Key, how is that BB’s fault? OP is at fault for not knowing where the cd is at or the number, she could have wrightn it down and put in here safe or something. I do however think it would have been smart of BB to ask for the install cd beforehand of installing the new hdd, that’s just sloppy work on BB’s part.

    As for everything else, you stayed their until 9pm, you talked to the manager, got a call from BB depot. At this point, I’d just take them to small claims court. If they have any brain cells, they’d give you the hard drive and be done with it. But it wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t, sadly.

    In any case, I’m confused as to why her brother who “fixs computers” didn’t just recommend an external hdd to back up to or an auto backup app. That’s got to be the easiest and hassle free thing to do. My 61 year old mom backs up her info to usb keys. My 55 year old uncle has a few external hdd’s and my grandpa still uses floppy disks. Thinking that your computer hdd is never going to fail is like thinking you’ll never get into a car crash. You can drive safe but it doesn’t mean it cant happen.

  49. StevePJobs says:

    Yeah, that’s “pure evil” all right… Not acceptable at all.

    However, not to blame the consumer or anything, but is it really that difficult to back up your data? Plug-in an external hard drive and copy the contents of your My Documents directory over for the essentials. Anyone can do that. To make sure you get *everything*, use an easy backup application like the Time Machine software Apple includes with their machines. (There certainly are Windows equivalents…)

    Backup, backup, backup. I can’t stress it more. Keep regular backups in case your computer fails, and if you hand your computer to *anybody* for service, back it up before you send it in. @#%! like this *will* happen.

  50. Anonymous says:

    Contact a lawyer regarding intellectual property rights protection. Even is they “own” the hard drive (which is very doubtful) they do NOT under any circumstances own the personal information on the drive. This is similar to people who buy stolen jump drives at flea markets that contain government information. Even if they can claim to have legitimately and innocently purchased the drive, they have NO OWNERSHIP of that information and are obliged BY LAW to return it. This has been established repeatedly in legal cases.

  51. twophrasebark says:

    “This is when she told me that they had been unable to back-up my hard drive before sending it off for repairs…”

    This is simply inexcusable and horrendous.

  52. Vincent Lugo says:

    NEVER go to a large company to get a computer fixed (unless you’re dealing with Apple). ALWAYS go to an independent repair shop. They will usually know what they’re doing and not charge an arm & a leg for something as simple as a backup. If the hard drive is still “accessible,” it’s surprisingly easy to get the data off of it. If the drive is dead, you’re either screwed or you can pay a lot to send it off to a recovery facility (this can go up into the thousands of dollars).

  53. Landru says:

    For all the “She shoulda known…” people, this is how people become consumer activists. It will probably be the last time she goes to BB, in the future she will back up religiously, etc., etc… Weren’t you burned once? Isn’t that why you are here?

  54. gaya2081 says:

    This is how this should have happened:
    Back up completed in store. -call customer if issue
    MRI run on computer (hardware scanner)
    Bad hard detected.
    Call customer to get HD replacement approved (if needed) and get restore cd’s
    replace HD and reinstall OS.

    It should not have needed to get sent out. Everything could and should have been done in store.

    Second point, the fancy backup is just an IDE/SATA->usb cable and copied over all the data. Its doesn’t cost 99 because of a fancy machine, it costs 99 because people pay that much.

    Third-OP have you tried another Best Buy? Some geek squads are…more understanding than others. When I worked for geek squad I couldn’t believe how many customer complained about other stores (they thought ours was much better) and I was semi-appalled at my store.

    Fourth, I now charge $30 + parts for anyone who is not immediate family for computer repair. People think that is reasonable.

  55. vanillakokakola says:

    I just had something similar (but not nearly as severe) happen to me a few weeks ago. Took my laptop in because the computer wouldn’t turn on, they sent it back with a new motherboard, but now my computer has NO idea that I have CD drives (and I’ve tried all the online suggested fixes… meaning that I get to take it back and stand in that ridiculously long line, EXCEPT I have to wait until May because I need the computer for online classes, YAY!)

    The only reason I stuck with Best Buy to begin with is because my parents got my old laptop there as a graduation present for me, and then when that laptop was fried when it went in to Geek Squad about 2 years later, they inexplicably replaced it with a brand new computer.

    • gaya2081 says:

      @vanillakokakola: Did you try the registry key fixed? I can’t remember it off the top of my head.

      email me if you didn’t and I will try and find it

      my username @ gmail . com

      • vanillakokakola says:

        @gaya2081: yeah, i even tried doing it myself following the step-by-step directions, and then downloaded a script that did the same thing just in case i did it wrong… no dice. so i guess i have to go back to best buy and be like “can you fix what you were already supposed to have fixed, kthx”

  56. heybtbm says:

    F’ing unbelievable. This is what you get when you have a consumer electronics monopoly.

  57. HurfDurf says:

    Best Buy is like the new Circuit City.

  58. FDCPAGuy says:

    @vanillakokakola

    Try this. It’s a known windows software issue.
    [news.sequimpc.com]

  59. FDCPAGuy says:

    1. There really is no direct contact number for a SVC. It’s mainly done via email or electronic online form.
    2. If the unit would not see the HDD as a boot device it most likely WAS dead and could NOT be backed up.
    3. Who owns a business and doesn’t back up their data? Sounds like someone I don’t want to do business with.

  60. Anonymous says:

    It’s not BestBuy’s fault that they didn’t have the customer’s OWN BOOT DISC onhand. It’s not like boot discs are universal, and a part of a set of repair tools like a screwdriver. Boot discs are software that you purchase the contract to as an individual when you buy your computer. BestBuy has no obligation to keep a copy of the software YOU should be responsible for onhand at your beck and whim, just because you misplaced your own.

  61. MisterE says:

    Would a lawsuit in small claims court be in order? I wonder if she lives in one of those states where she could get the max for breach of contract?

  62. katiat325 says:

    The following is from my boyfriend, not me:

    I have to admit that being an employee of the geek squad has been the worst work experience by far however I can say with confidence that not all precincts are equal. My fellow employees and I make a point to call every customer to inform them of the status of their unit before sending it out to service. Also, Any servics that were not performed, (such as an unsuccessful data backup) warrant a full refund of the backup fee and the diagnostic fee is waived under the service plan as well. That kind of shady tactics that the OP described is the kind of stuff that gave GS a bad name in the first place and i hear about it all the time, but we all dont play like that. Although I will say that she did sign a legally binding contract that says that we are not responsible for any loss of data. I doubt her brother the computer genius has The clean room in his basement to open up the damaged HDD that came out of her computer to remove the data so it was a total loss anyways. THIS HUGE mistake still lies with the GS manager and precinct. They failed to inform the customer of her unit being shipped to service and did not give her a chance to say no. Thats a violation of company policy and should be looked into further with corporate. By the way, there is a public phone number for the Service Center, she should call another BB to ask them for it if this one did not provide it. Finally, regarding the recovery disks issue, these disks are under license and only come with a new PC. It is against Microsoft licensing and copyright law for the geek squad to be in posession of these disks as they are for one computer installation only. If you lose these disks, thats your problem. For the rest of you, if your concerned about losing your pictures, financial, or business data, WHY WOULD YOU NOT BACK IT ALL UP ON SEPARATE MEDIA? That to me is just looking for trouble and you deserve to lose everything for your lack of foresight in an era of the disposable (and breakable) everything.

  63. katiat325 says:

    @Hoss: The reason that they hold onto the HD (from what my bf told me about BB)is that since they replaced it with a new one, the old one they send to the manufacturer which can then refurbish it and put into a new computer. BB makes a small amount of money from doing that.

  64. Anonymous says:

    Any office supply store sells software that will backup your hard-drive onto an external hard-drive for safe keeping and when you have so much important data on it – as this woman, wouldn’t it be prudent to invest a couple hundred dollars to do it yourself in case of any future hard-drive disaster?
    “An ounce of prevention – is worth a pound of cure !!!

  65. tworld says:

    Maybe it’s time to shun Best Buy and put them out of business. Only stores and companies who realize that the CUSTOMER is the only reason their business stays alive should be allowed to thrive.

    SHOPPERS UNITE!!

  66. Nicolai Hilckmann says:

    Fail #1 – “that hard drive contained all the information for my business including the files for my website, my financial information, etc… as well as personal things such as thousands of pictures that I’ve taken and stored on the computer.”

    Did not back up her own data in the first place

    Fail #2 – Bringing a computer into Geek Squad for data backup with a dead hard drive ( I would also like to point out the failure of the GS rep for not explaining that it is not always possible to retrieve data from a dead hard drive)

    Fail #3 – “I have NO clue where the discs were(or if we even still have them)”

    No recovery discs (BB and HP would have to charge you for a new copy of the OS thanks to Microsoft)

    Fail #4 – GS should have called and said that they could not back up the data before replacing the hard drive

    Fail #5 – GS refusing to return the hard drive? What’s up with that?

    All in all, I’ll give this a 50 / 50 blame. Bad situation to be in but I’m sure Nicole has learned a very important lesson.

  67. fantomesq says:

    Best Buy keeps the replaced hard drive because:

    1) If it was repaired under manufacturer’s warranty they need to return the core (read: defective part) if they don’t want to be charged out the nose for the replacement drive.

    2) If it was repaired under Best Buy’s warranty, it is an cost accountability issue to combat fraud – that is the tech ordering warranty parts for non-warranty repairs.

    The fail here – and the point the customer should pursue with management – is that she contracted for a service to preserve her data and upon the failure of that process she should have been given the option on whether to send the laptop off knowing that they hadn’t saved her data and that the hard drive would likely be replaced at the service center.

    Some manufacturer’s take this to the next level – send an eMachine for warranty repair and they’ll swap it out for another one – if you had ANY upgrades to the machine, RAm, HD, etc. they are gone not to mention the data.

    Ongoing Data backup is the customer’s responsibility.

  68. endless says:

    a customer came in one time, old guy, asked “whats the stupidest thing you’ve seen people do?”

    all the typical answers came up, CD tray as a cup holder, thinking something wasn’t working when its a 1 button on/off fix, etc.

    but after thinking about it for a few minutes i decided, the stupidest thing i REGULARLY see is people running a business with one computer, and no back up data or systems.

    people who do that and then have problems don’t get a lot of sympathy from me.

  69. bossco says:

    Pure evil! What happen to just be courteous and helpful?

  70. FessLove says:

    These people are shady. GeekSquad will try to sell every service and piece of software they can, regardless of your need for it. When I worked as a tech at Circuit City, it was made VERY clear that losing a customers information without their consent is a serious no no. We had a seperate form a customer had to fill out if we had to reformat a hard drive. The form said in clear terms “All information on your computer will be lost. You are free to refuse this service”.

  71. haoshufu says:

    Yet, so many people love Best Buy and keep patronizing them. Forget about small claims court. Just file a law suit at a municiple court for damages and I think the OP can easily justify over $100,000 for loss of the data. Once it makes some headlines, I am sure BB will be a lot more coorporative.

  72. redhelix says:

    The BBY contract explicitly states that the $99 is for the attempt to back up the data, whether it is successful or not. During my time at GS I had to explain this repeatedly to hundreds of customers, who still didn’t seem to understand the concept even after my repeated explanations. Chalk up another one.

    They are at fault for not supplying her with her original HDD – it is her property – but they’re under no obligation to recover her data after already having made their best attempt, as the contract states.

    • Logan26 says:

      @redhelix:

      The problem you have is that she was lead to believe they could retrieve the data, not that they would TRY to recover the data. GS goons are just that, goons whom i wouldn’t trust with a potatoe gun, which you are now on the list.

  73. endless says:

    going to have a bitch of a time.

    she signed a contract preventing that from happening. unless a judge wants to overrule it, shes up a creek.

  74. shmoos says:

    It’s best to find an independant computer repair man.
    I dropped my laptop and finished it.
    I had to buy a new laptop.
    I took it into a local store and he transfered everything to the new laptop.
    Cost: under $25.00

  75. Logan26 says:

    Why in the world do people still buy warranies from this crocked company? Why do people even go to them for services?

    The OP is/was clearly stupid and shouldn’t even be running a bussiness if she deals with BB for anything other than buying her computers from them.

  76. Anonymous says:

    Something similar happened to my wife. It was 3 weeks before our wedding and her laptop (which had all of the guest list and gifts received data on it as well as pictures and a book she’d been writing since ’97) came up with a BSOD. This wasn’t the first time and because GS had done service on it before, I told her to take it back there since they never actually solved the problem to begin with (ended up being a problem with the fan and cooling system since Toshiba’s are NOTORIOUS for that design flaw.)

    When she got in and spoke to the GS employee, she mentioned that she didn’t bring a flash drive or anything and should she do a back-up or have someone attempt a back-up first. The employee reassured her that it was fine and that they’d do it.

    Fast-forward to seven business days later. She hadn’t received a call and decided to go in. When she got there (after waiting in line for about an hour) she asked about her machine and was told that they hadn’t even started working on it yet. She was shocked and immediately asked to get it back and have the diagnostic fee refunded. They were nice about that and did so.

    She gets home and turns on the computer and finds that XP had been reinstalled and that her HDD was wiped clean. All of her data from ’97 until now was gone. Since I wasn’t living with her at the time (still with the parents) she frantically calls me extremely upset and asks what she should do. I told her to go back with her forms and complain considering that the forms also said that she had DECLINED a back-up.

    Keep in mind that I’ve been doing system repairs for about 10-12 years, have built my last three machines and both my father (who has been doing IA for 20+ years) and I have taught her very well to always back-up and if she hasn’t recently and work needs to be done, to get the back-up done as well. Therefore, when she goes in and asks to speak to a manager, she is told that there is nothing they can do since she apparently declined the back-up.

    Fast-forward to three weeks later, a still dead computer and the week of our wedding. My parents come up for the wedding (obv.) and we all take a trip out to the same BB. My father had tried doing data recovery on it going so far as to use his government issued recovery software for forensics use and found that they had done a complete and secure wipe. The entire drive had been overwritten by 0′s 7 times (as ordered under Dept. Of Defense standards.) In any case, when he mentions this to the supervisor and asks to see the original paperwork that my fiance had signed, they said that that was confidential information despite the fact that she was right there. My father proceeded to throw a fit.

    “How can her signature on forms requesting to have work done be confidential information when she’s standing right here?! You idiot’s wiped her drive even after she requested a back-up and it wasn’t done!! Is there any way you can talk to the employee that she worked with originally?!” The supervisor then informed him that that employee was “no longer with the company.”

    Long story short (even though it was very long) they ended up giving my fiance a $260.00 gift card because that was how much she ended up being charged for some reason which I still haven’t understood…

  77. James Edward Simons says:

    sue them.. IANAL, sue them.. get a lawyer and sue them for breaking the written contract.. it’s more than just a hard drive, or information on that drive.. it’s that they entered into a legally binding contract with you and broke it..

    would this be different if it were a health care provider?? or an insurance company??

    until consumers start defending themselves with more than just getting pissed, or social engineering the situation, things will not change on the greater level..

    contact your state’s AG and file a complaint.. then take them to court..

  78. Deezul_AwT says:

    This is not a universal BB method. I took my wife’s computer in to get her hard drive replaced under warranty. Not only did BB NOT ship it off to be repaired, but they put in a larger hard drive than was in there originally, and had no problem giving me back my old hard drive. It was dead anyway.

  79. Anonymous says:

    As a former CompUSA employee, I see that a lot of my former CompUSA co-workers are now working at the local Best Buy. This smells just like the same sort of dung that smelled up the CUSA tech shop, and I worked it! Other techs would upsell the customer to improve their daily metrics. We were expected to earn 10x our base pay per day in repair fees. They would upsell $40 powercleans (which was a scandisk and airblow the case), then skip off and do the easy work or do shortcuts (like not do the powerclean that the customer paid for), then I’d have to come in and deal with the REAL problem computers, and the “reworks” that customers bring back because their PC wasn’t properly repaired. Oh, but in my six hour shift, I’d have to spend four hours answering phone calls of pissed off customers, and tech desk check-ins, because the company cut our payroll for a service writer. I’d only have a small fraction of my shift available for bench time. And to top it off, 2 weeks before Christmas, the company laid off everybody but one technician and a manager, to meet their quarterly numbers! I apologize for the rant, but the Geek Squad M.O. smells like the same ‘ole funny business coming out of CUSA. What do you expect to get from a freshly minted A+ tech who gets paid $10 bucks an hour, and is pressured from management to upsell the customer and meet their daily dollar metrics?

    Everybody who knows, knows swapping out a hard drive takes all of 15 minutes, but the fact is it takes hours to really fix a lot of Windows computer problems, and typical consumers’ computers are DEFERRED MAINTENANCE and NEGLECT issues.

    It used to be a breath of fresh air to shop Best Buy. Nowadays it’s just CompUSA with a different name.

  80. King Biggs says:

    that sounds like they broke their end of the contract. why bother with small claims, thats under $5K, get yourself a lawyer who would be happy to get that data FORENSICALLY retrieved and let FUCK BUY foot the bill! why you are at it, why not protest on the sidewalk in front of their store. hand out little “pamphlets” that tell your story, and we’ll see how much fun they have with people disgusted and leaving!!

  81. Zeniq says:

    As someone who worked at a Best Buy for nearly a year, specializing in Customer Backups, I am ashamed for the Geek Squad agents in this story. In the event that we ever screwed something like this up, the people I worked with always did our best to fix the problem, including free data recovery (The expensive service the OP mentioned, often costing $700+), because customer data was a huge priority for us.

    I’m finding more and more that almost no Geek Squad Precincts hold that same priority.

  82. mariospants says:

    Luckily I have only ever had one major hd failure (master boot table corrupted) and I was able to resuscitate 90% of the data using an $80 off-the-shelf piece of software (and another computer). You’d think that the staff at GS would at least be competent enough to handle something this typical. These guys seem to give used car salesmen a good name.

    I have multiple backups of my most important data and over time, files such as family pictures are transferred from next gen to next gen (floppy disks -> zip drive -> cdrom -> jaz drive -> dvd rom… I guess the next step is bluray). I also advocate multiple backups as you never know what might happen to those disks (and keep the multiples in different storage containers and locations).

    People are touting online storage as the solution to this dilemma, and it certainly would help in this case, but if the company storing your data goes deep six you might as well say good by to it.

    Again, your best bet is constantly archiving your data.

  83. chumleyex says:

    Geez I couldn’t even finish reading this. All I got from this was that her data was so important that she never bothered to keep it safe. Of course BB should have followed through with the backup (as purchased) but yes you need to keep up with your data and your software disks. I would just hand you back the computer with a blank drive and say it’s repaired.

    Only an idiot would think that their computer won’t break and they won’t lose data. Google carbonite back and try that. sheesh.

  84. wellfleet says:

    I hope I can clarify some of the issues here, as a former GS manager, and a current BBY manager

    1. I’m sorry she lost her files and had a bad experience, that’s the truly unfortunate part
    2. The contract she signs waives GS responsibility for ANY and ALL loss of data, even if she asked for GS to do the data backup. While it seems harsh, it’s up to consumers to keep their PCs backed up. If her unit had caught fire in the precinct, she would have lost her data also. Her HDD was probably too far gone.
    3. The data backup machine, contrary to what a former employee posted here, is a mule PC that reimages itself a minimum of once a month. It is remotely controlled by corporate. It backs up to disc only. This was rolled out to all precincts to avoid the whole flash-drive porn-stealing issues. The mule is locked and cannot be accessed. File names cannot be seen either.
    4. Per her service agreement that she got when she purchased the warranty, any parts that are replaced become the property of BBY. Geek Squad city in Louisville processed thousands of units a day and shipping back random parts for customers is not practical.
    5. If she partners with the GS agent that helped her, she can still get her HDD before it gets destroyed, the agent needs to get in touch with their service center contact ASAP before the HDD is destroyed.

    6. Best solution to actually remediate her situation is to go back to store and find a sympathetic ear. Partner with someone who will take your side and yell at the appropriate people until we get her HDD back.

  85. RvLeshrac says:

    (Disclosure: I work for a competing brick-and-mortar regional chain. I’m not mentioning names, but it was the first one brought up in the comments.)

    @wellfleet:

    (Reply button is broken again)

    1. ‘k

    2. Yes, it does. But you don’t have to be a dick about it. You also shouldn’t be sending out units with bad drives. The customer should be offered a data recovery service first, or at least informed that the data is not recoverable.

    3. I can understand that.

    4. If it was a service plan, the core belongs to the service-plan underwriter. If it wasn’t a service plan (manufacturer’s warranty), the core is HP’s property. HOWEVER, “we’re too lazy to do it” isn’t an excuse for not shipping the part back. If it had already been destroyed or reclaimed, that’s one thing – but if it was sitting in the DC waiting to be processed, it could have been recovered for the customer.

    5. Why bother saying #4 if you’re going to contradict yourself? One of the most iritating things about working in retail is when managers, like yourself, contradict themselves not five minutes after stating something. You can get the drive back or you can’t. You don’t “get the drive back if we feel like it.”

    6. Management should be attempting to resolve the problem *before* the customer is yelling. The customer shouldn’t be treated differently simply because they’re angry. If you only solve problems for angry customers, all of your customers will be angry.

  86. wellfleet says:

    @RvLeshrac

    I didn’t say we are too lazy to do it. I simply said it is extraordinarily difficult and not a part of normal operating procedure. I guess I should have been more clear. It is literally like digging for a HDD in a pile of HDD all waiting to be destroyed.

    I agree with your last point, they should have notified her that her data was not recoverable by normal means and offered the deep data recovery service again. It would have been the kind. humane thing to do.

    To your last point, I would have immediately teamed with the customer to find a solution. In fact, I dealt with a customer who had a similar issue, except in her case her computer was not deemed repairable at service and she was given store credit to purchase new unit, then the customer wanted their HDD back after refusing data backup. I had to use every contact I had and it still took three weeks for the HDD to be found and sent back. I was happy to do this for customer, but I could have been unsuccessful.

    It’s interesting that an article was posted on CS today about people who never read contracts before they sign them. I believe that many GS issues would be avoided if people read contracts before agreeing to them.

  87. wellfleet says:

    @Zeniq… I find your post difficult to believe as deep data recovery goes to Kroll On-Trak not to GS City. Plus, if the HDD was hosed, there was no way for them to do data backup. The big screw-up here is that nobody notified the customer that her data was not recovered.

  88. kreatre2009 says:

    From all of the horror stories on here, it’s surprising that anyone takes their computers to those fat bastards at the Geek Squad. When buying a computer from Best Buy, don’t EVER purchase their extended service plans. Check on what options are provided by the OEM instead. I’ve dealt with the service departments at HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Apple. Dealing with the actual manufacturer of your computer is far better than dealing with the morons at Best Buy. When I worked as a Mac Genius at one of the Apple Stores, I would have never treated a customer like this. I cared about the customer’s experience a lot more than making money off some petty little backup fee.

    That being said…. It’s YOUR responsibility to perform regular backups of your data just in case you have a hard drive failure. Unless you take ownership of doing regular backups, your data cannot be protected. There are dozens of backup programs out there. Many of them do more than just perform backups. External hard drives are getting cheaper every day. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE for not backing up your data. Every day I come home from work, my MacBook Pro is attached to an external hard drive. Time Machine automatically backups up everything that I created throughout the day. If my hard drive dies today, I won’t lose a thing, and I certainly won’t be taking my computer to those fat slobs at GS.

  89. kreatre2009 says:

    Oh… And one more thing… It’s stupid to pack away your restore disks and then not be able to find them when you need them. I keep all of my software in a large CD case that is stored in a closet in my home. When I need to reinstall something, I can do so without having to worry about it being packed away somewhere. Why do people place so little importance on keeping their software disks? It’s stupid. The reason why Best Buy can’t just reinstall everything is because they need your license code(s). Without them, they cannot install the software.

  90. RvLeshrac says:

    (Disclaimer: See earlier disclaimer)

    @wellfleet:

    Our policy WRT non-warranty-core service parts (which have to be shipped to the warranter within a very small window) is to hold on to them at store-level. Which, I supposed, is a lot easier when employees aren’t stealing customer data. But if BBY is going to ship the parts to a DC, they need to segregate/catalog them so that they are easy to recover should the need arise.

    In the case of a warranted HDD where the core must be returned, we can offer them the old HDD back if they purchase a new HDD (to send back) and have it OK’d with the warranty provider. Nearly all of them are fine with that, as all they want is *a comparable* part, and if they get a new, undamaged part, it benefits them.

    Our customers never read the contracts, either. We take that for granted at this point, and only enforce them to their fullest if it becomes a legal matter.

    @kreatre2009:

    I wonder this, as well. Too many people complain that we didn’t reinstall Office/etc, and that they’ve lost the discs. I want to know exactly how monumentally stupid you have to be to lose the installation media (and the product key!) for a product you spend $100-$200 on and, more importantly, complain that it isn’t being replaced for free when you don’t even have any proof that you owned the product in the first place.

    @everyone-who-says-we-shouldn’t-blame-the-consumer-because-few-of-us-make-backups:

    I don’t do backups, even though I should, because my data isn’t that important If I lose everything, I might be a little disappointed, but I’m not going to lose my home.

    Most, if not all, of these “omgtheydidn’tbackupmydata” stories include the OP going on and on about how INCREDIBLY important their data was, and about how they just couldn’t lose it, or how it was the only copy of all of their business data, etc.

    If your data *really is* that important, and you fail to back *ANY* of it up, you are, frankly, a complete idiot.

    (Note that there are cases where someone is using ‘Mozy’ or ‘Carbonite’ to back things up, and the backup is incomplete, or the backup processing failed. I place the entire blame, legal and otherwise, on the backup services there. If they claim that their product is safer and more reliable than a home backup, they’d better make damn sure it works the first time and every time.)

  91. RvLeshrac says:

    @kreatre2009:

    One more thing: The only reason that BBY couldn’t reinstall the OS is because they were keeping pirated software around (Copies of XP with cracked activation, etc.), and BBY went way too far overboard when they dealt with the situation. The OS key is on the side of every unit, when dealing with a $brand$ prebuilt, and drivers are on the manufacturer’s website.

  92. Mister-e Tarot says:

    Not to take credit, but I sent a rather severe request to the four top executives referencing this story on the poster’s behalf. So glad to see it worked out for you…kudos!

  93. Sarah Nopp says:

    My husband does computer repairs & data recovery locally, and he hears this story OVER & OVER. It is not an “isolated incident”. It is Standard Operating Procedure. If his clients are lucky, they chat with him before the machine is shipped away and they can reclaim it.

  94. Anonymous says:

    What GS did wrong was that they did not contact this lady and let her know that they could not back up her data before sending the unit off, thats a pretty big mistake.

    However in the service agreement that she purchases, obviously without reading the terms and conditions she did agree that the HDD because best buy property if it is replaced at the service center just like what happened here. If she had read her service agreement, or even the paperwork she signed to send the unit to service it clearly states that if replacements happen the old hardware is best buy’s property and the customer has no claim to it any longer.

    She is quite lucky that she ever got any information back. Geek Squad and best buy recently changed their policies and the first thing that is done to a harddrive upon replacement now is that it is immediately cored destroying all hopes that information could be retrieved off of it. This is done due to data privacy issues.

    Geek Squad also does not have a way to call their service centers and make requests. The only option open to them is an email system. So again, accusing them of brushing you off for this information is incorrect.

    Recovery discs are always needed in the case of a harddrive replacement because a new harddrive will be blank, meaning it has no software on it at all. Due to licensing agreements from the software manufacturers like microsoft, geek squad cannot legally keep a stash of discs laying around and distribute an operating system to customers if they have to have their harddrive replaced. There is also information like drivers on your recovery discs that are unique to your model of computer so if geek squad were able to keep discs they would have to have a set for every single model of computer that best buy ever carried. So here again, accusing them of wrongdoing is highly inaccurate because they were following the law, not a best buy policy, its the law.

    Customers who are uninformed, yell, scream, and accuse employees of trying to screw them over is why customers get treated so poorly or with “better than thou” attitudes by those same employees. If you had to deal with an endless stream of idiots who don’t read what they sign and agree to, then yell at you about it you would treat customers poorly too. Do geek squad employees or even former employees throw a fit when they have to deal with geek squad? No they don’t because they know what the rules, laws, regulations, and expectations are.