This May Be The World's Least Competent Geek Squad Outpost

Cyndi writes that she has had her HP computer for just about 20 months, and a two-year extended warranty with Geek Squad along with it. From the very first months that she owned the computer, things have gone wrong with the computer, but things have gone even more terribly wrong with Geek Squad’s repairs. Raise your hand if you’re surprised.

She writes on her blog:

We purchased our computer in 10/2008 with a 2 year extended warranty. Two months later it would not power up. We took it to the local Geek Squad where they put in a new power supply (for unknown reasons they did not replace the power supply with the same part, they added a different power supply with a separate on/off switch), claimed all was well and sent me home. When I hooked everything back up I couldn’t connect to the internet. The NIC appeared to have been damaged or was missing. I returned it to the store where they tried for several hours to install software to workaround this hardware problem before finally telling me they had to ship it to their super secret service center.

At the service center they replaced the motherboard but the replacement motherboard was also defective. They replaced the motherboard again. Then they replaced the CPU. They declared it fixed and returned it to the store. I was instructed to come pick it up. When I arrived there was nothing on my computer, not even an operating system. I had to return the next day to pick it up again.

All of this took a month and significant time and effort on my part to even find out what the status was throughout the entire ordeal. This was a 2 month old computer with at minimum 5 repair attempts. Best Buy’s extended warranty has a no-lemon clause which says it will replace any item on which there are 3 qualified repair attempts (I notice on their website this has since been changed to 4). The loophole is the word “qualified”. Even though they attempted to repair my two month old computer 5 times, they did not assign a new service order number to each attempt so all of these attempts only counted as 1 repair attempt.

Never mind that it would have been more efficient, less expensive and better customer service for them to just have replaced my two month old computer. No, they much preferred to spend a month replacing multiple components that they had to purchase from HP while their customer became more and more dissatisfied.

Fast forward to the end of May 2010. Suddenly the NIC is once again damaged or missing. Nothing else was acting up but I could, once again, not connect to the internet. I took it back to the dreaded store where I immediately encountered a shady Geek Squad Agent who claimed that he couldn’t even get the computer to boot up, it appeared to be a software issue, not a hardware issue and that I would need to pay $130 in order for him to perform a diagnostic test to diagnose the problem. I questioned the $130 fee since it is still under warranty but he insisted it was a software issue, most likely a virus he said, and therefore I had to pay for the diagnostic test. I left the store with my computer.

When I got home I plugged it in, turned it on, and it booted up just fine. The only issue was still the NIC. A friend of ours with a master’s degree in Information Technology, ten years of experience working on much more complicated problems and systems than the Geek Squad agents are qualified to handle and diagnostic tools of his own, ran the same diagnostic that Best Buy runs. Twice. Nothing. No virus. No malware. No software issues at all. The NIC was simply missing from the ROM BIOS.

After finding a sympathetic and seemingly helpful Geek Squad agent on Twitter (@AgentScottie) who confirmed that the diagnostic test was included in my extended warranty and that I should not be charged $130, he suggested that it sounded like a hardware problem and that I should take it back to the store just to have them ship it to the service center. He understood that I did not trust the in-store Geek Squad since they claimed that my computer had no operating system when it did, had a virus when it did not, and tried to get $130 out of me for something that is included in my extended warranty.

I returned to the dreaded store and asked them to ship it to the service center. I specifically stated that I did not want them to touch it, other than to pack it and ship it. The same agent who tried to scam me out of $130 immediately started plugging my computer in and taking it apart despite my having just instructed him not to touch it. A manager came over who did acknowledge that I should not have been asked to pay the $130 but that it was “irrelevant” that his employee had insisted upon charging me. He was combative and rude and not helpful in any way.

Today I have learned that the service center replaced the video card for no apparent reason as we had no problems with the display when we dropped it off. They also replaced the motherboard (this would be motherboard #4, including the original) claiming it had a short. I have yet to find out if the original problem (NIC) has been repaired or replaced but I have been told that the operating system will need to be reinstalled due to the number of components that were replaced. When I pointed out that the only reason the operating system would have been removed was if they had replaced the hard drive, I was given a new excuse for replacing the operating system: the computer is only able to boot into safe mode and that this can be a sign of either damaged startup files or corrupted drivers – both of which are issues that can be addressed by reinstalling Windows. The catch here is that if the latter excuse is accurate, they can move my profile including all files, off in safe mode, reinstall Windows and then put all my files back onto my computer. However, they really want me to pay the $150 fee for backing up my files so therein explains the multiple excuses for reinstalling Windows.

Upon expressing concern about all of this AGAIN, I was told to take it up with the in-store Geek Squad when my computer arrives there later this week!

I had also e-mailed my issues to HP and even received a call stating that I would hear from the retail services department within 48 hours but, shockingly, have not heard from anyone at HP since then.

In summary, my complaints about the horrible service at this store have been completely ignored. I have no idea if the problem I took it in for has been fixed. Multiple components have been replaced with no detailed or logical explanation provided. They are trying their hardest to either claim this is a software issue or to get me to pay to back-up my files when it is not necessary and is also not in line with providing excellent customer service after all the nonsense I have had to put up with over this computer. And it would have been cheaper and easier to replace this computer since we are now up to 8 repair attempts.

Update: Immediately upon publishing this I received this response from @AgentScottie: “I apologize you’ve had such trouble with us thus far. If it were up to me, I would’ve replaced the PC already. But sadly” – via Twitter. And this from him this morning: “Again I’m truly sorry for the issues you’ve encountered. This is definitely not the level of service client’s should expect“ – via Twitter. Too bad he’s not running the show.

No, it’s definitely not the level of service clients should expect. Even from Geek Squad.

@HPSupport @BestBuy @TwelpForce #Ripoff #CustomerServiceFail [So Much More Than a Mom]