Best Buy Repairs Laptop With Fried Motherboard By Replacing Hard Drive, Removing Operating System

The Geek Squad service timeline for Stephen’s $1300 Asus laptop went something like this: ship it off for repairs, get it back in an even more broken state and missing all data, be forced to buy a $35 disk from Asus to prove to Best Buy that the problem is their responsibility, then finally find that something went missing during the first repair. Stephen eventually just asked for his money back on his ruined laptop, but the best he could get was store credit.

I bought an ASUS G73JH high end gaming notebook from Best Buy because at the time it was literally the “best buy” for $1,200 (about $1,300 with tax) whereas unmodified versions of the notebook sold online start at $1,550. For a month, I was pleased as punch because this product is of the highest quality that ASUS is known for. However, after about a month the thing just would not even boot up to BIOS (basically, the lights would go on but the computer itself would not start).

I knew the motherboard had simply fried itself due to defect, and considering I had treated this object like it was made of glass with diamond studs, it certainly was not due to any action of mine. The item was just plain defective. I brought it in to be serviced by the Geek Squad and they confirmed it was broken. When I received it back from the service center, I was surprised to discover that they had unnecessarily replaced my hard drive (data storage component) in addition to the broken motherboard, leaving me with a notebook that had no operating system. In other words, Geek Squad returned to me an expensive paperweight, unless I had a recovery disc to reinstall an operating system.

Geek Squad’s disclaimer for replacing (aka stealing) a functioning hard drive with a months worth of my data on it:

* They had offered to make a recovery disc for me if I paid $100 at purchase. A service that is bordering worthless.

* They had offered to transfer my data to the new hard drive for $100. Effectively a ransom on my data.

* I had not made a recovery disc myself within the month of ownership. Irrelevant, if the product had not been defective and they had not replaced the hard drive.

* I can buy a recovery disc online from the manufacturer, ASUS, so that I can have the laptop functioning like it originally had. Paying for the software I already bought, essentially.

Luckily, I have a few standard Windows install discs at home because my family has an extensive history of computer use. The operating system installs fine, but after doing so I discover that the keyboards back light does not function, and (much more critically) not all of the RAM is being recognized. Also, the hard drive is of a different brand and/or lesser quality than the one that it was stocked with. After contacting ASUS technical support, I troubleshoot the problem by reinstalling different versions of Windows, installing and reinstalling device drivers, but nothing works.

At this point, I want a full refund in cash, and to wash my hands of this situation and Best Buy. I don’t want an exchange, nor another series of weeks waiting for them to give me back a laptop that is broken in different ways; not even store credit would make me happy now. I want my money back because I know exactly where this is going: more runarounds.

So I bring it in again and they run diagnostics on it overnight to find that their software can’t detect any hardware errors. However, diagnostic programs are hardly perfect and the hardware might be defective and they just can’t detect it. They tell me that they won’t do anything further for me until I buy a recovery disc and prove that it’s not an operating system or software problem. $35 and another couple weeks later, I get my recovery disc and find that the computer is unable to recover from it due to an error. I bring it in for round 3, they try it again, and then again with a different disc to get the same results.

The Geek Squad agent, as part of his procedure, opens up the laptop to see if the RAM is part of the problem. As it turns out, one stick of RAM is missing. Someone at the Service Center was either incompetent and didn’t remember to put it back when when replacing the motherboard, or they stole it. Of course, for all they know I could have stolen it because a security sticker that they’re supposed to put in there to see if it had been tampered with, was not even placed.

There is now more evidence that the Geek Squad Service Center is incompetent. First: they had replaced my hard drive for no reason, second: they didn’t reinstall an operating system, third: they probably didn’t even plug the keyboard backlight back in or did so improperly, fourth: this new motherboard was probably damaged or defective, and now we know that they have effectively stolen about $40 worth of RAM from me.

Behind closed doors, the Geek Squad agent explained to the General Manager just how seriously messed up this thing was. I’m guessing, so as to not have to confront me again, she authorized a refund for store credit. This might be considered nice since their return policy only covers things like notebooks for all of two weeks after purchase for refund. But that is a very crappy warranty to begin with, and even the Geek Squad service plans don’t offer refunds, only exchanges, repairs, and worthless services that I can do myself are offered.

So here I am, with $1,300 worth of Store Credit for a store I don’t ever want to patronize again. I am still pursuing other means of getting my cash back either by selling the gift card to Plastic Jungle, or maybe a friend that buys thousands of dollars worth of junk from Best Buy.

Comments

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  1. ShyamasriPera2 says:

    I don’t care for the GS at all, but come on:
    1 – most PCs/notebooks/laptops/whatever do not come with OS discs, the first thing you do is burn the recovery DVDs; it is your own fault for not having one;
    2 – most (all?) places where you submit a PC for repair will tell you to make sure you have backups, some even make you sign a waiver re. data loss; again, make your own backups; and
    3 – offering to make backups and/or a recovery disc is not a “ransom”, it’s the fee for a service, you either do it yourself or pay someone.

    That does not excuse the GS from messing up on the RAM, etc. but I fail to see why the OP should receive a cash refund; just buy a mac with applecare and you’re all set :)

    Besides, if the OP is so tech savvy, why is he taking stuff to the GS? Could have sent it to Asus directly.

    And a parting thought, if you don’t make backups because as long as the product works you don’t need it… well…

    • Dunkelzahn says:

      He wanted a gaming unit. Unfortunately, even with Steam, Macs still aren’t where you want to go when you want a gaming unit. He also seemed to get a good deal during initial purchase, and he couldn’t know that it was actually going to be a raw deal in the end.

      Some people are all about the quick fix and not the good fix. Sounds like he was interested in the quick fix, since he took it to GS instead of Asus.

      All this gives me is re-affirmation not to buy computers from brick-and-mortar stores with worthless support.

      • ShyamasriPera2 says:

        Ok, I missed the gaming unit part. Then simply get a toshiba, you can get warranty directly with them… as with most manufacturers.

        • Dunkelzahn says:

          Actually the Asus was a great choice… they make great machines (Yes, it did fail quickly, but things happen and as long as they repair it quickly and efficiently they’re good in my book). His fail was purchasing the unit from Best Try. I agree wholeheartedly with purchasing directly from manufacturers.

      • ShadowFalls says:

        Macs make pretty decent gaming laptops, but you will end up shelling out a lot more money to get some equivalent. Still nice if you to own that sort of thing as you can install Windows on them now. I could never justify the cost as the hardware is pretty much the same and the quality isn’t much better.

    • Promethean Sky says:

      I’m going to have to disagree with you on one point. GS removed a functioning hard drive, and replaced it. There was no reason to believe that they would do that, and it doesn’t make any sense that they would, unless they stood to profit. Ransom.

      • ShyamasriPera2 says:

        Going to have to disagree with you :) The system wouldn’t post, so how did he know the HD was still working? Besides, if your data is important then you’ll back it up all the time, not just when you think something is wrong.

        • Gilcole says:

          If the system doesn’t POST it’s most likely a mobo issue, and i’m sure the OP has enough tech savvy to know what the hard drive click of doom is.

          Buuuuut, you’re always supposed to back up your data so no matter how you look at it, the OP goofed on that one. :P

          • ShyamasriPera2 says:

            Actually, I’ve had servers not post due to a faulty HD as well as a faulty cpu fan, e.g. the cpu fan was working except it was shorting the mobo…

            But yeah, we all agree on the backups :)

        • Promethean Sky says:

          I’m not saying he shouldn’t have backed up. Irresponsible not to. Heck, if it was functional, he could have hooked it to a PC and backed up/cloned it even after the laptop died. All that is besides the point though.

    • c!tizen says:

      I agree with you on this and here’s why:

      - Cardinal rule is always keep your data backed up. It’s easy enough to set up a reoccurring weekly, daily, hourly backup to an external hard drive. And if he’s savvy enough to “know” the motherboard was fried due to a defect, he’s savvy enough to backup his data.

      - The recovery disk is your responsibility. It asks you if you want to make it when you start the machine the first time. If you’re too impatient to make one then don’t cry when they charge you for it. Part of the discounts on that machine are the lack of physical media. You always have the option to burn it.

      - Offering to transfer you data isn’t a ransom, it’s a service. And if they offered to transfer the data that should have sent up red flags right away. Why do you want to transfer my data for a motherboard issue?

      - It’s not irrelevant that he failed to make the recovery disks, in fact I’m going as far as to say that this situation shows it’s relevance well.

      - For someone so savvy he didn’t’ check the memory when it wasn’t showing up? I’m also willing to bet that his gaming rig came with a 64-bit OS and he installed a 32-bit OS in it’s place. It’s barely going to read anything over 3GB.

      -The HDD is a different brand or of lesser quality? How so? Is it a slower drive? Is it a smaller drive? Brand rarely matters. WD, Seagate, Hitachi, Maxtor… doesn’t really matter. Most HDDs come with extended manufacturer waranties, most people don’t realize that most of the time they’ll replace the HDD free or at no cost. Same goes for memory.

      - My favorite line “However, diagnostic programs are hardly perfect and the hardware might be defective and they just can’t detect it.” But you could tell it was a motherboard problem just by looking at it?

      It’s a crappy ordeal for him, but he’s not totally blameless here.

      • c!tizen says:

        *replace the HDD free or at low cost

        The only site I’ve been to with no edit feature.

      • mikedt says:

        “- Offering to transfer you data isn’t a ransom, it’s a service.”

        No, it’s ransom because there have been multiple posts to this site where people have paid the backup fee and GS still lost their hd and data and said basically “too bad, we’re not responsible for accurate backups.” It’s a hell of a system where they get money regardless of the job they do.

        I’ve said it before, NEVER EVER return the hd with your defective pc unless that’s the part that’s actually bad. Make them boot off a cd-rom.

        • ShyamasriPera2 says:

          Or simply make sure you make backups… sigh…

        • RvLeshrac says:

          We have no problem with that.

          Except when people *ADAMANTLY INSIST* that the HDD isn’t bad, waste dozens of hours of our time running worthless diags, only for us to finally get them to bring in the HDD, which *immediately fails* a test.

          And then *BLAME US FOR THE FAILURE*.

    • PsiCop says:

      Whether or not the OP burned the “recovery disks” immediately after getting the laptop is irrelevant in this case. The hard drive was not faulty and had been replaced unnecessarily (with a lesser model, at that). Even if he had the “recovery set,” the fact remains he STILL does not have all the hardware he originally had when he purchased the laptop.

      And aside even from being irrelevant to what GS did, the lack of “recovery disks” could be remedied with a $35 purchase from Asus.

      No, the OP is absolutely NOT at fault here. No way, no how.

      • ShyamasriPera2 says:

        Of course it’s relevant, it’s one of his complaints that they erased his OS.

        There is no way to be certain the HD was not faulty. HDs don’t fail with warning bells and funny noises; they fail silently and when you don’t expect it.

        Re. the HD, how does he know it’s a lesser model? There’s nothing in the letter that explains that. It’s very likely he didn’t get the same model, but I’d be surprised if they swapped a 7200 for 5400 rpm drive, etc.

        • Dunkelzahn says:

          My guess is that it wasn’t the same brand. I work support and I couldn’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had people demand *Preferred Brand* and threaten to send it back if it wasn’t. Usually Seagate.

          • ShyamasriPera2 says:

            Yeah, I hear ya….

            I personally prefer WDC, just ‘cos their RMA procedure is faster than Seagates… their failure rates seem pretty much equal. I would say out of a 100 drives we have 5 fail within 1 year (guesstimate)

            • DogiiKurugaa says:

              I prefer WDC also because they also have their upgrade program so when I’m ready for a new, bigger HDD its cheaper than most places (excluding awesome sales on/offline)

        • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

          On the contrary, for anyone who is remotely computer savvy, there are plenty of warnings that a HDD is failing. It wasn’t the HDD if the BIOS wasn’t accessible. You can pull an HDD and the computer’s BIOS is still accessible.

          The OP should replace his laptop at BB, register his product with ASUS and leave BB out of any future troubleshooting.

          • ShyamasriPera2 says:

            Unfortunately the SMART system isn’t 100%, it does miss errors or simply silently “fixes” them.

            The HD could be defective as well as the mobo, there’s no way to tell without diagnostics, which the OP simply isn’t able to do.

            This is a red herring though, he should have had backups.

          • Aesteval says:

            To be fair, it depends on the system. I’ve seen bios’ that have become inaccessible because of any randomly faulting/failing hardware. The thing is that the bios will become accessible again once that piece of hardware is removed/disconnected. No idea if that’s the case here, but I have seen a computer that wouldn’t boot into anything because of a failing hard drive.

            • ShadowFalls says:

              True, I have only seen this a couple of times with hard drives, it is pretty rare and usually due to a failure on the ciruit board of the hard drive.

              Most likely what happened to this laptop is that it overheated. A very common thing with gaming laptops if you don’t make sure it gets proper ventilation. Most laptops seem to have much of its ventilation come from the bottom of it. Naturally an issue as something like a bed or your lap will block airflow.

          • BBBB says:

            “On the contrary, for anyone who is remotely computer savvy, there are plenty of warnings that a HDD is failing.”

            Usually, but not always – I’ve seen many that just stopped. [including my own a couple of years ago. The board on the HDD failed.]

    • BannedInBrittan says:

      This. Yes the recovery discs are the owners responsibility. Bestbuy gave you an option to purchase the service for them to create those for you when you bought the unit, you declined and didn’t do it yourself either. Not their fault at all.

      GS also has people sign 2 forms which protects them from loss of client data. One of which you decline having them back up your data for a fee. You knew the risk of data loss and signed it was an acceptable risk.

      Also, whose to say that after UPS shipped (dropped and tossed around) the package and delivered it that the HDD didn’t fail diagnostic testing.

  2. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    Never, ever, for any reason bring your computer to Geek Squad.

    Go with a local, preferably on site, computer servicing company. There are hundreds of them and the folks that work for them actually know computers. And, if it’s on site (meaning at your home or business), you can actually watch and make sure that nothing goes missing.

    I use a company here in Denver called Aspire Technology Solutions and they are awesome. They charged the same price to come to my house to fix my totally screwed laptop as Geek Squad charges just to diagnose it – at Best Buy. Their techs also know what they are doing as they have either graduated college with a degree related to computers or have worked with computers for years (no untrained college kids). Way better deal, way WAY better service.

    It pays to go local, like with so many things.

    • BannedInBrittan says:

      yeah because a local shop is authorized to perform ASUS warranty work? I didn’t think so.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        On site repairs are usually contracted out and many local businesses are factory authorized for repairs. I’ve never heard of Geek Squad repairing computers for businesses; it’s virtually always local repair shops who do the work.

    • Papa Midnight says:

      I feel inclined to agree. I’ll fix a computer for free before allowing someone to be cursed with the blackheart that is Geek Squad.

    • Griking says:

      I’m not saying that Geek Squad doesn’t have it’s problems but what makes anyone feel that a local repair person will do any better of a job? If a local guy screws up who do you go to next? There’s no local General Manager or District Manager to listen to your complaint. Secondly, how do you know what experience (if any) the local guys has? Lastly, most local repair shops aren’t authorized to do warranty repairs on most name brand computers.

    • thebaron says:

      running a local shop in Millvale, PA: I never delete stuff without backing up and triple checking the drive to ensure they did not put sometime in a bad spot…. But just having saved a poor lady three years of pictures that she was about to have a heart attack over, please BACKUP! I get lucky sometimes and you really don’t want to pay for data recovery…….

    • thebaron says:

      running a local shop in Millvale, PA: I never delete stuff without backing up and triple checking the drive to ensure they did not put sometime in a bad spot…. But just having saved a poor lady three years of pictures that she was about to have a heart attack over, please BACKUP! I get lucky sometimes and you really don’t want to pay for data recovery…….

  3. Rachacha says:

    Unfortunately, it is not hard to blame the OP for part of the problem. Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.
    BACK UP YOUR DATA – BACK UP YOUR DATA – BACK UP YOUR DATA!!! If the OP had a backup of his data, he would not have lost anything but time without his computer.

    MAKE AN INSTALL/RECOVERY DISK – I blame Microsoft and Manufacturers for this for not including a OS installation disk, but if you have a laptop that did not ship with an installation disk, take a few minutes and do that right away.

    Did BB screw up, it would appear that they did, but don’t blame BB for losing your data that you chose not to backup.

  4. Confusias says:

    Should a non-defective HDD been repalced? no
    Should you have taken the 20-30 minutes required to make the recover DVD(s) when you got home? yes
    Should you have made data backups prior to having your system serviced? yes
    The only person who can be held fully liable for you data is yourself.

  5. unimus says:

    Wow!!! GS actually gave you the full purchase price back, albeit on a store credit?? Where’s the #aboveandbeyond tag?

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Seriously?

      Do you honestly think it’s OK for a retailer to do ridiculously stupid things to you and your product, if at the end they give you your money back?

      Or are you just failing miserably at sarcasm?

      • ShyamasriPera2 says:

        Seriously, GS did mess up on the repair (RAM), but the others things are the OPs fault. I think they should have given him a nice external USB drive so he can make backups, but they’re not under any obligation to refund his purchase as it’s outside the two week window. Store credit seems like a good compromise. Besides, maybe he has bad power where he’s at and he’s not using a filter, then it’s quite possible it’s his doing… or maybe he wasn’t as gentle with the unit as he says he was…

    • DariusC says:

      Hardly. I would almost say you are trolling.

      GS messed up his repair, they are obligated to pay for it. In-store credit is a slap in the face. That is his money and he is entitled to take it back.

      End of discussion. Move along.

      • apple420 says:

        I think offering store credit is reasonable when he is out of the return window, and they would be perfectly willing to repair the laptop. It might not be exceptional customer service, but it is acceptable.

    • Hungry Dog says:

      To be fair for Geek Squad to give store credit for a fault is above and beyond their normal practices. This would be similar if I went to taco bell and complained the food didn’t look like the picture then Lo and behold they produce for me a taco like I see on the board.

  6. Draxxlith says:

    The reason it was more expensive elsewhere is because if you buy an Asus notebook (not netbook) anywhere besides Best Buy, it will come with a TWO year warranty, and the first year includes accidental (!) coverage. Amazon honors this, as do independent resellers. Best Buy gimps the warranty to a basic one year, due to most of their money on computers being made through the warranty. As a former Geek Squadder (who would never go back), I was appalled when I found this out. Asus are great machines, don’t let this experience ruin the brand for you, but for the sake of all that is holy, don’t buy from Best Buy.

  7. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    There is never a good excuse to use Geek Squad, or any service from any major retailer – it is the worst possible option under all available scenarios.

    In all cases, if you’re not technically proficient yourself, and don’t know anyone who is, use a small local service provider – a mom & pop PC shop is going to be infinitely better than GS or anyone else from a major retailer.

    And really, the same thing goes for the PCs themselves – always buy a hand-built PC from a local/small system builder. Every part of your computing experience will be better, except perhaps having to pay a bit more if you’re looking for a low-end PC (small builders can’t compete with the big OEMs on low-end computers, since many OEMs sell them at a loss anyway – but if you’re looking for mid-range or high-end machines, small builders can frequently price the same or better than big OEMs).

    • Christopher Wilson says:

      I’ve brought stuff to geek squad when I know it will actually be sent to the manufacturer to be fixed, just to save on shipping. Otherwise, I would never use them.

    • Dukie says:

      I’m betting the OP had a similar problem that I had. The mobo for his machine isn’t available for sale alone. So it had to be repaired under warranty. As such, Asus has you take it back to the store you purchased it from for warranty repairs.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Then send it back to the manufacturer your self. Putting GS in the middle unnecessarily exposes your machine to their buffoonery.

  8. yulingo says:

    If you know what’s broken already (i.e. you just want someone to fix the problem) Don’t go to any regular customer support service such as Geek Squad. They almost always treat you like you don’t know what you’re talking about, and you waste more time just telling them that you know what the problem is. Even if you get a good tech, his hands are probably tied.

    That having been said, I’m surprised that the OP didn’t have a data backup a month into computer ownership.

  9. Andy says:

    If you send in your computer to ASUS (Best Buy currently does not have a contract with ASUS, while you may of left your computer with Best Buy, it actually went directly to ASUS for repairs), and they determined that your HD was bad they WILL replace it. They may of misdiagnosed the motherboard problems (intermittent), but obivously it wasn’t just the mobo that was bad on the system. (HD failure is extremely common, a lot of times they will replace the HD, even if the HD problem is minor).

    So you left your computer with Geek Squad, did you happen to read #10 on the contract you signed when you dropped off your computer? Didn’t think so. Who drops off their notebook for repair without having a backup, and a copy of your system Restore DVDs? I mean the first time you boot up any system now a days the computer BEGS you to burn Restore DVDs in case anything bad happens you’ll be able to restore your licensed software to your system.

    You didn’t get the DVDs burned, your system failed, seems like the problem is on you buddy. They gave you $1300, what more do you want, buy another system, THIS TIME make the DVD restore discs, and keep in mind that Notebook hardware is sucky, expect it to fail, even Apples are notorious for HD failures.

  10. Omali says:

    I’ll take the $1,300 gift card off the OP’s hands if he has no use for it.

  11. Nighthawke says:

    Contact ASUS directly.
    http://support.asus.com/contact/contact_right.aspx?no=339&SLanguage=en-us
    http://livesupport.asus.com/

    Get an RMA through them directly.

    I started my gaming life with their legendary A7V mainboard and graduated to the humongous Rampage II Extreme. After playing on a MSI board, it felt like coming home when I fired that massive slab of black and silver up.

  12. wellfleet says:

    Former Geek Squad and BBY manager here…

    It is very difficult to not blame the OP here. If you’re buying a high-end gaming laptop, you must have the requisite knowledge to use such a device. You didn’t buy a $1300 laptop to check your e-mail, so I assume that you either game, design, record music, etc. It can be safely assumed, then, that you know how to back up your data and that doing so is important.

    Also, as a Consumerist reader, you would be well aware of the risk to your data whenever you hand over your computer to ANYONE. Heck, the laptop could have been burned in a store fire and your data would be lost… because you didn’t care enough about your data to back it up.

    BBY and GS are not holding your data ransom. You are asking them to perform a service, they charge for this service. You signed a data waiver and you knew better.

    Next, you didn’t create your recovery discs. Again, your fault. You get constant reminders to do so, unless you deliberately turn them off. Best Buy’s licensing and use agreement does not allow them to use any recovery discs other than pnes owned/made by the customer. When I was a manager, we kept huge binders of discs for laptops we sold in case things like this happened. But, we had to hide them in someone’s car when we were inspected.

    Then, you install an OS that isn’t native to the computer. While some componenets may run, if the OS isn’t designed for your PC, some things won’t work: video card, shortcut keys, sound, modem, etc. If you don’t know that, I would suggest you don’t dabble.

    The RAM was probably taken out and not put back, this is an honest mistake. The thought that an agent would steal your RAM stick when it costs them pennies on the dollar to buy their own RAM is idiotic and pure conjecture. Store should have and could have just bought you a new RAM chip.

    They gave you store credit to get you to go away. Seriously, if you lack a modicum of knowledge, or so much so that you don’t back up and don’t create recovery discs, you don’t get to complain.

    • ShyamasriPera2 says:

      We think alike :D

    • goodpete says:

      I’m somewhere between the OP and you on this one.

      The OP obviously knows less than they think they know about computer repair.

      Obviously, though the OP doesn’t mention it, their problem was corrected by the GS service (their computer apparently now boots properly). Also, the OP did sign a form that said he was responsible for backing up his own data.

      Furthermore, it’s possible that there’s some software control behind the backlight on the keyboard. So the OP would need to install drivers in order for the backlight to work (for instance, my Logitech G15 keyboard requires drivers for the LCD to work properly — obviously).

      As for the RAM, I agree, the GS employee probably just forgot to put it on the new motherboard. And if that’s all the OP wanted, I’m sure BBY would have happily furnished him with some new RAM.

      Instead, the OP blamed GS for things that weren’t their responsibility, complaining about things that were spelled out in the contract he signed.

      I don’t think GS should get any service awards on this one, but likewise, I don’t think the OP is entirely devoid of fault on this one.

    • Razor512 says:

      Totally not true. Today, I was repairing a laptop for a neighbor. She is in her late 80’s and uses the computer to stay in contact with some of her remaining family.

      The laptop is a gaming laptop that is worth nearly $2000 (the best buy workers talked her into buying such a high end laptop that got crappy battery life because is had such high end power hungry parts in it, the only program she used was internet explorer (which I got her to switch to firefox after removing some infections)

      Often people who know very little about computers will end up with expensive ones because the workers will talk them up to as high as their finances will handle.

      Sometimes I have no choice but to buy from a store like bestbuy and when I go there, it is just horrifying what tricks the workers will do to get people to spend more.

      For example, the last time I went to bestbuy, (checking for a new TV), While randomly walking around the computer section, a worker was in the process of talking a lady up. When asking about such as email they were looking at systems in like the the 700 range, then when asked about things like watching online video, they tried to push the user to their systems that were over $1000.

      When I was at bestbuy looking at tv’s, when comparing prices and we decided to buy a tv, they did the whole overpriced HDMI cable crap, and i tried to get them to stop in a polite way by telling them that I already had the needed cables, but they pressed on, telling me thatif the cable was used on a another tv then it wont work on a this new tv. They then tried to tell me that the tv will only give 1080p picture if i get a HDMI cable valued at $100 or more

      I tried to gets them to stop politely then I had to resort to explaining the HDMI spec and how the cable works in relation to a digital signal. After that, they stopped. I usually don’t like doing things like this because I understand that the worker doesn’t want to do this and the department pressures them into trying to upsell as much as possible, but it shows that a store will try to upsell regardless of the users needs, just like the old lady who ended up with a very high end gaming laptop so she could send email to friends and family.

  13. billpendry says:

    LOL… Geek Squad.

    You’d think that “person savvy enough to read Consumerist” and “person un-savvy enough to use Geek Squad” would be mutually exclusive.

    But as we see time and time again, they are not.

  14. shell_beach says:

    Usually I am against blaming the OP. But I am sick and tired of these geek squad complaints. STOP SHOPPING AT BESTBUY/using GEEKSQUAD.

    I mean you submitted your story to consumerist, so I reckon your a reader of consumerist.com.
    There is a best buy story like every other week.

    I dont care where you live or how much money you have. There are always better alternatives.
    ok done ranting.

  15. dandadan says:

    I have to weigh in on this one. For starters, Asus laptops are a bargain basement laptop. I am a laptop tech and have worked on those boxes. I was not impressed with the build, the internal components nor the quality of the boards. Also, the broken English in the manuals is confusing and obtuse. These were gray market computers until just a few years ago, i.e. not distributed in the US market. Asus does not have an established service network of high quality in the US yet so they just replace the boards or contract with GS to handle service.

    If you purchase anything less than a business class laptop, don’t expect it to last much longer than a couple of years. My suggestion to clients thinking about purchasing a laptop is to get a middle of the road Dell business class machine with a 2 year on site warranty. Dell has about the best service network around and they are relatively competent. Dell is the Chevrolet of computers. Not the cheapest, not the most expensive but overall reliable. Parts are generally widely available and priced reasonably and the quality is acceptable, though their low end laptops are starting to get a real cheap feel to them.

    Like many ‘mass market’ laptops they are built on very low margins. Good grief you don’t even get a ten cent recovery disk, few if any cables, power supplies that get very hot (low efficiency low wattage low quality), low grade memory and low quality hard drives.

    I am writing this right now on my 10 year old Dell Inspiron laptop. My customers ask me why I keep using it and I tell them that it still works. Sure I have replaced the hard drive (every 2 years or so) and replaced the touchpad, but that’s about it. This laptop still does the job and I don’t have to worry about it flaking out. I just have to be a little patient waiting for it to do things.

    As a laptop tech, I have advice for people shopping for new laptops, talk to a tech who works on them.

    Here is my general advice on brands:

    Sony laptops – They work fine but are very expensive to repair. Parts are typically 3 times the cost of other OEM parts. I have stacks of unrepairable, very expensive Sony machines with minor problems that render them economically useless. I scrap them for parts to sell on repairs of machines when they come in. Once or twice a year we send out a pallet or two of old expensive Sony Laptops to the recycler.

    Toshiba laptops – Medium quality fairly reasonable to repair. Build quality has noticeably gone down in the last few years. I don’t suggest you buy the Best Buy special because they last slightly longer than warranty.

    HP Laptops – HP is notorious for selling laptops that have known defects and design flaws (do a Google search on HP DV6000 series laptops). They will also stonewall you on warranty claims. They have a corporate policy of not caring about customers. To their credit, the HP Elitebook series is a good business class machine of decent build quality, but generally twice as expensive as the low end units. Can you afford a laptop that fails miserably after 1.5 years?

    Acer/Gateway – A few notches below HP unless you purchase top of the line machines. Note, Acer and Gateway are essentially the same machine with a different model/nameplate. Cheap build, flimsy cases and screens, essentially a throw away computer and getting cheaper by the day.

    You are better off purchasing a used high end laptop that is a few years old than a new bargain basement machine and expecting it to last 3-5 years. Look for things like solid construction and feel. They tend to last longer. If you pick up one corner of the machine and it flexes, chances are the computer won’t last a long time. Better yet, talk to a technician who works on them all the time. We have our opinions based on tearing the machines down and putting them back together all day. There is a difference.

    I am getting back to work now on this old Dell that has served me reliably for a decade, eventually I will replace this with a newer machine. I just haven’t come across one that justifies me replacing this one yet. Maybe in 2 or 3 years I will get a good used machine, or maybe not. After all this one works and has all my tools on it. You never know.

    • jessjj347 says:

      I have an old Dell Inspiron as well that’s still working. I expect it to last longer than my new “bargain model”.

      Thanks for the tips on manufacturers.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      I typically use the same strategy with most of my purchases. I buy the middle of the line name brand and have always had very good luck (I also do the “flex” test when buying laptops). I’m not sure if I’m just easy on laptops or what but I’ve always had very good luck — I bought a mid line Compaq back in ’98 and it lasted 6 years, a Toshiba in ’03 that lasted 7 years, and two Dells (one is 3 years and the other just 2) and have never had any problems.

      Then again, it seems like a crap shoot sometimes. I know people who have very high end Apples that seem to have constant problems and others who have very good luck with bargain basement Dells, HPs, etc.

  16. sirwired says:

    Best Buy did something similar to me. (As in, since their software couldn’t find any hardware errors, it MUST be a software problem.) It was a motherboard problem, as I suspected to begin with. (It would freeze during driver load of the OS. Safe mode worked ok. Reloading the OS didn’t help.)

    To be fair, the 2nd shop I took it to also didn’t get the motherboard on the first try. They put in a new CPU. And then I showed them it still did the exact same thing it did when I first brought it in.

    I am convinced there are very few PC techs out there that know what they are doing.

  17. GrandizerGo says:

    Well almost EVERY place that is named brand and sells a computer ALWAYS swaps out the HD for a bench one on receipt of a broken computer. That bench drive is basically an imaged one from how the computer was originally shipped. That way they do NOT have to deal with Viruses, hacks, poor software and a BAJAZILLION other things that people put on the systems to cause it not to work properly in the first place.
    I am not finding much support for you here on that front at all. Especially after stating how your family is computer knowledgeable…

    And it is more distressing that you care about data on the drive for a month that you obviously didn’t care to back up. And then send it to GS who have had numerous stories on here how they were not the most competent of technicians. :(

  18. baconsnake says:

    I’m going to use this as an opportunity to plug your local computer repair shop. It will likely be staffed with people who are genuinely trying to do right by the customer and grow their business. It is a VERY difficult market to operate in because of people’s perceptions about professionalism and how they will be taken advantage of.

    However, they will very likely do a much better job than Geek Squad, and offer much more competitive pricing as well.

    • wellfleet says:

      [citation needed]

      • baconsnake says:

        [Citation]
        1. Have you seen the horror stories about Geek Squad here?
        2. I work with small business computer repair shops from time to time.
        3. Add some concrete issues rather than just being an ass.
        [/Citation]

        • BannedInBrittan says:

          Geeksquad also does vastly more repair work than any local technician. You see some horror stories on here but this blog is biased and it doesn’t reflect the positive stories you never hear about on here.

  19. beretta3000 says:

    Not to beat a dead horse, since it’s been stated before, but it’s your fault you didn’t make the recovery disks. Those recovery disks would have had the correct OS and all the drivers you needed to restore the laptop.

    You said you just grabbed so OS disks you had laying around. So you probably installed a 32-bit OS, which can’t read above 4 GB of RAM, on a 64-bit laptop. You also didn’t install any of the drivers for that specific laptop, which is why the back-lighting isn’t working.

    While Best Buy and Geek Squad made some mistakes, you started it all off by not making the recovery disks. Your other option was to cough up the dough and order them direct from Asus, and made sure you got the right software.

    And another point: how did you know the motherboard was fried? They changed out the harddrive and it magically fixed the motherboard issue?

    If I was that Geek Squad manager, I would have said “tough”.

  20. BannedInBrittan says:

    the recovery discs are the owners responsibility. Bestbuy gave you an option to purchase the service for them to create those for you when you bought the unit, you declined and didn’t do it yourself either. Not their fault at all.

    GS also has people sign 2 forms which protects them from loss of client data. One of which you decline having them back up your data for a fee. You knew the risk of data loss and signed it was an acceptable risk.

    Also, whose to say that after UPS shipped (dropped and tossed around) the package and delivered it that the HDD didn’t fail diagnostic testing.

  21. flip says:

    so I guess sending in your laptop for repairs and receiving sub-standard parts you never purchased, is ok in your book?

    I’m extremely tech savvy but, there are times when I JUST DONT HAVE THE TIME to fix my home machine etc…sometimes I just pay someone else to do it ( never paid GS though ) so just because someone is paying for a service doesnt necessarily mean they lack the knowledge.

    • ShyamasriPera2 says:

      There’s no proof he received “sub-standard parts”… and the OP sounds like on those people who think they are computer gods and simply can’t accept that they might not know everything… Let the techs do their job…

  22. Scrutinizer says:

    When you take in your computer ask for all replaced parts to be returned. Even if the HD was completely inoperable is still is yours to do with what you want. I don’t see GS or any one else offering you a core charge on it.

    • ShyamasriPera2 says:

      I don’t think that’s true; once replaced you lose ownership of the broken hardware. I believe Dell has an option where you can pay N dollars to have the old broken drives returned.

    • BannedInBrittan says:

      not under warranty repair work it’s not. It’s a core which is returned to the mfg. Now if this was non-warranty work you have a point; unfortunately it wasn’t so you don’t.

  23. Hungry Dog says:

    The first rule of Geek Squad ” Do not leave your computer at Geek Squad.”
    The second rule of Geek Squad ” Do not leave your computer at Geek Squad!”

  24. sopmodm14 says:

    those repair spots are all a scam/extortion it seems. you either pay for worthless service before or after the fact

    the only extended warranties are those that give a refund (minus the warranty price, which is often just 10% of items value) in the form of a gift card

    with the turnover in electronics quality today, its worth the small extra expense

    we shouldn’t pay =additional any additional cost for recurring repairs

    i would tell the write to check with ASUS directly instead

    or find a computer science college student, they take beer money and really have no incentive to cheat you if you negotiate right

    • ShyamasriPera2 says:

      And the college student will get a new mobo where? These notebook mobos are propitiatory…

      • Razor512 says:

        I repair pretty much all brands of laptop (macs included). Simply buy the motherboards from ebay and any other part you need.

  25. MarvinMar says:

    Besides the many other facts against the OP, there is the Hard Drive issue.
    He claims the Hard Drive was not the issue, but a fried motherboard, because a few lights would come on but the thing wouldn’t boot?

    I bought a brand new MSI GX630 gaming laptop.
    I booted it up, made my recovery disks, played around a bit, turned it off.
    2nd boot did not happen. Lights came on but no post, no os.
    Figured it just needed a good charge. Nope.
    Basically sometime the hard drive would not spin up. I could turn it off then on and it may take 4 or 5 times to boot.
    I called and fought with Newegg because they wanted to send it off for repair and I did not want a 1 day old laptop being fixed.
    After a bad review I posted at Reseller Ratings, Newegg called and arranged a brand new laptop and a $100 “were sorry” credit.
    The new one has worked fine, but a google search also says this is a know issue with this laptop. Cheap hard drives.

    His symptoms sound like a bad drive, so they were right to replace it.
    He had a month to make backups and didn’t. So Sad.

  26. Zclyh3 says:

    You’re suppose to back up all your data before you even allow ANYONE to repair your machine. You should consider getting Dell machines with Gold technical support. No need to send in. They come to YOU and repair it on the SPOT next business day and even Saturday if need be. That’s what I pay for it and headaches I avoid.

    Other can say what they want about Dell machines, but their gold level support is unbeatable. Remember that when buying a laptop, you have to consider the whole package which includes warranty and support. This is why I keep buy from them. I know of no other computer manufacturer that does this.

  27. SuperBK says:

    Amazing you got a store credit.Buy something other than a laptop or a flatscreen TV and run, Forest, run.

  28. Extended-Warranty says:

    I’m sorry but the OP lacks any sort of credibility whatsoever. He “knows” that the mobo was working. Yet somehow it makes sense that they wrongly replaced the HDD and he was able to restore it and use it.

    Do you have anymore facts such as what OS you reloaded? Just replacing a HDD wouldn’t cause the keyboard backlight to become “unplugged”. That model had/has an issue where a BIOS update bricked the keyboard, also drivers can play a part.

    How much of the RAM are you missing out on? Using the wrong OS could cause your system to not recognize above 3GB.

    Something tells me had the OP had a recovery disc, it would have functioned just fine. Instead, he is the type of customer no one likes to deal with. He would blame his data loss on Best Buy no matter what.

    In my experience, local repair shops are a crapshoot. Some guys have no idea what they are doing and make a living off reselling OLD OLD computers or restoring everything with an illegal OS. To say they are more reliable is an unbiased, uninformed opinion. Geek Squad’s repair center fixes something like 3,000 units a day. The employee who fixed your computer likely works exclusively on Asus computers. They know more than you OP, I GUARANTEE it.

  29. RandomHookup says:

    Fried motherboard? Is there nothing they can’t roll in batter and drop in a bucket of hot grease? And here I thought fried beer was an achievement.

  30. Rommel says:

    I don´t know if anyone has already said this, or if anybody agrees with me, but my father told me several times that GS stinks because they are capable of simple repairs. And he should know. He has ~20-30 years of computer fixing experience. He´s also gone to GS once (the last, as well) to repair what I think was a broken driver. Finally, after a while of no success, he just went to his boss. It was fixed about 2 hours later.

    So, in my current knowledge and experience (I also know [an incredibly small amount] about computers), the OP´s mistake was going in to GS.

    • homehome says:

      Well, to anyone who has regularly dealt with damaged motherboards know that if a motherboard is damaged it can easily spread to other hardware connected to the motherboard. Motherboard damage is not always exclusive to itself. It seems like there are alot of ppl on this site and in general who think they know more about computers than they do. Then they talk down on other ppl when they have no idea what they’re talking about. Honestly, how do you know that it’s the motherboard that is fried, but can’t wrap your head around that it might be hard drive damage as well, then not patient or smart enough to make back up discs.

  31. Retired Again says:

    After a Hiatus ( staying away from) Best Buy for 4 years … I won $15. credit on Coca-cola. But once again, after this story, I will stay away from Best Buy. Worst firm I have ever dealt with.
    Will in and out to get $15. worth of free batteries. Otherwise, never buy there.

  32. majortom1981 says:

    I ma a network tech. How are you sure it was the motherboard and not the notebooks power adapter? Ihave had bad notebook adapters do that.

    ALso they probably just handed you another laptop instead of repairing yours. Iam a windows user but I am not tied to hardware. This is why my next laptop will be a mac with windows 7 installed. I have had nothing but good experiences with apple hardware and their apple stores.

    PS I wil lstill use windows 7 though (i hate osx).

  33. coldcalm says:

    This is the OP.

    I thank you all for your comments, especially the brutally honest ones, and due to such I feel obligated to throw in a good dozen flavor facts about this situation.

    1. I am not as proficient a computer tech as I want to be. I would not label myself an expert, in fact I am hardly more than an advanced end user. My brother and father are more experienced on the technical side and I trusted them to guide me in my purchasing decision. Obviously, this trust has been broken.

    2. I ultimately made the mistake of patronizing Best Buy in the first place. However, I was pressured by my brother into purchasing the laptop from Best Buy, and was obviously weak-willed at the time. I submitted to this pressure, which stood completely against what my gut instincts told me (about Best Buy, and Geek Squad). My father helped endorse me, but I have paid the price in time, energy, and what would have been happy laptop ownership because of these choices.

    3. I lazily did not make recovery discs within the month of fully-functional ownership even though maybe three or four different entities were telling me to make them (the OS, a recovery program, the OS again, and maybe one more pre-installed recovery program). I was neglectful, and again, I listened to my brother whom I trusted to be savvier in the tech than I. I am very disappointed in him, and myself for believing him over the damn software.

    4. This is, in fact, the first computer I have personally owned. All the ones I have used/worked on in the past were owned by my father/brother/someone else and I was overexcited about this purchase. Now I am consequently overreacting. I do feel, however, that I am owed my money back: in cash.

    5. I was willing to jump through all the hoops provided to me by Best Buy/Geek Squad and the ASUS tech support phone line. The servicing was covered under the downgraded one year manufacturers warranty and, when bringing it in to Geek Squad, the laptop was shipped to the Geek Squad service center which is “ASUS Certified”.

    6. I did not want to send the notebook directly to ASUS because the shipping to their service center is not covered under the crappy Best Buy provided warranty.

    7. I did not want to risk voiding the warranty by opening up the laptop. I had heard that there are stickers and seals placed inside laptops which signify if they have been tampered with by someone other than a certified technician. I did not know the extent of these stickers/seals.

    8. It was not the lost data I had accumulated over a month that I was most worried about (read the story again for the emphasis), it was Best Buy/Geek Squads response to my servicing needs and refund requests that has appalled me so much.

    9. I am not a longtime reader of the Consumerist. I was not fully aware of the copious amount of horror stories available, and I found this site in an effort to spread the word of my story. I had a “bad feeling” about Best Buy for a long time and an even worse “gut instinct” about Geek Squad.

    10. The hard drive was replaced with a different brand, however, this different brand makes noise when it runs whereas the original one did not. The new brand is WDC, I do not remember the brand of the original. Geek Squad made it clear that the HDD was replaced in the paperwork returned from the service center.

    11. Because this is my first major purchase and subsequent customer service experience, it can not be too ridiculous that this has happened to me.

    12. I like the ASUS brand of laptops because it is affordable, due in part to the lack of all those price-inflating bells and whistles, and because it has a lot of power for the value. I wanted a compact/portable gaming PC and ASUS delivers. Alienware is a curse word in my book, especially when they sold-out to DELL.

    Could this situation have been prevented or avoided completely? Of course.
    Could I have done plenty of other things which would leave Best Buy/Geek Squad out? Totally.
    Did Best Buy/Geek Squad do what they usually do and go beyond their crappy policy by giving me store credit? Yeah, I guess.

  34. Bby says:

    Those of you who say the OP is not at fault are just plain ignorant.

    The OP did not pay Best Buy to make recovery disks. The OP did not make the recovery disks himself. The OP had to sign 2 waivers on data before sending the laptop out. Those waivers protect Best Buy from liability when the Asus reps tell them what to replace and/or service. The Asus warranty only covers HARDWARE AND LABOR, NOT SOFTWARE. The OP is responsible for software issues, yes including the OS not being there. When they stress test the hardware, sometimes the drives can fail. If you are so into computers, you should know that the most perishable item in the unit is the hard drive.

    Best Buy went well and above what they needed to do to help you. It is not their fault your laptop failed. The hardware is what Asus covers. The software is your responsibility.

    The only thing that they could be held responsible for is the memory mishap.

  35. GalinKinlin says:

    Wow guys. I understand that the OP should have made the disks, but this is entirely not his fault.

    1. Originally defective product.
    2. Misdiagnosis is impossible because they themselves confirmed that it was a motherboard issue, and he OKed them to fix that.
    3. It is his harddrive, and even if they replace it, it is his imperative to have his property back, which they never offered.
    4. RAM was missing or stolen.
    5. Servicing stickers were missing.
    6. Motherboard was replaced with possibly ANOTHER faulty motherboard.
    7. Harddrive was not the same, but a worse/cheaper brand than before.
    8. Giving store credit is NOT going above and beyond, it is despicable. It is akin to going to taco bell, having them punch you in the stomach, having them pay for the medical bills and not actually giving you your food. Because remember, they did not refund him for the money he PAID them to fix it.

  36. MWesC says:

    OP has every right to be pissed and has absolutely no responsibility in this matter other than shopping with Best Buy.

    He purchased a laptop, the laptop broke due to manufacturer’s defect, instead of consulting the OP about the repairs/returning the replaced hard drive, they just went ahead and put a hard drive in when it was completely unnecessary. This is Best Buy’s fault for hiring retail workers instead of technicians. Additional services aside, any repair shop worth its salt makes a backup in case of worker error and remains in contact with its costumers throughout the repair process to make sure things like this don’t happen.

    But the kicker is, instead of offering a refund because they failed to get the machine working the first time, they had the audacity to insist that the customer take store credit as opposed to a refund.

    This isn’t to mention all of the other liability stuff, like the missing memory and whatnot.

  37. JoCoDad says:

    After STERLING service and price in removing malware from my computer at one Geek Squad store a few months ago, I ran into a different experience at the Geek Squad on Capital Blvd in Raleigh, NC with the exact same problem this week:
    After confirming the malware, the service rep told me it would cost $199 and take 2 days to remove the malware. Two days later, I was told they had just started running diagnostics and I had two options: I could stop the process and forfeit the $199; or I could pay an additional fee for “expedited service”. The latter suggestion really was almost as offensive as the offer to download new security software I purchased from GS for $50. I was told “normal” turnaround was four days. Checked with GeekSquad on-line and found I could have had malware removed and other standard tuneup services, including installation, performed on-line for $179.
    This 54-year-old is not too old to learn, especially from painful mistakes.