Best Buy Customer Takes Laptop In For Hinge Fix, Has Hard Drive Replaced & Old Data Held Hostage For $59.99

A Best Buy customer in California needed to get the hinge on her laptop fixed. She’d paid $350 for an extended warranty from the electronics retailer so she thought there wouldn’t be any problem getting it fixed. We’re going to assume she’s never read Consumerist…

The customer tells CBS Sacramento’s Kurtis Ming that when she got her repaired computer back, the Geek Squad geeks had decided to replace her hard drive without telling her.

And it gets better (or rather, worse) — she says Best Buy was demanding $59.99 to get her old data back. If she didn’t pay, that data would be erased forever.

“That is so dirty! That’s fraud to me, downright fraud,” says the customer. “You can’t give me back my hard drive but you can give me back my data for a price. How fraudulent can you get?”

The customer says she was told that the Geek Squad decided to replace her hard drive after it had failed a diagnostics test. Problem is, California law prevents them from making that repair without her approval.

“There should be no automatic replacement of anything. That is something the consumer definitely and specifically should authorize,” a spokesman for the California Dept. of Consumer Affairs tells Ming.

Best Buy released the following statement in response to CBS’ inquiry:

It is always our goal to exceed our customer’s expectations. As such, we designed our protection plans to thoroughly diagnose, repair or replace damaged equipment. In this particular case, our repair facility found the customer’s hard drive to be faulty. In accordance with our protection plan policies, we replaced the hard drive with a properly functioning unit in addition to fixing the hinge. Most customers appreciate this thorough diagnosis and correction. We recognize that this particular case is unique and we can understand why this customer is upset. We will return the hard drive to the customer and will refund her service fees. To help avoid these types of situations, we encourage our customers to thoroughly discuss their service options with their Geek Squad Agents.

Despite our best intentions to take actions recommended by our thorough diagnostics, we know this customer’s situation is unique and we fully appreciate why she is upset. Again, this customer’s hard drive will be returned and all service fees refunded. In addition, the local service representative will work with the customer to find the best specific solutions for her. This situation has prompted internal discussions to determine if we can make adjustments to identify unique situations like this and contact the customer to eliminate any surprises. We will follow-up with KOVR-CBS directly once specific changes are adopted.

As promised, after CBS got involved, the customer got her old hard drive — and her $59.99 — back from Best Buy. But when the TV station asked why, per California law, the customer’s original hard drive had not been returned to her, the chain had no comment, other than that it was looking into the situation.

“For me, that’s great. I really feel bad for all the others that are still looking to get their hard drive and data back,” she says.

Call Kurtis: Best Buy Held My Computer Data For Ransom! [CBSlocal.com]