Wait, Best Buy Replacement Plans Don’t Fix Or Replace Discontinued Gadgets?

In October 2010, less than two years ago, Best Buy sold Jason a $630 camera and a $120 Geek Squad protection plan for it. The plan included repair past the manufacturer’s warranty as well as accidental damage. His camera didn’t just get damaged: it fell onto some rocks and shattered. Wow, good thing he bought that protection plan! He brought the shards to a local Best Buy to see about getting the camera replaced. He was told that since Sony no longer makes that particular model, he was out of luck. That would be a nice racket for Best Buy if they don’t have to honor their plan for models that have been discontinued.

On 10/20/2010, I purchased a new Sony Alpha A33 DSLR and was also upsold on the Geek Squad 2 year protection plan. At the time it was sold as a fail safe in case the camera has a warranty issue after the manufacturer warranty expired or I spilled on it or dropped it, etc.

Yesterday, while hiking and taking photos the camera strap broke sending the camera into a pile of rocks and breaking it into about 10935702 pieces. So I went to Best Buy on [redacted] today to take advantage of the warranty to get my camera put back together and was told that Sony no longer makes this model, so there is nothing I can do. I asked if they would refund the warranty and she said no. I asked to speak to a Manager, she said they are all in meetings.

I go home, all 10935702 pieces of my camera in tow and call Reward zone customer service (Premier Silver baby!) and am transferred to Best Buy consumer affairs. Explain the situation again and am disconnected. I call back and speak to [S], who says they should have offered “assistances” and fixed my camera and puts me on hold to see what she can do. She comes back and says she needs to transfer me to the digital imaging expert department and does so.

Speak to [A] who says she needs to transfer me to consumer affairs and does so. Hold music stops, call disconnects. I call Best Buy Customer Service number and am told Consumer Affairs is closed, you need to call back tomorrow.

I call the store and ask for a manager, the manager is off today, I ask for any Manager on Duty and am told she’s on lunch call back in an hour, but the store closes in 30 minutes… WTH?

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Now, let’s be fair to Best Buy. Yes, we’re capable of it. The camera-destroying accident occurred on Saturday. All of this has occurred on the weekend, when corporate employees are off having lives, even if retail employees are working hard. Perhaps a competent person will show up at the Reward Zone office on Monday and straighten all of this out.

But most customers wouldn’t have written to Consumerist. They might have called Reward Zone, but have stopped, right there, once they were hung up on a few times. We hear from the people who are determined, who call back, who search out other numbers. But how many customers would give up after that first interaction with a store associate, being told “this camera is discontinued; tough luck”?

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  1. Jack Doe says:

    F*ck it, keep it simple. Go over the policy docs, and see if there’s anything regarding discontinued products. If no, small claims time.

    • zz9 says:

      I had a quick look at their policy online.

      “If we determine, in our sole discretion, that your
      product cannot be repaired, we will replace it with a
      new or refurbished product of like kind and quality that is of comparable performance or reimburse
      you for replacement of the product with a voucher or
      gift card, at our sole discretion, equal to the current
      market value of the product, as determined by us, not
      to exceed the original purchase price of your product,
      including taxes.

      • Technological advances may result in a replacement
      product with a lower selling price than the original
      product.”

      So they clearly have a policy for replacing a product with a new model if the old one is no longer available. There can’t be many electrical products that last more than a year before being replaced with a new model. How would a Five Year Warranty ever be justified if it becomes void the moment that model is discontinued?

      • do-it-myself says:

        This is what I was thinking. They would have to substitute a product of equal or greater capabilities if an exact replacement was not available.

        • bwcbwc says:

          They get to determine the fair market value of an item at their “Sole discretion”? I guess if the item is discontinued, the fair market value must be zero then, eh?

          • Latentius says:

            No need to be snarky. They’re just saying that if you spent $800 on a 10MP DSLR four years ago, you’ll get a similarly-spec’ed DSLR as a replacement (perhaps even a minor upgrade), but you are NOT guaranteed a new $800 DSLR.

            In my experience with the matter–and as a Geek Squad employee, I certainly have dealt with this exact situation numerous times–”comparable” units are frequently minor upgrades to the original hardware. In all the Black Tie Protection claims I’ve handled, whenever the unit applied for service, and the service center approved an exchange, the value has NEVER been zero, regardless of age.

      • Latentius says:

        And this is exactly what they do…..unless the unit in question is exempt. If you read under exclusions for ADH protection, it lists falls from extreme heights–such as those that would cause a camera to shatter into “10935702 pieces”–as uncovered exceptions, as they demonstrate a gross negligence in product care, as opposed to a simple accident.

    • 2 Replies says:

      Yes. Because going to small claims is the simple option. O_o

  2. VintageLydia says:

    My husband used to work at Geek Squad and we have friends who are still employees of Best Buy. As far as I’m aware, unless something has changed drastically in the last year, they just need to replace it with a newer model. That’s what they did with our projector about a year ago and I know that’s what happened when he was employed there about three years ago.

    Some managers, however, always try to get out of it because it effects their bonuses to honor these policies which is beyond stupid but corporate is rarely very fair to the retail floor workers (and this is the case for every retail establishment I’ve ever worked at or knew about.)

    • jiubreyn says:

      Thanks for the info!

    • Outrun1986 says:

      This is exactly why I don’t buy a store warranty. This is true for all stores though, so its a bit unfair to single out Best Buy since I am sure every store does this. Best Buy pushes their warranties a bit more than other stores though which is probably why they take the flak for most of it. All store warranties have a clause in them that say “warranty replacement up to manager discretion” or something similar, so technically when you buy a warranty at any store any manager can refuse you replacement just because they feel like it and that would be ok since its technically listed in the paperwork as them being able to do so.

    • Latentius says:

      I’m a current Geek Squad employee, and the policy HAS NOT CHANGED.

      They wouldn’t be able to get an exact replacement for what the OP broke, but they should be able to get a comparably-spec’ed new model.

      That is, unless it was determined that the damage to the camera was the result of a fall from an “extreme height,” as this–and not product availability–would disqualify the claim, according to the Terms & Conditions.

  3. jetsaredim says:

    We ran into a similar problem with the exact same model camera just before Christmas. Camera broke and they wanted to send it out for repairs. We sent it out over a month before Christmas and they said it would only take a couple weeks, but due to a part being backordered. We got them to agree to fulfill the warranty but they initially tried to tell us that it would be for the amount that the item was currently selling at (half of the original price). Wife successfully argued with the general manager of the store to give us a gift card for the amount of the original purchase price which we just used to buy a newer model Sony DSLR. AFAIK fulfilling the warranty means a payout of the original purchase price, so don’t just settle for the initial lowball offer.

    • AustinTXProgrammer says:

      You may have gotten your way but replacing the camera with an identical model would certainly fill their obligation regardless of retail value.

    • Latentius says:

      You should really try reading the Terms & Conditions you agreed to.

      http://www.geeksquad.com/uploadedFiles/wwwgeeksquadcom/protection_plans/black_tie/1941-0230921-terms-conditions.pdf

      Some important items:

      “If we determine, in our sole discretion that your product cannot be repaired, we will replace it with a product of like kind and quality that is of comparable performance or reimburse you for replacement of the product with a voucher or gift card, at our discretion, equal to the current market value of the product, as determined by us, not to exceed the original purchase price of your product, including taxes.”

      “Technological advances may result in a replacement product with a lower selling price than the original product.”

      What that manager did was above and beyond what the company was obligated to do, and they did it purely as a means to try to ensure customer satisfaction.

  4. Velifer says:

    Sears tried this once with their lifetime guarantees on Craftsman tools. It didn’t go well for them.

    On a related note, their screwdrivers work as a servicable and endless supply of brazing rod.

    • samonela says:

      …and chisel…and small pry bar…and dimple punch…and ice pick…and temporary door hinge pin…and…………………

      • BBBB says:

        “…and chisel…and small pry bar…and dimple punch…and ice pick…and temporary door hinge pin…and…………………”

        …. which voids the warranty. However, most clerks will exchange them anyway – if not, try another clerk later or a different store. [A friend once exchanged a large pry bar that had been bent into a corkscrew shape.]

        • 2 Replies says:

          How the hell do you bend a pry-bar into a helical cork-screw shape!?!
          Is your friend Magneto?

          • BBBB says:

            It was caught in a large swaging machine (cold or hot hammer forming – a metal bar is pushed through a set of tapered dies that are being hammered together (hundreds of times per second) while spinning around the bar – - it is sort of between forging and wire drawing. I helped someone take a one inch diameter steel rod and in a dozen passes through the swage it was hammered down to an eight inch diameter rod 64 times as long.) Modern machines have most moving parts enclosed, but this old one was very open with few safety shields.

        • 2 Replies says:

          How the hell do you bend a pry-bar into a helical cork-screw shape!?!
          Is your friend Magneto? X-D

  5. Almighty Peanut says:

    the person that “helped” in the store probably did give a replacement camera, just not to jason. :)

    pretty sure the docs have a clause in there that if something is no longer made, you get something of equal value. much like when you claim insurance on a broken cell phone. if they don’t have a particular model anymore, you get something else. same with graphics cards for computers. some manufacturers have lifetime warranties and will just give you whatever they have laying around as a replacement.

    something stinks about THIS particular store. i wonder if there’s another best buy he can go to. i literally have 4 within a 15 mile radius (2 of which about 5-6 miles in different directions).

    • Latentius says:

      It’s not “of equal value,” but rather “of comparably specification,” but this is correct. Geek Squad WILL provide an exchange, if it is approved.

      To be approved, the original item must be subject to all terms of the original contract, and then must be sent to a service center for exchange authorization. Unless, alternatively, if the service order system informs the agent at checkin that the unit cannot be repaired, and the store should perform an immediate exchange.

      My thoughts on the matter, dealing with this sort of situation daily, is that there is one of two possibilities to cause an exchange not to occur:

      1) More likely, the unit is in violation of the clause of the contract that states that falls from extreme heights are an exemption and will void the service plan, or

      2) The OP wanted an immediate exchange, and was not happy that the camera would have to be sent off to the service center before an exchange authorization (“junkout”) was issued.

      My bets are on the first, though, seeing as the OP describes the incident as dropping the camera while hiking, and that it was broken into “10935702 pieces.” It has nothing to do with the availability of the camera model.

  6. CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

    I’m gonna call BS on this one. So the customer is saying that he went there, had proof of purchase/insurance and they did not check him in? Whether a company makes a product still or not has no bearing on us checking in a product for repair. In this case, they would have sent it off and the service center would have approved an exchange under the fulfillment of the warranty. I don’t think we have all the information.

    • VintageLydia says:

      I mentioned above my husband used to work for Geek Squad. He had managers that would refuse these types of transactions (we guessed it had to do with their bonuses) so often he’d get in full blown arguments with them over it. Maybe it doesn’t happen in your store but it certainly happened in his.

      • homehome says:

        The store I used to work at, it never happened. Our manager was always fair and even many times went beyond what she was required to do. Now, we had about 6 best buys in about a 80 mile radius. And when I went to other stores, sometimes it was flat out slack in there.

        • Jawaka says:

          This is where most readers here drop the ball. It’s individual employees (and managers) who are crooked in most cases. Best Buy (as well as most other retailers) generally put a lot of pressure on managers who in turn put pressure on employees to sell high prices warranties and addons. Unfortunately sometime these managers and employees resort to shady methods to meet their numbers. These are individuals who have gone bad, not a company as a whole.

          • GoldVRod says:

            k – so your point is… what exactly?

            Companies are responsible for employee actions?

            Employees can be bad but companies are magic and autonomous and holy on their own?

            Best Buy should offer the employee details up and tell the customer to sue him directly?

            What’s your point mate?

            • GoldVRod says:

              Companies are *not* responsible

              Grrr – I thought the commenting system would result in an edit button

            • Jawaka says:

              The point is that everyone’s so eager to blame a corporation for things like what happened in this story these stories when in reality the problems are usually the result of crooked employees more so than a conscious decision by a company to screw a customer.

              • Chmeeee says:

                Their corporate policies and unrealistic goals are what are causing the managers/employees to act in a dishonest fashion though. That doesn’t make it OK for those employees to do so, but you have to think about human nature when setting your policies. If you have a rule that rewards dishonest behavior, then what else would you expect?

                • Jawaka says:

                  But its still ultimately the employee and not the company that’s making a conscious decision to be dishonest here. I don’t believe that the company is really consciously encouraging their employees to be dishonest, I do believe that they’re a bit naive about how dishonest the employees can be though.

      • Latentius says:

        The only reason to refuse this transaction (or similar ones) are if it violates the original Terms & Conditions agreed to. For Accidental Damage claims, it clearly states that cases of extreme negligence or falls from an extreme height (e.g. falling from balconies, being run over by a car) are exceptions that will not be honored.

        This case would seem to have everything to do with the state of the camera and the manner of its accident than it does the availability of a replacement model.

        This is CLEARLY an incomplete story, as they have not come to any sort of conclusion.

        Most likely, the OP was told that a 2-year-old camera could not get replaced for an exact model due to age. THEN, after evaluating the camera, they may have told him that the damage is not covered and ther T&C he agreed to, and that they wouldn’t refund the entire plan. Somewhere in there, the two matters got mixed up, and now the OP believes that the camera won’t be replaced because of model availability, which is not true whatsoever.

  7. Vandon says:

    I had a home theater sub-woofer that stopped working and had a best buy protection plan. I brought it in and after 2 days they said they couldn’t/wouldn’t (cost to much to fix) repair it and to come in and choose another sub-woofer.
    When I came in, they said they’d refund up to the purchase price and so for $14 I got a new sub-woofer that was a 12inch instead of a 10inch. Just make sure you don’t pick one that’s cheaper because you don’t get the difference back.

    • Latentius says:

      I hope you at least gave some positive feedback to the store, if nothing else.

      It seems like everyone wants to shout from the hills when something goes even the least bit wrong, but few people get as vocal when they receive service above their expectations (and I’d argue that the latter occurs more frequently).

  8. wellfleet says:

    Either the OP spoke to an absolute moron at his local Best Buy, or we’re not getting the whole story. And as an aside, a manager isn’t the only person who can help. Ask to speak to a customer service supervisor, or the Geek Squad senior or supervisor.

    His camera can absolutely get repaired or replaced (probably replaced) under his warranty conditions. Models change at the speed of light, and within 6 months, you won’t see the same laptops, cameras, TVs, etc.

    The only sticking point I see is if his camera is deemed to have been “abused” as this is specifically excluded from even accidental coverage: “Damage to your product caused by accident (unless you have purchased the optional ADH Coverage),
    abuse, neglect, intentional physical damage, misuse (including faulty installation, repair, or maintenance by anyone other than an authorized service provider), unauthorized modification, viruses and/or spyware (unless you have the Vi-Spy Coverage), performance failures due to not maintaining firmware updates, extreme environment (including extreme temperature or humidity), external condensation, complete submersion in liquid (e.g. pool, bathtub, etc.), lightning, fire, flood, insect infestation, rodents, war, terrorism, computer software related failures, Acts of God or other external causes.”

    This clause is to prevent people from smashing their laptop/camera/iPod to smithereens a few days before their warranty is up so they can get a new product. The determination of abuse is left to the discretion of the intake agent at Geek Squad.

    Hope the OP gets a repair or replacement. It sounds like he legitimately dropped his camera and as a fellow clumsy girl, I sympathize.

  9. Costner says:

    This reminds me of the one case I purchased an extended warranty on a product at Best Buy.

    I bought a display model disk changer for my car, and after about a month it stopped working. I took it into the store, they in turn sent it in for repair. A couple of weeks later they gave it back to me… I hooked it back up in the car and it worked for about a month. Then all of the sudden it would cease to function and I would be on my way back to Best Buy.

    For the sake of space… let’s just say “rinse and repeat” since this same scenario played out two more times. Each time the changer worked for a few weeks or at longest a few months, and then it would die again.

    Of the fourth trip into the store I demanded a refund or exchange due to the clause in their warranty that stated if a product required more than three repairs during the warranty period they would refund the purchase price or exchange it.

    First, the manager claimed that policy had changed and tried to show me the new policy included on the new warranty paperwork. After explaining that didn’t apply for my situation since I had the older warranty (with the original documentation supporting my position), and having to argue this point several times… they finally moved on to the second excuse.

    So now they claimed they had no record proving the changer had been sent in three times previously. According to them, their “system” didn’t show the repairs so they must not have happened. Lucky for me I had all the paperwork for every time it was sent in – so they took my paperwork to “research” the issue. After a while a manager told me I was missing the paperwork for one of the repairs, at which time I told him I watched a customer service agent photocopy all of them and they were still visible from where I was standing. I also told him they needed to return my paperwork to me including the one left in the copier. He was not pleased, but he obliged.

    After another round of arguments, they claimed they had no way to prove the disc changer wasn’t currently working, thus they would need to send it in for repair again to verify it is broken. I asked them to hook it up right in front of me and they could verify it didn’t work, but the manager claimed he wasn’t qualified to diagnose technical issues. Of course I protested claiming you didn’t have to be an expert to diagnose something that simply doesn’t even turn on… but I wasn’t getting anywhere.

    Finally I told the manager that we can both agree my changer had been sent in three times already – and he agreed. So I asked him, if I have to send it in again how many trips to the service center would that be. He responded it would be four trips. So I asked him with a straight face…. “is four more than three? Because I’m looking at the warranty paperwork and it says if it has to be sent in more than three times then I get a refund or replacement”.

    The manager finally gave in and did an exchange for a different model of disc changer. However, I ended up losing the full cost of the warranty so in the end I’m not sure I ever really “won”.

    The moral of the story – I don’t ever even consider buying extended warranties from Best Buy or anyone else. I won’t even shop at Best Buy anymore and the last purchase I made with them was several years ago and only because I needed the item and the other stores in the area were out of stock. I have used them as a showroom for Amazon a few times though… but they aren’t about to fool me into buying a big ticket item there.

    • wellfleet says:

      No, you didn’t lose the full cost of the warranty. Your warranty was fulfilled when the item was replaced. This is true for every single product and every single warranty. If you hadn’t bought the warranty, you would have had a defective CD changer and no recourse other than dealing with the manufacturer.

      • Costner says:

        No, you didn’t lose the full cost of the warranty. Your warranty was fulfilled when the item was replaced. This is true for every single product and every single warranty. If you hadn’t bought the warranty, you would have had a defective CD changer and no recourse other than dealing with the manufacturer.

        I understand the warranty was fulfilled, but when you buy a three year protection plan and have to swap out a defective item after 13 months, you are essentially losing 23 months of what you paid for. So if the new item dies after 13 additional months you would still not be up to the full (original) 36 months of coverage you originally paid for.

        Perhaps it is an unreasonable request, but I think warranties should be prorated or at the very least my extended warranty should have transferred over to the replacement unit.

        Doesn’t really matter though, because in the end I’ll never purchase another protection plan. The hassle of dealing with Best Buy and returning to their store time and time again and standing in line and haggling with some customer service agent and/or manager who essentially is telling you that you are a moron or that you are are lying is just not worth it. I’d rather just order a replacement unit from Amazon or Newegg rather than deal with their ineptitude.

        • Latentius says:

          It is an unreasonable request, but I do commend you on at least acknowledging that possibility.

          The protection plan is there to cover repairing or replacing your unit. Honestly, with three repairs and a replacement, you almost certainly got FAR more value out of the deal than you paid into it. At the point of replacement, you have a new unit, and you’re coming out ahead financially. Expecting to get continued coverage on a completely different product is wishful thinking, to say the least. But also, the Terms & Conditions clearly state that replacement of a product fulfills the obligations of the service plan.

          You go on and on about the ineptitude of the employees–and who knows, you may even have a point–but at this point, you’re also showing that you don’t understand the Terms & Conditions of the agreement you authorized, so you might want to check your own ineptitude as well.

    • CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

      The T&C specifies that an item must have 3 qualified repairs, and when it goes out for a 4th they can request a no-lemon which will then replace the item with a comparable product up to but not to exceed the original purchase price.

      So essentially you didn’t let them follow proper protocols, but whatever. It’s nice that stores have to abide by the T&C but customers don’t.

      • Costner says:

        The “T&C” didn’t mention anything about having to send it in for a fourth repair. Keep in mind this situation occurred over a decade ago and I’m sure their warranty language has changed several times since then. Perhaps the newer documentation did mention having to send it in again to verify the defect (which is why the manager tried several times to point me to sections of that warranty rather than the one I had in hand and had purchased), but it was still an idiotic policy considering I know full well they would find “NPF” (No problem found) when it hit the service department just like they tried with half the people I know with similar horror stories with BB warranties.

        The bottom line is they engaged in poor customer service numerous times, and the last thing I wanted to do was make yet another trip to Best Buy to resolve a situation which hadn’t been resolved in the prior three attempts. Even when you buy the extended warranty they still try to find ways to weasel out of the deal they agreed to when you purchased the warranty. If customer service was really a priority (as opposed to doing everything possible to deny a warranty claim) then you wouldn’t hear about these situations on an almost weekly basis.

        • Latentius says:

          http://www.geeksquad.com/uploadedFiles/wwwgeeksquadcom/protection_plans/black_tie/1941-0230921-terms-conditions.pdf

          “G. No Lemon Policy.

          After three (3) qualified service repairs have been completed on an individual product and that
          individual product requires a fourth (4th) qualified repair, as determined by us, we will replace it with a product of like kind and quality that is of comparable performance or reimburse you for replacement of the product with a voucher or gift card, at our discretion, equal to the current market value of the product, as determined by us, not to exceed the original purchase price of your product, including taxes.”

          Just out of curiosity, have you ever considered that it might not have been the product at fault, but rather something to do with your car? For example, what if there were an electrical problem causing units to short out. Yes, it’d be annoying having to constantly get them fixed, but that also wouldn’t make it the manufacturer’s fault.

          Regardless, they have been rude or deceptive–lacking any real evidence and only having your word, I can’t tell what they actually said and did–but they at least appear to be following policy when it comes to No Lemon exchanges.

          Also, fun little statistics. You know why you hear about a new incident every other week? It’s because in one year alone, Best Buy will process 3 million exchange/refund transactions, and 300,000 Black Tie Protection claims. You can’t do that volume of work without upsetting a few people, even if the store weren’t doing anything wrong at all. Yes, they do wrong sometimes, of course, but some people can never be satisfied, no matter what level of service they receive.

          • Costner says:

            Thanks for quoting me the lemon policy of the current warranty which is probably three or four revisions later than the one I actually had. That is very helpful. /s

            “Just out of curiosity, have you ever considered that it might not have been the product at fault, but rather something to do with your car? For example, what if there were an electrical problem causing units to short out. Yes, it’d be annoying having to constantly get them fixed, but that also wouldn’t make it the manufacturer’s fault.”

            The disc changer was used in two different vehicles, with two different head units. Same problems. I of course was simplifying my explanation within my post because I didn’t feel the actual technical issue was important, but basically when I said it didn’t turn on that isn’t exactly accurate. There was no power button on the changer, so technically it was “on” when the head unit activated it, but the cartridge would bind, it wouldn’t eject, and the discs wouldn’t go in an out… so basically aside from some rather unpleasant sounds, it was a brick.

            Once I had the replacement unit (different model) I never had another problem, so I’m going on record as saying it wasn’t anything else in the vehicle.

            “Also, fun little statistics. You know why you hear about a new incident every other week? It’s because in one year alone, Best Buy will process 3 million exchange/refund transactions, and 300,000 Black Tie Protection claims. You can’t do that volume of work without upsetting a few people, even if the store weren’t doing anything wrong at all. Yes, they do wrong sometimes, of course, but some people can never be satisfied, no matter what level of service they receive.”

            I agree you can’t please everyone all of the time, but even you as a BB employee have to acknowledge the number of times we hear about poor BB customer service exceeds what we hear from stores like Target, Kmart, JCPenny, or even Walmart. The only store that I can think of that seems to have as many people writing in to explain their poor experiences are customers of Sears.

            So what do Sears and Best Buy have in common other than the frequency of their poor customer service reports? Well they are both losing tons of money, they are both trying to continually reinvent themselves, and many analysts predict neither of them will exist in a decade unless they figure something out.

            Maybe they could turn things around if they started treating customers like actual customers instead of the enemy. There are many other issues, but that is a start. I no longer shop at Best Buy because of the tactics employed there and the policies, and based upon how they treated me, people I know, and even people I didn’t know that I just happened to witness.

            I’m a pretty techie type of person. I am a certified electronics technician, I’ve worked as a systems admin, and one of my degrees involves electronics. I also am friends with a loto f techie types of people and I work with a lot of techie people…. none of the people I know speak highly of Best Buy. None of them. Do you think this is a coincidence? No – it is people that actually know what they are talking about being treated like crap when they go in there. It is salespeople basically lying to us telling us things that are untrue. It is wanting to buy something and realizing a six foot HDMI cable is going to cost $29.99 for the cheap one or as much as $59.99 for the “high end” when we all know Monoprice has the same thing for less than $5. It is seeing a wall mount TV mount for $150+ and knowing we can find the same thing online for less than $25.

            It is being told we must purchase “optimized” computers or having it suggested that we need to have software installed by the Geek Squad as if we are incapable of clicking “Next, Next, Finish” ourselves. It is being continually pressured to buy the product that happens to be in stock rather than the item we actually want, or being given the wrong advice from untrained sales staff that learned everything they know from product reps rather than doing their own independent research.

            I’m sure there are a lot of very smart and courteous Best Buy employees, but they are outnumbered and the culture that exists within Best Buy is such that you see ten high pressure or rude employees before you ever find one that is sincere and helpful. This is why technical people avoid Best Buy like the plague and why when people ask us for advice we steer them to Newegg, Monoprice, or Amazon.

            Can a company really exist when they alienate a major portion of their core demographic? Do they realize technical people act like resources for their friends, family, coworkers, and even friends of family?

            The company is a trainwreck and I have seen nothing in the past decade that suggests they are acknowledging the real problem which is how their customers are treated. They try new programs and expand various departments and change staffing and put out new ad campaigns, but they never get down to the core issue… which is why they are struggling. Maybe the new CEO will step up and change that… or perhaps the writing is on the wall.

            Either way I’d suggest if you are even remotely capable, you would be well served to look for employment outside of Best Buy. I can tell you from outside that if I see a resume where someone lists the Geek Squad as their last job, I wouldn’t be able to hire them for anything more intensive than imaging PCs or swapping our keyboards. It isn’t that there aren’t qualified people working for the Geek Squad, but the odds are against finding the diamond in the sea of coal. Most people aren’t willing to take that chance, and upward mobility at BB is lacking. You aren’t ever going to be a systems engineer while you roll around in a VW Bug and swap hard drives for MILFs who don’t know the difference between a Phillips and Torx screw.

            I would advise anyone who works for Geek Squad to go find a job at a real PC repair business, because even if the pay is less in the short term, and even if you don’t get the employee discount on Blu-Rays and Insignia flat panel TVs, you will actually learn how to fix PCs instead of just reloading them, replacing a hard drive, or sending them out for repair. That knowledge will be much more useful down the road and can lead to a strong career in the IT field. Most former Geek Squad employees I know end up working retail somewhere else or they end up going back to school before they ever end up with a job in the IT field. Geek Squad is fine for people who have no desire to advance beyond that level or for kids working their way through college, but if you have any ambitions in the IT world, that isn’t the place you want to be if for no other reason than the stigma associated with it.

  10. britswim04 says:

    They tried this when my Rebel took a stumble down the stairs. I had the 4yr Accidental damage protection and for THREE WEEKS they tried to repair it. At the time I wasn’t professionally employed and photography work was keeping me afloat.

    They tried to say they’d repair it even though the camera was 2 years out of date and the cost of repairs cost more than the value of the camera (the sensor alone was $500) I EECB’d and got a gift card for the current selling-value of the camera.

    Upgraded to a 50D and haven’t looked back.

    The best part is that they gave me MORE in credit than I bought it for, as I was an employee when I did. :D

    • CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

      So they tried to repair, which is in the T&C and that wasn’t good enough for you. Then you complained about them following the warranty so they gave you more than the camera was worth, and you being dishonest took it. Sums it up clearly for me.

      • gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

        Oh you work for Best Buy and you have an unbiased opinion on the matter? Yah that’s what I thought douche. Seems to me that if they couldn’t fix the camera in three weeks then they did the appropriate thing by refunding his money. Corporate shrill says what? I’m a troll.

        • pythonspam says:

          shill: person who publicly helps a person or organization without disclosing that he has a close relationship with that person or organization.
          By saying he worked for Best Buy at the time of the original purchase, britswom04 is not a shill. (Although still possibly biased.)

          • CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

            He/she was speaking of me being the shill. But, since he/she is an idiot troll, I didn’t bother responding.

            • gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

              Every comment you make on here is pro-Best Buy and anti-consumer. Apparently you love your job and company so much you think all customers with a problem are wrong and you must use your time off from work to defend poor defenseless Best Buy cause hey they gotta make a buck too, and how cares if they gotta screw people over to our to make it. Right?

              • CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

                Completely not true. In fact, in some of the stories not only have I not defended Best Buy but I actually reached out to the OP to see if I could research and find a resolution for them.

                But I guess your hate for Best Buy only allows you to see what you want.

                • gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

                  I don’t hate Best Buy dude. In fact I’m amazed at the shit I see on this site that happens to people at Best Buy. I don’t make electronics purchases in-store very often because I am a Diyer in regards to electronics and computers and tend to find a lot of things I need much cheaper on Amazon. However I am not opposed to shopping at Best Buy. Last month I upgraded my VZW Droid Incredible 2 in black to a Droid Incredible 2 in white and I got it at Best Buy for free with a contract extension. I also bought my Medion Home Entertainment PC there and between that and the accessories and components purchased, I spent over 2800 bucks at Best Buy several years ago. It actually was not a proprietary parts PC and worked out so well for me I have not had to buy a new PC, as I’ve been able to upgrade the Medion with great success. Those are just a couple examples of items I have purchased at Best Buy in addition to numerous other ones made there in the past few years. Maybe we both misunderstood the others motivation so I call truce and apologize if I mischaracterized your words and motivations and declare a truce :)

          • gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

            According to Merriam-Websters at m-w.com shill can also be defined as follows: as a verb –
            2: to act as a spokesperson or promoter and as a noun – b: one who makes a sales pitch or acts as a promoter.

            So I stand by my original assertion that he is a corporate shill and troll.

    • Latentius says:

      Gotta agree with my colleague on this one. It sounds like they did everything by the books. First, you send the unit off to the service center, and they’ll determine if it’s viable to repair the damage, or if it’s better to just replace the item. If they can’t fix it, or if it’s not worth it, then you get approved for a “junkout”–that is, like when a car is “totaled,” the repairs cost more than the value, so you just get a new unit in exchange.

      I really don’t see the need to employ an EECB when everything was going according to plan. As a former employee, you really ought to know how such matters work.

  11. taaurrus says:

    I bought a laptop at Best Buy in February 2004. I also purchased a 3 year warranty. In 2005 the laptop starting malfunctioning. I took it to Best Buy – they shipped it off for repair. Repeat this 3 more times – for a total of FOUR times until January 2007 – each time they would keep my laptop for 2+ months while they “repaired” it (this actually added up to FIVE trips to Best Buy because I was previously told to only bring in my laptop; not the cord – so when I did this one a subsequent trip – the Geek Squad guy told me he had “no way” of figuring out if something was wrong because I “didn’t bring the power cord”. I told him “This is Best Buy! You don’t have a power cord for the laptops you sell?? Go get one off the shelf!” After being told he “couldn’t do that” – I had to go back home & get the power cord. And no – I didn’t believe him I think he was just lazy). Anyway 4 trips x at least 2 months each adds up to my laptop being in for repairs at least 8 months out of my 3 years I had a warranty for it. In January 2007 – it malfunctioned again – 2 weeks before my warranty expired. This time – I wasn’t so nice about it and asked to speak with a manager. I pointed out that I was suppose to get a new laptop if my laptop goes in for 3 or more repairs and this would be the FIFTH. Luckily, I was speaking to a manager with common sense and he told me to go pick out another laptop equal or less than the ORIGINAL PRICE of my old laptop. I paid the SALE price – which was 4 hundred dollars cheaper. So yay! At least that made up for the $200 I spent on the warranty and the 8+ months my laptop was in for repair. Only bad thing was that I couldn’t afford to buy a new warranty for the new laptop & the old warranty didn’t transfer over. Wouldn’t matter anyway since it was expiring in 2 weeks. So – I walked out with a brand new lap top that was 3 years newer than my old one and had a lot of new features too!

    • CurrentGeekSquadEmployee says:

      I would be curious to look up your information and see how long 2+ months really is. In 7 years, I have never seen a repair at the service longer than 6 weeks, much less 3 in a row. Not to say it couldn’t happen, but I would be curious.

      To your other problem, yes he could have opened a new cord off the shelf. Yet he probably didn’t feel it made sense that the company should lose money on a product because you can’t be bothered to bring your cord in. We keep about a dozen universals in the back for that purpose for customers like yourself.

      • Costner says:

        Apparently in your world every customer is a liar, a thief, or simply an idiot.

        You sir are the entire reason why people hate Best Buy. Your entire organization has zero desire to put the customer first and you are always treated the customer as an adversary. What ever happened to thinking outside the box? What if the Geek Squad employee took three minutes to search for a compatible power adapter and if one isn’t found politely explained that they have no way to power up his particular model of laptop instead of just parroting some generic policy which may or may not be applicable in this case?

        I suppose to some degree people who buy computers from Best Buy deserve what they get because they are relying upon the technical prowess of the typical Geek Squad keyboard jockey who isn’t capable of performing any in depth troubleshooting aside from reloading a PC or clicking “Next, Next, Finish” on the software that they are charging $39.95 to install. However treating people like actual customers might actually be helpful for a change.

        • Latentius says:

          You are WAY over the line with that comment.

          You should actually try working at a Best Buy, rather than just harassing those who do. Some of us really do care about trying to make sure the customer is satisfied. I know that I personally feel this way, and I know that many of my co-workers feel so as well.

          As for the situation above, while an employee may wish to make a customer happy, they have absolutely no obligation to go pull product off the floor to make up for a customer’s negligence. Furthermore, shouting at the employee to “Go get one off the shelf!” is a sure-fire way to ensure that they do NOT go out of their way to help you in ways they’re not obligated to. Being a jerk gets you nowhere.

          Back to your attack, you obviously have zero experience with these matters. The guy above and myself, on the other hand, have quite a bit. It is absolutely uncalled for to start throwing out such disgusting insults, simply because he offers an honest, objective opinion based on his experience dealing with this sort of situation. When someone says that a unit has been off at service for two months, this throws up a huge red flag for anyone who actually is familiar with the process. This is virtually unheard of, and to claim it’s happened multiple times in a row is practically impossible. In all likelihood, this is an exaggeration, or there are other factors at play (for example, not picking up a computer for three weeks after it has returned from service, which is MUCH more common).

          But really, if you’re going to be so uncivil, and attack someone simply for who their employer is, you really have no place here. This guy (and myself, in the past) are just trying to offer honest opinions on the situation based on what we’ve seen before, trying to help people understand what’s going on and why, without having to go through all the PR nonsense and spin that would be required in-store.

          • Costner says:

            “You are WAY over the line with that comment.”

            Which comment are you referring to? I don’t even think I approached the line with anything I said. I do find it odd that Best Buy employees come out of the woodwork to defend Best Buy though… it is really tough to take you guys seriously.

            “You should actually try working at a Best Buy, rather than just harassing those who do. Some of us really do care about trying to make sure the customer is satisfied. I know that I personally feel this way, and I know that many of my co-workers feel so as well.”

            I’ve worked retail, and I treated customers with respect. You might do the same, and you might have a few coworkers who do as well, but the culture that exists within Best Buy does not. The entire structure is designed to put the customer at a disadvantage and they are treated as the adversary. I’ve witnessed the same pattern time and time again and numerous Best Buy stores so this isn’t an isolated incident. There is a reason why Best Buy has their own taglines and hashtags on websites like Consumerist… because these types of issues are so common.

            “As for the situation above, while an employee may wish to make a customer happy, they have absolutely no obligation to go pull product off the floor to make up for a customer’s negligence.”

            Who said they have such an obligation? However they could take 30 seconds to actually look for an adapter and go above and beyond to help a frustrated customer. Listen I know what it is like to deal with angry customers… I’ve been there. Not only did I work retail, but I also worked phone support for a PC manufacturer and I know what people can be like, but you learn really quick the best way to address an issue is to show the customer that you are actually trying to help you. You don’t stoop to their level but rather bring them up to yours. Had the employee spent a few minutes honestly looking at what they had and seeing if they could assist the customer – even if they were unable to in the end – the customer would still leave feeling that the employee was trying. That didn’t happen here and it merely escalated.

            “Furthermore, shouting at the employee to “Go get one off the shelf!” is a sure-fire way to ensure that they do NOT go out of their way to help you in ways they’re not obligated to. Being a jerk gets you nowhere.”

            When you use that attitude and you race to the bottom you are part of the problem. A customer that brings in a broken product is going to be upset… that is par for the course. If you work with them and show them you are trying to help them instead of treating them like a number or the enemy, you will deflate their anger in seconds. The first thing you learn when dealing with customers is that they aren’t mad at YOU, they are mad at the situation. When you start being a jerk because a customer is being difficult or raising their voice, you both spiral down into the sewer and nothing gets accomplished. Instead, if you calmly explain the situation and try to help… things would improve. I have no idea if the customer actually yelled here or merely made a firm statement, but it really shouldn’t matter.

            “Back to your attack, you obviously have zero experience with these matters. The guy above and myself, on the other hand, have quite a bit. It is absolutely uncalled for to start throwing out such disgusting insults, simply because he offers an honest, objective opinion based on his experience dealing with this sort of situation. When someone says that a unit has been off at service for two months, this throws up a huge red flag for anyone who actually is familiar with the process. This is virtually unheard of, and to claim it’s happened multiple times in a row is practically impossible. In all likelihood, this is an exaggeration, or there are other factors at play (for example, not picking up a computer for three weeks after it has returned from service, which is MUCH more common).”

            LOL. Yea I have zero experience because I never worked at Best Buy? Is that really what you’re going with? Is there any wonder why your organization is in the toilet when you as an employee can’t even see the big picture here?

            A bit of advice – if you really want to change the atmosphere at Best Buy, one surefire way to NOT do so is when you come onto a website and immediately take the company line and start accusing the customer of being dishonest or misleading. Maybe they are mad and frustrated and maybe instead of six weeks they rounded up to two months… does it really matter? No it doesn’t – the core issue is they weren’t treated like they wanted to be treated. They weren’t treated as a valued customer, and now they have Best Buy employees coming out of the woodwork to defend the company even though they have ZERO knowledge of the specifics in this case and have ZERO evidence to counter anything the customer has said.

            You are immediately assuming the customer is full of it, and you are basing your opinions off of that even though it isn’t important to the core issue. That is why Best Buy is failing – because their employees can’t look beyond the trivial points to see a customer who just wants to be treated like a human being.

            “But really, if you’re going to be so uncivil, and attack someone simply for who their employer is, you really have no place here. This guy (and myself, in the past) are just trying to offer honest opinions on the situation based on what we’ve seen before, trying to help people understand what’s going on and why, without having to go through all the PR nonsense and spin that would be required in-store.”

            I’m not being uncivil nor am I attacking someone simply because they work for Best Buy. I’m calling out an employee who has a history of defending Best Buy no matter what the circumstances, and someone who basically – immediately – suggests a customer is basically lying. Try reading the comment history for Mr. GeekSquad and tell me I’m wrong.

            Also for the record, this is a website about, for, and talking about Consumers. It is not a website where companies send their trolls out to defend themselves (not suggesting you are doing that… merely speaking in general terms), nor is it a place where the word of an employee automatically takes precedence over that of a customer. Employees have all the power when customers enter your home turf, but the role is reversed here… so I’m sorry to say your comment about me having no place here is just downright silly. The truth is if you want to speak as an individual you should do so, but when you and your friend have to come here to defend your employer…well it doesn’t really help your cause. You can carry their water all day long if you want – that is your choice, but don’t expect to be given special treatment for it.

            To be honest – you guys are making Best Buy look even worse, because once again you gang up on the customer and just start making assumptions without seeing the core issue of how a customer is frustrated and just wants a functioning product. You look beyond that and just start focusing on whether it is possible his laptop was in service for two months when that isn’t the issue here – it isn’t even relevant. This is a prime example of what I’m talking about and how the culture in Best Buy is so out of tune with the customers they wish to “serve” that they can’t see how they are slowly killing themselves with their own ineptitude.

            • Peggee has pearls and will clutch them when cashiers ask "YOU GOT A WIC CHECK MA'AM?" says:

              Jesus, that makes two Great Walls of Text from you just on this one page. How can you be such an abject corporate apologist except when said corporation personally pissed you off…and expect to be taken seriously?

              Every complaint you have about Best Buy’s lack of compassion and refusal to think outside the box can be said about the companies you stan for in other posts. Yet your answer for everyone else is always “It would not be cost effective to…” or “Why should the company waste their time/lose money/lower the value of their CEOs’ golden parachutes by…”

              • Costner says:

                Ah… pretty sure you have me confused with someone else considering I have never uttered either of those two phrases.

                Thanks for stopping by though?

    • Latentius says:

      1) 2+ months each time? I seriously doubt that…

      2) While most Geek Squads do have a stash of AC adapters, the supply is not infinite, nor is it guaranteed. When in doubt, bring the cord. The employee may have been lazy, but neglecting to bring in all the necessary hardware and bemoaning having to get it isn’t exactly the opposite of lazy, either.

      3) Shouting at an employee to “Go get one off the shelf!” is a pretty good way to ensure that they do NOT go out of their way to be helpful and do things they aren’t obligated to do.

      4) It sounds like the service plan was handled as it was supposed to, and the manager satisfactorily fulfilled the contract in the end, so why complain?

      • Coleoptera Girl says:

        In response to 1): Maybe there was a backlog or parts were back-ordered (perhaps it was a laptop that was very prone to malfunction?).
        2) and 3) I’ll give you with no fuss. I work retail and I understand.
        As for 4), both the good and the bad were presented. I see no problems here. Get over the fact that some people just like to complain.

  12. Michael Belisle says:

    I asked to speak to a Manager, she said they are all in meetings. … Speak to [A] who says she needs to transfer me to consumer affairs and does so. Hold music stops, call disconnects. … I call the store and ask for a manager, the manager is off today, I ask for any Manager on Duty and am told she’s on lunch call back in an hour, but the store closes in 30 minutes… WTH?

    I believe that’s called something like “the runaround” or “bullshit”. Since it seems to be a pattern, it might mean the front-line staffers don’t like you for some reason. Perhaps it has something to do with being unable to wait until banker’s hours to get your problem resolved.

    Not that the employees aren’t dicks to do it, it’s just there isn’t anything you can do about. Better to wait a couple of days, take a stress pill, and try again during the regular work week.

  13. jaya9581 says:

    Just 2 months ago my vacuum, purchased at Best Buy with the warranty, stopped working. I was given a slightly more expensive, comparable, brand-new one at no cost to myself because the original was discontinued. If I had not wanted the vacuum they offered, I could have gotten a gift card in the amount of my original purchase price to use as I saw fit. I’ve done this with various products several times over the last 10 years.

    Either the employee(s) were stupid, or there’s more to this.

    • Latentius says:

      Perhaps a little of both.

      In all honesty, as an member of Geek Squad, I know that there certainly are *some* employees that aren’t so sharp (though, it’s a LOT smaller percentage than most people would like to believe).

      However, the story is definitely lacking details. For one, there’s no resolution; the story ends in the middle. Two, what the OP is stating is most definitely NOT how things work. Nearest I can figure, they’re mixing up two components of what may be going on: that an exact- model exchange would be impossible, and that the unit does not qualify for service.

      When I read stories like this, I really wish I had the contact information, so I could pull the service orders for myself and see what, exactly, is not being mentioned.

  14. dush says:

    Does the warranty say it is void if the product becomes discontinued? That would be a simple thing to check for in the paperwork.

  15. Overheal says:

    Sounds like a rogue manager, as far as I know this story does not match up with the Geek Squad T&C.

  16. Latentius says:

    Okay, and where’s the rest of the story?

    Seriously, there’s got to be more, because what’s shown here is pure nonsense.

    Perhaps the OP is seriously misunderstanding the situation? For a two-year-old model of camera, there’s no way to replace it with an IDENTICAL model, but as long as the service plan still applies, they could go for a comparably-spec’ed current model.

    The only reason that such a warranty wouldn’t be honored is if the claim is in violation of the terms and conditions.

    “ADH Coverage will provide coverage for parts and labor costs to repair your product as a result of damage to your product that is the result of an unexpected and unintentional external event (drops and spills) that arise from your normal daily usage of the product as the manufacturer intended. Secondary damage or using the product in a manner the manufacturer did not intend is not covered.”

    “This Plan does not cover:
    ADH Exclusions: units that fall from extreme heights such as decks, balconies, or out of windows, units that have been run over or that fall from moving vehicles, damage from liquid immersion/submersionor any other secondary damage.”

    http://www.geeksquad.com/uploadedFiles/wwwgeeksquadcom/protection_plans/black_tie/1941-0230921-terms-conditions.pdf

    My guess is, he asked about replacing a two-year-old camera, and they told him that they couldn’t provide an exact replacement, then they evaluated what he actually had and deemed that it was exempt from the agreement that the OP signed when purchasing the service plan. (Just a guess on that one, but as he describes it as being in “10935702 pieces,” I would assume that qualifies as falling from an extreme height.)

  17. Professor59 says:

    Why does anyone still shop at Best Buy?

  18. onotadaki says:

    I’ve worked in quite a few huge chains like Best Buy and I’m quite certain I know what’s going on. Top level management gets a notice that a lot more money was lost to customer insurance claims this year so they create systems to monitor this. In-store managers now have to complete reports every day with a dollar value for refunds. Their regional managers hassle them relentlessly over these numbers if they go above the norm. At a huge gym chain I worked at, the manager could double his salary with good reports to head office.

    Now you walk in and this guy has to choose between paying rent or refunding you. Not only that, but he’s the MANAGER! He can just boot you on your ass and no one would know.

    My suggestion is hitting these people where it hurts. Call their head office, speak to a secretary and get a regional manager’s number. This person’s job is to make sure the manager in-store is following policy 100%.

  19. mattwillis4 says:

    There is no such thing about not fixing discontinues products. I worked at BBY/GS for a decade. What does happen with the accidental plan is it covers “Accidental Handling from normal use”. Normal use is stipulated by AIG, not Best Buy since AIG is the company that actually pays out the money to have things fixed.

    When a product comes in in-pieces, it’s typically NOT from normal use. In this case since you were hiking, the case can be made and in which case you;re probably going to send it out and they will exchange it under the plan because the cost of fixing and time to require parts will go over both.

    For those of you wondering what is considered accidental damage and what is considered negligence for the plan, here is what is NOT covered…

    -Bodily Fluid from Human or Animal (You would be amazed how many people bring in things their pets pee’d on)
    -Insect Infestation
    -Excessive height drop (meaning drop from 6 or so feet since you were holding it up, cool…
    -Dropped the the balcony at a sports arena… no)
    -Liquid SUBMERSION (Waterproof cameras aside provided you send it in once a year to have the seals replaced)
    -Intentional damage (stabbing the LCD is REALLY easy to spot btw…)
    -Intentional misuse (same as above really, don’t use your laptop to hammer nails)
    -Direct damage from baby or pet.
    ^^^^ Let me explain this one quite thoroughly as some people have a hard time with it. If your pet or child is running around and catches the cable while your device is charging and it falls off wherever its perch is and/or the port is ripped out that IS covered. What is NOT covered is your baby going to your device and ripping all the buttons/keys off of it, or your dog eating the power cable or device. Those are negligence.

  20. Bionic Data Drop says:

    “Your entire organization has zero desire to put the customer first and you are always treated the customer as an adversary.”

    +1 That is an excellent one sentence summary of Best Buy’s customer service.