56% of Geek Squad employees responding to a poll on a company online forum said they found “no reason” to use anti-static wrist straps when repairing customer’s computers.
These straps help prevent against against electrostatic discharge (ESD), which can completely fry a computer.
18% of the 129 responding to the December, 2006 poll said they felt using straps was “necessary anytime the case is open.” 17% said “our precinct does not have any or anywhere to attach to the bench.” And 7% said “I am too lazy or there is not enough time to use them.”
Geek Squad’s standard repair operating procedure requires use of the straps, in conjunction with anti-static rubber mats.
Geek Squad employees gave various reasons for not strapping on, like, “we would have to spend money,” and, “I have never worn one…and we’ve never had any ESD issues.”
ESD can build up in a device and cause damage weeks or even months later. Sometimes the damage can be a gradual degrade over time, resulting in random instability and system lockups.
Other employees simply found the straps “uncomfortable” and cumbersome to use.
Some chided their fellow employees for poo-poohing the straps. One employee cited a study where mishandling IBM computers led to $500,000+ in ESD damages. Another said, “We owe it to our clients to protect not only their privacy, but the longevity of their electronic components. “
Full screen shot of the poll, inside…
Click to enlarge.
One agent in Liberty, MO provides a cautionary tale:
I was *always* far too good to wear one. Never had a problem with any of my own equipment, precinct work, client’s machines etc.
Then I moved my own motherboard from one case to another to upgrade. Admittedly, I wasn’t taking good precautions changing it on carpet, but I did the same trick everyone here does with grounding the case to an outlet and putting hands on the chassis.
I killed the thing.
It was then that I realized that a freaking dollar and some change dynex wrist strap would have saved me ~$200. I can imagine messing up at a client’s house, and I don’t want the issues frankly. Now, when there’s a screwdriver in my hand, my wardrobe includes the strap.
Some techs say it’s not necessary to use the straps, and that there’s other ways to properly discharge before operating on a computer. But if Geek Squad thought wrist straps were good enough to require in the standard operating procedure, why aren’t they being used in the stores? — BEN POPKEN