Geek Squad Cuts The Cables Inside Your Computer Instead Of Backing Up Your Data?

Reader Kevin forwarded us this story from Dave, a I.T. consultant friend of his who helps people with their computer problems in exchange for hardware donations to the school he works at. Dave’s “propane guy” said he recently took a desktop computer to Geek Squad after it failed, and “great Geek Squad guys were AWESOME and had been able to retrieve all of his family pictures for him,” before selling him a new laptop. Dave offered to take a look at the desktop and try to retrieve the rest of the important files– the “7 years of QuickBooks 2005 data” that Best Buy wasn’t able to save, but when Dave opened up the computer he says he was surprised to see that someone had cut some important cables.

I get the computer to my office and this is what I find:
1) Geek Squad cut the wires from the power supply to the motherboard plug so the power supply is worthless.
2) and a stick of RAM has been stolen from the second blue slot.
3) Geek Squad cut all of the IDE cables!
4) The Crown Jewel – Geek Squad broke the power connector off of
the Hard Drive controller.

Maybe it was innocently, maybe it was maliciously, maybe to hide the fact that they hosed the drive. I’m going with malicious until I can solder on a connector and get these peoples data back…

I’m so hacked at Geek Squad I can’t even express it right now.

Obviously, this story isn’t coming from the computer’s owner, but we’ll pass along some advice anyway. We don’t see any reason why the owners of this computer shouldn’t consider filing a small claims lawsuit against Best Buy for the damages. Here’s some information about what small claims court is, and how it works. In addition, the owners should file a report with their attorney general and/or department of consumer affairs. We wouldn’t hesitate to contact the local police and let them know that someone may have vandalized the computer.

Geek Squad [Kevitivity]
(Photo: Dave Baker )


Edit Your Comment

  1. B says:

    They were just trying to make the guy’s PC wireless. I don’t see the problem here.

  2. cotr says:

    how do you have 7 years of Quickbooks 2005 data?

  3. pianos101 says:

    This really doesn’t seem innocent. I have no idea how this could not be malicious. And wait: 7 years of QB 05 data?? but 2005 was only 3 years ago…. I’m guessing he never closed out his previous year’s books and kept a BACKUP of the QB file on a CD or something. Rookie mistake.

  4. nyaz says:

    Holy Crap that can’t be true. Either they have some big BALLS at that GeekSquad, or they fully expect normal people to never look at computers. I call BS, who would do something so blatantly obvious when you could do a simple thing like remove the heatsink and crack the processor.

  5. picardia says:

    You could have 7 years of QB 05 data if you are keeping books for more than one person/entity.

    ITA that this looks really suspicious. Those are some clean-cut wires to be a “mistake.”

  6. windycity says:

    Obviously they thought his computer was a bomb and tried to disarm it.

    “OK, now, do you cut the green one first or the red one?”

    “No, dummie! First, you remove the stick from the second blue slot, THEN you cut the green one.”

  7. wellfleet says:

    Full disclosure: I work at Best Buy and worked at Geek Squad

    I never want to blame the OP, but the power supply cables look like they were cut clean across with scissors. I cannot fathom why anyone would do this,or how it can happen by accident. For a data backup when the unit is DOA, we pull the HDD, put it on a sled, and back it up that way. If the precinct did break the HDD, which is entirely possible, it would be covered under our liability agreement.

    What I’m saying is there’s no reason to hide this if it happened by accident; a new HDD would be charged to the store’s warranty.

    Further, there is very little incentive in selling a new computer as the margin on PCs is less than $30 at most with the hopes of making up margin by selling accessories, services, and the beloved PSP.

    Something is fishy… We screw up, it absolutely happens, but this seems a little too… spectacular!

  8. simplegreen says:

    you cant cut both the IDE and the power cabs and jack a stick of ram by accident. Fuck i hate these guys. I hate them so much my neighbor had them over one time and literally went over knocked on the door and exclaimed, whatever their charging you I’ll do it for free, if you want to keep your property and your identity safe you wont use these college drop outs.

    Its obvious that Ben needs to work harder in making The Consumerist a hand book that all Americans must read daily. If that were the case, we wouldn’t even have such companies, everyone would be smart enough to not use them.

  9. mmstk101 says:

    @B: You just made my day.

  10. Kos says:

    @B: Yeah, genius.

    Ben, I think you need a “Fishy” tag.

  11. synimatik says:

    Not surprised at all. I used to work for these jack asses (many moons ago) and I regularly saw people break computers, physically break them, then just hand em back and claim it was like that when it got there. I’ve also seen ‘agents’ almost get punched in the face for that kind of behavior.

  12. Chongo says:

    that is plain old criminal… even if it was really broken. Maybe the guy could of sold the guts for parts!

  13. Ein2015 says:

    Wow this just makes me sick. (I love computers too much.)

    In my opinion, it looks like something truly malicious/criminal went on here, and probably by a GeekSquad employee. An investigation needs to happen…

  14. Imakeholesinu says:


    Quick books has been around for awhile. He is probably referring to past quickbooks archives he brought up to QB2005.

  15. I understand exactly what happened here. The Geek Squad people brought the computer to the Auto Installation people. Since the stock harness wouldn’t fit into the newer chassis, they cut all the wire in order to splice a new harness on. When they tried to turn the key to turn the electrical system on, they realized it was not a car. They called up Geek Squad, who came over and said “Yes, this isn’t a car. We can fix it now!”

  16. shoelace414 says:

    @pianos101: you can import data into Quicken 2005 that was entered in Quicken 2000, or older version of Quicken or Microsoft Money.

  17. Imakeholesinu says:

    This makes me wonder, are local computer resellers any better or worse than this?

  18. ekthesy says:

    Perhaps the BB folks completely fried the hard drive, managed to extract some data, told Mr. Propane his computer was shot, got him to buy a new one, and then, just in case, tried to cover their initial screw up by amateurishly destroying the innards of the computer.

    If they sold him a new machine, it probably didn’t dawn on them that he would do anything except discard the old one. Surprised they didn’t offer to do it for him.

  19. B says:

    @pianos101: When you load Quickbooks, you can import data from earlier versions into it, otherwise it would be pretty useless as a finance program. Also, keeping 7 years of financial data is standard for a business.

  20. Geekybiker says:

    Well it is possible he only had 1 stick of ram to start. Rare but it should run. Anyhow, I bet they screwed something up when “fixing” the pc, so made sure it was dead to cover their mistake.

  21. What The Geek says:

    Lemme share a Geek Squad story with the group. Anyone who’s read my comments frequently already knows I’m a freelance computer technician. One time I had a customer come to me after getting the run around from BB after taking his desktop pc in to have more ram put in. Even though it takes no more than ten minutes to insert, AND test a stick of ram, BB had his computer for about a week before calling him to tell him that it wasn’t running, and he should buy a new one. After a little more back and forth with them, he got frustrated, and went in and demanded his computer be given back to him. Here’s where I come in. His computer was indeed not working, so he brought it to me. When I opened up the computer to look inside and see what was going on, I saw something somewhat unexpected – scorch marks on the inside of the case. Apparently, at some point, somethihg either gave off an extremely potent jolt of electricity, or something was on fire inside the computer. That would probaly explain why his motherboard was fried beyond repair.

    I don’t know what they did, but I do know that in seven years of repairing computers proffessionally, I have never seen one that caught fire, or had bolts of electricity occur in the case on it’s own. Avoid BB, CC, and any other chain store in your area that may offer computer repair. Find a local shop, or a local technician on craigslist – you’ll get better results – I can guarantee it.

  22. mariospants says:

    @B: “They were just trying to make the guy’s PC wireless. I don’t see the problem here.”

    Best comment in a long time – thanks for the laugh…

    This story is a little strangey strange. While I believe the RAM theft, the sheer audacity of clipping the cables (ostensibly because they were in the way?) just sounds implausible. It may be possible, however, that they swapped power supplies and other bits and cut and broke the cables to cover the swap…

  23. @Geekybiker: If you look at the picture, there’s 4 RAM slots, and one is empty. You install in pairs unless you have a machine that uses CRIMMs.

  24. What The Geek says:

    @wellfleet: Look, I don’t mean any of what I’m about to say as an attack on you personally – you seem like a decent, honest person. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I certainly don’t rule out the possibility that a cheap store manager would:

    1. Take shady steps to avoid having to fulfill a warranty claim.

    2. Pull parts from a customer’s “broken” computer for later use.

    3. Try and sell the customer a new computer complete with five year warranty because “you never know when somehting like this could happen to you again”

    I’m not saying it’s right, or that it happens everywhere, but I strongly suspect, based on what I’ve seen in my own work, that these sort of things do happen at the wrong store. Just because you work for BB, and you and your store are honest and decent, don’t assume everyone who works for the company is.

  25. kathyl says:

    Good lord, don’t hand your computer to any of these repair-in-a-box places and expect them to act in your best interests. They’ve proven AGAIN and AGAIN that they’ll assume that if you don’t know enough about your computer to fix it, you don’t know enough about it to tell that they’ve hosed it more, either to cover the tracks of their poor work or to “find” more things wrong with it so they can either charge you more to fix it or upsell you to a new computer.

    Find a small computer shop and do a few deals with them BEFORE your computer has a major problem…buy a mouse or a wireless card from them, talk to them about upgrading your video card or something if that’s something you might be interested in. If your BS alarm doesn’t go off during those minor dealings, then THERE’S your shop you take your computer to when it goes blark. If not, look for another one. It’s worth driving a bit or paying a little more for service if you’re dealing with honest people who won’t do more harm than help.

  26. What The Geek says:

    @kathyl: I agree completely – and you know what’s funny? Most of the shops and freelancers in my area (myself included) charge significantly less than BB for superior service. I don’t know why people continue to pay more to have their stuff broken.

  27. gregcuc says:

    @Git Em SteveDave is a poor substitute for LindsayJoy: By the looks of it, the ram is something like PC133, which I don’t believe you have to install in pairs.

    As for Geeks Squad, I used to own a small computer repair company. Every now and then some one would come in and tell us a story of how they went to BB to get their computer fixed, they had it for over a week, didn’t fix anything, and then charge the customer for nothing being done or wanting to replace a lot of parts. Most of the time it was simple stuff like bad ram or a screwed up windows install. I never got around to sending them a fruit basket for all the business they drove to me though…

  28. jackal676 says:

    @Git Em SteveDave is a poor substitute for LindsayJoy:
    It looks more to me like a motherboard from a few years ago, when they were still putting in two sets of ram slots — one set for PC3200 and one set for PC133. My old motherboard was like this. In the picture, you can see that each set is a different color. So he may have only had one stick of ram to begin with.

  29. joellevand says:

    @B: OMG, I love you for that comment!

  30. macinjosh says:

    @phnxamg: You upgraded from previous versions.

  31. @gregcuc: @jackal676: Some of my Dells have two different colored slots. It’s meant for ease of non-tech people to install RAM. You first install pairs in the white slots, then the black.

    Does anyone know what kind of comp this is? I’m guessing a Gateway or Compaq?

    As to the Hard drive, the OP says he wants to solder the power connectors back on. I would say to be very reliable, I would get a similar HD, and take the controller board off a good one, and attach to this one. I have done this in the past to success.

  32. Yurei says:

    @What The Geek: someone actually paid a BB to install a stick of RAM? My lord, I know next to nothing about the innards of a computer and even I, of the female race can shove a stick of RAM into a computer. Heck, getting the case on my box to come off is the hardest part cause it sticks a little. The only reason I had to call my stepdad for help to put the stick in was I needed his sheer muscle to help me snap the stick into place- the darn port/slot thing was so stiff I couldn’t get it in and even he had to work at it.

    Paying BB to put in a stick of RAM is like paying a mechanic to check your oil level, or to refill your windshield washer fluid because you “don’t know how” o_O; why pay someone to do something simple like that when you can do it yourself in minutes, for free? Eesh. Admittedly, I am lazy. I would love to be able to change my own oil in my car for free, I just don’t want to take the time to learn right now. Maybe when any oil change jumps up to $40 instead of $30 for my car, I’ll get around to it.

    I mean like, google up “how to install RAM” and in like, 30 seconds you should have your answer. Same for formatting/wiping or installing an OS. There’s no need to pay someone to do something so simple that anyone should be capable of it if they can read and follow a few directions.

    People are silly, silly. My $400 student Dell box still runs great after 6 years- needs another stick of RAM soon to max it out, just don’t have the disposable income. A little love and some work on your own to maintain it and you can keep a computer running for years. I’d love a new dual core to run photoshop better with, but I just can’t afford a new computer right now. Every scrap of change someone can save by doing work themselves helps.

    Seriously people, avoid BB like the plague. Support your local guys. Make some friends with some tech savvy people if you don’t already have any, I have several tech friends and they are always offering free advice regarding computer repairs and performance. None of them live near me, but they can tell me what’s wrong with it usually so I can go to a shop and ask them to fix what it needs, or get the parts to do it myself if possible.

  33. @Yurei: Try Newegg. I got 2gb of Ram for an old Dell Box for under 100.

  34. goodpete says:

    Sadly, they might not be able to get anything out of taking Geek $quad to court. When you take a computer in, they make you sign a contract that says they’re not liable for any damage whatsoever as a result of their inability to actually fix computers.

    Generally these contracts limit their liability to the cost of the repair (aka, the most you can get is a refund). I wouldn’t be surprised if it also said something about, “…and if you’re our lucky 100,000th vict– er, customer, then we will cut your cables, steal your RAM, and damage your hard drive for free!”

  35. selectman says:

    @What The Geek: I once set my computer on fire by accidentally pinching some wires against the side of my case and thus stripping them. Within literally one second of hitting the power button my room began to fill with a dark burnt plastic smoke.

    So…Geek Squad isn’t the only one capable of burning things.

  36. Coopius says:

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. I used to “work” in the computer department at BB. The people at Geek Squad (with the exception of one) were useless.

    My processor fan wasn’t working for some reason and my computer would turn on for maybe a minute, and shut down. I was telling the head guy about it and he told me to bring it in. He tells me that a processor fan wasn’t working and that it is very hard to find a replacement and that I should just get a BB credit card and buy a new computer.

    I went to a local computer repair shop and bought the supposedly rare fan (Intel socket 775 lol) for like 10 dollars and installed it myself.

    I do have respect for their car audio installation people. My brother smashed up my car one early morning in a McDonalds Drive-Thru drunk out of his mind and I woke up for work to see my car destroyed. They got me the parts I needed for crazy cheap because they knew a guy who owned an auto wreckers and fixed my car in the install bay free of charge.

  37. Zeniq says:

    My God. As someone who used to work for Geek Squad, I have to say I am appalled. My jaw literally dropped when I read about the drive connector being snapped off. Shame on these geeks!

    I have no idea how this could happen short of either malicious intent or utter stupidity.

  38. pete says:

    @Git Em SteveDave is a poor substitute for LindsayJoy:

    You don’t have to install modern SDRAM (or DDR_SDRAM) in pairs.
    The configuration shown (4 slots with pairs color-coded) is usually for dual-channel DDR-SDRAM, but even those only have to be installed in pairs if you want to use them in dual-channel mode.
    CRIMMs haven’t been used in desktop PCs for years (RDRAM), and yes you had to install those in pairs.

  39. Average_Joe says:

    @wellfleet: Breaking the connector on a hard drive is hardly a screw up. It could be a screw up at best if you disclose the damage when returning the computer to the customer. If you do not, it is destruction of property. Which is a crime. There is no way that happened without someone noticing.

  40. Geekybiker says:

    @pete: That’s what I thought. pairs was only for dual channel mode.

  41. @pete: Most manufactures want you to install in pairs. You CAN get away with not doing it in pairs, but most consumers do go w/pairs. Unless the original owner, whom is friends w/the OP, lied and said he installed four when he only installed three, then one was taken. I have no trouble believing a place like Geek Squad or even your mechanic will ever expect someone to ask for the ORIGINAL part if it is broken. My mechanic looked at me in dis-belief the first time I did it, but he expects it now. They probably took a RAM card out to match one they had sitting in a drawer, and upgraded someones CPU with “Virgin High-performance” RAM at a premium.

  42. jonworld says:

    I am horribly shocked at the actions of Geek Squad. Cutting cables just to profit from selling this guy a new laptop? What major douchebags! Before going through the trouble of suing in small claims and calling the police, the customer should do an executive email carpet bomb.

    This is one of the many reasons why you shouldn’t trust those big-chain electronics stores to fix your computer. If your computer’s broken, your local neighborhood Geek or IT guy probably can fix it faster, better, and cheaper than BB can.

    I needed a new hard drive for my computer a few years ago (before I knew anything about computer hardware) and decided to call my a tech-savvy friend of my parents. He came to my house one night and installed it in about an hour for dirt cheap. That hard drive still serves me well now and I’m calling this guy next time I need any computer repair.

  43. BrandonW says:

    I used to work at Geek Squad, shortly after the acquisition by Best Buy. In the early days, knowledge of computers and technical skill ruled in sought after skills. Sadly, as the push for more revenue came, managers took the interviewing process away from us and handled it themselves. No longer was aptitude important, but sales ability. I watched as we were slowly hobbled by the bean counters and went from a department founded on customer loyalty to one that only cared about revenue.

    Eventually, I grew tired and switched from an in-store supervisor role to being a field agent (Double Agent in the bug) but even then, I was constantly harassed for more sales even though I hit all the numbers and had people that would specifically ask for me. After that, I just left. I once enjoyed the job, even going to so far as to turn down many other opportunities but it had lost its charm.

    When people ask me now, I tell them to stay away from Geek Squad. I know the corners they cut and the level of ‘expertise’ there. All of us who formerly worked there in the beginning have all moved on and those left, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t trust them to even put RAM in.

    To the OP: If the friend were to go in and create a big enough stink about it, there is a good chance of seeing some type of result. Managers, in my experience, will give up just about anything if there is enough of a problem. I am loathe to suggest creating a scene as I’ve been on the receiving end when things weren’t my fault, but it is true that a squeaky wheel gets the grease.

  44. pianos101 says:

    @B: yes i know, but thanks. I use quickbooks and set my parents’ business up to use it. But every few days it should automatically back up, and after every year you are supposed to close the previous year’s books and create a “closed” file for every year. If this guy wasn’t backing up his business’s QB data then i think there’s no help. Why would you rely on ONE hard drive to store 7 years worth of your business financials????

  45. Mistrez_Mish says:

    When all else fails… either kick the computer or cut the wires… they were just following standard Best Buy protocol.

  46. suva says:

    First thing, I am a member at geek squad and have been for nearly two years (Hey, extra money through college).

    There are two types of geek squad members, tech and salesmen. Techs are just that, they can actually fix computers and know what they’re doing. Salesmen can come from any department and can talk a good talk but for the love of god all they do is cause me frustration when they decide to touch a computer. Problem is, they’re all in white shirts.

    I’ve been at two stores now and it’s completely changed my views on geek squad. My first store EVERYONE was a tech, we did amazingly fast work there, I learned a shit ton about repairing computers and about getting things done quickly without losing customers data. I figured every geek squad was like this.

    Then I went to my current store (moved to live with the g/f). I’m one of two techs at that store, the rest know exactly dick about computers. On a day I’ll work I’ll finish up about 6 to 12 computers. Then I’ll come back two days later when I work at the same machines and still on the bench. Worse, things are sometimes in worse shape and for the life of me I can’t figure out what our own agents are doing. The Geek Squad software is the best software repair program there is and a monkey can be trained to use it. Wtf are some of these geek squad agents doing?

    Anyways, don’t rip on all the geek squad members. When someone asks me about keeping their data confidential I tell them the truth “I’ve got to much crap to do to bother looking at your files”. Other geek squads, no idea.

  47. @pianos101: Like most people, he will NOW. It takes losing your data to make you back up. Except in my case. I was waiting for my Zip Drive to show up so I could back up my 160mb HD. I decided to clean all thr garbage out before I backed up to make it easier. I clicked the wrong box, so instead of “wipe free space” I clicked “wipe drive”. In the end, I could back up on a floppy.

  48. SigmundTheSeaMonster says:

    @B: Best. Comment. Ever. Award!

  49. @Mistrez_Mish: I think if you do anything, you should mess w/the underside of the board. If you want to be sneaky. Being overt is just wrong. Snip a few transistors, slice a few circut lines w/ a exacto knife, switch the power supply to 240, etc…

  50. @OP: Maybe it was innocently, maybe it was maliciously, maybe to hide the fact that they hosed the drive.

    @Geekybiker: Anyhow, I bet they screwed something up when “fixing” the pc, so made sure it was dead to cover their mistake.

    @ekthesy: Perhaps the BB folks completely fried the hard drive, managed to extract some data, told Mr. Propane his computer was shot, got him to buy a new one, and then, just in case, tried to cover their initial screw up by amateurishly destroying the innards of the computer.

    I suppose the conversation behind the Geek Squad desk went something like this?

    Agent 1: “Oops. I think I just fried the hard drive.”
    Agent 2: “Rather than make up a plausible story about how the hard drive is bad, we better brazenly destroy the computer.”
    A1: “How about we short the power supply so it bursts into flames?”
    A2: “Nah, too obvious. Let’s just cut all the cables with a scissors and break the power connector off the hard drive for good measure. That happens all the time, far more often than a hard drive failing during recovery.”
    A1: “Brilliant!”

  51. debegray says:

    I could maybe see cutting one wire accidentally, although really, why would you have cutters in there in the first place?

    Most people would be better off hiring their neighbor’s nerdy kid to fix their computer than Geek Squad.

  52. wellfleet says:

    @What The Geek: Full disclosure again: I work at Best Buy and have worked at Geek Squad

    I have TOTALLY set stuff on fire in the precinct, on two consecutive days, and it was scary. The first thing was an ancient CRT monitor. The client wanted it tested to see why it wasn’t coming on. I plugged it into a safe outlet and it started sparking like crazy. Nest day, a client brought in a filthy-disgusting older desktop they said wouldn’t power on. I plugged it in and it went *poof* and smoke came out of the power supply and it smelled like fire and then the client said it hadn’t been on in years…

    So… it’s completely possible to set s*** on fire.

    As far as stealing this guy’s RAM, why would we steal DDR RAM that we can’t sell? This whole thing just looks implausible.

  53. @Michael Belisle: Well put. Let’s stick with Occam’s Razor on this one rather than malicious use of wire cutters, folks.

  54. dragonvpm says:

    @Michael Belisle: Uh… haven’t you ever done something really stupid and panicked? I could see an inexperienced tech do something like that to cover up a mistake.

    Plus there’s a possibly more plausible explanation that maybe someone working there knew the PC’s owner. He has a grudge, sees the computer there and goes to town on it and steals a stick a RAM for his own personal use.

    He enjoys himself and figures no one will ever be the wiser because the owner doesn’t know anything about computers and he’ll just throw it away.

    Basically, the wires look to have been cut intentionally. and it’s hard to say what happened with the HD connector. I could see some plausible explanations for how/why one of the Geeks might have done it (especially since if they worked at Geek Squad they already probably had a fairly low opinion of their vict… err… customers).

  55. mewyn dyner says:


    Honestly it’s hard to say what’s going on here. With the amount of items cut and how cleanly they were cut, there was some sort of intentional cutting going on.

    Now, the one key thing is, he brings it in to BB saying it doesn’t work. How many other people had access to this machine before it stopped working? What was the situation that it stopped working? Did he just get to it one day and it didn’t power on?

    While I dislike Best Buy and think their Geek Squad is predominantly a bunch of barely-know-anything PFYs, there are so may variables here, but I am not about to jump to the conclusion of Best Buy’s technician cutting this guy’s cables.

    I will say this, though, the damage here has to be intentional. The odds of getting that many clean cuts is just too high to have it be plausible. In turn, the real question is whodunnit. I’m not 100% convinced it was the GS tech.

  56. parad0x360 says:

    How do you cut all those cables and break a power connector off AND steal a stick of ram by accident?

    Those cables are easy to cut unless you take a knife or scissors directly to them. You can shut them in the case door and they still wont cut. This couldnt have been an accident.

  57. jharrell says:

    Well now it truly is an Energy Star computer.

  58. dragonvpm says:

    @AtomicPlayboy: Ok, fine.

    1) The wires appear to have been cut intentionally.
    2) The hard drive shows damage that could have been accidental
    3) Geek Squad did manage to access the data on the drive at one point, but they didn’t get all of it.
    2) The OP indicates that he got the computer in it’s current state.
    3) The owner does not appear to be computer savvy enough to have caused the damage himself.
    4) We have no information that the computer was ever in the possession of anyone other than the previous owner, the OP, and Geek Squad.

    So unless you want to start throwing out assumptions about what happened, the simplest explanation is that someone with access to the computer, possibly the Geek Squad caused the damage for some reason. If we accept what the OP said about himself and the previous owner, then we’re left pondering why the Geeks caused the damage.

    We kind of have to take the OP’s word for it because the only information we have comes from him. As far as I can tell I don’t see any inconsistencies with what he has stated (e.g. he didn’t say that the wires were melted through) and if we discount his description of the events we don’t have any information (technically even the photos could be suspect if we don’t trust the OP).

    So, go for it, use Occam’s Razor.

  59. Counterpoint says:

    That looks like pre-DDR memory to me, meaning there easily could only have been 1 stick to begin with…

    I am struggling to see why they would ever cut the wires, though. Maybe it was someone’s last day, maybe the guy was rude to them and they were “getting him back”, or maybe someone was training for the bomb squad.

    If you’re trying to “brick” a computer, though, there is no logical reason why you’d cut the power cables, though. By doing so, you’re expecting the person to never look inside, so why not just unplug the power connector instead? It’s quicker, requires no tools, and is equally effective. If you were doing it for fun, why not just stick a screwdriver in the power supply fan and let it overheat? Everyone loves fire!

  60. Can anyone explain why the hard drive is mounted where it is, the way it is? It’s only mounted by one set of screws, almost like a see-saw. Also, what is that cable snaked in from one of the PCI slots in the back to the center of the front of case?

  61. The_IT_Crone says:

    Maybe that damage is why he brought it to GS to begin with? An angry kid with a scissors is a dangerous thing…

    /have seen it.

  62. nyaz says:

    @Git Em SteveDave is a poor substitute for LindsayJoy: Well if on the other side the screw is on the forward part it would still hold it pretty firmly in place

  63. What The Geek says:

    @wellfleet: In the case of my customer, the scorch marks were directly opposite the processor – not near the power supply which is the only place I could imagine sparks coming from under relatively normal circumstances. Now, again, not directing this at you personally or your store, but like I said before, what’s stopping a crooked store manager from swiping a stick of ddr ram for later use – possibly as a replacement part for some other customer? Get it for free and sell it to the customer for $50 – all profit. You can’t honestly tell me that you can’t fathom a crooked manager doing something like that to keep the stores margains up. I used to work in retail, and, without naming nemes or stores, I saw store managers fudge inventory records to achieve a low percentage of shrink so that they would get a bigger bonus. I don’t think fudging some records and selling a used stick of ram is above someone who would do things like that.

  64. mike says:

    @nyaz: I agree and calling shanigans until we here more. What tool would GS use to cut the wires so straight? It had to have been done by an electric hand saw.

  65. What The Geek says:

    @linus: You could cut the wires like that with a sharp pare of scissors. While I can’t speak to the motive, if we take the OP at his word, all signs point to the geek squad. Now, maybe it was a disgruntled employee on his last day, maybe it was (somehow) a mistake, and maybe it was malicious – the fact is we’ll probably never know.

  66. nyaz says:

    This is not a Pre-DDR case I have the same motherboard, two in fact. It’s a SOYO Dragon KT-880, look it up yourself.

  67. @dragonvpm: haven’t you ever done something really stupid and panicked? I could see an inexperienced tech do something like that to cover up a mistake.

    I’m not saying that the Geek Squad didn’t do it. I’m just saying that, as you know, there are more likely explanations than “covering up” a mistake with theft and vandalism. If it was indeed Geek Squad, I’d suspect either your employee with a grudge or maybe just a disgruntled one.

    But then again, we have no details about the computer’s location before it arrived at Geek Squad, the nature of the failure that prompted the computer to be brought in, or what Geek Squad’s comments were when they returned the computer. Who’s to say that it wasn’t vandalized beforehand?

  68. TechnoDestructo says:

    There are currently, and there have been for many years, many different motherboards which can use the many different variants of the many different standards of RAM in many, many different configurations. Unless you’ve got the memory configurations page from the manual for this particular motherboard sitting in front of you, it’s kind of pointless to speculate about what an empty RAM slot means.

  69. valthun says:

    The only issue I see is actually proving that Geek Squad did it. Perhaps they actually couldn’t get all of the data off of the PC, but why couldn’t this be the guy who sent in the complaint to try and paint Geek Squad into a bad light. It can happen.

    Not trying to blame any side, just showing both. Besides when Geek Squad offers to pair your BT headset to your phone for 10 bucks you know they want any dollar any way they can get it.

  70. ShadowFalls says:


    You have no idea what you are talking about, that board is made by ECS…

    This is clearly one of the DDR transition boards, ones that supported either the use of PC2100 or PC133. The memory being used in this computer currently is DDR, as you see with the two empty black slots, there are two notches which indicates standard SDRAM, DDR SDRAM has a single notch.

    The motherboard in question is likely to be similar to this model:

    Regardless of who did the damage, it is clearly no accident.

  71. Silversmok3 says:

    Sound like someone

    A)removed the stick of RAM to sell on ebay and
    B)Cut the cables to cover their tracks.Since the computer wont power up ( dead power supply) the vicim is unaware they are light a few megs of RAM.

    Sounds like a geek squad agent needed some extra cash on the side by selling components out of customers computers.
    Depending on the model the agent coulda got an extra $10+ just by snipping and stealing someone elses hardware.

    Very creative.

  72. ShadowFalls says:

    @Git Em SteveDave is a poor substitute for LindsayJoy:

    Not sure as I have no view of it, but seeing as it is a single cable, it could be used to enable use of the Audio/Line-in/Mic in the front of the computer. I have seen a couple of things like that in an older computer.

    Since there is nothing else hooked to its destination, that would be the best guess there.

  73. joellevand says:

    @What The Geek: I’ve seen the *result* of fires/explosions from inside towers before. Things can go bad quickly in there, especially when people who do not know much about computer hardware (or electronics in general) try to build their own towers without any help because they are programmers and programmers = geeks = must have built own computer to be manly.


    (I’ve seen this happen more than once, as my father used to repair computers as a side job to his network admin day job.)

  74. What The Geek says:

    @joellevand: Hey, I’m not saying it NEVER happens, just that it’s rare. Most of the time it results from connecting a power supply incorrectly – which anyone getting paid to look at your computer should be able to do – which is why I totally fault geek squad for my above mentioned story.

  75. drjayphd says:

    @Git Em SteveDave is a poor substitute for LindsayJoy: Unless it’s Rambus, in which case, you’re quite well and thoroughly fucked. :

  76. mavrc says:

    Sounds like a job for a crimper and a pack of these. Auto parts stores almost always have them, as do electronics shops. Hell, Radio Shack, useless as they are these days, might even have them.

    As long as you match up the colors it doesn’t matter. Colorblindness is really your only enemy here. (Besides Geek Squad, of course.)

  77. Marshfield says:

    This post raises more questions than it answers.

    What in the world would be the motive of ANYONE , either the owner, or the geek squad, to cut the power supply wires?

    I’m suspicious of the whole thing. I think someone along the way has a screw loose!

  78. chuey says:

    Here’s my theory,
    A lot of computers get left for dead cause their too old or the people that brought them in want to upgrade to a new computer. My thinking is that they had a problem in the past with tech’s taking the parts home, re-selling them, using them for their own Tech side job, whatever. So now they have a policy that when a PC is no longer wanted by the customer, i.e. they’re going to buy a new laptop, the GS manager or supervisor snips the cables, destroy the PSU by clipping all the wires and destroys the hard drive by snapping off the power plug. This way BB and GS don’t have to worry about their screwball Techs taking all these parts home and reselling them on craigslist or whatever. My guess is, the idiots at GS thought the person was going to buy a new laptop and not want the old PC back and the snipping started.

    I mean those cuts were intentional, no doubt about it, its not even a question.

  79. ganzhimself says:

    Ugh… I went against my better judgement a few weeks ago and bought a laptop at Best Buy… Why? The price was at least $150 less than buying it direct from Dell, and it was the laptop that I wanted… The dumbass who “sold” it to me told me that it wouldn’t be able to handle loading pictures, music, videos, etc… Now, we’re talking about a laptop with a Intel Core 2 Duo processor and 2GB of RAM. I just kind of laughed and said, I work IT and I know that this laptop has plenty of power for what I am going to use it for. He then got all cocky, trying to sell me virus protection and a bunch of Geek Squad sh!t. So, I told him no need, I know how to take care of a computer and I’ll take care of the security software. He said, well, what are you going to use? I said I didn’t know, just because it was really none of his business… He snapped back “Well, you’re in IT, I thought you would know the name of the software.” Well, since I had thoroughly researched what I was going to buy, I told him if you have to know, I’m going to use OS X. At that point, he tried telling me that it was impossible… Well, guess what?? I’m posting this from my Dell laptop, running iTunes, in OS X 10.5.4 on Safari. I hate Best Buy, but every once in a while I guess I feel the need to subject myself to the torture of buying something there.

  80. joemo says:

    How was GS able to recover some of the client’s files if the machine was damaged BEFORE it was ever taken to BB? Obviously it was GS that broke the HDD at the vary least.

    This all sounds perfectly plausible to me. I doubt this was done as some sort of GS policy. It was probably just a lame GS tech trying to cover his tracks.

  81. cyberscribe says:

    If his old system simply “didn’t work any more” (because they totally trashed it) then he’s far lass likely to return that brand new laptop that they sold him (when all he really needed was a cheap new hard drive).

  82. bobhope2112 says:

    That looks like pre-DDR memory to me, meaning there easily could only have been 1 stick to begin with…

    If you look carefully at the pictures, you can see that the black slots have two notches, and the blue slots, one. That matches up with SDR and DDR modules respectively. I don’t recall seeing any mainboards that required both DDR slots to be populated, so the single module we see in the pictures is probably an operable, if not original, configuration.

  83. bobhope2112 says:

    This is not a Pre-DDR case I have the same motherboard, two in fact. It’s a SOYO Dragon KT-880, look it up yourself.

    I did, it does not appear to match the board in question. I think the board is an ECS board, but I haven’t gone through the pile to find the exact model. I do agree, though, that this board has DDR slots.

  84. jdmba says:

    It was probably like that for years, and no one noticed. (JUST KIDDING!)

    I wonder if the burn computer (above somewhere in these comments) was a Dell. Dell did that cool trick of using the same connectors but rewriting them on the Motherboard so you needed to buy Dell power supplies. If you didn’t know this, however, you DID have smoke. Still don’t know how they got away with it all these years, but they since went public about it in an announcement that they were going to stop doing it.

  85. CapitalC says:

    Those cables weren’t cut, they were affected by that SnipSnip virus which is going around. From what I hear, it’s terminal. :p

  86. Sarcastikate says:

    I’m not so good when it comes to hardware problems, so when my computer kept shutting down repeatedly recently, someone suggested I call GS. Rep told me that it sounded like a virus. (fyi: my virus software is up to date, I have a firewall, etc.) Charge for the house call was something like $200 to start, and the best they could do was give me an appointment in 2 1/2 weeks! I told them no thanks, and found a local guy who replaced a malfunctioning fan and charged me $40. It works like a charm now. Do yourself a favor and find a local service you can trust and you’ll be far better off.

  87. Dabigkid says:

    @nyaz: Reverse psychology?!

  88. ShadowFalls says:


    Haha, you posted pretty much the same thing I did…


    It certainly is possible, but not all so likely, I have seen where people have hooked up the wrong power supply, it wasn’t just nasty burnout. It was simply no functionality.

    As for the power supplies, it has been many years since they have discontinued that practice. It wasn’t just the power supply wired differently, the connector was also factory designed by Intel itself. Dell had Intel provide them with special models that would support that practice.


    Also to point out, not defending GS here, but the phone rep can only go with the information you give them, a virus/spyware is very common. As for your antivirus software being up to date, no two AV software is created equal. It also is only any good at finding what it knows about. Plus, you can even have viruses that disable said software. It is not insane to offer a “virus” as a suggestion, not with some of the people I see. In many cases, you just can not get the information you need and have to end up looking at it anyway.

    Now if you provided enough information to indicate it could be a fan problem, that would be different. The long delay for an appointment is pitiful though.

  89. karvelot says:

    What needs to be done is that they need to have the same laws on the table for computer technicians as that of auto technicians. For example, state or federally mandated licenses to work on other people’s computers, must fill out completed work forms, must complete certain computer courses in order to gain such licenses, etc. This is a prime example of why laws like these should be put into effect.

  90. redhelix says:

    I call bullshit. That’s really all there is to it.

  91. scoosdad says:

    @What The Geek:

    I don’t know what they did, but I do know that in seven years of repairing computers proffessionally, I have never seen one that caught fire, or had bolts of electricity occur in the case on it’s own.

    Well I’ve got some pictures to show you. My desktop CPU spontaneously started to make smoke one night as I was napping on the couch. Smoke alarm went off, and I ended up carrying the CPU to the kitchen sink and hosing it down. Huge burned hole in the motherboard where the onboard video chip used to be. And the power supply and fuses in the supply never even blinked.

    I never leave a PC powered up in the house anymore when I’m not around, plain and simple.

  92. There’s been a lot of really bad information posted here, so let me clear it all up.

    1: only one person above has noted that it was a dual RAM format board. He’s got 1 stick of DDR in the blue slots, and nothing in the black SDR slots.

    2: It’s an ECS Motherboard. I don’t know how the guy who posted that it’s a SOYO board came to that conclusion…the North bridge heatsink says ECS Elitegroup on it in rather large lettering.

    3: “Dual Channel” DDR didn’t even come around for another year or 2 after this board was made. This board likely supported DDR 266, and maybe 333, but dual channel came much later. It certainly doesn’t need 2 sticks of ram to function, even new ram that CAN run dual channel doesnt need 2 sticks.

    4: Unless you’re running EDO, Rambus, or FB-DIMMs, you don’t NEED to match sticks, it just helps.

    Finally, geek squad did a hell of a job of wrecking this. Luckily, other than the hard drive, all of the other things they broke are easily fixed. Good luck, OP.

  93. dangermike says:

    @What The Geek: I’ve had a power supply short out and internally buzz, arc, flash, and smoke before. It killed the processor and motherboard as well. But really, that’s the only place I can imagine that happening in a PC, and even then, it would be contained by the PSU’s casing.

  94. narq says:

    That’s bad, but I have a worse one. Much worse. Back around 2005 I was working for a computer repair shop and some elderly couple walked in. They had a brand new computer that wasn’t working. These people were over 70 and said they basically only used the computer for Internet. This was not their first computer.

    They took their old system into BB because it was too slow. They said more RAM and so they paid to have more RAM. Well, that didn’t go so well and they claimed it didn’t help the computer. So they convinced the couple purchase an HP computer worth over $1000 and purchase MS Office, MS Antispyware, and Norton SecurityCenter. They convinced them to have GS install the software AND install more RAM into this brand new system. They charged over $300 for just software installation. After all was said and done they got these people to make payments on over $2000 worth of stuff.

    They get the computer home. The first time booting it Norton says there is a virus and tons of spyware on the system. It’s bogged down with tons of installed trials that don’t normally come with a system. The desktop is covered with shortcuts to trials and stuff. The computer barely runs. So they come to us. I felt awful. Taking advantage of someone, especially someone elderly like that is so low. We contacted HP and got Geek Squad’s repair contract pulled for that store. To top it all off, they didn’t even add the memory.

  95. @B: LOL! Two points for you sire.

  96. bwcbwc says:

    @dragonvpm: Maybe in addition to a grudge they wanted to sell the copper for scrap?

    I’d be interested in seeing a “before” picture. Maybe the guy has a house-mate who did some of the damage and that was what caused the original failure? The details aren’t in the story so just speculating. Without the before evidence a small claims court case would be weaker, and may not stand up.

  97. bumba says:

    @Imakeholesinu: All throughout highschool I worked at a mom and pop computer repair place in the 90s. As a repair guy, I did pretty decent work. I never inflated a repair bill with parts or service time. If I needed spare parts that we didn’t need to order, aka system pulls, they were free.

    There might be bad apples out there… but I, nor my fellow workers, were not. There are plenty of good nerds out there. :)

  98. ShadowFalls says:


    Also to note, there has not been any of these DDR transition boards, or dual format as you call them, which supported anything faster than DDR266(PC2100).

    As you mentioned, there is no need to match sticks on any DDR motherboard, or regular SDRam for that matter. Nowadays there is Dual Channel, but that wasn’t supported till around the time motherboards started supporting DDR400. Also, there is no requirement for you to have matching pairs, it just helps for Dual Channel, you also do not need to run the computer in Dual Channel either.

  99. Greg79 says:


    Ok I’ve been reading this website for a while and normally its got some good stuff. However story is laughable. First to clear up some confusion from an Intel standpoint of which this machine clearly is the Pentium 4’s started using RAM in pairs. The first version was the 533Mhz FSB using 266Mhz DDR. 400Mhz DDR was used in the hyperthreading models with the 800Mhz FSB. These were usually reffered to in the industry as P4 HT A, B and C (using 266Mhz, 333Mhz and 400Mhz DDR).

    Since that is cleared up, this unit is a unit that had both DDR and SDRAM slots which makes it nearly IMPOSIBLE that it was a dual channel system. These boards were designed for those who wanted a new CPU but were to damn cheap to buy new RAM.

    Thirdly I deal with Best Buy (unfortunatly) quite a bit for work. We have TVs, cameras and camcorders that were purchased there and the owner of our company seems to enjoy being a tool when buying electronics. When I pickup stuff from them they have me sign a service order which states I’m satisfied with the repair…. Guess what I do? I have them turn it on and show me its working. People read what you are freaking signing and stop being sheep.

    Lastly since we know you should have gotten some sort of paperwork how about we post a picture of that (with a majority of it blacked out even whatever). With out that quite frankly this looks outlandish, rediclous and completely like a stunt to get readers. Infact I’m going to go into my garage and grab an old AMD 1333Mhz I have my friend with the LAPD take a shotgun to it. I’m going to post pictures and claim Firedog did it. It would be about as believable as this.

  100. ShadowFalls says:


    Since you were wrong, nothing is cleared up…

    True, Pentium 4 systems did originally start in pairs, but it was the older 423 socket using RDRam, not DDR. Only the initial motherboards for the 478 socket had RDRam on them. RDRam motherboards quickly slipped off the market due to the high cost of the memory, which never went down. The requirement of pairs was because of the memory type, there were motherboards that used the standard SDRam and did not require them to be in pairs. No motherboard requires you to run DDR or standard SDRam in pairs. Also, the Pentium 4 started at a 400mhz fsb (100mhz Quad pumped).

    By the way, it was made very clear that this motherboard does not use Dual Channel, it was never available for any of the DDR transition motherboards. The reason these motherboards were introduced, was at the time, DDR cost twice as much as standard SDRam. This also made it a more affordable upgrade for people. Though, it did not take too long for the DDR prices to drop as standard SDRam went upwards.

  101. MrEvil says:

    Wow, there’s alot of people commenting to this article that need a wee bit of education themselves. DDR has NEVER needed to be installed in pairs, neither DDR2. Now the board in the pictures is one of the old DDR1/PC133 boards that came out when Intel had the 845 chipset series. These boards weren’t too uncommon because for a while PC133 was pretty cheap and DDR was astronomically high.

    Newer boards have slots colored to label the two different channels. You can still have 1 module in if you so desire, however you can get more performance (like 15% or so) if you cut the one stick in half and install two modules in dual channel.

    Now they are rare (I’ve only ever seen one and I own it) but I think there’s been a couple boards out in the wild that had 2 sockets for DDR1 and 2 sockets for DDR2.

  102. ShadowFalls says:


    Yeah, I know right. By the way, those DDR1 and DDR2 ones were far and in between. Though now they have ones out that are DDR2 and DDR3 capable.

  103. Anonymous says:

    Chances are the client told the Geek Squad to recycle the computer since they had purchased and new one and transferred the data. Any tech knows that if you’re sending out something for recycling after a diagnostic, you clip the cables to the components that aren’t functional so that the company doing the recycling will know to melt it down rather than attempting refurb.

    GG OP, way to make further some BS hype.