My Computer Has Vanished Into The Best Buy Black Hole

Rebecca has some sort of Geek Squad protection plan for her computer, so when it needed some fixing, she brought it in for repair. Little did she know when she dropped of her computer that fateful day, that she might never see her PC alive again.

Here’s how Rebecca tells it:

They of course told me it needed to be sent out and it would take 3-4 weeks to come back. I said that was fine but asked if they could send it to the store in Florida since I would be back at school by the time it was fixed so I wouldn’t be able to pick it up from the Connecticut store where I had originally dropped it off.

They told me this would be no problem.

3 weeks later I get an automated call from Best Buy’s 1-800 number telling my computer is ready to be picked up. I go to the Florida store where I thought it would be and they told me it was sent to the Connecticut store. They told me they would “overnight” the package to their store which would take about 4-5 days.

This was on Friday. On Monday I called to see if my computer came in yet, and they told me it hadn’t been delivered yet. On Wednesday I called again and the person told me they had no idea where the computer was. This was after being on hold for about 20 mins.

He then asked if it was okay to put me on hold while he helped a customer that was in the store. I informed him this would not be okay because he needed to figure out where my computer was and when or if it was being delivered to the store.

A manager finally got on the line after about another 15 mins and figured out that the computer had never been shipped from the store in Connecticut, but assured me it was being overnighted that day and so it would take another 4-5 days for the store to receive it.

He also informed me he would send me the tracking number as soon as he had it.

It’s now been another two days with no further word on where in the universe her computer might be.

First off, can anyone out there with Best Buy experience tells us all why it would take 4-5 days to “overnight” something?

Second, where do you put her odds at ever seeing her computer again?


Edit Your Comment

  1. BannedInBrittan says:

    She’ll see it again. Just sounds like the store in CT is dropping the ball not the store in FL she’s getting upset with.

    • BannedInBrittan says:

      I wonder if she tried calling the store in CT. That’s what I would have done since they were in possession of the computer.

    • Griking says:

      Based on my experience working in retail computer repair I’d guess that the person in Connecticut that said they have the computer mailed to the customer’s home in Florida had no authority to make this promise and no way to make it happen. Warranty companies generally only ship to the same address that the warranty repair was set up under. My guess is that this associate either didn’t know that it was returned to Connecticut or didn’t know what to do once it was because he probably didn’t have the authorization to ship from his store.

  2. JG2002 says:

    Why is it taking them 3-4 weeks to repair a computer under warranty? Somethings doesn’t sound right w/ this whole process.

    • BannedInBrittan says:

      2-4 days shipping each way, repair time, part availability from the manufacturer, testing upon completion of repair. You can easily lose over one week due to shipping.

    • brinks says:

      If it takes them 4-5 days to “overnight” something, I can buy that it will take them 3-4 weeks for repair.

      My guess is it was something covered under the manufacturer’s warranty, so they shipped it there. Or maybe it was an Acer. Where I used to work, our techs weren’t allowed to work on them because they had so many issues. They got shipped out and would always get lost in a black hole for a while before they came back.

      • SonarTech52 says:

        I beg to differ.. my company uses Acer computers and have not seen any problems other than minor stuff here and there. Ive been using the same Acer computer for 5 years now with no problems, the same with just about everyone here. 200+ employees

        • BannedInBrittan says:

          I’ll side with brinks on here simply because I know Acer and Asus are very picky on who can perform warranty work. Also all the major brands have their lemons or just plain poorly made components. I lump them all into the same pool quality wise.

          • brinks says:

            It could actually have been that we weren’t ALLOWED to work on them. We all just kinda assumed…

        • FrugalFreak says:

          my acer 5420-5876 has been great, few minor issues but so far nothing major. I’ve had it for 3 or 4 years now. Downgraded it to XP.

          I have owned 2 HPs and 1 acer and acer beats HP hands down in my opinion. (Customer service not included in my statement)

    • yessongs says:

      I used to work at there service center, and 3-4 weeks is quick when we had units in for several months waiting for repair.

    • blueduckconsumerist says:

      There are two things wrong with this — “Best” and “Buy.”

      When will people learn?

  3. brinks says:

    BannedInBrittan is probably right. The CT store is responsible for getting the computer to FL.

    Call and ask for the GENERAL MANAGER at both stores, and also ask for the number of both their district managers’ numbers. This is four phone calls to make, but it should be enough to light a fire under the CT store’s ass.

    Make sure you mention you’re going to file a police report as well.

    • treesloth says:

      Hmm… the police angle is an approach I wouldn’t have considered, but it’s certainly justified. Whether it’s negligent handling of property, refusal to turn over personal property, or outright theft, it seems warranted to get the magical disappearing computer on record.

      Besides, some insurance companies might require this for a claim to be filed.

    • Abradax says:

      A police report for what? Bad service?

      There is no theft involved, she could pick up the PC at the CT store anytime she wants.
      Failing to ship is not a criminal offense.

  4. evilpete says:

    “overnight” equals 4-5 days ?
    I loath to think what the ground shipping is

    • BannedInBrittan says:

      The manager most likely doesn’t want the client calling every single day (multiple times a day) to check on status. Ultimately the FL manager and customer are both at the mercy of the CT store. She should have contacted the CT store to resolve the issue since it was their error which caused it.

    • JMILLER says:

      I would bet they said they would FEDEX it, and she assumed overnight. I tell people I will be sending something FEDEX and they .automatically assume that means overnight service. Fed EX has multiple levels of service.

    • TheBigWhiteWolf says:

      My guess: 2 days for shipping/receiving department in CT to send it + overnight via carrier + 2 days for shipping/receiving department in FL to receive it, get it to the right department, etc = 4-5 days.

    • FushandChups says:

      lol that’s almost like asking a store owner how much a 5 cent lollie is and to that they reply “surprisingly expensive”

  5. MercuryPDX says:

    Did she call the store in CN and verify it was there? If so tell them to HOLD IT, and have one of your friends/family pick it up there and REALLY “overnight” it to you.

    • koalabare says:

      Overnighting a desktop (which I think this is) would be quite expensive.

      • MercuryPDX says:

        Then send it ground. My point is Best Buy has already proven themselves to be untrustworthy as far as handling this, so I would take matters into my own hands if the alternative is not having a computer at all.

    • The Waffle says:

      From my experiance, desktops are never sent out for repair. It’s too expensive to ship them. You ship out a laptop since they tend to always be under 10 pounds, but a desktop is 15+ pounds. Not exactly cost effective when shipping for repair.

    • What’s your problem, Kazanski? says:

      There is no state abbreviated CN.. Pay attention in 3rd grade next time around..

  6. tape says:


  7. MeowMaximus says:

    First Mistake: Buying from Worst Buy
    Second Mistake: Expecting them to be in any way competent at handling a computer repair

    I hope the OP has a receipt for her computer. If Worst Buy does not find her PC ASAP, I would threaten to report it is a theft, and see if that motivates them to actually find her PC. Then, if they don’t, go ahead and report it as a theft – because I am betting that’s what has really happened here.

    • BannedInBrittan says:

      I’m betting you’re wrong. It’s not typical for someone to want to pick up a repair than a different place than the drop off location. The CT most likely created the work order incorrectly or their systems don’t have the ability to fulfill this request. Hanlon’s razor would also side with me on this.

      • MrEvil says:

        Back when I worked at Best Buy the repair system would let the tech designate an alternate store to ship the item to for the customer to pick it up. But only if that item was being sent to the service center. So there was a screw-up either by the CT store or the Service Center.

    • Griking says:

      Worst Buy….

      You’re so witty.

    • runswithscissors says:

      Yeah man! OP gets what’s coming to her for buying from WORST Buy! no sympathy, amIrite? High Five!

      / annoyed sarcasm

  8. jpdanzig says:

    College kids really do like to live dangerously: 1) buying a computer at BB in the first place 2) getting one of their “protection plans” 3) expecting the Geek Squad to repair and return the computer correctly and promptly. If she was seeking genuine thrills, I would have recommended a few swift jello shots instead…

  9. sheldonmoon69 says:

    I left Best Buy before the introduction of the Geek Squad and I’m glad I did, but electronics service was the “thorn in the side” of managers who really wanted to take care of customers. 95% of the service was done well, but the other 5% caused a lot of problems – further damage, lost merchandise, can’t be fixed, etc…

    District Managers get pretty riled up at stores whose customers call to complain, so that would be a good route to take.

    However, note for the future – do not ask a retailer to do anything that’s not within the normal range of their services unless you have direct general manager involvement. I’m not sure fix-in-one-store and send-to-another-store-out-of-the-district is common with Best Buy nowadays, but it certainly wasn’t in the past.

    • Griking says:

      “I left Best Buy before the introduction of the Geek Squad and I’m glad I did, but electronics service was the “thorn in the side” of managers who really wanted to take care of customers. 95% of the service was done well, but the other 5% caused a lot of problems – further damage, lost merchandise, can’t be fixed, etc…”

      I agree with this. While I’m not a fan of the Geek Squad (I work at a competitor) I believe that their service is a lot better then we’re led to believe. The first thing that the 5% of people who have a bad experience seem to do is to write The Consumerist saying how horrible Best Buy is while the majority of people who have good experiences don’t write anyone. We see one side of the story here and believe it to be typical of all Best Buy customers.

  10. charles says:

    Speaking from experience having worked at best buy as a computer tech (pre Geek-Squa):

    Things take 3-4 weeks to repair because either computers are shipped back to the manufacture or a 3rd party outsourced repair center that works on things for BB. Then they are shipped back, not a fast process.

    It takes 4-5 days to “overnight” something because they will send your computer via internal BB transportation (e.g. it will get picked up by a truck going to a hub, and deliver to FL by another truck). They are too cheap to use FedEx or UPS.

  11. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Why does overnighting a package take 4-5 days?

    Me thinks they said “overnight” and really shipped ground.

    • koalabare says:

      The first time I think it was because it was Friday. You can overnight it Friday or Saturday and it won’t arrive until Monday. After that I have no idea.

  12. kh2010 says:

    overnight is just the term they use to tell you it will be going out on the next delivery pick up. When I worked there UPS picked up Monday through Friday at 9am. the fastest i ever say a shipment via UPS go was 2 days. the FL store does not need to send a box to the CT store, that is just ridiculous. the CT store is fully capable of closing the current ticket and creating a new one for shipment purposes, and actually they can ship it directly to your house (and yes it will auto generate a tracking number). Unless things have changed significantly since i was there. They might give you some crap about verifying who you are but having a family member go into the CT store to verify ownership might help.

  13. SonarTech52 says:

    IMHO, this was a nightmare waiting to happen.. Have it shipped back to one store, then forwarded to another…

    mabe someone could have picked it up for the op, then forwarded it…

  14. sjb says:

    At this point, lay down the new rules you are going to play by now.
    Tell the manager that he will now give you a written statement of when it will be delivered signed by him. If it is not delivered in working condition by that date or you do not get it statement, you will then state that you will pursue legal actions.

    This legal action are now left to you on what you want to do. Small claims, lawyer, Billy Bob…. No need to tell them at that time.

    • calchip says:

      Demanding anything from anyone in that way, Ron Burley notwithstanding, generally does not work. All you succeed in doing is pissing off the person who could help you.

      Asking them politely, and explaining that since you’ve already been told different things, you’d like details in writing, and a commitment of what they’ll do if it doesn’t happen as planned, will be much more likely to get you a positive response. Explaining your predicament and why it’s such a problem for you and asking what they’d do if they were in your shoes often helps. But telling them what they want to do is an almost certain prescription for failure, or for your item being “lost” even longer.

      • SacraBos says:

        She’s been there, done that. Twice. Didn’t even get a T-shirt. Time to play a little hard ball.

        • BannedInBrittan says:

          no she called the store which had nothing to do with the situation, did not have the unit in their hands and didn’t handle the initial paperwork. She should have called the location which had the unit and did the initial paperwork. I think the OPs 2 attempts and frustration with people who didn’t cause the situation was full of fail.

    • AgitatedDot says:

      What’s stopping the manager from refusing to sign anything? I’m a cable tech and once I told someone it was his TV and not a cable problem and he *demanded* a written statement from me. I said ‘sorry not gonna happen’.

      Why? I don’t have to do it, not my job.

  15. chefguru says:

    If it’s anywhere near the activation of the “lemon guarantee” that they have, they may be holding her computer hostage.

    I once returned a laptop that had been having issues for service a few times at a Best Buy. It had 2 months left on the policy, and when it would have been returned from this service appointment, if I would have had a single “qualified” repair, they would have been required to give me a store credit for the original purchase price.

    The simple repair was completed within a week, but Best Buy then held my laptop hostage for over a month claiming that they were “waiting for a part to be delivered” so they could repair a piece of the case that they noticed was damaged, and were going to replace as a courtesy.

    I kept calling and asking for the laptop to be returned, because I needed it for work and such. They kept telling me they were still waiting for the part to be delivered. I suspected that they were trying to run out the time until the service plan expired.

    Surprisingly, they returned it to me the very day that the service plan ran out, around 6pm, so I wouldn’t have had time to return it for another repair.

    Bastards never did replace that piece of the case that they told me they had been waiting for for a month. They claimed that they got tired of waiting for the piece that was constantly on back-order, and since it was only a courtesy repair, and not necessary for laptop functionality, they just sent back the laptop… coincidentally on the very day that the warranty expired.

    • consumed says:

      I would imagine that somewhere in the fine print there is a legal condition that states there is some kind of 30 day guarantee from the time you pick up the computer to bring it back in if it’s not fixed to your satisfaction. So it wouldnt really benefit best buy to hold your computer hostage and wait for the service plan to run out, would it?

  16. yesman says:

    The “Overnight” that BB was referring to was possibly the tracking company called “Overnite”. This was a company that serviced a lot of retail companies including Target (when I worked for them 20 years ago). I have seen their trucks at BB as well.

    • Sumtron5000 says:

      Are you serious? That’s sketchy… you can claim you’re shipping something “overnight,” but you’re really just referring to the company name. Methinks this was done on purpose.

    • elangomatt says:

      I hadn’t thought about it but that is probably what they were referring to. I have seen those trucks before and we used them sometimes at my last retail job. At first I was just thinking that they meant that shipping would take place with a 1 day service but it could take the extra 2-3 days to get it shipped out of the store, and then process it in the receiving store.

  17. TheAssociation says:

    As a former Deputy of Counter Intelligence (fancy name for a supervisor, isn’t it?), I can probably give some insight here.

    They got it wrong right from the start. It is a common request to have the item sent to a different location than the one that it was dropped off at, so this screams incompetence. The Agent would simply have to input the store number into the ship to location and it will automatically ship there when it gets back from the repair center.

    Now, with this said, mistakes do happen. Interestingly enough, there is no Best Buy-approved method to ship something to another store in case this occurs, so it is up to the warehouse team to manually ship it via UPS to the correct location. What likely happened here is that someone said they’d “take care of it” but never actually gave it to the warehouse to ship. I would bet that it is still at the CT store.

    Also, we never used a courier/trucking service to ship things between locations. It either ships UPS or goes on the “shuttle” (a Best Buy truck) to the main distribution hub. Those are the only two options. The shuttle leaves every three days or so. Despite that, only certain items can go on said shuttle, so it is unlikely that this occurred.

    If you have more questions, ask away.

  18. HPCommando says:

    “Overnight” means while they sleep. BB staff work so hard, they only sleep on days ending in “R”, and then only in months ending in “7”.

  19. iworkatbestbuy says:

    first of all…it takes 3-4 weeks to repair a computer under warranty, because of the volume of computers being sent off, and parts needed to be ordered and labor spent on repairing the computers. believe it or not people really destroy their computers. Second…it takes 3-4days to over night something because again, once they get it they need to get the parts, fix it and send it back. the center that works on the machines aren’t open 24hrs a day. the agents don’t sleep at geek squad. since everyone has so much to say about geek squad why don’t you educate yourself on maintaining and fixing your own computers, and stop using limewire, and facebook. thanks to you all we make a lot of money.

  20. Andrew360 says:

    People need to stop using GeekSquad. I work in IT, and nothing they could have done to her computer couldn’t have been done in the store.

    • TimothyT says:

      Huh? You lost me there….

    • Polarix says:

      You probably also have a few degrees in Computer Science a fix hundreds of computers a year at home, right?

    • elangomatt says:

      I work in IT too, and to be honest if all Geek Squad people are the same type of kids that work in my local BB, then I wouldn’t want them try to fix my worst enemy’s computer. All the geek squad kids are at my store are upsell artists that have maybe just gotten out of high school. Among other things, a while back I had to buy some RAM for a family member from BB and I had to argue with the geek squad person on what I needed for my computer. Even after I told him I fixed and assembled computers for a living, he still wouldn’t just give me what I asked for.

      In this particular case, I think it was a mistake asking for it to be returned to a different store. The best thing for the OP to do would be to take her broken computer back to school and then let the geek squad there ship it out for repair.

  21. Ishbar says:

    I wonder if it’s the store in Meriden, CT.

    Customer service is terrible there.

    I walked around 30 minutes looking for a charger and not once was I asked for help; not until I began to walk out the door.

    Granted I prefer to look on my own, coming from the retail environment, I am used to making sure everyone is fine and then if they need help after, they know where it is.

  22. David in Brasil says:

    If you read their fine print, BB uses Pluto nights, not Earth nights.

  23. Polarix says:

    The only thing that the person in the story should have done differently:

    Don’t ship it from one place and ask for it to be shipped elsewhere. From what I know, the systems aren’t designed to have that capability, so it’s asking for hell to break loose.

    I understand that the employees at the store should have stressed that it’s not a good idea, but you should also ask yourself: “Is shipping it here and asking it to be delivered to the opposite side of the country a good idea?”.

    Lastly, I’m pretty sure the service tags that are put on your laptop are the store number, so I’m guessing that when the service center thing see’s your tag and it says “Store xxxx-(service number)”, that they expect to ship it back to that store.

  24. christador says:

    The worst part of it all is that Worst Buy is the only company that HP authorizes to work on consumer models in-house and they *still* ship it off elsewhere to get it fixed. I work at a small computer store and we fix lots and lots of their mistakes (and people who can’t wait for weeks)–they help our business just by being in business.

  25. pixiestix says:

    Call the CT store, ask for the manager (don’t even bother talking to the guy behind the counter) and in the course of the conversation throw in if the computer is not in your hands tomorrow you will be contacting the Attorney General and the BBB as well as Best Buy’s corporate offices to file a formal complaint. Should improve your chances of seeing your laptop again.

  26. kmiles says:

    Why is it ok for computer repair to take 3-4 weeks? I think if I took a computer to geeksquad, or anywhere else, for that matter, and they told me it would take 3-4 weeks, I’d be looking for another place to repair it, warranty plan or not. Especially if I was in school. I know, I know… not everyone can afford to take it elsewhere, and what’s the point of the warranty plan if you don’t use it, etc… but that just seems ridiculous.

  27. whiskeycat says:

    Why go to these big stores ? I’m not saying they are all bad but I used to work in a small shop.
    In a small business you get to talk directly to the techs and the owner. Every customer is important to us because we don’t get an hourly wage, we work on commission.
    The owner does not pay us until the unit is picked up and the customer is happy with the job.

  28. Razor512 says:

    Time moves differently at best buy.

    Remember a requirement for the job is to rip people off, you don’t need to know how to tell time, that is why over night can very well happen over the course of 5 days.