UPDATE: Best Buy has already changed the program from covering “all computers you own” to “three.”
Hot on the heels of its earth-shattering(ly bad) Buy Back program, Best Buy is set to launch a new service, called Geek Squad Tech Support, that will allow computer and tablet purchasers to pay a flat fee for service from the Geeks, not just on the computer they purchased at Best Buy but on all computers that customer owns.
We were tipped off to the program by an insider who says it is slated to launch March 20. When contacted by Consumerist, a rep for Best Buy confirmed the news.
“This will be an unlimited subscription service available for computer and tablet support,” the rep tells Consumerist. “It leverages our existing Geek Squad Agents to help customers after they’ve made a hardware purchase, and want tech support available how/when they like it (in-store, online, by phone).”
The rep wouldn’t go into further detail on the program, but the tipster tells us it will cost around $200 for one year of GSTS coverage.
What Do You Get For Your Money?
We don’t have a complete list of services covered by the program, but according to the documentation we’ve seen, GSTS subscribers get free memory and hardware installations (not including the cost of the hardware and/or memory), software installs and upgrades, hardware upgrades, virus/malware removal.
The documentation we’ve seen states that the program is “not a hardware repair plan. Hardware Repairs are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty or Geek Squad Black Tie Protection…. If the product is not under a warranty or GSBTP, the client needs to be charged accordingly for hardware repairs and they need to be process liked hardware repairs are done today.”
Also not covered by the program are at-home services. Only services that can be done in the store, online or over the phone are covered. However, GSTS subscribers will get a 15% discount on the service call if it requires a trip to your home.
Will It Be Abused?
The biggest question mark for Best Buy revolves around the company’s decision to tie this program to the customer and not to a particular purchase.
Sources tell Consumerist that this has caused some concern among the Best Buy rank-and-file, some of whom believe that customers will purchase a new computer, buy into GSTS and then tell all their friends and family to give them any computer that needs fixing so they can take it to Geek Squad for them.
The program is not supposed to be made available to commercial or small business customers. But we’re not sure what’s to stop a small business owner from buying a cheap netbook, along with GSTS, and then bringing in all the business’ computers.
Best Buy has answered these concerns by saying, “Yes, it could be abused but most clients will not do this… Geek Squad Tech Support is not attached to a unit rather a client. If they have 20 PCs we will work on 20 PCs. I know that sounds scary and it is but we will be monitoring this as best as we can.”
Getting Grandfathered In
According to company documents, Geek Squad Tech Support effectively replaces the existing “Ask an Agent” program currently being upsold to customers. Those who’ve purchased the Ask an Agent program will be treated the same as GSTS customers, though Best Buy would rather that the Geek Squadders don’t go making a big deal about this:
“Ask an Agent clients will receive the same benefits as a Tech Support client when they ask for support. We will not be outwardly communicating this to current Ask an Agent clients, but please treat them as a Tech Support client.”
The Bottom Line
Without having the full list of services and the exact pricing details, it’s hard to fully evaluate the program. It would seem that the only customer that could really benefit from this program is the one that has a stash of older computers sitting at home in need of hardware upgrades. That person could make out okay — assuming they trust Geek Squad — by purchasing the hardware anywhere else but Best Buy and then having it installed by Geek Squad.
However, anyone who is simply purchasing a new computer for themselves and has no intention of upgrading that one device in the ensuing 12 months, seems like they would just be out a couple hundred dollars.
Please do share your thoughts on this matter.