Following is the list of problems I encountered in my experience dealing with the Geek Squad:
- Did not get accurate, consistent, honest price quote for the service I needed. At the Best Buy store on Camelback Road in Phoenix, AZ, the Geek Squad guys behaved like a bunch of hustlers.
- Never got proper estimate of when my work would be completed. The people who answered my calls were vague and clueless. Often they were inconsistent and contradicted each other.
- In both the Best Buy stores I went to, they did not stick to the original date they had given me. The first store told me they would complete in 3-4 days, but at the end of the 4th day, they had not even started working on my computer. I took it from there to the second store, where they initial told me 1-2 days. When the work was finally done, it was on the sixth day!
- It was an olympian effort to get hold of the Geek Squad guys on the phone. I had to try several times, be transferred several times, wait for a really long time, and at the end of all that, there was the chance that I would not get anyone on the line and would hang up in disgust. This was a consistent experience in trying to call the Geek Squad.
- The Geek Squad guys did not give the impression that they placed value on my hardware, my data, my time. They seemed to have a lackadaisical attitude.
- The Geek Squad operation is not professional nor well-organized nor smoothly run. It is a joke!
I spoke to other smaller computer service guys in the city who seemed to have a much better operation and gave much better customer service. I spoke to one guy Rico (firstname.lastname@example.org), who deserves special mention. I found him on the Phoenix Computer Services Craigslist page. Although I was a total stranger calling him out of the blue on a Saturday afternoon, he spent one hour on the phone talking to me about my problem, trying to diagnose it, trying to help me resolve it. He sent me emails with information (real information, not a sales pitch). He expressed interest in hearing back from me after my problem was resolved to know how it went. And most important, he was honest and forthright in advising me not to seek his service, although he offered it for lesser cost than the Best Buy price, because that would void my in-store warranty with Best Buy. He did that although it meant losing business. He voluntarily lost my business rather than have me lose my warranty, after having spent one hour on the phone with me, trying to help solve my problem. Thanks, Rico. I hope your business (Palmtreepcs.com) grows big and rich. With that kind of helpful attitude and honesty, I know you will do well in life, bro.
Update on Sept 2nd, 2005: Just found this link: Geek Squad Discussion on Gadgetopia.com. There are comments by other customers who have been screwed by Best Buy's Joke Squad, as well as comments from people who actually worked for the original Geek Squad before Best Buy bought them, and some comments from current Best Buy Joke Squad employees. I was right when I said that my bad experience is not an isolated one. Some of the stories there are worse than mine. Former Geek Squad agents have actually confessed to Best Buy forcing them to rip customers' money! End update.
If any of you are still interested in reading my full story, with all the boring details, continue reading below. For the rest, thanks for reading so far and beware of Best Buy's Joke Squad.
Background of the problem:
On the morning of Saturday, the 13th of August, Windows XP on my laptop crashed. I would need to reformat my hard drive and install Windows XP again, but before doing that I wanted to have the data on my hard disk backed up. Since my Windows system was not starting up, the only way to back up the data would be to open the laptop, remove the hard disk, connect it to some kind of a reader and back up the data. I had a three year warranty with Best Buy for my laptop, which was good for one more year. So, I could not have any non-Best Buy person open my laptop, as my warranty would lapse.
Best Buy Store on Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ:
The Geek Squad guys I met at this store were more incompetent hustlers than geeks. One of them quoted me $149 to backup 10GB of data, although the store sign said $89 for data backup services and mentioned nothing about the amount of data. He gave me some b.s. about different rates for different amounts of data. Another guy quoted me $200 to backup my data, run a diagnostics on my laptop and reinstall Windows XP (using my own copy of the software). Finally they agreed to charge me $89 to backup under 10GB of data plus labor charge of $29. Nobody had mentioned anything about a labor charge before. I distinctly got the feeling that they just did not want to backup my data for the $89 as the sign said. Their efforts at hustling was so awkward and so obvious. I had expected a smooth, professional, honest, no non-sense experience. Not some cheap car salesman kinda approach. Anyway, I gave them my laptop because I was tied to them by the warranty and I thought the experience would be the same at other Best Buy stores, which were located farther away from me. They said my backup would be done in 3-4 days.
On the third day, I called them. They told me that they would do it soon and they would call me back. I called them on the afternoon of the fourth day. The guy who picked up the phone told me he would call me back in half an hour. I waited for two hours. He never called back. While I waited for his call, I called a couple of other Best Buy stores in the city and spoke to their Geek Squad guys. I was shocked to hear both of them tell me that they would back up the entire contents of my hard disk for $89, and there would be no labor charge.
My temper went up the roof. I did not trust myself to speak politely. So, I typed out a letter explaining the whole situation and asking them to give back my laptop because I did not want to do business with a bunch of hustlers. I took the letter to the Best Buy customer service manager at the Camelback Road store. This guy (named Ty something) read my letter, went in and brought back my laptop to me. When it comes to services of the Geek Squad, Best Buy's price match offer goes out the window. They won't even match the price of other Best Buy stores. This customer service manager did not so much as offer an apology for my experience, let alone offer to match the price of the other Best Buy stores. He just gave me a lame excuse of their rates being changed recently, and the store signs which quoted $89 for data backup being outdated. Did the idiot really think I would buy that excuse?
I realized the futility of having any further talks with him. I took my machine and went to a different Best Buy store.
This was day four of my system breakdown.
Best Buy Store on Thunderbird Rd, Phoenix, AZ:
The first experience in this store was quite different. The Geek Squad lady I spoke to was polite and straight forward. She charged me $89 to backup my entire hard disk and told me that it would be ready in a day or two. I felt relieved and happy. But my relief was too premature.
I called the Geek Squad at this store the next afternoon. The guy I talked to told me that my laptop was next in queue to be serviced and he would do my data backup as soon as he was finished with the system he was working on. He thought he would start on it within the next couple of hours and it would probably be done either that same evening or the next day, and that he would call me when it was ready. I did not get any calls that evening.
The next afternoon, I called them back. This time I spoke to a different guy who told me that they were very busy and there were some 5 or 6 systems which need to serviced before mine would be. He could not explain to me how my system slipped in the queue from the second position to the seventh position!
For the next three days, I called them daily. Everytime I called them, all they would tell me was that my system was out on their desk and it should be done either by that evening or the next morning. They gave me this spiel for three days! They could never tell me for sure when exactly it would be worked on.
By the way, it is not easy to get these VIP guys on the phone. Everytime I wanted to talk to them, I had to call the store about three times, be transferred to the Geek Squad about three times during each call (despite choosing the right numbers in the automated phone system to be directly transferred), and wait upto 20 minutes during each call before I could speak to someone. Many a time, the phone would just ring and ring and nobody would pick it up. I would disconnect with impatience and disgust. This was my experience trying to call the Geek Squad in both stores - on Camelback Rd and on Thunderbird Rd.
Finally, on the NINTH day since my laptop crashed, I called the store and was told that they had managed to copy all the data from my hard disk to another hard disk, and it was now only a matter of writing that data to the CDs. That would be done in a couple of hours they told me. I waited for almost 6 hours. Then I got really impatient and drove personally to the store. I found that they had just started to write my data to the CDs. They could only return my laptop that day, but the backup CDs would be ready only the next day, the TENTH day since my laptop crashed!
The last day, when I went to the store to pick up my backup disks, I found that they were all put in a plastic bag and left lying in a shelf in their work area. The bag or the disks were not labelled with my name or any other identifying info. The guy who was at the counter had to call another guy to ask him where my disks were and to confirm that they were indeed my backup disks. The attitude and the value they seemed to place on customer data was totally unacceptable.
This whole experience with Best Buy's Geek Squad has been unsavory and dissatisfactory. This is one of the worst customer service experiences I have had in the US. Best Buy should rechristen the Geek Squad as the Joke Squad.