10 Examples of Best Buy’s Geek Squad Violating Customer Trust

The Geek Squad is arguably one of the largest corporate repair groups in the US, with technicians available at virtually every Best Buy store and even a few stand-alone shops around the country. As a whole, Best Buy has a reputation for being the largest electronics chain in the country and covering a wide variety of needs from entertainment to computer repair. After purchasing the Geek Squad brand, Best Buy has expanded its support services to the UK, making it one of the largest (if not the largest) single tech support organizations in the world.

That said, it’s important that I stress that the examples listed below are likely isolated incidents, but they do serve as reminders that you are handing your phone, computer, camera, or other miscellaneous gadget over to strangers whenever you take them in for repair. You don’t always have time to hide your personal files when your computer or phone breaks, so it should stand to reason that these employees are expected to have a level of responsibility that doesn’t include snooping where they don’t belong (or making copies of these files when they do find them).

Back in 2007, the Consumerist launched a sting after receiving multiple confessions across more than a few states indicating that stealing pornographic or otherwise embarrassing images from customers’ computers was common practice. In fact, the Consumerist received a detailed how-to from a Geek Squad employee that explained exactly how technicians justify access to your directories, copy the files, and distribute them to other employees. Stories of cache systems shared by employees were also present, indicating that some (rogue) technicians are turning private files into community property behind the scenes.

It’s important to note here that this isn’t the rule, but the exception. I know and have known several members of the Geek Squad team and would consider them to be absolutely trustworthy as individuals. This article is intended to cover the story from both sides of the issue, and as such we’ve put the call out on Google+ to get the opinions and experiences from customers and employees.

An Entire Team’s Plot to Steal Porn from Jasmine Grey’s Computer

Just Days Before She Died in a Car Accident

Jasmine Grey, an actress in the adult industry, came into Geek Squad to have her computer serviced. Her complaint was that her computer would lock up when her webcam turned on, which was a common issue of the time (early 2000s) and something a Geek Squad member should have been able to fix relatively quickly. An agreement was made to update the computer to the latest version of XP, and service began.

During the initial line of questioning, Grey had declined to share the name of her website when asked by the technician. This raised a red flag, and members of that team (multiple, according to the employee’s report) used the Windows password written down by the customer to access a secured directory filled with her work. According to the report filed with the Consumerist, multiple DVDs were made of the incident.

If that isn’t bad enough, the manager (who was allegedly part of the scam) had a technician go out to her home after failing to repair her webcam during the first visit. The agent who came out was the same one who made the DVDs in the first place. After fixing the webcam in a matter of minutes, he went right to work sneaking through her network in search of more interesting tidbits.

On an unrelated note, Grey died shortly after. There’s no telling what kind of legal action might have taken place had this incident come to light beforehand.

Geek Squad Member Accused of Stealing Private Images from iPhone

Offers to Return Them if Customer Goes to His Home

This incident is just a few days old, and Best Buy has already acknowledged the issue, stating it has terminated the Geek Squad member for making personal transactions on company property. That doesn’t sound like the most severe issue here, but at least he won’t be responsible for repairing anyone’s equipment anymore.

The story goes that Sophia Ellison purchased a new iPhone and wanted her photos, contacts, etc. transferred from her old phone to her new one. The process is simple enough, but somewhere in the middle the Best Buy employee she was doing business with decided to make a personal transaction out of it. He offered to buy her old phone from her, and he did right there on the spot. According to Ellison, he promised on numerous occasions to wipe the data from the old phone.

When she returned for her new phone, only about half of her photos were successfully transferred to her new phone. The technician said a chunk of them were unrecoverable. Later, he called her at home and told her he recovered the old photos and would give them to her on a CD if he went by his home.

If this isn’t bad enough, some of the photos in question include her in compromising positions as well as her kids exiting the shower.

We took the question of this incident to the community and asked if anyone had any similar experiences (or lack thereof) from either side of the issue. The thread turned rather hostile toward the customer in this case:

John Livingston: If you have pictures you don’t want another person to see, why on EARTH would you just hand them over to some guy? The Best Buy employee should be fired, but this woman is an idiot and the judge should laugh her out of court.

Hector DeJesus: Aside from this woman being technically incompetent, she also displayed a lack of common sense by even agreeing to such a shady deal.

Jon Dye: Well, I do have a lack of respect for people who don’t take steps to protect their own privacy.

Still, there were some supportive statements made indicating that the representative certainly crossed a line.

Michele Price: What happened here went WAY beyond a service agreement; this guy made it very personal, like an assault.

Anthony Garrett (a former Geek Squad employee): I could say a lot about what’s wrong with this story, but the fact is that the employee was wrong and this reflects on the company. All of this should have been done in the mobile department and, in regards to her data backup, the rep should also have referred her to BBYM because we have devices for that.

Consumerist Sting Revealed Geek Squad Member Stealing Porn on Video

What Are the Chances?

When the Consumerist launched its Geek Squad sting in 2007, it couldn’t have asked for more damning evidence. A computer running screen capturing software, featuring a photo of three beautiful women in the background, caught a Geek Squad technician copying racy photos from the hard drive to his own personal flash drive. The Consumerist refused to tell the manager of the Best Buy branch which Geek Squad employee had been caught, insisting that better policies and closer observance should be held ahead of simply firing the one employee and hoping the issue goes away.

Is it the role of the manager to assume their employees are doing these things? A level of trust is required for any safe working environment, but when you’re trusting someone with a customer’s most private and personal data, some amount of vetting and training is required. In this case, an undercover investigation just happened to uncover exactly what customers fear the most.

Keep in mind that you don’t always have time to hide those things that you don’t want someone else to see before your computer bites the big one. Is this the customer’s fault? I don’t think so.

Geek Squad Employee Films Customer’s 22-Year-Old Daughter in the Shower

Imagine this: You’re at home getting ready to start your day and you notice a camera phone hidden behind the sink in your bathroom. Not only is it hidden there, but it’s recording video. This happened to the daughter of a Geek Squad customer, and the person responsible was quickly arrested for violation of privacy after they took the phone to the carrier to confirm what had happened.

This isn’t to say it’s common practice, but it should be a reminder that you should always be on your toes when someone is in your home. Just because someone is wearing a uniform or representing a trusted brand doesn’t mean that individual is doing things by the book. As far as the company goes, I’m more concerned about how it vets its employees than about this particular issue. It’s clearly a rogue agent with his own agenda in mind. I don’t believe this matter was covered up or otherwise minimized by Best Buy. If anything, I’d hope Best Buy learned from this and is a bit more cautious in its hiring and assignment practices.

Geek Squad Team Widely Misdiagnoses Issue in Undercover Investigations

These were two independent undercover investigations launched by local news agencies (FOX 12 out of Oregon and KSTP TV out of Minneapolis and St. Paul) testing local computer technicians for accuracy and integrity. Needless to say, these two investigations came out and Best Buy’s Geek Squad didn’t look too good. The problems Geek Squad couldn’t diagnose were quickly found and fixed (at no charge) at other stores.

Geek Squad isn’t the only large technical support business that has been under fire for bad diagnoses. Nerds on Site, an on-site computer repair service in which agents are more like freelance independent contractors than employees of a single brand, was also under fire in another independent investigation I found during research of this story. In almost every case I found, those small independent computer repair places were both more accurate and honest when dealing with customers.

Perhaps it’s a sign that Best Buy could do better in how it trains and manages its staff. Not every technician can be expected to be 100% accurate all the time, but it helps to have a second set of eyes look at an issue before giving the customer some bad news.

Man’s Personal Data Remained on Tablet After Employee Promised It Would Be Wiped

He Found out when the New Owner Contacted Him

One gentleman returned a personal tablet and was told by the clerk his data would be wiped before the unit was resold. A few months later, he received a call from the new owner of the device (who bought it from Woot). Best Buy states that it is not responsible for wiping data from drives, so this could fall under the realm of customer responsibility.

He stated he was informed there was a four-stage process of data removal that each device goes through prior to resale. Apparently, this promise was not kept.

Geek Squad Sent to Court over Technician Copying Nude Images from Computer and Putting on CD

This is perhaps one of the most startling confessions came during a lawsuit against Best Buy in 2008. William E. Giffels, a member of the Geek Squad, admitted to having taken nude images off of a customer’s hard drive using a flash drive he was issued. Those images were later copied (inadvertently) to CDs distributed to other members of the team.

The customer’s photos were taken as a gift for her partner on Valentine’s Day. She thought she had deleted them prior to Geek Squad taking a look at the computer, but apparently she hadn’t done a good enough job. The agent described seeing a few of them and wondering if there was anything more scandalous. So he did what any immoral pervert would do: He copied the entire folder to his flash drive.

Responding to repeated incidents of breech of privacy, Best Buy has incorporated new software that is intended to disallow the agent to look through files folder-by-folder. Unfortunately, these methods don’t always work as agents find reasons to look through folders individually, according to another confession from a former Geek Squad employee.

Stories from the Community

When we asked the community to share their stories and experiences, we received a surprising number of responses from both sides of the issue. Former Geek Squad employees explained what happened, and how it’s not uncommon for integrity to come into question with any tech repair service. Others (as noted earlier) believe that the victims are to blame for leaving their personal files on the computers in the first place. No matter what you believe, there’s a lesson to be learned here.

Hector DeJesus: I can share a personal story. In 1997, I brought an older HP desktop into the Geek Squad for a power supply issue. It was in my ‘beginning to learn about tech’ days and I had already taken the desktop apart and basically rebuilt it. I was familiar with most of the parts on it already. I knew what the issue was, but didn’t trust myself enough to replace the power supply by myself, so I decided to go to the ‘experts.’

They called me and told me that it had a bad hard drive and motherboard and needed to be replaced. I already knew this was bull, so I told them that I would be in to pick up the computer and to not do anything else. I got there to pick it up and, when I lifted it off the counter, I heard a loud crash like a part had fallen out. They take a look inside the case and the hard drive was literally at the bottom of the case, just hanging there. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that this wasn’t even the same hard drive!

After 30 minutes of arguing, they finally ‘found’ my hard drive in the back on their shop… I’m pretty sure that they didn’t think I’d notice since I was ‘too dumb’ to replace a power supply. The point is, if they would’ve installed my hard drive correctly, I probably never would’ve checked and they’d have my entire hard drive and all of its contents. By the way, my hard drive was reformatted to probably cover their tracks.

To answer your question, I feel like these are widespread issues from hacks on the team who think that people are dumb and they won’t get caught. Keep in mind that I’m not saying that everyone who works at Geek Squad is a ‘hack.’ In fact, I’m from Minneapolis where the Geek Squad got its start on Washington Avenue. It was viewed at that time as the “expert” in its field. When Best Buy bought it out, it tried to expand and had no way to control who was working behind the counters. So you’ve got a bunch of part-time Best Buy employees with some technical knowledge making $10-$12 an hour who couldn’t care less about customer privacy. Just my two cents.

Anthony Garrett: I used to work for Best Buy and it got crazy busy at times, so maybe not everything was checked. Personal info should be protected by the user first, above all, and the rest boils down to integrity. We never had issues at our store like this, but companies that aren’t treating their employees fairly are more likely to experience this sort of trouble.

Jessica Matthews: I bought an open box laptop from Best Buy two or three years ago. It still had all of someone else’s data on the device, accounts were still set up (without passwords on them), programs installed, etc. Luckily it was sold to me, because I quickly shut down the laptop and reformatted.

Jacob Beach: I purchased an open box Google TV about a month ago from Best Buy and it was still loaded with someone’s Google account.

Not every Geek Squad employee is bad. In fact, with tens of thousands of Geeks out there working on a dozen or more cases every day, it could be argued that these isolated incidents speak more to the character of the individual technicians than the culture of a corporation. Best Buy is a multinational corporation like any other. What matters to it is the bottom line, and when customers start making their feelings known with their pocket books, that’s when you’ll see big changes in how the company handles matters. Until then, it’s never a bad idea to be a little more cautious when handing your private data to a stranger, regardless of what uniform they may (or may not) wear.

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1617246570 Roland Douglas Bechtel

    Not to be judgemental becuase I am after all human and fallen but I do see a common thread to most of these issues.

  • Matthew Sabia

    These stories are so shocking. I shared this article everywhere. Thanks for sharing!

    • Michael Kimmel

      The stories aren’t really shocking. It’s just an extension of the fact that everyone is entitled to do whatever they want to do and you have to PROVE you were wronged. Whatever happened to using some sense and NOT allowing some stupid excuse? If no one is held responsible for their actions this kind of thing will spread exponentially! It already is!

      • http://www.facebook.com/shawn.hawken Shawn Hawken

        got any reviews of car repair shops? love to see them too!

    • Michael Kimmel

      The stories aren’t really shocking. It’s just an extension of the fact that everyone is entitled to do whatever they want to do and you have to PROVE you were wronged. Whatever happened to using some sense and NOT allowing some stupid excuse? If no one is held responsible for their actions this kind of thing will spread exponentially! It already is!

  • http://www.facebook.com/joannesgrignoliboyd Joanne Sgrignoli Boyd

    I have dealt with the Geek Squad for several years and have been fortunate to deal with intelligent, honest people. The above stories are noted to be exceptions, rather than the rule and are being shared, I believe, so that people are more aware of protecting their information. I wasn’t shocked because any time we deal with human beings, there are people who are honest and have integrity, and those who don’t. We need to be aware and non-judgmental, as well as use common sense about what is on our computers.

    I think that Best Buy should require non-disclosure agreements of their employees who work with information belonging to others, indicating that integrity is expected. I also think they need to address the problem of wiping information clean from products being resold; and perhaps they should consider recording areas where these products are being worked on.

    As for me, I believe there are more good people at Best Buy and their Geek Squad, than not. I will continue to be a customer unless something is done to violate my trust in them.

  • http://twitter.com/KrisRoadruck Kris Roadruck

    sigh. As I always tell anyone who asks, if they actually new anything about computers, they wouldnt be stuck working at Best Buy. Consider that before you next think about bringing a computer there.

    • Reed

      I don’t think you have any idea how uninformed and insulting that statement is. Geeks Squad agents (myself one of them) are highly skilled professionals which are by no means ‘stuck’ in their positions. You can’t just walk into a job like that without any experience. Integrity as well as technical know-how are considered in the application process. And on another note, Geek Squad agents are proud to be members of such a tightly knit group of individuals dedicated to providing a complete and accurate repair service. And Geek Squad agents don’t work for Best Buy, they work for Geek Squad, which happens have been bought by Best Buy. The policies adhering to operating procedures for agents are policies of Geek Squad. 

  • http://www.caseyfrennier.com/ Casey Frennier

    Geek Squad told my mom that her computer needed to be replaced when it would shut off randomly a while ago and best buy sold her on a $1500 piece of junk. All that was wrong with it was the video card had become unseated. They totally took advantage of the situation.

  • Allen St. John

    Simple Solution Create a DVR that sits between the keyboard and mouse and monitor. Let the employee know that everything they do can be recorded and only allow AP (Assets Protection) personnel the ability to review the sessions. Said DVR should automatically wipe sessions recorded after a given amount of time. Customers should also be informed of the recordings and given the option of receiving a copy of the session.

    Is that draconian? Yes. But it would protect the consumer and it would also protect the Company working on the computer.

    And while this article is targeting Best Buy, the real problem is the people working for Best Buy not being watched a bit closer.

    • http://twitter.com/djmoore711 D. J.

      When you call customer support lines they supposedly “randomly record” phone calls. Why not record a technician’s sessions? It’s only right.

  • Matt

    wow that first girl was… wow.. I mean of course he didn’t handle it properly.. but she should of erased it herself.. and even if you erase something.. it can be recovered.. easily.. but he bought it.. and yah.. just Retarded..

  • A PC Repair Guy

    Anyone that is shocked by this is oblivious to the world around them. This is common accross the industry…in every shop you will have at least one person without integrity and at least one with it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robbiewilkes Robbie Wilkes

    I have NO love for the Geek Squad, but the Sophia Ellison story, about the woman who sold her broken iPhone to a Best Buy employee, can easily be decoded to show an ignorant person using their ignorance to play a victim. Beyond violating some store policy, even in the woman’s own words, it sounds like George went above and beyond in attempting to retrieve her “precious” photos (that she didn’t bother checking on BEFORE leaving the store), from what was then HIS phone. If there was a failure, it was in the Best Buy transfer process, but, again, before she left the store, she would have signed an agreement that all was in order. She is out to get some money and her 15 minutes, but, in the process, has brought crap into someone’s life that was, probably, only trying to help her. It doesn’t even require that much filling in the blanks. I really think that this story should be shelved until after we hear George’s side of the story.

  • http://www.facebook.com/osterjeff Jeff Oster

    This makes me sick.

  • ‘Tis Moi

    It isn’t only Geek Squad. I worked as IT sales for our local “Officemax” (but in Australia). I had a gentleman who I’d sold a laptop to come back just after a year to purchase another. Seems the local (Leading Edge affiliate) PC shop told him the original had a failed motherboard & would cost about $400 to repair- this after charging him a $115 quote fee. I asked to see it- and immediately did a factory recovery. It was fine! I recently repaired a desktop- same thing…owner told it was the mainboard, I reset CMOS, reinstalled the OS. Not long ago- did a recovery from two external drives that both “failed” at the same time. Identical drives failing at the same time? The local shop said the data was not retrievable & the owner was crushed- he did the right thing by using two drives and both failed- taking his wedding & newborn baby’s photos with it. I tested one & it was dead, the other was recognized but had no access. So, I swapped the circuit boards- voila! All data recovered.

    I just have to wonder & SMH that I’m just a lowly, self-taught, single mum & I manage to do this stuff? Why aren’t the repair shops doing their job? It’s crazy…

    • Michael Kimmel

      The answer to that is easy. YOU do it because it’s something you enjoy doing – helping people, etc. The repair shops don’t pay particularly well and you DO get what you pay for. YOU are doing it for a whole different reason, so your services are (generally) more reliable.

      • http://socialspit.com/ XweAponX

        I don’t agree; I hate fixing puters! But I do it cos thats what I’m good at doing, and I take PRIDE in my work, and no puter gets substandard service from me, and no client is ever charged more than necessary. I charge for parts I have to replace, and I prove it to the client. But even if I spend two days fixing something, and most of that is time spent doing SCANDISK and Virus Detection, I never charge more than 100, and usually a lot less. And if the client is not happy with my work, I MAKE them happy. I just repaired a macbook Pro that had Boot camp, the Windows 7 partition had a rootkit that destroyed the ability to boot. I fixed it, and charged the guy 50 bucks. Geek squad would have charged 300 bucks and NOT gotten the job done. Because I only charge for satisfied work!

    • http://socialspit.com/ XweAponX

      Really? One drive’s platter failed and the other ‘s circuit board failed? That was clever, I’ve done it before. I always save the circuit boards from failed hard drives,in case of this very problem. But in your friend’s case, it may have been true: Both Drives muct have been innaccessable, But that they didn’t TRY to swap the boards, is just inept work!

      • ‘Tis Moi

        But it isn’t “inept” if they don’t even try, right? I am telling you that I have had too many to even recall here- customers who have taken their computer or peripheral to be fixed at a “proper shop”- only to be turned away or told there is nothing to be done. I fix it. I just don’t get why these shops are turning away customers who WANT to pay them? It’s just nuts.

        • http://socialspit.com/ XweAponX

          Its hey either turn them away, or charge them 5 times what is reasonable. I have very fir prices: If a machine is important for a business, I tell them it may be more, and I put all my efforts into it. I take care of my clients machines, better than my own.

    • Michelle Mcnamera

      Be wary of these Big Box stores and their “computer repair” technicians. I’ve experiencing nothing short of anguish and egregious amount of errors and mistakes on their part. Most recently, I took a computer in to have it looked at for errors upon start up. It appeared that there might be a bug or something causing some startup problems.

      I would only suggest using a company that can be trusted. Once you find someone you trust, stick with them. Geek Squad techs are like asking your teenage neighbor to come over and mess around on your machine. In this case, you dont get what you pay for.

      I would recommend looking at someone like SecureRemoteSupport to repair the problems that Geek Squad causes. I found them on this site, another user suggested as an alternative to Geek Squad to repair their machine. We were able to have them successfully repair the computer and help me get a refund from Best Buy. It took a few weeks, but they were able to write me a report of the work that Geek Squad messed up and allow me to use that to get the refund.

      John also provided me with lifetime protection software that they guarantee.

      Do not purchase anything Geek Squad sells until you research it and make sure it will work for you!

  • Kevin.B

    ” I am not a model, but I like to model !!! did she just said please somebody got to discover me !!! I can’t believe best buy fired the poor guy for a lame story like Sophia Ellison story.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1531907810 Joseph Kinney

    Not to say that all agents are like this, but if what you say is true about skill level, then why was my friend told that any time you install a new component into a computer, it will begin to run slower? Here’s the background to that:
    My friend had a basic family desktop computer (dual core, onboard video & sound, etc. -the basic $400 special (couple of years ago)). I told her that to free up some RAM, she should upgrade to at least 2, if not 4GB (which she did) and then go with a discreet video card. So she goes to best buy and gets a decent card (nvidia 9800gt, pci x16) and the salesman says that Geek squad can install it for her. She agrees and brings her computer in. She picks it up the next day and pays about $100 for the installation (so right around $180, if you include the price of the card) and when she gets it home, it’s as slow as molasses. She takes it back and, once again, the excuse is that as you add components to computers they just run slower. I know the guy said this because I was with my friend at the time. I took a look at the computer, set the BIOS to look at PCI-X for video, and installed the latest nvidia drivers (of which there were none previously installed). This is computer 101 level stuff. I’ve been building computers for more than a decade now and have degrees in both General IT and Software Development. My question is, if Geek Squad has such high standards, how did this moron get through?

  • Paul Gadebusch

    Geek squad has great marketing and gets people in the door. The customer experience has them looking elsewhere next time. The turnover at Geek Squad is very high and effective diagnosis needs experience, not a checklist
    We have a computer store across the street from a Best Buy. Many customers have found us after a bad experience. Our techs have all been working together for 3 1/2 years since we opened. I would like to think that we would have passed the random video testing process immediately and many of our customers won’t go anywhere else for service or new computers. We are not perfect but we do talk about our mistakes and how we can avoid them in the future getting collectively better. We like what we do, who we serve and it shows.
    We actually get referrals from Geek Squad techs because we fix laptops in our store in a few days rather than having to send it back to a manufacture or central repair center. I know those tech actually do care about their customers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bruce-Epper/100000274032080 Bruce Epper

    One thing I tend to stress to most people is that if you are going to a repair facility that also SELLS the same products, there is a good chance that you will be manipulated to buy a replacement rather than have them fix a simple problem or be given a long laundry list of problems that need to be fixed which is patently false. It is actually a fairly common practice. It is also one of the reasons that some folks in the neighborhood no longer go to Geek Squad and others but come to me instead. This tactic has been used on them in the past and they were burned. By coming to me, that is no longer an issue.
    I also have people bringing their units to me AFTER having Geek Squad (or others) work on them because there are MORE problems with it now than before they brought it in for service.
    With regard to the people working at the Geek Squad counter, I have yet to encounter one who understands technology well enough that I don’t have to oversimplify my explanations of what I am looking for after receiving a blank stare and an expression like I am speaking Martian.

  • http://www.StadiaStudio.com/ Mike Allton

    That’s aweful. I hope Best Buy takes these stories and issues seriously and publicly takes measures to ensure better service going forward.

  • Chris in Kalifornia

    This is the sort of thing that is why my wife and I now refer to “best buy” by it’s true name of “Worst Buy”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/StayVertical Jon Howard

    I deal with Geek Squad a lot because of what I do for work. All but one of my experinces with GS have been great… and I deal with them probably more than most of the commenters here combined.
    That being said I wanted to share 2 very opposite experiences.
    The bad eperience. I had a laptop that had been dropped and the hard drive had been unseated (didn’t know this at the time) and stopped working. It was under GS warranty but the 2 GS agents tried to tell me that the damage was not covered even though the warranty contract I paid for said it was. After a 30 minute discussion with them I left and went to the Best Buy GS across town to try the warranty route with different people. They tried to boot it up asked me questions (which the other GS never did). The GS Agent said he had a thought and took the laptop in the back. 10 minutes later he came back out with a working Laptop. He told me he opened the case and found the harddrive was disconnected in the fall he just snapped it back into place. He did all this at no charge because it was covered by the warranty!
    He did warn me that it was acting up a bit and I should run a surface test cause he thought the HD might have gotten ganked in the fall. Turns out he was right and we had to rplace the Laptop anyway but we were able to recover most of the info first.
    Good experience. I had a PC we used for inhouse graphic design that was freaking out. Couldn’t get anything to run right it would crash at random and all kinds of other goofy things. I have had this happen before with bad motherboards and failing harddrives. So I took it to Geek Squad to see if they could do a quick diagnostic. I just knew this was gonna be severl hundered dollars to fix and might mena having to buy a new computer all together.
    After asking some questions and trying to boot it up several times, he turned around and announced he some good news. All I needed was to replace the watch battery on the mother board for $1.29. I grabbed a battery and paid for it he stuck it in and poof! Worked perfectly again. I didn’t have a warranty on this so I was ready to pay a nice little premium for his time and to my surprise he waved it off and told me to have a good rest of my weekend.
    Horrible as the stories above are… I lean towards these being isolated not common events. Just my 2 cents.

  • Michael Kimmel

    YOU may be highly skilled and YOU may be a person of integrity, but that certainly doesn’t describe everyone in your position and you have to realize it takes only one to ruin it for all. If you see a co-worker doing something wrong, YOU need to step up and report it – otherwise YOU and other worthwhile technicians will be lumped into the same group as are the idiots.

  • bwchato

    i would’nt let the geek squad touch anything i own.members of the geek squad in general don’t have much experience considering i have relatives that took their computers to them and they could’nt fix it.I spent a small amount of time and fixed all the problems and i am self taught with help from my IT friend.I build and repair computers.

  • rlwalker

    When a non-technical person needs to get a non-working piece of gear working he/she takes it to a repair-person. When that person steals the information you do not turn around and blame the non-technical person. That person is the victim who has just been violated. If you can fix your own gear, fine. But to say the non-technical person should have done this or that technical function on a non-working piece of gear leaves a lot to be desired.

  • http://www.facebook.com/KOHS.Alumni Donald Howard

    Myself, I am a computer technician and have been so for 29 years. There have been a few times I went to the store to pick up some parts I needed and the “technician” had NO clue what I was looking for or talking about. Don’t get me wrong there are some very good tech’s that work there, but with the high turn over rate, that doesn’t allow for much experience to be gained. Most (Not all) of these tech’s are brought in from the store (Not hired directly) and have no real world experience. As I do alot of my own work on the side as well, I can honestly say I have seen my share of simple problems with customers computers being over looked and missed. As one other person here mentioned, I also do well with what I do as I am NOT in sales, but repairs. I have no incentive to sell someone anything other than my services. Matter of fact, if parts are needed for a customers repair, I will first tell them where they can order the part from, or offer to get it for them. They only pay the actual cost of parts plus labor.

  • bdp

    Repeatedly throughout the year my local newspaper reports on people who are arrested for posessing child porn after bringing their computers into a shop for service. If you make the reasonable assumption that there were at least minimal efforts made by the criminals to hide the files then you can also make the assumption that the service techs were actively looking through the computers in question just to see what they might find. I think its also safe to assume that the computers of customers who weren’t involved in criminal activity were probably also poked through.
    Perhaps the manufacturer of a computers O/S could create a “service mode” of some type in which a tech would be blocked from viewing certain folders or file types without using a customer created and controlled password. Before bringing a computer into the shop, the customer could put their computer in this mode and at least be reassured that the tech crew wasn’t looking through every jpeg and wmv on their computer.

  • Geekmom

    I opened my own computer repair business for a few years. I had numerous customers who came to me after going to the geek squad to repair computers that they repaired incorrectly and charged them outrageously. They are supposed to be the experts, yet a self taught housewife was more knowledgeable than them.
    I wouldn’t go to the geek squad if you paid me to. It might be different in other areas, but here in Missouri, the geek squad is nothing more than a ripoff.

  • Jim

    I saw several comments that indicated ‘personal’ data should have been removed or protected before taking his/her computer/phone in for repair. Would those folks who made those comments please share how that procedure is done with a broken computer? My experience has been when my computer failed, data/personal info on the hard drive was no longer accessible . Maybe they have a tech trick that hasn’t been published yet.

  • jerrym

    Had one bad experience with Geek Squad but nowhere near as bad as described in these articles. Basically brought it in for a ‘free’ tune up. Of course they tried to sell me their virus protection software. When I picked up my laptop they had already installed it even though I turned it down on the phone and of course expected me to pay for it. I had them remove it. They also decided that I had too many icons on my desktop and put those that the tech decided I didn’t need into a folder. I didn’t ask him to personalize it to his taste. I wouldn’t let these theiving morons touch any of my stuff ever again.

  • http://socialspit.com/ XweAponX

    Geek Squad is run by people who have no scruples whatsoever: plus, they charge three times what a regular computer store would charge. They really have no clue at all: This is FACT. I never ever deal with them, and neither should anyone else: real computer shops usually take pride in work done well: I service pcs by myself, I never charge more than 100 for labour, usually it’s 50 because most computer problems are easily fixed.

  • http://socialspit.com/ XweAponX

    This article mostly targets their PRIVACY Infractions. Geek Squad is guilty of a LOT more than just this: They are an unqualified service, their hiring practices are below substandard: They hire people who are under-qualified to even be working in the food service industry. Mostly they exist to carry out Best Buy’s “Service Contracts” which I would only make use of to return an item that is bad – And I would not ever return a Data-Carrying device to them: As a Technician, it is my job to search hard drives for problems, but to read peoples personal documents? I’ve never done it, I’ve never looked at their pictures, music, or anything else. If they want me to move the items I move it by dragging and dropping the folders in questions.

    In plain fact, anyone with a big computer problem they need fixed would do well to avoid Geek quad completely. Also: They drive around in their little cars and go to your HOUSE. NOPE: If people want me to fix a PC, they BRING it to ME. I never to out ON SITE unless it is a business, I never go to homes. But one thing is true, with this article: Geek Squad are inept. I’;ve heard more than dozens of horror stories about people bringing their PCs in and having all kinds of things “diagnosed” – And in reality, nothing being inherently wrong with the units other than a few viruses or configuration errors. It is like Killing an Ant with a Hammer: Their solution to a Virus is, to WIPE the hard drive and re-install Windows. This is always, they very last thing I will do, usually I find the problem and fix it and all for less than 50 bucks. Usually it takes 20 minutes to find and obliterate various problems. But that these people charge SO MUCH for a service that is SO BAD: I’m amazed that people actually bring them work – I had to deal with them ONCE, and they wanted to do a whole bunch of things, I stopped them and I said, just give me X, cos X is what’s wrong, or I’ll bring it elsewhere. The flustered, food service worker, went into the back room and brought me X, and I never went in there ever again.

  • Ecneralc Smith

    Folks this is why it pays to know someone with computer skills in the family and get reliable trustworthy support from that person. Avoid the Geek Squad, they are no different than a Midas, Meineke, or CarX shop. Luckily I’m my own computer geek so I fix my own issues.

  • Best-Butt-Caught-Again

    Wasn’t Best Buy already investigated? I seem to recall having heard that best buy was scamming customers in the past (quite a few years ago). The rumor was that the Attorney Generals office was investigating Best Buy and building a case. The alleged reason being that best buy was advertising items on sale. When customers went into the store, best buy employees would say: sorry, all out of stock. But we have this one just like it (the same item or similar) but it costs a little more money. If you insisted it was on their web site, they would say: No it’s not. Then lead you over to their Intra-net (leading you to think it was the Inter-Net). And on their Intra-net they had bogus ads posted. Out-rite sleazy if you ask me.

  • Herewegoagain

    Had it happen to me with a twist. Brought in tower to the Steal Squad but asked that they hold it and not inspect it, as I was told by Dell it was a hard drive problem before I brought it in. Not even one day passed and I decided to let Dell fix it. Also, I had a special partition separate recovery drive just for this purpose (hard drive crash). While in Best Buy, one of their GS employees approached and said for a much better price, he could take the computer home, fix it, install all new software, etc. for a much better price. That should have been a red flag in retrospect. The next day when we picked up the tower (which had papers taped to it) to bring it home and have Dell fix it, I see that this is not my computer. Hey, it looks a little like it, but this is not mine. No separate partition recovery drive, second optical drive missing, this one had floppy drive device, etc. I checked out immediately (so I would not think I was crazy) boot drive, etc. THIS WAS NOT MY COMPUTER CONFIRMED. OF COURSE THEY SWAPPED MINE OUT FOR A DIFFERENT VERSION OF A DELL THAT LOOKED SIMILAR. Then I thought about that dude who tried to get me to let him repair, etc. Then I see papers that they did inspect this. Of course, everything was wiped clean. Everything. They were not supposed to even touch it, in that we were thinking of buying a new pc instead. Store Manager when told, never admitted nor denied it. Told me to call corporate. Now, 8 months later, 17 phone calls later, case assignment, etc., Best Buy does not return calls. They leave a number, the few times they did call, that is a non-working number at Best Buy. Took me a while to gather evidence, now I am going after them for everything. I also want the employee(s) arrested at their place of employment for grand theft, theft of personal information, etc. I was trying to be nice with Best Buy and see if they could resolve this, however, no one ever cares about crap at customer headquarters and I deal with yet a new person every time, as other employees either were fired or left.

  • Ron

    The last time I contacted geek squad at best buy for a computer problem they kept trying to push the $200 service contract on me. I took it to an independent repair shop and all that needed to be replaced was the motherboard. Geek Squad is to corporate and all they care about is pushing products and services on you that you really don’t need. I feel like its become another tires plus. You go in for an oil and filter change and next thing your paying for the whole engine to be cleaned out and all new spark plugs. Something that should have cost $25 turns into $300.

  • http://safepcfix.com Jason

    Ill preface this with stating that I’m relatively computer savvy, however there are times when I simply do not have the time to fix the issues caused by my families web browsing habits, nor the patience. I’ve utilized Geek Squad quite a few times since the late 2000′s with problems here and there, but nothing like what I’ve experienced the last year of doing business with them.

    The most recent experience I’ve had with the Geek Squad has left an incredibly sour taste in my mouth. In early March, I took a computer into Geek Squad to have them remove an apparent virus. My eldest son had been using the PC for “homework,” and had been complaining of numerous pop ups and issues where the browser would take you to a, less than desirable, website other than where you requested to go.

    I spent about an hour going through it and trying to remove the virus. The conclusion that I had was that the infection was beyond my abilities and would have to be looked at by a professional. The next day, I took it in and dropped it off with the familiar faces at my local best buy. One of the guys in there recognized me and got the paperwork started as usual. Took my concerns down, noted the hardware I’d dropped off and said they would call the next day after he had a chance to look at it.

    Next day rolls around- No Call.

    Next Day – No Call.

    Five days into it I receive a call, from someone other than my normal tech, who says the problem is fixed, and the PC is ready for pickup. $199.99—Not too bad, considering it was 4 or 5 days’ worth of work on the computer, I’m just happy to have the computer back. It’s hard to share the three computers we have in the house with the 5 family members in our household.

    Upon getting the computer home, hooked up, and turned on the first thing I noticed was that the computer was NOT fixed. It was exactly how it was when I had dropped it off.

    I contacted the store that evening and was instructed to bring the machine back in, and they would look at it. I immediately unplugged it, drove it back over, and dropped it off with the same technician that released it to me just hours earlier. The tech informed me that it would be looked at first thing in the morning, by the technician that usually works on my machines.

    At this point, I am upset, but more frustrated. I am very understanding and do realize that things happen. This is a fact of life.

    The problem occurred when 48 hours later, I get a call to pick the computer up. Rinse and repeat. Get the machine home, kids are using it for a few hours to get homework down, the pop ups appear and the “browser redirects” start happening, this time much worse than before. The computer is now locked up and unusable. It was at this point, we shut the machine off and left it alone. The following morning, I called and spoke with a Geek Squad supervisor about getting a full refund for the service. The manager instructed me to bring the computer in and they would take a look at it. At this point I told them I had already hired someone else to fix it and repair the issues, and I would prefer a refund. The manager said they could not do that and that I had to bring the machine back in. Obviously, I am unable to do this. I found an online computer repair company, SafePCFix, that will do the repair remotely and while you watch (if you want.) They had walked me through the connection process and were fixing it, while I was on the phone with Geek Squad supervisor trying to get the refund from the botched job. While they declined to do it, the tech I was working with offered to help me get a refund by providing proof of the rootkit that was still installed on the machine.

    I contacted the CC Company with the information the technician gave me and they refunded my money back to my account. I’m unsure if Geek Squad is going to fight the case or not, but the technician at safepcfix told me they would help out if they needed to.

    It took these guys 2 hours to fix Geek Squad’s errors and mistakes. The computer works better than it did when we purchased it, and I am very happy with the work. I will no longer be using Geek Squad, and I recommend that no one else does either. There are times to skimp on repair services, and when you’re dealing with expensive electronics, its better to do it right the first time. I sincerely hope that none of you have to go through what I did. It has been quite a nightmare. Note: I have annexed some details out of the above story to save time and space. If anyone is interested in getting more details about my experience, please email me and I will be happy to answer any questions that you have.

  • visitor

    I had my Newegg account hijacked by someone at Best Buy last summer (7/13.) I brought in a laptop that I had purchased a few days earlier. I exchanged this laptop for another, but I forgot to erase all of my data. Not even a week later I tried to log in to my Newegg account, but I couldn’t. Apparently someone had hacked into my acoount and changed the email address. They tried to place an order with my account, but I called Newegg in time.
    I’m guessing this was someone from Geek Squad. Be careful!

  • Michelle Mcnamera

    Be wary of these Big Box stores and their “computer repair” technicians. I’ve experiencing nothing short of anguish and egregious amount of errors and mistakes on their part. Most recently, I took a computer in to have it looked at for errors upon start up. It appeared that there might be a bug or something causing some startup problems.

    My computer is used mostly for business, and has up-to-date virus protection installed. I have however, gotten infections in the past. My line of work requires a lot of internet research so I might be predisposed to certain types of infections.

    The last time I had to take my computer to Geek Squad, the Agent, let me know that it would take about 3 days to clean up and return the computer to a usable state. Unfortunately, it took over 7 business days to get my computer back. The original quote of $149.99 turned into $349.99. In the end, I got my PC back, late and over estimate. They informed me that I needed a new hard drive.

    Once I got the computer back, I still was having issues with the new operating system installation. Apparently, once they installed the operating system, they left a few issues unresolved. My computer was missing the data, the computer was starting in a weird mode that I could not get it out of and It was incredibly slow to start and restart.

    I began to look at reviews of Geek Squad, and I came across this site. One of the users suggested Secure Remote Support, as a possible alternative to Geek Squad. After doing my research I contacted them to repair my still broken machine. After a brief diagnostic period, which I did not pay for, they informed me that there was nothing wrong with my old hard drive and that I had been scammed by Geek Squad. John was able to get my computer up and running using the old hard drive and after a few hours, got the infections removed from the PC. I didn’t lose any data and I didn’t have to reinstall any programs. Additionally, John offered me LIFETIME protection software for the computer. While expensive, it is guaranteed. Geek Squad won’t do that.

    I was able to go back to the Best Buy Geek Squad and speak to the manager and explain the entire situation. I offered up the invoice and diagnostic paperwork from secureremotesupport and they decided to give me a full refund. I did have to threaten a chargeback with my American Express. I also returned the hard drive that the Agent said was absolutely necessary for my machine.

    Most interesting, while I was waiting in line to speak to a manager, there were approximately 6 other customers in front of me. Of all those people, most of them I heard complaining about issues and problems that weren’t related to the computer. It sounded as if they were experiencing similar issues to me. After reading some of the reviews related to them, I am not surprised there are this many problems with this service. I will not be using the Geek Squad in the future, and I suggest that you don’t either.