Best Buy has more important problems to solve than trying to expand Geek Squad's reach.
Attention Target shoppers, Geek Squad has left the building. At the conclusion of a six-month pilot program that saw Geek Squad agents offer installation, repair, and warranty services to electronics customers at 29 Target stores in Denver and Minneapolis, Best Buy decided it was time to pull out, presumably to focus on more pressing matters, the Star Tribune reports.
More often than not, it seems that when Best Buy makes headlines on a computer site, it's because the company's Geek Squad division did something boneheaded. In this case, a woman is accusing Geek Squad of foul play by holding her disabled sister's laptop hostage until after the warranty expired. Let's go back to the beginning.
The Best Buy Geek squad is no doubt made up of many talented and well intentioned souls, but the marketing department has fallen off the deep end. Based on this picture taken by the folks over at dualshockers.com the Geek Squad is now planning to offer customers the option to receive Sony’s free firmware update in-store before taking the console home. That sounds reasonable enough, until you do the math and discover that they are charging a whopping $30 for the service.
Just in case you have never used a PS3 I’ll detail the procedure below.
1.)Connect Ethernet Wire or Configure Wi-Fi
2.)Press X on “Check for Firmware Update”
3.)Return in 5 minutes time.
It sounds to us like Best Buy is trying to turn the Geek Squad into a gang of certified wallet inspectors, but I guess everyone has to make money somehow.
Let's not kid ourselves, Best Buy's Geek Squad division isn't exactly a respected establishment in DIY circles, and referring someone to Geek Squad for tech support is like, well, does this even need an analogy? No offense to any of our readers who may work as a Geek Squad tech, but you know what they say about a few bad apples.
What's even worse -- and we thought unthinkable -- is when the manufacturer of one your computer parts suggests calling Geek Squad to diagnose your failing gear before they'll replace it. That's exactly what one user who wrote into The Consumerist claims happened when his Netgear DGN2200 wireless router with DSL modem went on the fritz.
"Five calls to [Netgear's] tech department and it is still not working," the user claims. "On the fifth and final call they suggested I call the Geek Squad (approximately $139 for them to come to our home) to troubleshoot it and if it proves the modem is bad they will send me a new unit at that time (which I only paid $79 to begin with)."
It doesn't take a math whiz to figure out that's a bum deal. Assuming it all went down the way the user claims it did, let's hope this was an isolated incident.
For the bargain basement price of $30, Best Buy's Geek Squad division will "save you time and help you get the most out of your [eBook reader] device by updating its firmware and performing the initial setup for you." And by bargain basement, we really mean <facepalm>.
Don't get us wrong, we don't mean to diss on Geek Squad -- they do a pretty job of that themselves on a fairly regular basis -- but $30 to setup your Nook? Really? In return, here's what Best Buy advertises for its Device Setup service:
Perform the initial configuration of yoru device.
Download the latest firmware and update your device, giving you access to the latest features.
Provide a functionality check to ensure the device is working properly and can connect to a wireless network.
An Agent will provide you with tips and tricks on what to expect when you take the device home.
It's like buying three bullet points for 10 bucks a pop, and getting a fourth thrown in free! But joking aside, are we the only ones taking issue with a service package where 25 percent of what you're paying for includes verifying the device you just bought "is working properly?"
Hit the jump and tell us what you think of this -- is it brilliant marketing, another overpriced service, or both?
Best Buy found itself the target of heavy criticism and an Internet backlash when it came to light that the company's Geek Squad division was offering a $150 service to, among other things, "sync your 3D glasses for an amazing experience." Confused?
So was everyone else, and it looked as though Best Buy was trying to scam a fast buck by preying on unsuspecting customers who might be led to believe to that 3D glasses need syncing. Looking for an answer, the dudes over at HD Guru, where news of this service first broke, got in touch with Best Buy to hear their side of the story.
"I wanted to address any lingering confusion about the characterization of services support in the Best Buy Samsung 3DTV offer that was advertised in [the March 21] insert," Best Buy told HD Guru. "We by no means intended to confuse our customers or offer fraudulent services. The offer is new to our stores, and our own employees were trained on it just this past week."
Best Buy goes on to clarify what exactly is included in the $150 package, which includes making sure the 3D glasses work, since some of the TV sets the company sells need settings adjusted before the 3D glasses are enabled.
"We have some customers who aren’t quite sure how the 3D glasses work, or that the glasses automatically sync with their new 3D TVs," Best Buy explained. "So we wanted to convey that they can depend on Geek Squad to answer their questions during installation and set-up. There is no additional charge for this – and the Geek Squad 3D installation and networking services are included in the total price of this offer."
So what's the verdict? Are you satisfied with the response, or do see this as just another snake oil sales pitch? Hit the jump and sound off!
If you're looking for an excuse to upgrade to a newer netbook running Intel's next-gen N450 Atom processor, there are plenty of surefire ways to void your warranty and convince your significant other you're out of options. Submerge it in a tub of water, for example. Or set it on fire. Take a hammer to the chassis, or intentionally drop the unit off a 20-story building. Better yet, install Linux.
Wait a tick, what was that? Believe it or not, installing Linux, while not at all fatal, is enough to void your netbook's warranty under Best Buy's Geek Squad Black Tie Protection Plan, one user claims.
"My four month-old netbook's touchpad and power adapter all stopped working," the out-of-luck user wrote on the Consumerist blog. "I took the machine into Best Buy for service under the Geek Squad's Black Tie Protection Plan on Saturday, and demonstrated its problems. The manager of the Geek Squad informed that installing Ubuntu Linux on my machine voided my warranty, and that I could only have it serviced if the original Windows installation was restored. Furthermore, he insisted that the touchpad and power adapter had been broken because I installed Linux."
Now here's the thing. Driver conflicts and other quirky behavior really can creep up when switching from Windows to Linux (or vice versa), so Best Buy has a valid point. Fair enough, just restore Windows and all is well again, right? Wrong.
After doing just that, the user alleges the store's Geek Squad manager informed him that Linux had "permanently voided" his warranty.
In the age of the Internet, we have a hunch Best Buy will have a change of heart and end up fixing or replacing the netbook in question.
I'm willing to bet than not to many of the Maximum PC readership make regular use of the Geek Squad, but at the very least, they help take some of the burden off us from "friends who are our friends simply because we know how to fix computers". With little in the way of competition, the Geek Squad has been making a killing setting up routers and HDTV's, but Wal-Mart is stepping in, and they are looking for a piece of the action.
Very little is known about the Wal-Mart branded tech team, but we do know that it is being offered in partnership with N.E.W. Customer Service Companies, and should be starting up sometime before the holiday. The service plans will be sold on prepaid cards ranging from $99 to $399, and each installation will include a consultation and tutorial.
Wal-Mart's non technical audience might make this initiative a hit, but then again, Wal-Mart customers can also be known for being a bit on the thrifty side. Do they have what it takes to compete with Best Buy?
Commercialized PC repair services like Best Buy's Geek Squad and, when it was still around, Circuit City's Firedog are often mocked for being over priced and under qualified, the latter of which might be an unfair generalization. Or maybe not, now that we've seen Geek Squad's CompTIA A+ preparation exam.
The exam questions were sent in to Gizmodo from an "anonymous tipster," and while some of the multiple choice answers are a bit amusing, you'd be hard pressed to find a question/answer combo that you couldn't answer correctly without too much thought. For example:
Q: What is the most effective way to increase the performance of your PC?
As if Geek Squad, the PC repair portion of mega electronics chain Best Buy, needed any more damage to its geek cred, it went and got punked by a local Oregon Fox News team. But what's most surprising is how easily the undercover news team did it.
Taking a problem-free PC, the investigators pulled the IDE cable out of the hard drive and told local PC repair shops in the Portland-Metro area that the system wouldn't boot. This included a pair of Geek Squad locations, the first of which identified the problem and fixed it free of charge. Kudos then, right?
Wrong. The second Geek Squad location charged $70 off the bat for a diagnosis, which isn't particularly egregious. But after two days of waiting, a tech called back to inform the undercover team that their hard drive was broken. If that weren't bad enough, the tech claimed it would cost up to $580 to fix the problem! That's not all. Geek Squad said it found a virus and suggested that the 'owner' buy a new PC instead of having the 'broken' one repaired.
"We take any misdiagnosis very seriously, and I personally feel horrible that we missed this opportunity to be consistently accurate," Steve Carter, Geek Squad District Manager, wrote in a statement. "I'm working closes with my Geek Squad agents going forward to ensure that the highest level service is maintained consistently for our customers in Portland."