In September 2009, I purchased a Dell Inspiron computer at Best Buy. At the urging of the sales associate, I also purchased two years of Black Tie Geek Squad Service. During the first twenty three months months covered by the contract, I had no occasion to call Geek Squad. The computer worked reasonably well.
On August 23rd, 2011, a few short days before the contract was to expire, my computer crashed. I dutifully called Geek Squad, and found that the earliest they could schedule a service call was on August 31st. The customer service representative that I spoke with advised me that I’d be much better off taking the computer into the Geek Squad at my local Best Buy, which I did on August 24th. Had she been truthful, she would have advised me that I needed to go to Geek Squad so the technicians could upsell the line, misrepresent the products and do everything in their power to take me for as much as they possibly could.
So, on August 24th, I had my first Geek Squad encounter. The computer was plugged in, the Black Screen of Death dutifully appeared, with the error message that one of the components Microsoft Works had stopped malfunctioned. This is where the fun began. The technician (whom I would gauge to be 16 years old and to have taken twice his prescribed dosage of Ritalin that day) was only too happy to inform me that my Black Tie Service only covered the hardware. If I wanted the computer to actually work again, I would need to purchase a $299 program that covered the software. Oh, he sweetened the deal immensely by telling me that it would cover 3 computers for the three years of the contract. Guess what? I’m between a rock and a hard place, I want this computer running again and I have no choice but to buy the plan. So, let’s start a running total of what my Geek Squad experience has cost me with that $299.
Since I am desperate, I also purchase another computer tower from Best Buy for $339.00. Let’s add that to the running tally, but I’ll deal with that separately with Best Buy.
So, on the morning after the NEW computer has been purchased I call your 1-800 number to make sure that the NEW computer is one of the three that would be covered by the nifty service contract I’ve just bought the day before. I get the recording that tells me the approximate wait time (15 minutes) and urges me to go online to seek the answer to my question. After an unconscionable wait (I’d estimate 35 minutes) Customer Service Technician Betty answer the call. After getting the necessary information, she pulls up my account. When I ask how I make sure that the NEW computer I’ve just purchased is covered under this plan, she does a lot of “hmmmmmmm……….. Hmmmmmmmmmm, ………hmmmmmmmmm”. I assume she was trying to decipher what was on the computer screen in front of her and not finishing her Sudoku puzzle, but I can’t be sure. She then informs me that I’m wrong, and that the plan I purchased the day before is ONLY for ONE computer and as far as SHE can tell, it’s for the computer that’s being held hostage for repair. You can imagine my dissatisfaction with this answer, and I ask to speak with her supervisor. She cops a BIG ATTITUDE and says “What did I do wrong? ” I was only too happy to respond that what she had done wrong was not connecting me with her supervisor, as I had requested. She then placed me on hold, where I stayed for an additional 20 minutes.
Betty then transferred me to a young man who identified himself as Adrian. I recounted the story of my encounter with Betty to Adrian, and how dissatisfied I was with the fact that she obviously did not know the product line, and was making no attempt to find out if what I had been told was in fact true, Adrian informs me that he is not in fact Betty’s supervisor, but is a Technical Support person. I am, to say the least, not a happy camper. I repeat my request to speak to a Supervisor and Adrian places me on hold. I remain on hold long enough to:
• Leave my home and drive to my office, a distance of some 21 miles
• Walk across campus and open my office
• Get my coffee cup and proceed to the Student Union and purchase coffee
• Proceed to the Office of the Dean and hand in my class rosters
I would estimate this to be about 45 minutes. I believe this is what is called “sweating the consumer.” Studies have shown that after 10 or 15 minutes most consumers give up in disgust and hang up. When they call back, of course, they have to go through the wait again, and invariably speak with someone different. Nevertheless, after approximately 45 minutes, Adrian picks up my call, says “Sir? ”…. And disconnects me. The determination your team demonstrates in trying to keep customers is the only activity in which they have any competence, as far as I can tell.
I called back to the 1-800 number and spoke with someone who identified herself as Agent Jackson. Agent Jackson listened to my story and my demand to speak with a supervisor. She put me on hold, albeit briefly, and said she was trying to locate a supervisor. I informed her that I would wait as long as necessary and that she was not to put me on hold until she could transfer my call to a supervisor.
It was at this juncture that I was placed with Escalation Team member Teasha Hall. May I just say that Ms. Hall is the first and only person that I spoke with that demonstrated any determination to help solve my problem or answer my questions. She encountered an ANGRY, DISSATISFIED customer and did whatever it took to defuse the situation and attempt to get me the answers I was seeking. She is a tremendous asset to the company, and you should do everything in your power to CLONE HER.
Flash forward to Friday, August 26th. I receive a call from the Technician (and I use that term loosely) at the Aventura FL location where I had taken the computer to be repaired who informs me that it is the receptacle inside the tower where the power cord is plugged in that has malfunctioned. The computer will need to be shipped to Kentucky for diagnostic and repair. Fair enough.
In conversation with Ms. Hall this morning, September 2nd, she was able to track the computer repair and tell me that it had just been returned to the Best Buy this morning and that all they needed was my restore disc and they would have the computer up and running in a reasonable amount of time. She also had to give me the unhappy news that the actual repair was only warranted for 30 days, and that even if I was foolhardy enough to renew the Black Tie Service Contract, it would not cover computer replacement should the computer fail again.
So, I make my way to the Geek Squad in Aventura, only to discover that I do not have the Windows 7 disc. My bad. I misplaced it. But, surely, I think, this $299 that I had spent the week before would cover them repairing the Operating System. Oh, foolish, foolish me. That $299 doesn’t really cover anything, as far as they are concerned, and if I don’t have the original disc, I’m pretty much out of luck. The rock and the hard place where I find myself has become a very familiar terrain. I was dealing with a Geek Squad Technician named Rachel, who after disappearing for an inordinate length of time, came back to tell me that there was really nothing they could do unless I had the original disc. I bite the bullet and tell Rachel I will BUY a new Window 7 Operating System if that is the only way I can get the computer running again. She disappears into the back of the Geek Squad area and comes back to tell me that sadly, they don’t even have it to sell to me. I ask to speak to the Department Manager, (David) who basically tells me the same thing.
I am, at this juncture, forced to reflect back on my Geek Squad experience and say how unsatisfactory it has been.
I have, at this point, a number of questions:
1. What did the $299 program I purchased last week cover? Apparently it only covers the technicians telling me that there’s nothing they can do (surprise, surprise) and that I’m going to have to purchase new software if I want the computer to work. I’ve asked Ms. Hall to send me a link to the place on your website and I trust that she will do so.
2. If indeed, the warranty on the repair that you have made is only for 30 days, how do I know that you haven’t replaced it with a power receptacle (or whatever you replaced) scavenged from another USED computer that was sitting in the Great Computer Graveyard that is Geek Squad’s repair center? My Black Tie Service will expire before the 30 days is up, and if your track record is any indication, I should be very VERY worried.
3. How do I go about cancelling this 3 year, 3 computer contract I was forced to enter into in order to get the repairs that your technician represented you would supply, and have not be able to supply? I feel I have the right to cancel this contract since your technicians were not able to provide anywhere near an acceptable level of service. And, I live in fear and trembling that every time I make use of your services, it costs me at least another $200. You are, in short, not good value for the money.
Hindsight is always 20-20. What I should have done is take the computer to No Fear Computers, the little Mom and Pop computer repair store that all my colleagues use, paid the $90 bench fee, and the $65 for the part. I could then have purchased Windows Vista online for less than Geek Squad has charged me, installed it myself, or had it installed by the technician at No Fear, and been done in much less time, with much less aggravation.