Archives For October 2006

Just in time for halloween, a trusted family member shares a frightening tale of issues getting a PC “fixed” that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. If you value your PC, you may think twice about who you have look at your computer. Read with the lights on:

As you know, I was having problems with my PC which mainly concerned the mouse “freezing” up. I took my pc to the Best Buy store in XXXXX XXXX, Ca. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2006. The tech at Geek Squad took all of my information and then began testing the mouse at the counter. The mouse remained unresponsive, even when using the GS mouse.

  • The tech told me they’d have to run diagnostics on the hardware; turnaround time would be about 24 hours.
  • Late the following day, I had not heard back, so I called the GS. I spent over an hour trying to get someone to pick up the phone. At times, the phone simply continued to ring; twice, however, someone picked up the phone and immediately hung up.
  • Early the next day, Oct. 18, I again called the GS with largely the same results. That is, the phone rang continuously, but no one picked up. Later, that same day, I tried again. This time, someone picked up, but he seemed largely unaware of my PC problem. He said that he had to check with someone else and put me on hold. After 20 minutes on hold, I was disconnected. Upon calling again, I spoke to another tech who said that they had inserted a disc to “bypass” the Windows OS and that the mouse then was responsive. This led them to the conclusion that the problem was a software issue, but that they needed to run more tests that night. He assured me that someone would call the next morning.
  • By the afternoon of the next day, Oct. 19, no one had called, so I called the GS. Again, I spent nearly an hour with no one picking up the line. I then called the 800 # for the GS to complain. After explaining my problem to the operator, she transferred my call. I waited 25 min., but no one picked up.
  • The next morning, Oct. 19, I went in person to Best Buy to find out what was going on. I should add that I did this after again calling and waiting without success for 30 min. for someone to pick up.
  • At BBY, the GS tech (someone named Xxxx) explained that he was the only one there and couldn’t answer the phone because of so many customers in person at the store. He also mentioned that their phone system was inadequate, but that they were “working on it”. This tech then explained that they had never seen this kind of PC problem before and needed to run more tests. He also told me that the original tech should never have told me that turnaround would be about 24 hrs. He explained that they were working with many pc’s and that turnaround should have been about 5 days.
  • I asked this tech to be honest…could they fix the pc or should I just take it somewhere else? He responded, “That’s your decision. You can take it now if you want to”. I told him to keep working on it, but to please call me the next day. He agreed.
  • I then spoke with the store manager (named Xxxxx) to complain about the poor service. While solicitous, I felt that he was just patronizing me. I should add that, in all of my conversations with GS personnel, I never raised my voice or became abusive.
  • At about 7 pm the next day, Oct. 20, I received a call from a woman at the GS who said that the mouse was working properly and that they couldn’t understand why I was having problems with it in the first place. I was stunned; it was clear that she had little or no real idea of what had gone on to this point. When I pressed her for a more detailed explanation of what they had done and found, she replied, “I’m just a secretary, let me have you speak to a tech”. So, I was placed on hold, waited for 30 min. and finally hung up.
  • With no word over the weekend, I again went to the store on Oct 23 and asked for a progress report. At first, the tech told me they couldn’t find my pc and asked if someone else had picked it up. He finally found the pc, and said that they were still testing it. I told him what the “secretary” had said to me on Oct. 20, but he said he had no record of any such call or conversation. I told him that I just wanted my pc returned.
  • Along with my receipt, the tech included a log of the diagnostics that had been done. The log was, putting it mildly, cryptic. There was very little detail and no hard evidence of what, if anything, had been done in the preceding week.

In summary, my experience with the Geek Squad has been the most frustrating and unrewarding experience that I’ve ever had with any retail business. I have no way of knowing whether they’re technically competent. However, from a customer service service standpoint, the GS is easily the worst business I’ve come across. I would never use them again, and I intend to discourage others from using them.

I’m sure we have all had experiences like this so perhaps it should come as no surprise. In fact, just yesterday on a trip to LA an associate told me of another chain that offered to “Fix” his broken Sony Laptop instead of sending it directly back to Sony- for just under $100 he would get a written estimate. His Sony motherboard was fried (or so he suspected) and with a few more questions, got the tech rep to admit they were just going to send the machine to Sony (which my associate could have done himself) and charge him nearly $100 for the courtesy!

And we wonder why those of us who are technically competent continue to support family and friends?

Postscript: The family member called “a local guy” recommended by his real estate agent who had the issue fixed shortly with another brand of mouse. Go figure.

If you haven’t seen U2 and Green Day’s music video, “The Saints are Coming“, please take a moment and check it out here on MTV. Done as a part of the Music Rising project to bring the music back to New Orleans, the song debuted on ESPN, a cover of the Scottish punk band, The Skids.

Watching this video is like watching an alternate universe, or a DVD where the alternate ending was so much better you felt somehow shorted by the director. Only in this case, the original ending was reality. Watch and you’ll understand. I wish more musicians used their influence to this kind of good measure.

ADM, now ad-free!

October 28, 2006

I’ve thought long and hard about the test I was running with ads on this site. I’ve decided to remove the ads as I’ve learned everything I can about the ad-serving solution I was testing. I hope you enjoy.

Also, the banner image now links back to the homepage- an oversight on my part.