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Best Buy / geek squad service - $1600 for fam pics

Richmond Heights, MO, United States Review updated:

I was in Chicago March 16-19 for a business conference and on March 17th my wife called me to tell me that she was working on our computer when it began to run slowly. She attempted to save her work in fear of losing it and when she did, the screen said that the "C" drive was not found. After a couple attempts at restarting the computer she received the dreaded blue screen with an error message. She called me and explained and I told her that there was nothing I could do until I returned home. When I returned home that Friday, I was disturbed that when I booted the computer that a message reading "Hard drive failure is imminent". The computer would not boot into Windows so I decided that since the I had purchased the 3 year black tie protection that I would bring it in for repair. I always purchase the warranty/black tie protection for anything electronics that I purchase at Best Buy because every salesman there says "if you purchase our protection plan, you don't have to worry about anything for the duration of the plan". This could not be further from the truth. I have done nothing but worry for the last 6 weeks.

On Saturday March 20, I took the CPU in to store 833 so that they could make good on my warranty. After their initial look at my computer they determined that they would need to keep it and work on it. I signed the service agreement and was on my way. I received a call the next day stating that the hard drive would need to be replaced and that the hard drive would need to be sent to the data recovery center so that the data could be extracted. Kaman was the agent in the store at the time and he informed me that I would not want to do this because it was "super expensive". I informed him that my family photos, videos, and other pertinent documents were on the hard drive and that I had purchased the protection plan in case a situation such as this were to arise. He informed me that data recovery was not covered on the protection plan. I asked him to speak to a manager and he told me that a manager would not approve the data recovery for free. I again asked to speak to the manager and he rolled his eyes at me and called Kristin, a store supervisor. She again informed me that the data recovery was not covered in the protection plan and that if they were to recover the data that I would be responsible for paying. With reluctance I agreed and she retired to speak with Kaman, the Geek Squad employee. She returned to tell me that if I brought in the recovery discs that I received when I purchased the computer that my data could be recovered. I immediately went home and retrieved the discs. I brought them back up to the store and gave them to the Geek Squad and told them what Kristin had said. They informed me that was incorrect and that the only way that the data could be recovered was if it was sent to the data recovery center for a minimum of $250-$300. You can imagine my surprise so I again asked to speak to Kristin. She came back and told me that she either misunderstood what Kaman had told her or he was incorrect. She then told me that I would have to pay a $60 deposit to get the hard drive sent to the recovery center. She saw my reaction to that and she offered to waive the $60. They sent the hard drive to the recovery center on that Monday and began the process of getting back the data.

The next Monday I received a call that my computer would have to be sent off for service because they could not get the new hard drive to work with my computer. I had a less than favorable reaction having been without my computer for over a week but there was nothing I could do. My computer was sent and I received an e-mail with the case number so that I could check up on the status. Later that week I received a phone message stating that the recovery discs that I had provided were not working and that I needed to buy new ones from HP. The agent that called said that if I needed help ordering them that I could call and that Geek Squad would give me instructions. At this point I was furious. I called the store and spoke to the Cornell who said he was a manager. He immediately went to the Geek Squad desk and was speaking with them about the recovery disks. He then informed me that he would "get on top of the situation" and at that point I did not need to purchase the recovery disks. We are now over two weeks into this fiasco.

In the meantime I received a call from the Geek Squad data recovery center in Kentucky stating that a level 2 recovery was necessary to retrieve the data on my hard drive. I was given a price of $715 plus tax if they provided the external drive and $580 if I provided the drive. I was extremely upset and proceeded to call the Best Buy store to discuss my options regarding this recovery. I again spoke to Cornell, the store manager at the time. He told me that there was nothing that he could do to offset the cost of the recovery. I then proceeded to pay a visit to the store. I was told that since the data recovery was not covered that I would be responsible for the full amount. I agreed and told them to advise the recovery center to go ahead with the recovery of my data. They said that it would take a few days and that they would have the drive back to me in 1 week or less. This gave me great comfort as my wife was visibly upset at the thought of losing all of the pictures, videos, and documents from the last year of our life. With my approval they proceeded.

I had given up my daily calls as they were not returning results so I decided to let a week go by before I would call again. To my surprise on April, 5 I received an automated call that my computer was ready to be picked up. After picking up my daughter from school I proceeded to the store to retrieve my computer. When I arrived they informed me that it was not ready and that there was a glitch in the system and I should not have received a call. The call was actually due to the fact that the computer was finished at the service center and was ready to be shipped back to the store. However, they could not tell me when it would be shipped. I called every day and was informed that it finally shipped on that Thursday. When I called to speak to an agent about when it would be back in the store she told me that the computer would not arrive until the following Friday. I sarcastically asked her if they were walking it back to the store and then asked if she had a tracking number that she could check to see when it would arrive. She informed me that it would be in the following Tuesday, April 13th. On that day, I received a phone message from a Geek Squad agent and from the automated system that my computer was ready for pick up. I again proceeded there after my daughter's swim lesson just down the road. Again I was informed that I was called by mistake. I asked to speak to the manager and Shana approached me. She informed me that it was a mistake but could not explain why I had a message from a person and the machine. She then informed me that new recovery disks were necessary because the new hard drive was not working with my computer. She told me that she would provide her corporate card to purchase the disks and have them overnighted to the store. She also offered to offset the cost of the data recovery by half for all of the trouble that this particular store had caused me. She was extremely helpful and I left there confident that I would get my data back at a reasonable cost and that my computer would also be returned soon. The next day I received a call that HP could not overnight and that they were sent regular ground delivery. Finally, that Saturday April 17, I received a call that the disks had arrived and did not work. The message stated that I could come in and pick out a computer that would be similar in specifications as a direct replacement for mine. I was fine with this and that Sunday went in to the store and received my replacement computer. It works great! Unfortunately however, another stipulation of the protection plan is that if the computer needs to be replaced that the plan is fulfilled and I no longer have protection for my PC. This was upsetting because I had just under 2 years remaining on my protection plan. The Geek Squad employee informed me that I had 30 days to purchase a new protection plan for my computer. I left without protection on my computer in the hopes that when my hard drive arrived that I could work something out with the store manager to get my protection plan back as it was not my fault that the Geek Squad could not make my computer work.

On Thursday April 22 I received a phone message from the data recovery center stating that all attempts at a level 2 recovery had failed and that a level 3 recovery was necessary. The message stated to call in and to keep calling until I could talk to a person. It specifically said not to leave a message. Not having extended amounts of time to continuously call, I finally got through yesterday, April 26. I spoke to an agent that advised me that they were unable to copy my drive because the data was corrupted. She said that a level 3 clean room recovery was necessary to recover the data and that it would be approximately $1600 to recover the data. I was extremely upset and advised her that I had never received such poor service from any organization and that I could not believe that this was happening. She gave me a half-hearted apology and informed me that I had 72 hours to make a decision. This is where things stand right now. At this point I am going to request that they send me back my hard drive so that I can attempt to have it done locally. I am fed up with the Geek Squad and Best Buy.

I want to conclude by saying that I purchase all of my electronic devices and components at Best Buy since 1992. I have always had great success with Best Buy and their products but in all of that time this is the first time that I have had trouble with any item. It is disturbing to me that after all of the years doing business with your company that the first time I have an issue that this is the result. In addition, I have over the years recommended Best Buy to numerous friends and family members based on my successful dealings. As recently as last fall I recommended to my neighbor that she purchase her small business server and computers for her company at Best Buy. I then set it all up for her and it has been running smoothly so far but I cringe to think that if something goes wrong, she will be in the same boat as I am. Please note that I do not take any of this personally, but I do feel that the whole sequence of events has opened my eyes to the way that Best Buy and many other "big box" stores do business. I have realized, at least at store #833, that there is no communication and that the chain of command is greatly skewed. I was shown empathy by two out of the many employees I dealt with and this is unacceptable. I can't fully describe how I have felt over these last 6 weeks. In all of my dealings with any retail store this is by far the worst. I do not think that I am being unreasonable, I just expect to get what I pay for. In this case, I have not.

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Comments

  • Sp
      27th of Apr, 2010

    That sucks. If your hard drive has a hardware failure, then $1600 really isn't out of range for the costs I would expect to see. But considering that HD failures are so common (possibly the most common PC problem), it's a little shifty that it is excluded or avoided entirely by the service plan you purchased. I imagine that when they were telling you how great the service plan was, they neglected to tell you that it left out one of the more common PC problems you can encounter?

    I would completely agree that the service and level of technical expertise at best buy is terrible. I've personally only had bad and then indifferent experiences at Best Buy; bad when I have to speak to an employee and they inevitably mislead me or say something stupid, and indifferent when I can get in and out of the store without talking to any employees at all.

    Thanks for sharing your story. Hopefully you end up with a resolution from BB that you can be happy with. And hopefully other people reading this can learn from your experience to A) not trust BB/Geek Squad and B) always backup any data that you can't afford to lose.

    +2 Votes
  • Bu
      27th of Apr, 2010

    Amazing. Spoonbat is right on point, this should have been included in a good plan. Also, my experiences with Best Buy have been similar. Poor when I need to speak with someone and indifferent when I get in and out.

    0 Votes
  • De
      28th of Apr, 2010

    Two things are for sure in life. Hard drives will fail and most people ignore this fact and fail to backup. If you want to deal with some local company in Chicagoland that actually cares about their customer's dat, provides personal service and tells them these facts, check out www.debug911.com

    0 Votes
  • Do
      28th of Apr, 2010

    You just want everything to be included on a exteneded warranty, do you know BB sells computers for little to nothing and alot of times sells them for less that what they paid just to move a quantity of them in hope that at the end of the year the company they bought them from may or may not give them a little kickback for volume sales, data back up is your own job not thiers and by now you've heard or read enought to know hundreds of people that are devistated by lost files, you can back them up on a thumb drive for 25 bucks or less BB/GS did nothing wrong except I do have a problem with the automated call people get when the product in for repair returns you get a computer voice saying it's ready when most times it hasnt even been inspected yet, and thier cost for virus removal is about $50 too high, they sell VI SPY to cover the cost of viruses at $30 bucks, for a year but once you get a virus that is forfilled and you have to buy another 30 plan, 3 of those in a year is better than $200 once, scareware and viruses are on the rise big time with hackers getting .50 to $1.00 for every computer they infect ist is a multi biliion dollar busines to these bad people who 43 % generated from China, they have classes and buildings full of these people making a living doing this and China does not care. Care enough to protect yourself with back up drives for your files and stop using AVG and AVAST type free programs to make you feel like you got something good for free, those programs are more reactive then they are proactive, and ps BB and GS are told by the vendors in agreements exactly what they will and will not cover, it's not like BB makes up everything you've experienced, my opinon, but I'm right.

    0 Votes
  • Bu
      30th of Apr, 2010

    dougiefreshgraphics, you do realize you can buy pc far cheaper than places like Best Buy, they do not sell computers "Dirt Cheap". A quick search or two yields the same results, Best Buy being the same price or more expensive than the competition. Sure, they may have a sale on an older, discontinued or cheaper item but that does not mean they are selling pc's below their price they paid per unit, it is obvious dougiefreshgraphics has never worked behind the scenes in retail handling item markup percentages. Lastly, the plan you buy from "Geek Sqaud" is not a contracted agreement from the vendor but an offer of extended services to the end-user that are not covered by the initial manufacturer's warranty.

    As for your remarks about china: "However, a more in-depth look revealed that the users sending the malware are based in China. The report studied the ISP address of the user and found that over 28 percent of malware was distributed by Chinese based users. The United States came in third, being responsible for 13.8 percent of malware distribution."

    28%, not 43% and the US is number 3 at 13.8%. So stop bashing a whole country for a few bad apples.

    0 Votes
  • Jp
      30th of Apr, 2010

    Good grief, another person who doesn't do a backup and then complains it's too expensive to recover the data. HDD failures are so common and data recovery so expensive that BB or the warranty vendor would go out of business in a week. Please everyone who see's this, back up your frakkin data. If you don't know how, learn or pay someone to teach you. You can see now the importance of it.

    +1 Votes
  • Th
      14th of May, 2010

    I totally agree with Dougiefreshgraphics and Jpjy. edempsey...I feel bad for your experience and for some (SOME) of your experience, yet, this still falls into your lap.

    I have been fixing and repairing PCs since the days of Windows DOS and 3.1. Yeah, I am in my 60s folks with over 25 years of electrical and computer repair experience.

    Best Buy and Geek Squad are almost as useless as a comb for a bald man...I think the computer work they do varies depending on location and the quality of the current staff there...but it is not their fault you lost your data. They made mistakes and provided some crappy service...fair enough. Let's face facts and admit what this is really all about - you are pissed your foolishness and complacency are going to cost you big $$$. End of story.

    You are responsible for reading the coverage of the warranty and understanding CLEARLY what you purchase before you purchase it. I cannot recover data cheaply from a dead hard drive either. I have worked some miracles but normally I have to send it out to a data recovery specialist company and they charge a fortune. I only charge my customers for shipping costs as a courtesy. Odds are I will also have to install a new hard drive and recover their entire system anyway.

    I have clients that listen to me, heed my advice, buy the products I recommend and they create backup routines on spare hard drives and even off site over the internet in case their houses burn down. There are always the foolish and cheap types that think I am 'ripping them off' for more fees by pushes these things but, oh how they cry, wail and moan and gnash their teeth to biblical proportions when they need me to save their granddaughters graduation pictures. They never, ever admit how right I was when I tried to warn them. I take the time to explain how fast a HD spins, how much data is being read and written, how it is very likely the HD could die on them, even how solar radiation can even cause data loss, etc, etc, etc. All I hear is me getting the blame later for not being 'clear' enough or 'forceful' enough. Yeah...can you imagine someone letting me 'force' them? Ridiculous!

    Best Buy and others are doing you a huge favor by giving some folks a location to go to, to resolve your problem. It is a LUXURY...not a right. If you are too foolish or lazy to research your options...oh well. You are going to pay a premium for their help...and rightfully so. They have overhead and they are not charities. They have to profit. I have to profit. Client ignorance is not our problem.

    0 Votes
  • Sh
      22nd of Sep, 2010

    Ok, so I'm coming into this late, sorry. But I felt compelled to comment. I genuinely feel bad for this person. Obviously, many will blame him for not having his data backed up, and there is some validity to that. But the truth is that most normal (or let's say, average) people just don't think about that sort of thing until it's too late.

    There is very little guidance in general for non-savvy people purchasing and using a computer, and dealing with the complex responsibilities that come along with computer ownership. By and large people become educated by having disaster strike. They learn the hard way, and it really hurts. However a person gets to that point, imagine how you might feel losing years worth of family photos, or some other precious and irreplaceable data you trust your computer with. Show some compassion, and rest assured that he has learned a hard lesson. There's no need to add insult to injury. Is there any one of us that has never done a single brain-dead thing in their life?

    I have to say, though, that as the hard drive escalated through the data recovery process, increasing in cost each time, you must keep some perspective. Unless there is reason to believe otherwise, at each step it was determined that the hard drive failure was to the extent that it would require more intense (and more expensive) efforts to retrieve the data. Being an I.T. worker, I'm well aware that data recovery can get very expensive, depending on the measures necessary. It seemed prudent to me that he was notified each time the issue was being escalated, and that the price would increase.

    It sounds to me that the situation would have been greatly improved had some Best Buy or Geek Squad employee taken ownership of the issue, working as an advocate for the customer, and seen it through to resolution.

    Service industry workers need to wake up and realize that consumers pay you to hold their hand. So hold it already, and at least act like you appreciate having the opportunity to help them (and get paid). If you don't, you're only helping to further perpetuate the negative reputation that many service centers maintain, including the Geek Squad. Besides, if you don't like being someone's hero, even when they are not necessarily acting in their own best interest, you probably should be working at the DMV, and not in the customer service/support industry.

    +1 Votes
  • Hu
      10th of Nov, 2010

    When buying a protection plan from anywhere not just Best Buy there will always be exclusions. If you don't take the time to read them then you can't expect that whatever is wrong with your device will be covered. That is why there is window of time for you to change your mind. It sounds like they started the process of getting your hard drive replaced right away. Its likely that there was something more wrong with your computer if it wasn't accepting a new hard drive, which is no ones fault. In the end you received a new computer which is likely much better then the original. You may have paid 200-300 bucks for the protection plan but that is much cheaper then it would have been to pay for the new computer yourself. Buying the protection plan was a smart move and you were able to save yourself a few hundred bucks because of it. Losing your memories is a big deal and I know I would be heartbroken if that happened to me. Unfortunately hard drives issues are common and I would recommend backing up all your important files. As far as the smaller (non big box) stores, they may have more flexible policies but they are not as dependable. For example what if you move, or what if they go out of business. At that point you have nothing. Best buy is not going anywhere, at least not for a long time. When circuit city went down Best buy actually honored circuit city protection plans. I hope you were able to get your files recovered for a decent price and I hope you are happy with the new computer you received.

    0 Votes

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