Best Buy’s Geek Squad: Conquest of Branding Over Competence

Face it, the brilliance of American business is not perfecting quality of products and services, it is in marketing, advertising, and branding. That is what the Geek Squad is all about. They have niffty language, make their agents wear uniforms and drive the cutest little cars covered with advertising. They say that: “Our mission is to alleviate the world’s computer problems, educate people to fearlessly embrace technology and practice the art of human interaction.” Sounds so noble. Their real mission is to make money, which is just fine if their services were top quality. But my own experience and that of many others who have shared their pain on many Internet sites is that the youthful Geek Squad agents have nice personalities but lack technical competence. The result is that when customers expose their prized computers to their agents, because they need technical help, they put themselves at risk.

Computers have become so crucial in our lives and when things go wrong it is like becoming seriously ill. So naturally your instinct is to seek professional help. But the Geek Squad does seem to adhere to the wisdom of health professionals: first do no harm.

One of the Geek Squad’s standard services is called data transfer. Simply put, copy data from an old computer to a new one. For that they charge plenty. So what might be the worst case scenario or nightmare of having the Geek Squad come to your home to perform this job. Think a minute. What happened to me is that they destroyed the hard drive of my old computer and I lost the hard drive in it and, worse yet, lost over five years of all kinds of data and files.

And an interesting aspect of the Geek Squad business model is that if something bad happens and you have to bring something into a Best Buy store they do not allow their agents to physically take anything back to their store. In my case, I had to take back my old computer box, wait several days and then learn that they had destroyed my hard drive and data.

Were they so sorry that they accepted blame and responsibility? Did these military-style geeks offer compensation? No and no. They acted as if somehow it was a strange coincidence that the hard drive died exactly when their agent had removed it from my old computer, tried but failed to connect it to the new computer (that I bought at Best Buy) and then discovered when he put it back into the old computer that it no longer worked. And let me emphasize that when the agent let me know that he intended to remove the hard drive from my old computer that I was very concerned about the risk of doing that – but he insisted that there was no risk. So much for Geek Squad military-style competence.

Oh, I forgot to mention that initially the agent never showed up at the appointed time; I had to go through the hell of dealing with the military-style 800 number headquarters system to reschedule. Guess what – next time at the appointed time when I expected a knock on the door I got a phone call saying the agent would be two hours late. What happened to all that military precision?

So fellow consumers BEWARE of the slick advertising and military lingo you get from the Geek Squad. They are more like fumbling, incompetent screwups.

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Want more? Check out Service Review: The Geek Squad.

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