Sunday, June 10, 2007

Besting BestBuy, Outgeeking the Geek Squad

I have a personality flaw. Well, I'm sure many would argue more than one, but one in particular that is pertinent to this post. The flaw is that I, when dealing with people like sales clerks or customer service personal at technology companies or stores, am a snob. That is to say that I walk into an interaction with them, I come in with a prejudice that I know more than they do, and that if they were moderately competent, they'd have a better job. I know it's wrong, but I often feel this way.

It doesn't help that I am occasionally right. This is one of those instances.

A while ago, my wife's laptop started acting up. Slowing down, the fan spinning up into some high-power, high-heat state, becoming unresponsive, blue-screening. My first thought was a virus, my second was poor ventilation.

Virus scan showed nothing. Taking the laptop apart revealed a mountain of cat hair clogging up the heatsink/vents. That was easy enough to fix, but didn't help fix the problem. I figure a clean windows install is in order. However, the thing had degraded to the point of not even booting, so I can't get to where I can back up files (and we are looonng overdue for backup).

Needing to get some kind of bootable external drive going, I put the project on hold. Wife grows impatient, takes laptop to the geeksquad at Best buy.

They have it a week, I have to speak to them numerous times on the phone ("yes, I tried that. No, we don't want you to do that."). At the end of the week, they say they can't recover the data and can't help us. Thanks.

I go pick up the laptop, and the guy gives me back the wrong power supply for it. I tell him so, and he says he's sure it's the one my wife brought in.

It was. I realize she brought the wrong one in (for my laptop, also a toshiba). This means the geeksquad guys spent a max of 60 minutes on the machine, running it on battery until the battery died, and then gave up when they couldn't figure out why it wouldn't power up.


Long story short, I bought a hard drive, swapped it into the laptop, did a fresh Vista install, and bought an external USB drive enclosure for the old hard drive, plugged it in, backed up the needed files. All in all it cost me $140 and a few hours of my time, vs Bestbuy who would have charged me about $300 for the same work, but instead charged me a 1/2 hr labor.

I do think services like Geeksquad are a good idea. Dollar time, nickel job, and all that. Just don't expect them to do anything that even remotely veers from the well-beaten path.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All Geek Squad Precincts in Best Buy stores have a multitude of laptop power supplies handy so they can work on laptops when customers forget to bring their own power supply or bring the wrong one. Assuming that the Agent spent only the time the battery lasted is a clear indication of your self-admitted personality fault.