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An open letter to Best Buy

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johnhattan

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To whom it may concern,

Recently I had the bad fortune to have a serious hardware problem with one of our Dell office computers. Since I was unhappy with the computer repair shop I'd been using for quite a few years, I decided to give your "Geek Squad" repair center (Grapevine, Texas) a try. While I was happy with the check-in process and also the fact that they were able to diagnose and repair the computer in 24 hours, well short of their claimed 4-5 day turnaround, I was greatly bothered with what I perceived to be an attempt to scare me into buying something I didn't need.

The Geek Squad tech called me earlier today to tell me the problem had been found and fixed (a memory module had been knocked loose). After explaining that the computer was repaired, though, he told me that he was worried because my computer had "an extensive infection of malware" and would require another $80 to remove all of the malicious software.

I was very skeptical because I keep all of the office machines updated with the latest real-time spyware and virus removal software, so I refused the offer. Upon getting the machine home, I ran the existing virus and spyware scanner (AVG and Microsoft). Both scanners reported nothing of significance. Just to make sure, I then downloaded and ran another virus scanner (Trend Micro) and another spyware scanner (Spybot) and again found nothing more significant than a couple of browser-cookies from ad banners.

In short, I was correct in my thinking that there was nothing even remotely malicious on the machine. Spending $80 to scrub my machine of the "extensive infection" would have done nothing at all to make my machine safer.

I only bring this up because the Geek Squad check-in desk had a stack of virus and spyware scanner packages in easy reach, the person picking up his computer before me was sold spyware removal services and software, and the person behind me in line bringing their computer in for a second time brought their Best-Buy-purchased spyware and virus software with them.

It appears to be the norm for the Geek Squad to push expensive spyware and virus services on everyone who brings their computer in for repair, whether they need it or not. Please help me ensure that it is not the Geek Squad policy to scare customers into buying products and services they don't need.
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Wow, thats pretty underhanded if it is as you suspect.

We have a geeksquad around here but I normaly do all my own computer repair, so I don't have any comparison for you, sorry.

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I can't say that your story surprizes me, I would say most computer places are going to try things like that. The reason being that alot of people are going to fall for it and end up thinking that they did the right thing.

Who wants to have virus's on their computer?

I used to work for a computer store, and while I tried to figure out what the customer needed and tried to get them the best deal for their money, others tried to up sell. I remember one customer coming in and asking how hard it would be to install a harddrive. My answer would have been, "If you feel comfortable openning your computer then its really not that hard, make sure your grounded and the instructions will be in the retail box. Its really just a couple cables." and in general cases thats pretty much all you have to do to add a harddrive, but the answer the customer got was "OOH, well your going to have to switch the jumpers on your mother board, and then connect the IDE cables to the correct sockets, then you'll have to format and defrag the drive. One wrong move and you'll fry your machine"

To a non-computer person thats going to freak them out and they are going to pay the $30 for the 5 min harddrive installation.

I think its really sad.

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Anti-virus and anti-spyware software is the computer equivalent of french fries.

That is, if the fast food joints had a way to scare you into buying fries with your meal.

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A few months ago I was considering running my own private tech repair business, and one of the options I wanted to offer was spyware removal. Why? Because I could make an easy $50 just to load free software on a person's computer and run a scan.

Ignorant people will pay money for services like these, and there is a good possiblity for repeat business because they don't know better.

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My only experience with the geek squad was an in-warranty replacement of a dead harddrive in a laptop. They did not try to sell me on an "extensive malware infestation". I guess even they realized that would be too much to try to pull off on a machine with an unformatted drive that they just installed ;-)

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There are literally wads of stories like this on the Best Buy Sucks page -- amongst tons of complaints by barely-literate homophobic teenagers, you can usually find at least one chuckler from a grandmother who learned things about computers because she thought the Best Buy morons were giving her the run-around.

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