Saturday, September 18, 2010

Geeks, don't fail me now!

Oh, wait...they already did....

PARENTHETICAL YA-GOTTA-KNOW-THE-BACKSTORY COMMENT: My computer made the journey from California to, well, here during the last week of July. I set it up, and crawled out onto the interwebz. That's what I do with a computer. Very quickly, it picked up a "trojan" virus, which rendered it useless. Not having the computer-help resources I had in the other world, I decided to play it safe and rely on a well-known name's professionals to restore my poor Compaq's health.

So, I took my box to the Geek Squad at a Best buy store in the next town up the road. They charged me $190 for virus removal, $35 for "cleaning," and $100 to back up my data on CDs. With tax and who-knows-what-else thrown in, the total came to $357.

I picked it up the next day, set it up again, and bingo! back came the same virus. I called the store and was advised that the warranty didn't cover virus removal. I was, they said, welcome to come back and spend another $190. They'd be happy to give it another shot.

Somehow, the notion of paying someone again to fix something they didn't get right the first time didn't grab me. I called a local service firm, which sent a tech out. He removed the virus, installed a superior antivirus (the Geeks said nothing about doing anything like that), installed a couple of useful goodies and restored a few settings the Geeks had messed up. Total charge: $160. No further problems. None.

And so the saga began. No sooner had I again achieved connectivity with Out There than I made sure to drop Geek Squad's "customer service" people a mild email. When I received a response, many days later, it was not what I'd call effective or to the point.

In fact, It's worth quoting from (exactly as received):

Thank you for contacting the Geek Squad. My name is Agent Elorme.

Thank you for taking the time to send me your letter. I rely on direct feedback from our customers like you to let us know how The Geek Squad is doing. If you or anyone you know ever has any experience that is less than perfect, I want to know about it. We care very much about quality and I hope you'll give us another chance.

I apologize for the delay on our response and thank you for your patient. I am sorry to hear you are still having problems with your computer after the in store repair. I would like to offered our Under Cover service as a one time curtsey were an technician remotely logs in your computer and run diagnostic. You will need to have internet access in order to perform the service. I will waive all fee for the service. If you accept my offered please send me a date, time, and phone number where you can be reached. Once again, I do appreciate you as a customer and thank you for taking the time out of your day to let us know what went wrong.

I look forward to speaking to you. Thank you for choosing Geek Squad.

Once I satisfied myself that I understood most of what "Agent Elorme" was trying to say, I fired off a reply, noting that the poor response from my phone call had made me decide to go elsewhere for good service.

That prompted yet another email, this time from someone for whom English is a first or, at worst, second language. Yesterday -- we're now at the 17th of September, you understand -- I received yet another email, suggesting I contact Geek Squad's toll free "consumer service" number about the possibility of a partial refund.

So I did. That was two-plus hours of my life I'll never get back.

It started off well enough. The first person took my information and we discussed various questions she had. She then sent me to another rep, who did the same, and called the Best Buy store in question to see what was what. Then I was cut off.

Naturally, I was on "hold" for roughly half the time involved.

I called back, and went through the same process with two more people. These were a bit more clueless, making me fear that "Agent Elorme" wasn't far away. One couldn't find anything in the records, claiming my name was misspelled. Then I got it out of him that he had mis-typed my phone number after I repeated it three times.

By this time I was no longer mildly irritated, no longer interested in perhaps getting a partial refund. No. Now I wanted at least the $190 back. That's what happens when you irritate a customer by being clueless and condescending, you know. They go from reasonable to angry.

When the final "agent" offered me a $50 gift certificate at the store, I informed her that would do no good. Who needs a gift certificate for a store you never intend to buy from again? She shifted me to her supervisor.

Right off the ol' bat, I knew from the tone of this dude's voice that I was essentially threatening to rob his company, and he wasn't having any. It was my fault, because I didn't take the computer back and give them another chance (at another $190) to make it right. That somehow voided the warranty I had been told at the time didn't apply anyway.

Amazingly, I didn't dip into the vast storehouse of profanity, vulgarity and expressions of rage I have stashed away over the years. I merely told "supervisor" that it was a pretty pathetic way to run a company. The rest I didn't say; I just thought it real hard.

If I had to guess, I'd say my dealings with Geek Squad -- and my subsequent promise (which I intend to keep) that I will never again spend a penny with them or Best Buy -- didn't not result in any hand-wringing at their corporate headquarters. Hell, I'm only one customer; losing me won't require them to park their fleet of VW Beetles or lay off any of their "technicians."

We've all seen people who, when wronged by Evil Corporate America, set up websites (which they fill with page after page of boring details about their woes) and, like conspiracy theorists chasing the Infamous Grassy Knoll Assassin, can quote dates, times to the second, and produce witnesses to support their arguments. I've tended to laugh at such people.

I understand them now. I won't do that -- in fact, I can't think of anything I can do in this case -- but I understand it. There's an evil little part of me that wouldn't mind seeing tires flattened on every black & white VW Beetle in town, but that part remains quiescent, as it has after every other instance when I've felt rooked, cheated, bamboozled or hoodwinked.

Just don't expect me to feel any pity for Geek Squad and Best Buy if they go the way of other less-than-customer-friendly electronics retailers/ service points. Comes to that, expect me to cheer wildly on that day!

If you ever need fast, competent computer service, I can give the highest recommendation to a nice company in my area. And I advise you: avoid Geek Squad and Best Buy under any circumstances.

Revenge it ain't, but at least now you know -- as the late, not-necessarily-great Paul Harvey used to say -- the rest of the story.


PARENTHETICAL POST-SCRIPT-Y TYPE THOUGHT: A few minutes of research (on the computer which has worked perfectly since Not-the-Geek-Squad fixed it) got me a telephone number for a Geek Squad executive. He's gonna get a call from me come Monday....


John0 Juanderlust said...

Is El Orme a special code name? Is it The Orme?
That could give a clue.
Is his first name actually Agent?
I'm afraid your story has given rise to more questions than have been answered.
I would get a ski mask and hold up the next geek squad vehicle. Take all their money and phones. Speak arabic.

MrScribbler said...

From what little I've learned about Geek Squad, it is based on some strange quasi-military structure. All employees are "agents," and the work they do is described in terms out of some demented "Evil CIA" novel.

Attempting to get revenge on them would play into their little hands. But it is appealing....

Anonymous said...

It sounds like what my best friend refers to as 'new business model'.

I had my own dealings with same when VISA refused to stop microsoft from autobilling my VISA account and overcharging. The VISA card rep hooked me up by phone with microsoft, and I was on the phone with them for an hour and a half.