Is the Geek Squad the Best Place to Seek Computer Help?

When your computer suddenly won't boot, or swallows an important data file, or has contracted what looks like a virus, where do you turn? Based on the lines I've seen at my local Best Buy, plenty of people go see the Geek Squad. And no doubt about it, the company has done a good job marketing itself as the go-to place for computer service.

But is it the best place? Before you haul your computer down to Squad Central, you might want to read this recent Consumerist post: 9 Confessions of a Former Geek Squad Geek. Written by someone who claims to have worked at Best Buy for over four years, it reveals more than a few unsettling facts about the company's repair service. Here's confession #1, which is arguably the worst of all:

1. A high percentage of Geek Squad employees lack basic troubleshooting skills such as correctly identifying malfunctioning components. This stems from inadequate and outdated training materials, such as the Best Buy Learning Lounge.

Ouch. The author also mentions that Geek Squad employees are strongly encouraged to sell extra warranties and services that often have nothing to do with actually repairing your problem PC.

Now, you have to read something like this with a grain of salt. The author is anonymous (going only by the moniker "K"), and it could easily be the work of a former employee with an axe to grind--or even a Geek Squad customer who felt ripped off. That said, it doesn't read like sour grapes to me, but rather an honest look at how things work (and sometimes don't work) in one of the country's most high-profile PC-repair operations.

I've never had occasion to use Geek Squad myself, as I handle 99% of computer-related issues on my own. So I'll ask you, dear readers: if you've patronized Geek Squad in the past, hit the comments and share your experiences--good, bad, or otherwise.

Contributing Editor Rick Broida writes about business and consumer technology. Ask for help with your PC hassles at hasslefree@pcworld.com, or try the treasure trove of helpful folks in the PC World Community Forums.

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