Best Buy Tech Service Gone Awry; a GM’s Customer Service Saves the Day


I came home a few weeks ago to find my almost four year old Gateway desktop rig powered completely off. I tried turning it back on, only to find out that it had decided that it didn’t want to at all. That could only mean the power supply, since it had been on and working just fine a few hours before. Annoying yes, but fortunately, not insurmountable. It took me a couple of weeks to scrounge up the dough for the new power supply, since I wanted to get it directly from Gateway; I figured that I could probably follow the connections inside the rig to install it myself. However, once I got the power supply and removed the case, there were too many connections that didn’t actually go to anything and others were at some very awkward angles. I felt it was best to find a pro who would roll their eyes at how easy it was to do, charge me a few bucks, and I’d be on my way.

Originally, I intended to return the power supply to the store where I had purchased the computer from, since they have a repair department, but they’re an hour away. So instead, I headed to my local Best Buy where I waited in line for 30 minutes only to be told that I wasn’t actually IN the line since I (and the 5 people after me in the line as well!) had failed to check in.

When it was finally my turn, the person behind the counter tried to tell me that in order for me to have the power supply installed, I would need to purchase a $200 technical support plan, one that covered assistance with software and some hardware diagnosis but not parts. That was a big fat NO from me. Then the manager sent me to a different BB store, saying that he had spoken to them and they would help me get it installed for $50 and without my having to buy the tech support plan.

So, I drove to the other store, where a very nice young lady tried her best to get it installed, but after her best efforts it still wasn’t booting up completely. I agreed to leave it there so another tech could look at it in the morning to see if they were missing a connection or something. I did make it clear at that time that they were NOT to touch any software or alter anything except the power supply.

The next morning, I got a call saying that the graphics card was bad and needed to be replaced, and that was why it still wouldn’t boot even with the new power supply. It seemed pretty unlikely to me that both things would suddenly die at exactly the same moment, but I was desperate to get my computer back; I told them to go ahead and replace it, but that they could ONLY change whatever bios settings were required, update the drivers, and nothing else.

A few hours later, I got a call saying that they needed my password so that they could install the drivers, and that it should be ready in about an hour, but to not come down until they called me just in case they got delayed. I never heard from them again by phone. I went in at mid-afternoon the following day to pick it up, knowing that there was no way it could have possibly taken them more than 24 hours to install drivers. I got there and spoke with the woman who had helped me originally; she said that it wasn’t done — that my computer “was still updating.” I nearly had a stroke.

I have never had Windows Update on. Can you imagine the impact of 4 years worth of Windows Updates coming in all at once? I can’t even begin to guess how many updates that would be! Now, I know that many people feel that updating Windows is important, but my personal experience on every computer I have ever had, is that Windows updates itself until it breaks my computers. Something in some update always causes problems somewhere down the line, and I’d be willing to bet that a very high percentage of “weird” computer problems that just suddenly “happen” are caused by Windows Update, but that’s just my opinion. So, I’ve stopped updating windows…ever. Unless there is some mandatory service pack, I just never, ever do it.

Since I have all of those components OFF, they had to go back in and actively turn on Windows Update, Firewall, Defender, and UAC; all of those things are always ON by default. The only way for them all to be off is if the user turns them off.

You would think that faced with that unusual state it would have warranted a phone call to me asking what to do, or even better, to just leaving it alone! Once the drivers were installed and the system restarted, the job should have been completed. But they had turned everything back on, and they had let my computer run … and it had been running for more than 24 hours by the time I arrived. My computer still showed hundreds more updates that it wanted to install.

It took literally every ounce of self-control not to run behind their counter, grab my computer  and run away with it! Instead, I actually broke down in tears.

It had been on the same update for hours by that point, which meant that it was in the middle of something serious, and if we just unplugged it in the middle it would probably cause even more harm to my computer. Faced with that, I had to leave my computer there again and hope that someone would pay enough attention to it, so that when it finally finished the update it was on they could catch it at a restart and turn the updates off again. Walking out that door was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.

To be fair and to her credit, the Best Buy tech I had left it with originally accepted full responsibility immediately for not properly filling out the paperwork with notes saying to touch nothing without my specific permission. I give her tons of credit for admitting that when faced with me — a very angry customer. It wasn’t her who had done the other work and started the updates, it was another tech in their department who hadn’t consulted with her before reinstating everything that I had turned off.

I got a call later that night saying that the update had finished, they had been able to turn off the updates again, and that no one would touch my computer until I got there to look at it with them. Once there, I asked for either of the two people I had dealt with previously; and in keeping with the luck I had so far had, they were both off; I had to seek out a different manager, who turned out to be the store’s general manager.

My first question was if he had been updated with regard to what the problems were, and that he should have expected me in. He had not. :sigh:

So, I had to start the explanations from the beginning.

We went back together to look at my computer and to assess the state it was currently in. He was a little taken aback that I just followed him into the staff only area; once he realized I had been back there before, he relaxed and let me stay with my system the entire time.

Here’s where my anal retentive self comes into play. The first thing I did was pull up a photo of the original hardware specs that I had printed from the Windows Experience Index before any of the work had begun. We were able to check side by side with what my computer was now saying the specs were.

3GB of RAM were “missing”, the Blu-ray player wasn’t showing up, the wireless wasn’t working, and even more oddly, my computer was only showing 4 cores instead of 8.

If I hadn’t had a screenshot of what the original configuration to prove what the system had been before, there’s no way that they would have believed me. But the GM and the techs standing there couldn’t argue with the proof staring them in the face.

When the tech took the cover back off, we found the worst thing yet … the kid who installed the graphics card had neglected to remove the plastic shrink-wrap from it, and it was now impaled on all the little pointy parts of my motherboard! Thank heavens that my computer hadn’t been powered up for long, or my motherboard would  have been entirely fried!

The manager honestly looked more upset than I did at that point.

It turned out that all the RAM was physically present, but three out of the six sticks weren’t seated properly, which is why they weren’t showing up. The previous tech had only plugged in half of the Blu-ray player, which is why that wasn’t working. All of those things combined were likely why it wouldn’t properly boot, so I probably hadn’t even needed the graphics card that had started the whole mess anyway.

Eventually, line item by line item, we got it fixed.

It was probably the first time that particular Best Buy had ever had a customer sitting there while they were trying to fix something, and to their credit, they handled it with a good attitude.

Very soon after I had arrived, the GM had asked me what I wanted from him to make things right. I had told him that I was going to decline to pay for their parts or “repair” services.

He actually almost laughed, saying, “Of course not, but what else?”

We agreed that we table that discussion until we could assess my computer, see what state it was in, and see what could be done to get it back into a working state.

Now that we were at the end, I wanted to share a few things with the GM about his staff. I told him that while there were errors with my computer, there were some human ones, too — like forgetting to write things down and not removing the shrink-wrap from the graphics card.

Human error is not really preventable, but that the young woman had taken responsibility quickly and worked as hard as she could to help me, and that isn’t something easy to teach. If he felt it necessary to reprimand her, I didn’t want him to be too harsh because the qualities and ethics she had displayed were something to be highly valued. The other young man I had dealt with was less helpful, and I felt that he could use more coaching on interacting with customers and with his attention to detail with regard to his work, since all of the physical errors were his.

At that point, the GM asked me again what I wanted, and I told him that I wasn’t there to make a demand of him, but I asked him to put himself into my shoes and think of what he would feel appropriate if our roles were reversed.

He talked to me for a few minutes more, and then he spoke with the folks that had been helping me while working on repairs, since we had been discussing our “tech” stuff while doing the repairs.

A few minutes later, I was given a new Samsung ATIV 500T with an accessory package that included a keyboard, speaker bar, and a micro SD card. I was seriously blown away by that. Yes, they messed up — a lot. But I figured that the new graphics card and a gift card in a nominal amount was what I might wind up with. I certainly did not expect a brand new tablet!

My hat is completely off to that Best Buy GM. I honestly would likely have been satisfied with something less, but he opted to take a bad situation that could have left him with a very unhappy consumer, and he went that extra mile to send me out of his door with a huge grin on my face while feeling very happy and excited … enough that I would want to share my story of good customer service following a mistake. He not only corrected the poor service I had been given, but he blew any negative feelings I had felt completely away!

Categories: Gear Bits

Tags: , , ,

3 replies

  1. I wish I’d had as good an experience with BB. I bought a flat screen tv from them a few years ago, and decided to have it mounted to the wall in my room above my brand new built-in desk.

    They sent one kid to do the tv mounting. He stood on my brand new Corian desktop and scratched it up. Put big fingerprints in the LCD screen of my new tv. Drilled holes in my wall, searching for the studs to screw the mount into…and then decided to try not putting the brackets into the the studs.

    I made him leave. He took the screws and a few pieces of my tv mount with him. Best Buy, when contacted, said that they would make it up to me. After trying to call them a few times, they never fixed the mistakes of the tv installer. I ended up hiring electricians that were working on another thing in my house to install my tv. (I also had to have an outlet installed behind the tv anyways). They had to cover up all the damage to the wall the kid did with some MDF board that they used to make sure the mount was secure to the wall and the studs. I probably spent more money in labor on having those electricians mount my tv for me, than I spent on the tv, but at least I didnt have the Best Buy installer screwing things up any more.

    Their Geek Squad also screwed up at least two of my computers. That’s when I quit using the Geek Squad to fix things and got myself a boyfriend who knows how to fix Windows computers. (I’ve still got the boyfriend, but I’ve switched to Apple computers, and at least Apple hires somewhat competent Geniuses who can fix things for me by appointment at the Apple Store, and they can usually do that in front of me while I watch. My boyfriend is learning about Macs now)

    • I have to say, that I felt much better myself when I could actually watch them do the repairs, and could see what was going on. One piece of advice I have to everyone, is that as part of your new computer set up is to take some screen shots of the configuration as it was out of the box, and whenever you make any significant upgrades. I don’t think they would have tried to argue with me too much when I said things were wrong, but it sure helped a lot to be able to prove that I had what I said I did, especially with the RAM.

      And. I forgot to mention that the issue with the number of cores showing was the difference between Vista & Win7. Vista would display the virual cores (From the hyper-threading) as actual cores, and Win7 does not, so that was actually not a “problem” that needed to be fixed.

      I think if someone had come into my home like that, I would have been even more PO’ed however. I’m sorry that you had such a problem, but am glad you were at least able to get your TV up eventually!

      • I’m just glad that I dont have to worry about the tv falling on my head. That MDF board is BOLTED to the studs, and the mount is bolted into the MDF. That tv is not coming down unless I want it to. Hope I dont ever have to put up another tv in that spot.