Why I will never buy from Best Buy or buy a Sony laptop again.

The non-existing customer support of Best Buy / Geek Squad / Sony:

Jan 11, 2009 - purchased Sony Vaio laptop with 2-year Geek Squad protection with Vista (XP was not available, but planned to replace with XP)

Very soon was having problems with hibernating properly, which I attributed to Vista since I often had similar problems with my work pc with Vista. Tried to install XP, but found out that bios did not support XP.

Problems escalated to where I began having problems with crashing and not booting.

Apr 24, 2009 - turned in to Geek Squad for repair; they took a few days to identify and replace bad hard drive.

Sep 11, 2009 - returned to Geek Squad for repair; again having problems with system shutting down/locking up on its own and not rebooting. Was told that they would have to send it off to Sony and it would take 2-4 weeks.

Oct 4, 2009 - received email regarding their status reporting system; checked status online and all it showed was Checked in on 9/11/2009. Went to store to verify status and possibly rant about it still not being sent to Sony after 3 weeks. They assured me that it arrived at Sony '4 days ago' and gave the lame excuse that sometimes UPS is slow.

Nov 1, 2009 - sent letter of complaint to director of customer support at Geek Squad requesting laptop be trashed and my money returned. No response as of Dec 16.

Nov 4, 2009 - (date is approximate as pick-up paperwork is not dated) received call that laptop is back; picked it up. Paperwork indicates they replaced the cooling fan and upgraded the bios.

Nov 7, 2009 - Just for the heck of it, checked online status ... still says (as of 10/15/09) In Repair - Product has been assigned to a Geek Squad Agent or a certified technician for repair or upgrade.

Nov 18, 2009 - System has locked up and will not reboot; return to Geek Squad for the 3rd time. Request that it be declared a lemon and my money returned. Agent points out that:

1) By the contract I signed, that does not occur until 4th attempt to repair
2) They can not make that decision locally; it has to be sent in to Geek Squad HQ for that determination.

I also asked about a loaner while it was being repaired, considering that it took them 2 months to replace a cooling fan. The agent replied that they do not have laptops to loan.

He said they would check it out here, but would probably have to return it to Sony again and that they would let me know in a few days. They never called to let me know. I called after several days and found out that it had been returned to Sony.

Dec 9, 2009 - Checked status online despite my experience of it not being kept up-to-date. Was surprised to find this: '12/01/09 - Estimate Pending - Awaiting customer approval for payment required. Please contact the Geek Squad Precinct within your Best Buy store.' Called the store shortly before closing time and the Geek Squad agent told me they did not have access to the information and that I needed to call 1-800-geeksquad. Discovered while dialing squad that there is no "Q" on the telephone. Fortunately, they had the actual number on the Geek Squad site. After a half hour on hold and on the phone with 2 agents, was told they didn't understand why the store would say they didn't have access to the information as they were the only ones who had access to all the information. They did not have the information at the call center to tell me what was going on, they attempted to call the local store (closed by now) and advised me to call the store back in the morning.

Note: Just for the heck of it, I checked the status of my previous service order to see if the status had ever been changed. I was not particularly surprised to find that it showed that I had picked it up on 11/21, 3 days after I had brought it back in for service again.

Dec 10, 2009 - Called the store again and asked to speak to the Geek Squad manager, who was not in. The agent who answered the phone was somewhat helpful ... he explained that they did not have access to the system last night and that he could research it now. It appears that Sony for some unknown reason had noted a need for approval for COD charges. The agent did not know why since I was under a service contract. He said he would submit a request to expedite and find out why, but they may not get a response for 1 or 2 days.

I asked the agent if they were aware that their status system did not send email notifications to the customers. He confirmed my email address and said that they have been experiencing problems with their new status reporting system. I told him that it was pretty useless.

Dec 14, 2009 - Called the store again and talked to the Geek Squad manager. He had seen the request sent by the agent, but did not have any more information at this time. He said he would let me know if they received any additional information.

I also asked him whether they were aware that their status system did not send email notifications to the customers. He replied that he had experienced similar problems himself and understood my frustration.

Dec 15, 2009 - Geek Squad called to let me know they had received my laptop. Since the hard drive had been replaced again, they needed for me to bring in my restore cds so that they could reinstall the OS. Took it in and asked whether it could be done while I waited. They replied that they would not be able to get to it tonight.

Dec 17, 2009 - They finally called today that my laptop is ready. How long will it last?

Dec 21, 2009 - Laptop having difficulty waking up from sleep mode (after closing top). I don't remember exactly the order, but once I had to remove all power to get to shut down and reboot and once I got the 'blue screen of death', but could reboot successfully.

Dec 24, 2009 - Again slow to wake up from sleep mode ... finally displayed blue screen again. Returned to store again. They are returning to Sony and requesting exchange. Merry Christmas!

Dec 30, 2009 - Received at Sony according to status report.

Jan 5, 2010 - Checked status online this afternoon (3rd or 4th time today ... doing at least twice daily now so that I don't get caught like last time). Sony finally updated the status that as of yesterday evening they are awaiting customer approval for payment required (they just can't seem to get it through their heads that Geek Squad is handling this). Called Geek Squad and had to leave a message as all their phone lines were busy. After waiting several hours and getting no call-back, tried calling again and call was not answered. Went to store and received same useless feedback ... they don't know why Sony is requesting approval of charges. They replied to them that there should be no charges as the laptop is under Geek Squad warranty and told me that I could get a more definitive answer from Sony customer support. Called Sony customer support and got the same kind of non-support ... nothing in their system indicating a need for approval for charges. The service center is not open ... please call back in the morning when they can connect me directly to the service department to find out what is going on. She (Grace) indicated that it was being repaired, not replaced.

Jan 6, 2010 - Chatted online with Sony support (unbelievable exchange posted as comment), talked with Sony customer support (both were a total waste of time). Sony's customer support reminds me of the U.S. Intelligence community ... no sharing of information allowed. Talked again with Geek Squad and asked if someone couldn't help find out what is going on. They REALLY surprised me with their response ... "This is not going to get fixed. Come in and get a new laptop". Hopefully they will let me get something other than Sony and upgrade with full credit for original laptop.

Jan 6, 2010 - Hopefully, end of story. I asked BB if I could upgrade and pay the difference. They gave me a gift card for the full original price plus taxes which I used to purchase a MacBook Pro.

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Profile Photo Sam Allgood

I originally posted it on my FB page, then found Geek Squad and Best Buy pages and became a fan of both so that I could post a link to it. It was surprised to get a response from the Best Buy posting asking for the service order numbers so they could look into my experience further. It would be nice to be able to think that it might help them to improve their service.

Profile Photo Sam Allgood

BTW, Steve, I did not intend for this to be posted on the front page. I thought that when I posted it from my profile that it would only show up there. I don't want to use GovLoop to broadly broadcast my grievances nor do I want to see others doing it.

If you think it is inappropriate for this venue, I will not be offended at all if you want to delete it.

Profile Photo Noel Dickover

Hmm, yeah. Never had much luck at all with the Geek Squad - not sure I've met anyone who has had luck. Generally unless Best Buy offers replacements (phones for instance) I find little value in their service warranties.

I will say that most laptops usually experience "Crib death" type issues, meaning they die in the first 90 days or so. From your chronology, yours certainly fit that. I wonder if you might have been better off just going with Sony's warranty. Instead of taking it to Sony for fixing, you ended up having less than talented "Geek squad" folks doing the random "replace this part" drill. Thanks for the write-up though. Good stuff.

Profile Photo Sam Allgood

Actually, the last two fixes have been by Sony. It was they who took about 6 weeks to replace a cooling fan and posted a status that they needed my approval for charges with no follow-up to let me know that for over a week.

Profile Photo Sam Allgood

Amazing online chat with Sony customer support ...

Problem : My Sony VAIO (SN 282814343018829) was received by Sony on 12/30 from Best Buy under a 2-year protection plan (purchased 1/11/2009). It was sent with request for exchange (4th time being repaired).

Ammons_ > Hi Sam. Welcome to Sony Online Support. I’m Ammons. Please allow me a moment to review your concern.

Sam Allgood > ok
Sam Allgood > Status on Geek Squad site changed yesterday to 'awaiting customer approval for payment required'. What is going on?

Ammons_ > Thanks for waiting, Sam. I'll be glad to assist you with the information regarding the repair of the Computer.
Ammons_ > I understand that you want to get the Computer serviced. Is that correct?

Sam Allgood > I want to get it trashed and replaced. This is the 4th time in less than a year it has been in for repair ... 3rd time to Sony in less than 6 months.

Sam Allgood > I want to know why Sony keeps (2nd time) posting that they are awaiting customer approval for payment required when it is under a Geek Squad protection plan and sent in by them.

Ammons_ > Sam, since you have purchased the extended warranty fromn the Geek Squad, it is required to contact the Geek Squad to get the Computer repaired under the Warranty.

Ammons_ > However, since the Computer is under the one year on manufacturer warranty.

Ammons_ > You may contact our Service Center to get the Computer serviced under the Warranty.

Sam Allgood > Yes, I have done that 4 times. The last 3 times they have sent it to Sony for repair. It is at Sony now.

Ammons_ > Would you like to have their contact information?

Sam Allgood > Who is 'their'? It is at Sony NOW, being repaired / replaced / whatever. Sony entered a status that they are 'Awaiting customer approval for payment required'. WHY? It is under warranty and was sent to them by Geek Squad ... how many times do I have to say this?

Ammons_ > I'm really sorry, Sam.
Ammons_ > Please give me a moment while I get this information for you.
Ammons_ > Thanks for waiting, Sam.
Ammons_ > Based on the information you have provided, I suggest that you contact our Service Assistance Team at 1-800-282-2848.
Ammons_ > Our Sony technicians at our service center will be able to assist you better.
Ammons_ > Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sam Allgood > Thanks

Ammons_ > You're welcome.
Ammons_ > I wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Profile Photo Matthew Goolsby

Hello Sam,

One night a couple of weeks ago, I had some free time before going to a meeting I had. I stopped by Best Buy just to browse. I will not buy anything there anymore because of their ridiculous return policies. I just thought I would waste some time.

After having gone in to use the restroom, I heard a Geek Squad guy tell someone the following:

"It is undoubtedly a memory problem as things often get stuck in memory. The best thing to do is to shut the computer off and let the memory drain for about 20 minutes, even unplug it from the wall, then reboot it. That will fix the problem."

I'm not sure of what the problem was, but after working in the IT profession for 20+ years, I have never heard anything quite like that. It was astonishing! The whole reason why you reboot PCs is to either flush memory or to reset an installation typically, especially in the case of Windows. Unless a Rootkit problem is there and that is usually non-addressable memory, I have no idea where this resolution came from, for any reason.

My advice to friends and family: Never, ever ask the Geek Squad to fix anything as I have yet to find value in their assistance.

- Matt Goolsby

Profile Photo Sam Allgood

Yeah, Matthew, I was amazed when a GeekSquad agent helping me at the store apologized for taking so long ... their system was slow. The GeekSquad manager made the same apology later. I replied that hearing that did not boost my confidence in GeekSquad, to which the manager replied, 'Oh, it's the system at HQ'. Wow, my confidence really got a boost then.

Profile Photo Henry Brown

Another NIGHTMARE regarding customer support

From Scott Nelson's Gartner Blog:

I am in the middle of a battle with a computer manufacturer right now. The basics of my battle:

1. I bought a new laptop, that died within 30 days. OK. I understand that happens

2. I sent it in for warranty work and they replaced the hard drive. So far, so good

3. When I got it back, it wouldn’t boot. I called tech support and they informed me that there was a partition on the hard drive that I could access that would restore everything. Start of my problems. It wasn’t there.

4. Customer service insisted it was there, and I was doing it wrong. So now they are telling me I am wrong.

5. I asked for a restore disk. They told me I should have made one. I told them their compute shouldn’t break after 30 days. They insist that there is no restore disk to send me. So at this point, they are telling me that a $1000 computer is useless and can’t be fixed.

6. After escalation, I get to someone who says that there is indeed a disk and it will cost me $30. Two problems here. First, was the first person lying to me? They said there was no disk. Second, they want me to spend $30 for this? Now the money isn’t the point. But the fact that I should pay anything at this point is.

7. I turn to Twitter and put a message out about my problem, almost daring Toshiba to respond. They do, and ask how they can help. I tell them that I want the disks, and to not spend $30.

Now here is the real kicker. They say they can’t do that….but wait for it…they will send me a new computer that works. Really? You won’t eat $30, but you will send a new $1000 computer? And you have tied me, and your firm up, for over a week on this?

The point is that things go wrong with products all the time. The key is how a firm recovers. In this case, a simply sending me the disks would have been fine, and I wouldn’t have been angry. Now I get a new computer, and I am still furious. Penny wise and pound foolish? More than that, listen to the customer and hear what they really want from you. In this case, respect and a simple solution.