Business Continuity != Best Buy * Geek Squad

Today I learned there is another risk formula.  The factors of this new formula are the vendor from which maintenance is purchased and the technicians faced when a customer enters the repair zone.  In this "case study", the vendor is Best Buy, the techs are the Geek Squad, and the customer, unfortunately, is me.

In April, I purchased an HP Pavilion laptop.  I love it.  However, from day one a noise emanated from it that sounded like a bad drive spindle or fan.  So, I took it back to Best Buy.  I had purchased an extended warranty plan, so I was confident I would have the problem resolved with little financial pain.

After about a day, the Geek Squad called to tell me there was nothing wrong with my laptop.  (Obviously, the sound must have been imagined...)  So, like a good little customer, I picked up my new computer and drove home.  Later that day I powered it up, and within a few minutes the grinding noise returned. 

I returned the computer to the Geek Squad.  I told them I wanted it fixed.  Since they had no idea what was wrong with it (sigh) they recommended replacing the hard drive.  I was OK with this because the new drive they recommended was faster and didn't cost me anything but re-setup time.  I was a little frustrated, but hey, things happen.

About three days later, I picked up my laptop.  About an hour into the process of reinstalling my software, the grinding came back.  So, resorting to something I should have done initially, I checked out the problem myself.  The real problem was a bad fan.  (I think I mentioned that to them on my first visit,,,).

I teach online classes with my laptop, so I decided to wait until my Christmas break to take it back.  The computer just made it, periodically shutting down due to reaching its dangerous temperature threshold.

When I reached the service desk (yes, I made the tactical error of taking the laptop in on Black Friday), I firmly told them to replace the fan.  I had to tell them twice to leave my drive alone.  I was informed that the laptop had to be sent to the central repair facility because the repair involved a mother board component.  Duh!! In a laptop, there isn't much that isn't a mother board component.  No problem, though.  I had a maintenance contract.  Then I asked how long it would take.

Imagine my surprise when they told me it could take four to six weeks.  I thought back to my purchase of the maintenance agreement when I had asked where repairs were done.  I was assured that repairs were performed by the in-store Geek Squad.  Since this is a system I use for business, I felt assured this was an acceptable business continuity situation.  However, my assurance depended on being told the truth by the sales person.  (sigh)

When I told the Geek behind the counter that this was unacceptable, he told me, "That's just the way it is."  Marvellous.  An excellent way to keep my rising anger in check. 

I left the computer there for repair.  After all, I had paid for maintenance, and I was going to get my money's worth.  I do have another computer in my home office I can use with a little tweaking.  But what if I didn't? 

Now we get to the new business continuity formula: BC = Vendor * Technical Staff, or in this case BC = Best Buy * Geek Squad.  BC (business continuity) is ranked on a scale from 0 to 25, with 25 being the highest level of BC protection.  Vendor and Technical Staff are each ranked on a scale from 0 to 5, with five being the best.

In this case, I give Best Buy a zero.  I was misinformed at time of purchase.  In addition, the central repair policy is an anathema (bad news) for home office or small business customers.  Further, the Geek Squad receives a zero for incompetence and general lack of customer service skills.  Therefore, the BC ranking for my experience is ZERO.

I love my HP, but I will never buy another business system from Best Buy.  I also learned a valuable lesson, one I hadn't needed when dealing directly with Compaq or Dell; never trust the salesperson to provide accurate information about maintenance agreements.  Always check with the actual techs to make sure you are covered against four to six week business interruptions.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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