Phil's Flub of the Month: Tech Support From a Big-Box Retailer??

Written by Phil DuMas on Friday, 15 June 2012. Posted in Phil's Favorite Flub of the Month

We’ve all seen those commercials for the Geek teams at the various major big-box retailers. The ones where a team of secret tech agents emerge from an IT clown car to swarm your device and fix all of your problems calmly and efficiently. Sounds convenient right? One centralized location that deals with any number of IT issues on every device imaginable. From your boss whose Blackberry is broken to your grandmother whose printer has been proclaiming “Paper Jam!” since the late 90's -everyone goes there! So they must be reliable, right? Here is a reason you might want to think twice about heading over to the Geek Team for your computer repair, it’s my flub of the month: tech support from a big-box retailer.

Recently, a colleague came to me at her wits' end, describing a frustrating spate of recent computer problems. How she got there is a classic flub that could've been easily avoided. It all started when she got a virus a couple of months ago. She brought the computer to her local big-box retailer’s Geek team. They assured her they could retrieve her data, which was her main concern. She’s a professional consultant who relies heavily on her computer so hundreds of client files were at stake. She ended up being computer-less for two full weeks which was frustrating but in the end, they were able to save her data and wipe her hard drive clean so she was satisfied.

Her computer was functioning normally until about two weeks ago when lo and behold, the exact same virus popped back up! Luckily, she learned from the initial incident and had since stored all of her files in the Cloud, so there was no data at risk this time. She’d still have to go through the process of reinstalling all of her programs, but at least it wouldn’t be so nerve-wracking this time around. She hopped in her car and headed right over to the Geek Team. They estimated the wipe would take one day. Six days later she had her computer back, again relieved, believing that the problem had finally been solved.

But, as any horror fan knows, the villain always comes back when you least expect it. So, this week she was pushed over the edge by the resurgence of the virus that the Geek team had supposedly vanquished twice. That's where I enter the story. I took her computer and before she had even made it out of the parking lot, we had been able to find the virus and set to work solving the problem. The so-called “tech experts” of that big-box retailer's Geek team had failed to completely clear the hard drive, leaving a few places untouched where the virus happily hid, in the “restore” partition, before rising to the surface again and again.

The lesson to be learned from her time-wasting flub is that big-box stores do not employ experts...in anything. Someone who aims to offer everything can't specialize in any one thing, so you get stuck with sub-par service. Sure, big-box stores are convenient, but all that convenience comes with a price and all too often it's quality and reliability. So when you have a serious IT concern, take your equipment to a serious IT company. IT is all I do, and I'm very happy about that. My colleague was too when she got her computer back, minus one very pesky virus.

About the Author

Phil DuMas

Phil DuMas

Phil DuMas is a technologist with more than 20 years experience developing and implementing technology in a myriad of environments.

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