Matthew Fitzsimmons

Geek Squad

I recently had a customer who asked me to transfer files from her daughter’s old PC to her new MacBook. In addition to this, I was to add the Mac to the existing wireless network that was already setup to share their broadband connection between their PCs. They also had an existing all-in-one printer with built-in wireless networking.

While the data from the PC was transferring to my external hard drive, I worked on setting up the laptop and connecting it to the wireless network. There were three or four networks available, so I asked them which one was the correct one. They didn’t know. This isn’t terribly unusual for people who have had their network set up by a friend or technician, so I asked who set the network up. They told me it was Geek Squad (you know, the dudes from Best Buy who drive the cute little black and white Beetles).

I figured out which network was theirs by looking at the old computer. The network name made sense when you thought about it, but wasn’t something that any normal person would set up (GS followed by a string of numbers, which I’m guessing was their Geek Squad customer number or something).

That was easy enough, but then I needed the network connection key. They didn’t know what that was, either, but this isn’t exactly unusual since most networks are set up with long hexadecimal keys instead of passwords. I went to the backup plan, which was asking them for the sheet of information that the previous technicians (Geek Squad) gave them about their setup. They didn’t think they had one, so they went and looked.

The brought back a couple of envelopes with stuff in them, which turned out to be the CDs, UPCs, and quick setup guides for the router and wireless adapter. This was everything that Geek Squad gave them, and there was absolutely nothing in there about their network setup.

So, I had to reset the router to default settings and set it up from scratch. This is what I left them with when I was done:

  1. I set the network name as something that made sense to them, and wrote down the name of the network and the connection key.
  2. I wrote down how to access the router admin page as well as the admin password.

So, Geek Squad set up their network in a way that there was no chance of the customers even doing something simple like adding an additional device to their network. The were trying to force repeat business by creating lock in, which actually turned these customers off once they realized all the information Geek Squad didn’t give them that they didn’t know to ask for.

By contrast, I did my best to provide them with the best service I could, while making it as easy as possible for them to help themselves. They may never call me again, but they liked my work and appreciated the fact that I treated them like people who should be allowed to make their own decisions about who they want to use next time. I think I have a better chance than Geek Squad.

March 14, 2007