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Geek Squad Lawsuit Opens Up With Employee Confession

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 23 comments

 

Minneapolis (MN) - As a high-profile lawsuit against Best Buy’s Geek Squad technical support service gets ready for court, a new employee confession has come through detailing one of the company’s more questionable policies.

The lawsuit, filed in Hennepin County, Minnesota, claims that when a computer comes into a Geek Squad center, the employees comb through personal files and sometimes copy lewd or other content over to their own personal flash drive.

According to Minneapolis newspaper The Star Tribune, the lawsuit was filed quickly after an anonymous employee sent a letter to online consumer advocate site The Consumerist. In the letter, the employee wrote, "If you have any interesting pictures of yourself or others on your computer, then they — will — be — found."

Geek Squad says it takes "reasonable precautions to protect against the loss, misuse and unauthorized access of your personal information."

Geek Squad, which is the self-claimed largest computer support company in the country, downplayed the event by saying it was an isolated incident. However, a new employee has come forward confessing a similar action.

William Giffels came forward and said he sought out revealing pictures of a customer who brought in a computer for repairs. He copied the pictures to his flash drive, and then were copied to multiple CDs used in the Geek Squad department of the store.

"It was dumb, and I regret that lapse in judgment. I have placed Best Buy in a precarious position, both legally and ’reputationally,’" said Giffels. Several other people claiming to be Geek Squad employees have quietly admitted to doing the same kind of thing.

Best Buy says it has increased the number of audits it conducts at its Geek Squad locations, but advocates suggest the store needs to completely overhaul its operation. "No matter what investigative protocol Best Buy uses, someone is going to find a way around it," said Consumerist editor Ben Popken to the Star Tribune.

With regard to controversy, though, Best Buy remains defensive. "Our agents only see the data they need to," said Best Buy spokesperson Paula Baldwin.

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  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , May 5, 2008 5:42 PM
    So why are people trusting their (compromising) personal documents and images to minimum wage A+ (laugh) certified children at Best Buy? Can there be any reasonable expectation of privacy when you hand over your computer to a place like this?

    I have to say, if you do own a computer that requires you to go to a big box store for repairs and/or warranty (and sometimes you have no choice) then don't keep anything important on that computer. Get an external hard drive or USB memory stick.
  • 3 Hide
    snajper69 , May 5, 2008 5:43 PM
    Ha ha ha Kids will be kids lol no matter how old they are. Next time guys before you service your PC at best buy make sure you remove those naked pictures of you/wife/gf lol :)  or if not Geek Squad will enjoy them lol hahahhaha
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , May 5, 2008 5:44 PM
    This is news? Unfortunately, when one turns over their computer to a repair agency (ANY AGENCY), they are handing any and all personal data over to said agency. In doing so, they are taking that risk. It's not to say that I support repair shops snooping through someone's data, but it is why I keep any private or sensetive information on a thumb drive or removable hard drive to prevent something like this.

  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 5, 2008 6:12 PM
    This is exactly the kind of stuff that happens when a company employs immature teenagers instead of , imagine this, qualified personell. As a former employee of Compusa, I'm not shocked at all about this. And it will continue to happen as long as the predominant demo of these stores are teenagers.
  • 1 Hide
    vherub , May 5, 2008 6:23 PM
    look out drugstore photolab, you're next for privacy invastion!
  • 1 Hide
    Oh Snap , May 5, 2008 7:35 PM
    @ PMB917
    Thing is, these companies are cheap and are only willing to pay the kind of wages that only teenagers and highly uneducated adults are willing to take. If they up the pay, they end up having to up the costs, and the ever wise consumer will end up going elsewhere where teenagers are still getting $8.50 an hour. Sure a few might be willing to pay more, but then again, those people are probably already receiving tech support from someone other than Best Buy or CompUSA. You get what you pay for.
  • 0 Hide
    Oh Snap , May 5, 2008 7:36 PM
    @ PMB917
    Thing is, these companies are cheap and are only willing to pay the kind of wages that only teenagers and highly uneducated adults are willing to take. If they up the pay, they end up having to up the costs, and the ever wise consumer will end up going elsewhere where teenagers are still getting $8.50 an hour. Sure a few might be willing to pay more, but then again, those people are probably already receiving tech support from someone other than Best Buy or CompUSA. You get what you pay for.
  • 2 Hide
    Oh Snap , May 5, 2008 7:36 PM
    gah, double comment, said page couldn't be found :( 
  • 0 Hide
    cscpianoman , May 5, 2008 7:54 PM
    Oh Snap,
    Actually, Best Buy still charges out-landish fees to get your computer serviced and still hire teenagers. Every time I walked through Best Buy and saw someone in line for the Geek Squad I cringed. I know full well that I could do it for half they were going to charge and half the time.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , May 5, 2008 8:00 PM
    it doesnt matter what you pay, if you take your computer to any repair shop anywhere they are going to snoop around. whether they keep copies or not they are looking.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 5, 2008 8:06 PM
    I'm a network admin at my 9-5, but do a bit of moon lighting on the side. If I had to put an estimate on it, I'd say that 80% of my clients are dissatisfied customers of Geek Squad (and Best Buy altogether) - who are looking for a competent computer consultant, not some kid making $12/hour with maybe one junior level cert. I'm not at all surprised that people are doing this. If you've been to a Best Buy with a Geek Squad "center" in it, just about ANYONE can walk into the "repair cage" and do whatever they want... How are the audits going to stop that?
  • 0 Hide
    terror112 , May 5, 2008 9:13 PM
    I have to agree. Most often they employ teens (I am one) with little computer repair experience. People believe the most idiotic things. Most consumers of best buy will think, "wow it's Best Buy, they wont mess it up!" But then you don't know that they have an employee base of a bunch of little incompetent kids that cannot tell the difference between a P4 and a Core2 other than their names and clock speeds. However if they manage to find people that have at least some Competence, maby they could get the job down right. As for me I am just wanting to rub my intelligence in all of the other co-workers faces that cannot get the job done right, Nico Verrelli.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 5, 2008 9:31 PM
    Funny, I just saw this thread AFTER removing the HD from my Compaq laptop to send it in for warranty repair. Nothing but common sense told me to take such a prudent step.

    There are idiots out there, and then there are idiots out there.
  • 1 Hide
    mikeynavy1976 , May 5, 2008 9:41 PM
    I don't see how this is any different than people bringing getting photos developed or transferring old "home movies" to DVD format. While I think this reflects poorly on the individual, I don't think the computer user is entirely to blame. You get what you pay for. Geek squad is likely cheaper than a specialized computer repair and data recovery place, so that's a risk you take. Guys should be flattered if the Geek Squad folks find their girlfriend, wife, etc. hot enough to keep her pictures...haha...just kidding. I think the people should be held accountable, and this country needs to stop suing the companies. We all know what happens. The money Best Buy loses ends up being recouped through price increases which we all have to pay...same with doctor's bills, pharmaceuticals, insurance, food, etc.
  • 0 Hide
    navvara , May 6, 2008 2:03 AM
    me turns in computer i broke through overclocking for repairs (2.8 ghz p4 northwood at 3.8 ftw). me watches tech support guys struggle to mount my hardrives on a replacement rig till they can fix my main (it was 2 days before christmas). me goes home and finds the replacement (p4 b 2.4, maxed out at 2.6 :(  ) belonged to someone else and had a hardrive containing a sizeable amount of adult content. me being underage could not possibly watch such content and so wiped the hardrive before returning the replacement two weeks later (only left windows on). hardware guys are very happy when i inform them that i found adult content on the other customers hardrive and that I wiped everything out (that's after I take possetion of my computer ofc). me goes home and only overclocks sweet northwood chip to a reasonable 3.6. me wonders why the computer store refuses warranty service the next time i come calling (dead mobo)
  • 0 Hide
    Aintry , May 6, 2008 3:07 AM
    Me wonders about point of post.
  • 0 Hide
    Aintry , May 6, 2008 3:09 AM
    Me wonders about point of post.
  • 0 Hide
    stichy , May 6, 2008 5:37 AM
    I can't wait till these Squad members fall. I was with BB for 10 years through upper management and I'll tell ya, because of my battles with corporate BB over issues just like this, being a whistle blower gets you fired, period. I terminated 2 squad members at my store at a time when I caught them red handed doing this stuff, worked with upper HR control and we terminated them. 2 months later the 2 guys showed up as rehires at 2 different BB's, same position, and after I raised hell and found out what went on, I was told they were rehired by the same corporate HR person whom cleared me to fire them, only to be rehired because the employees claim, "discrimination"???????? WHAT?
    This is such an evil empire.....I've never purchased anything there nor will I ever again. But with respect to "Geek Squad", they were a very good company before BB purchased and outsourced them. Speaking with the CEO of the Squad, these were issues and a lot others which came up during their acquisition in which I had even voiced concerns of due to how BB had tried this before and failed due to thousands of
    confidentiality breaches as well as law suits. Geek Sqd had also been bid on at the time by Circuit City but lost to BB's capitalism and market share. I know, I was a share holding in this merging. There is a 10 year term with Geek Sqd. and BB and I know before I left, GS will pull out soon. There was no contract renewel...............
    This all happened after the acquisition when BB started throwing regular employees into the mix with no concern for lawsuits...
    Now they're paying for it!!!! Yea!!!!









  • 0 Hide
    davidgbailey , May 6, 2008 5:46 AM
    Next time I take my computer in I'm loading it up with pr0n. Hopefully, the techs appreciate the effort in gathering such a large assortment and variety of nudies for their visual pleasures that they give special treatment to my computers service. I just hope they don't jerk off on my keyboard.
  • 0 Hide
    davidgbailey , May 6, 2008 5:46 AM
    Next time I take my computer in I'm loading it up with pr0n. Hopefully, the techs appreciate the effort in gathering such a large assortment and variety of nudies for their visual pleasures that they give special treatment to my computers service. I just hope they don't jerk off on my keyboard.
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