Geek Squad

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Geek Squad
Type Subsidiary
Industry Services
Founded June 16, 1994 (1994-06-16)
Founder(s) Robert Stephens
Headquarters Richfield, Minnesota, United States
Key people Robert Stephens (Former chief inspector)
Employees 24,000+
Parent Best Buy
Website geeksquad.com

Geek Squad is a subsidiary of American multinational consumer electronics corporation Best Buy, headquartered in Richfield, Minnesota. The subsidiary was originally an independent company founded by "Chief Inspector" Robert Stephens on June 16, 1994, and offers various computer-related services and accessories for residential and commercial clients. It later merged with Best Buy, retaining Stephens as the primary corporate leadership for the subsidiary. The Geek Squad provides services in-store, on-site, and over the Internet via remote access, and also provides 24-hour telephone and emergency on-site support.

Locations and partnerships[edit]

Geek Squad "precincts" exist in all Best Buy stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. They offer in-home, online and remote/over the phone services.[1][2]

Best Buy terminated its partnership with Office Depot in Orlando, Florida, where Geek Squad precincts were located in 10 Office Depot locations.[3] The brand is also located in select FedEx Office locations. In October 2006, it was reported that Geek Squad would be launching in the United Kingdom in a joint 50-50 venture with Carphone Warehouse, where today it exists as both an onsite service and a remote repair service. It is now fully operational with onsite services in Greater London, the Home Counties, the South Coast and North West areas of England, with phone and remote support undertaken from Tulketh Mill in Preston (Lancashire) and repairs completed at a site in Wednesbury (West Midlands).[4]

In 2008 Best Buy partnered up with online tech support provider SupportSpace to offer remote Virtual Agent services to its clients. SupportSpace was founded in 2006 and provided immediate online tech support services.[5] On July 15, 2013, all Geek Squad business was transferred away from SupportSpace and moved in house to Geek Squad agents.

Carphone Warehouse and Best Buy's collaboration company, Best Buy Europe, that also own Phone House, has since also begun launching Geek Squad in Phone House stores. France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Spain and Portugal all have Agents now. It's still in a startup phase in most of the countries.

Total Services[edit]

In 2007, Geek Squad officially added Magnolia Home Theater installation teams as well as Best Buy Mobile Installers to the Geek Squad brand. The change was titled, "Total Services" and was aimed towards the combination of major Best Buy services into one cohesive unit. Best Buy mobile installers and Magnolia Home Theater installers have now switched from their previous grey and blue uniforms to grey and orange shirts with grey cargo pants. This change removed all "Magnolia Home Theater Installation" branding and was replaced by "Geek Squad Installation Units" instead. This has now allowed Geek Squad to incorporate home theater installation as one of the in home services offered via telephone. All services previously offered are still available.

Staff[edit]

Geek Squad employees are known as Agents and are assigned titles similar to those used by intelligence agencies – Counter Intelligence Agent (CIA), Deputy of Counter Intelligence (DCI), Double Agent-Covert (DAC), Covert Agent (CA), Special Agent (SA), Deputy Covert Operations (DCO) and Deputy Field Marshal (DFM), to name a few. Unlike most computer repair facilities, Best Buy US does not require any industry certifications for its in-store technicians. However, Best Buy Canada requires at least A+ Certification to work as a CIA.[6]

Uniforms and vehicles[edit]

Geekmobile in Maryland
Geek Squad Chevrolet Express in Vermont, which are no longer used.
Geek Squad Ford E-350 Home theater Install van in Ohio.
Geek Squad Ford E-350 cutaway in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Geekmobile in California

In-store PC agents, and in-home PC field agents, wear a white, short-sleeved, pocketless dress shirt. Agents are required to wear a black clip-on tie with the Geek Squad logo pin. Male agents wear black trousers, white socks and black lace-up shoes with the Geek Squad logo on the sole. Female agents may wear either black trousers, white socks, and black shoes; or, a black skirt with hose and black shoes. White and black are the only colors allowed in Geek Squad uniforms. Agents holding certain positions including on-site Double Agents, Special Agents, and Deputies of Counter Intelligence carry a metal police-style badge.[7]

The Minnesota Historical Society added the official uniform to its permanent collection in 2000.[8]

Geek Squad Autotechs and GSIs (Home Theater Installers) wear a grey button-up work shirt or black short sleeved and collared dress shirt with the Geek Squad logo on the front and optional certification patches on the arms. Matching pants or shorts are worn as well as a bright orange undershirt. These agents also have the option of wearing a grey Geek Squad hat and/or black Geeks Squad nylon jacket.

Double Agents & Special Agents drive black-and-white Volkswagen New Beetles (dubbed "Geekmobiles") with an orange-and-black company logo on the door. Geekmobiles in California are all-black with white roof and running boards, due to a request by the California Highway Patrol that the vehicles no longer resemble the paint scheme of their police vehicles (a violation of California law).[9]

Due to a number of financial issues, including a large number of parking tickets and thousands of dollars lost for parking garage fees the Geekmobile program was ended in Manhattan New York City Geek Squad Precincts.

In the UK, Double Agents used Smart cars initially, but due to the congestion charge, agents operating in the centre of London later relied on the London Underground system.

The Double Agent program in the UK ceased in late 2012. All technical support services continued in store or via Mission Control, Tulketh Mill. From here, the Covert or Covert Operations Agent title was established, Agents from Covert Operations are responsible for the technical support of computer, network and mobile devices. The support is provided verbally over the phone, or Agents will connect to clients devices remotely and fix any issues.

Geek Squad City[edit]

Located in Brooks, Kentucky,[10][11] Geek Squad City is the largest Geek Squad computer repair site at 165,000 square feet. It is also the only Geek Squad site that offers repair of any computer brand regardless of age[12]

Controversy[edit]

Geek Squad technicians have been caught on numerous occasions searching and copying pornographic content stored on their clients' computers without permission. When asked about the incident, Geek Squad founder Robert Stephens refused to discuss the topic and focused on whether bloggers should be considered true journalists.[13]

At least one former Geek Squad employee had come forward with allegations that the practice of surreptitiously searching for pornography on their clients' computers is not restricted to isolated employees, but is often shared with management.[13]

Geek Squad employees have allegedly engaged in peeping tom activities on female customers during in-house service visits. A 2007 case alleges that a Geek Squad employee used his cell phone to record a 22 year old female customer while she showered without her knowledge or permission. The employee was arrested and Best Buy was sued over the incident.[14] In another case, a Geek Squad employee allegedly stole nude photographs of a 27 year old female customer from her computer while it was being serviced. The employee then allegedly shared the photos on the internet.[15]

In 2002, during a spate of legal threats and challenges to competitors with "geek" in their names, Geek Squad attempted to block the trademark registration of New England area competitor Geek Housecalls claiming that it violated their trademarks. When Geek Housecalls refused to budge, Geek Squad filed civil suit. After two years of wrangling, Geek Squad and Geek Housecalls arrived at an out-of-court settlement, the details of which cannot be disclosed according to the terms of the settlement except to state that Geek Housecalls retained its name.[16]

In 2006, Geek Squad was sued for allegedly using pirated copies of Winternals' Emergency Repair Disk Commander. The lawsuit filed by Austin-based Winternals claims that employees of Geek Squad have continued using the pirated versions of the software after the commercial licensing agreement broke off. Best Buy and Geek Squad were accused of copyright infringement, circumvention of copyright infringement systems, and misappropriation of trade secrets.[17] A settlement was eventually reached, and Winternals created a three-year agreement in place with Best Buy, allowing Geek Squad employees to lawfully use their licensed programs, including the ERD Commander.[18]

In 2010, Best Buy issued a trademark infringement cease and desist letter against a priest in Wisconsin for painting "God Squad" on his car.[19]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the TV series Chuck, the main character works as a member of the Nerd Herd at a Buy More and drives in a Nerd-Herd-branded car, respectively alluding to Geek Squad, Best Buy, and its GeekMobile.[20]
  • In the US version of TV series The Office, the tech help-desk Geek Squad's logo has appeared (logo on the wall of Toby's cubicle and a toy of the Geek Squad Volkswagen car atop a filing cabinet, in "Michael's Birthday" and "Drug Testing", respectively).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Best Buy Press Release". Retrieved 2 June 2007. 
  2. ^ Nanjil, Natasha. "GEEK SQUAD (BEST BUY) CANADA ACQUIRES PC LIFEBOAT IN AN EFFORT TO EXPAND SERVICE OFFERING TO QUEBEC". Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Tomassi, K. "Best Buy Drives Geek Squad Via Office Depot", Forbes online. Retrieved on December 1, 2006.
  4. ^ Durman, P. "Geek Squad Comes to Britain". The Times of London. Retrieved 4 April 2007. 
  5. ^ "Online Remote Support". Geek Squad. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "GEEKSQUAD". Best Buy. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  7. ^ "Geek Squad Agents". Geek Squad. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  8. ^ "Geek Squad History". Geek Squad. 
  9. ^ "V C Section 27605 Vehicle Resembling Law Enforcement Vehicle". California Department of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  10. ^ "Geek Squad City". Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  11. ^ Terdiman, Daniel (19 June 2008). "Computer sprawl at Geek Squad City". CNET. Retrieved 9 January 2013. 
  12. ^ "Geek Squad City". Geek Squad. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  13. ^ a b Blue, Violet (21 February 2008). "The Geek Squad's Ongoing Porn Problem". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  14. ^ Surdin, Ashley. "Best Buy, `Geek Squad' sued over videotaping". 
  15. ^ Popkin, Ben. "Customer sues Best Buy, alleges Geek Squad worker stole, published nude pics". 
  16. ^ Gavin, Robert. "That Geek Mystique". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  17. ^ "Best Buy's 'Geek Squad' Accused of Pirating Software". Associated Press. 13 April 2006. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  18. ^ Utter, David. "Winternals, Best Buy Settle Over Geek Squad". SecurityProNews. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  19. ^ Sauer, Abe. "Best Buy Geeks Out Over God Squad". Brand Channel. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 
  20. ^ Tevlin, Jon (27 November 2007). "Dates Aside, TV's Nerd Herd Rings True to Geeks". Star Tribune. Retrieved 5 June 2012. 

External links[edit]