Geek Squad

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Geek Squad Inc.
Subsidiary
IndustryServices
FoundedJune 16, 1994; 26 years ago (1994-06-16)
FounderRobert Stephens
Headquarters,
U.S.
Area served
Number of employees
20,000+
ParentBest Buy
Websitegeeksquad.com

Geek Squad Inc. 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. In 2002, they merged with Best Buy,[1] 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. Geek Squad no longer works solely on computer-related devices. It now diagnoses issues in and repairs all consumer electronics, as well as appliances.[2]

Locations and partnerships[edit]

Geek Squad in Canada

Geek Squad precincts exist in most Best Buy stores in the United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and the Netherlands. They offer in-store, in-home, online, and remote/over the phone services.[3][4]

Best Buy terminated its partnership with Office Depot in Orlando, Florida, where Geek Squad precincts were located in 10 Office Depot locations.[5] 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). From November 2015 repairs will be completed at a Dixons Carphone repair center based in Newark (East Midlands)[6]

In 2008 Best Buy partnered 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.[7] On July 15, 2013, all Geek Squad business was transferred away from SupportSpace and moved in house to Geek Squad agents.

A 2013 agreement with Atomic Learning, Inc. provides all Geek Squad tech subscribers with access to over 60,000 on-demand tutorial training videos.[8]

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.

Staff[edit]

Older traditional Geek Squad logo from prior to 2017.

Mark Atlan is featured on the mobile application and the current spokesperson for Geek Squad. 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.[9] They also require MECP certification for all technical mobile electronics installers.[10]

Uniforms and vehicles[edit]

Geekmobile in Maryland
Geek Squad Chevrolet Express in Vermont, which are no longer used.
Geek Squad Ford E-350 cutaway in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

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 that used to have 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 who have served in an eligible capacity within any branch of Geek Squad for eighteen months, or who have held certain positions prior to 2014 including on-site Double Agents, Special Agents, and Deputies of Counter Intelligence carry a metal police-style badge with their Agent Number engraved on it.[11]

The Minnesota Historical Society added the official uniform to its permanent collection in 2000.[12]

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.

Prior to 2016, Double Agents and Special Agents drove 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).[13] In 2016, Geek Squad began phasing out the New Beetles and replacing them with Toyota Prius Cs.[14]

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.[citation needed]

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 desktop or laptop devices. They provide support for narrow range of approved issues verbally over the phone, or Agents will connect to clients devices remotely and fix any issues if the computer is able to connect to the internet.[citation needed]

Geek Squad City[edit]

Located in Brooks, Kentucky,[15][16] Geek Squad City is the largest Geek Squad computer repair site at 240,000 square feet.[17]

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.[18]

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.[18]

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.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21]

In 2006, Geek Squad was sued for allegedly using unauthorized copies of Winternals' Emergency Repair Disk Commander. The lawsuit filed by Austin-based Winternals claims that employees of Geek Squad have continued using the unlicensed 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.[22] 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.[23]

In 2010, Best Buy issued a trademark infringement cease and desist letter against a priest in Wisconsin for painting "God Squad" on his car.[24]

In 2013, Geek Squad was sued for invasion of privacy and several other civil infractions for allegedly releasing nude images found on a customer's computer.[25] The suit is ongoing. In June 2015, the court denied Best Buy's motions for summary judgment on all claims except the claim for "negligence/wantonness."[26]

On March 7, 2018, NPR reported that "FBI Used Paid Informants On Best Buy's Geek Squad To Flag Child Pornography" according to a document that was released by the Electronic Frontier Foundation.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hassan, Ibne,. Evaluating companies for mergers and acquisitions. Ghauri, Pervez N., (First ed.). Bingley, England. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-78350-621-7. OCLC 884586043.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link) CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "Best Buy's Geek Squad Rolls Out New Geekmobile, Updated Logo". Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  3. ^ "Best Buy Press Release". Archived from the original on June 17, 2007. Retrieved June 2, 2007.
  4. ^ Nanjil, Natasha. "GEEK SQUAD (BEST BUY) CANADA ACQUIRES PC LIFEBOAT IN AN EFFORT TO EXPAND SERVICE OFFERING TO QUEBEC" (PDF). Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  5. ^ Tomassi, K. "Best Buy Drives Geek Squad Via Office Depot", Forbes online. Retrieved on December 1, 2006.
  6. ^ Durman, P. "Geek Squad Comes to Britain". The Times of London. Retrieved April 4, 2007.
  7. ^ "Online Remote Support". Geek Squad. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  8. ^ http://blogs.atomiclearning.com/atomic-learning-teams-geek-squad-learning-tools-tech-support-program-members
  9. ^ "GEEKSQUAD". Best Buy. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  10. ^ "MECP Advanced Certified". Retrieved December 10, 2014.
  11. ^ "Geek Squad Agents". Geek Squad. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  12. ^ "Geek Squad History". Geek Squad.
  13. ^ "V C Section 27605 Vehicle Resembling Law Enforcement Vehicle". California Department of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  14. ^ "GEEK SQUAD TRADES IN VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE FOR TOYOTA PRIUS". John Irwin. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  15. ^ "Geek Squad City". Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  16. ^ Terdiman, Daniel (June 19, 2008). "Computer sprawl at Geek Squad City". CNET. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  17. ^ "Geek Squad City". Geek Squad. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  18. ^ a b Blue, Violet (February 21, 2008). "The Geek Squad's Ongoing Porn Problem". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  19. ^ Surdin, Ashley. "Best Buy, 'Geek Squad' sued over videotaping".
  20. ^ Popkin, Ben. "Customer sues Best Buy, alleges Geek Squad worker stole, published nude pics".
  21. ^ Gavin, Robert. "That Geek Mystique". The Boston Globe. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  22. ^ "Best Buy's 'Geek Squad' Accused of Pirating Software". Associated Press. April 13, 2006. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  23. ^ Utter, David. "Winternals, Best Buy Settle Over Geek Squad". SecurityProNews. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  24. ^ Sauer, Abe. "Best Buy Geeks Out Over God Squad". Brand Channel. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  25. ^ "Geek Squad Accused of Stealing Naked Pics". Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  26. ^ ""Outrage," Privacy and the Geek Squad". Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  27. ^ https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/03/07/591698708/fbi-used-paid-informants-on-best-buys-geek-squad-to-flag-child-pornography

External links[edit]