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Comparing IT Services in the Golden Isles: Geek Squad

Coastal Computer - Thursday, July 14, 2016

Recently, we were asked how our prices compare to the Geek Squad. This prompted us to review the available Geek Squad service plans and call their support line to learn what is actually included in each plan. We called specifically to learn what was included with their protection plan.

We should note here that we are “educated consumers” in the sense that we know the questions to ask to learn what is truly included in each service plan. Despite this, the phone call took over 45 minutes! – simply to learn exactly what the Geek Squad offers in their plan.

What’s actually covered in the Geek Squad plan?

The first level of support was unable to answer our question, “If my computer can’t get on the Internet because it has a virus and we live an hour away from the closest Geek Squad, will you come out to fix it?” Eventually, we learned the answer: No. If we live an hour away, we would need to bring the computer in for repair or, for laptops and tablets, send it to their repair depot.

Naturally, our next question was, “Ok, if I drive an hour to the local Geek Squad, can I drop my computer off and pick it up the same day?” Another “no,” and no clear answer on when the computer would be fixed, they implied it would be at least 24 hours but gave no guarantee.

For anyone who lives in the Golden Isles, that means you will need to drive to either Jacksonville or Savannah at least two times to get your computer fixed by the Geek Squad if it can’t connect to the Internet.

The other option, mailing your laptop or tablet to the repair depot, can take even longer. The Geek Squad provides a box for you to ship your computer back to their central depot. You need to package the laptop, finding the closest shipping location, and then…wait. People have reported waiting up to 3 weeks to get their computer back!

Does Geek Squad cover hardware?

Geek Squad does offer a hardware protection plan which covers accidents such as spills and drops, but NOT “acts of God.” As it was explained to us, we could throw our laptop in the pool and it would be covered but if there was an electrical surge from lightning, the computer or device would not be protected. Considering all the articles we’ve written about protecting your electronics during hurricane season, this set off a bunch of red flags in our mind.

We recommend that our clients ALWAYS buy computers and laptops from major manufacturers and buying at least a 3-year protection plan. However, we DON’T recommend buying your computer or a protection plan from a big box store or another third party. The surprising gaps in coverage from store-bought plans will leave you wondering what you bought in the first place.

In the same sense, the idea of a “software warranty” or “software protection plan” sounds great until you consider that most software-related issues that require service also prevent the computer from going online. After checking, we found that Geek Squad is not alone, onsite service is not included in any protection plan available from the big box stores.

Conclusion: What does this mean for IT support in the Golden Isles?

To be clear, our goal is not to discredit the services of the Geek Squad. Our goal was to learn what protection is actually included with their plans and what happens in the event your computer needs repair or can’t go online. We learned that none of their plans offer onsite service or any sort of guarantee on turnaround time in the event of repair.

We feel a managed services agreement is a better solution for most customers. By proactively monitoring against hardware failure, and applying software updates and patches automatically, managed services provide a greater value and can help save you time instead of wasting your time, or for that matter, money.

When you have a computer that’s outside of the manufacturer’s warranty, our goal is to provide honest advice about how much any repairs might cost, and whether it actually makes sense. When it comes to hardware, after purchasing a plan direct from the manufacturer, we feel this is the best approach, instead of a one size-fits-all fee to cover when a repair may or may not be needed, or justified.

We hope this article gives you more insight when comparing different IT service options in the Golden Isles, and saves you some time and money!