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Best Buy Cuts 650 Geek Squad Techies 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-who-will-install-my-monster-cable dept.
tripleevenfall writes "Best Buy has cut approximately 650 jobs from its Geek Squad division, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The cut represents about 4% of Geek Squad's total workforce. The consumer electronics giant said the workers primarily service televisions and appliances in consumers' homes. Best Buy's performance has struggled to keep up with changes in consumer electronics, as the weight of its big-box format inhibits it from fending off competitive pressure of online retailers."
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Best Buy Cuts 650 Geek Squad Techies

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  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:12PM (#40569441) Homepage Journal

    When you cut support you begin to cut your own throat.

    • by Glothar (53068) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:13PM (#40569465)
      Good thing they only cut Geek Squad people, then.
    • by Jeng (926980) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:28PM (#40569637)

      I thought charging for support accounted for around 90% of their profit?

      If they are losing money on support they are totally fucked.

      • If you had been reading financial news, you would already know that they are likely to go out of business soon.

        This has been known for several months.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by night_flyer (453866)

      I wouldn't call Geek Squad "support"

    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:51PM (#40569991)

      When you cut support you begin to cut your own throat.

      The beginning of Best Buy's end started with the end of Circuit City. Best Buy thought that they were now free of competition, so they reduced the variety of the products they stocked and focused only on high-margin stuff (for example, Monster Cable and in-house brands). They thought that their customers no longer had a choice and so they tried to stick it to us.

      Now you hear them whine about being "the internet's showroom" - they think people come in to look and then go buy online instead. That's almost a complete fallacy because almost all of their products are commodities, you gain basically nothing from a hands-on experience with just about everything they sell. Even things like TV's, AVR's and speakers don't really give up much useful information from the show-room experience because performance in your own home is always different from in the show-room. You are almost always better off reading a variety of reviews than trying to make subjective judgements yourself in the store.

      • by b4dc0d3r (1268512) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:05PM (#40570183)

        You sound like an informed consumer, not their target market. People do walk around and then buy online, or at least comparison shop. Some people do it by sending teams to different stores, and the lowest price feature compatible item gets bought.

        People don't want a hands-on experience - they do want to window shop, though. And it helps to stay organized if you have a limited selection, and maybe tiered pricing in several physically separate locations. Once you narrow it down, you find something similar online and buy it. Not that item, just something like it.

        It started with people checking out specials on their website while in the store, and noticing price mismatches. Now word has gotten around that you don't buy without checking the price first - and while you're at it, why not check someone else's store too?

        They did cut inventory and act like they were the only choice, and people started window shopping there and buying online, and it was entirely their own fault.

        • by EdIII (1114411)

          I'm an informed consumer and I sometimes walk into a shop when I am looking for type of product I need, but just want to get a feel for what it out there.

          Granted, most times I already have a product in mind and know that Best Buy carries it.

          You hit on something with the price checking. That is why I don't think Best Buy is being honest when they say they dislike being the "Internet showroom". What they dislike more than anything is the fact they have to price match so often, and are forced to lower their

          • Best Buy will not match the price of an online store, but I have noticed that the lowest brick-and-mortar store price is not really that much higher than the cheapest *legitimate* online price.

            I think we need to place a line between accessories and everything else. When I need an HDMI cable, I buy online. The vast majority all just work, and two seconds looking at comments and reviews reveal the one or two subpar cables that don't. I can buy a cable for a couple dollars online, or $100 at retail. That's a n

            • Focus on the online presence, and the ability to ship to store to free on any item (Wal-Mart has this one nailed).

              Almost nailed. They let you pay cash now too - you order online, you come into the store and pay cash, then they ship it to your house or to the store for you to pick up.

              When I say "almost" the problem is that when you pay cash, they still ask for photo ID on pick-up so you have to have photo-ID (a lot of the people who don't have debit/credit cards don't have photo id either).

              So far I've been able to bluff the kid manning the pick-up counter. But one day I might not, and then I'm stuck unable to pick up

      • by pavon (30274) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:24PM (#40570395)

        Now you hear them whine about being "the internet's showroom" - they think people come in to look and then go buy online instead.

        Not to mention that they hardly showroom any real hardware anymore. When I bought my mp3 player 7 years ago I bought it in a retail store because I wanted to interact with it first to see how I liked the interface, and if the hardware felt flimsy. Now I walk into a retail store, and the "display units" all have cardboard screens.

        • by PRMan (959735)
          Exactly this. It's now pointless to try out some gadgets at Best Buy. I couldn't even try a phone the last time I was there. I knew it ran Android and I liked the physical keyboard, but the screen was a plastic image.
          • by PRMan (959735)
            This time I just bought the Samsung Galaxy SII directly from Sprint because it was the highest-rated.
      • by kiwimate (458274)

        Now you hear them whine about being "the internet's showroom" - they think people come in to look and then go buy online instead. That's almost a complete fallacy because almost all of their products are commodities, you gain basically nothing from a hands-on experience with just about everything they sell

        Err...what? Go back over the past couple of years on Slashdot and find any one of several stories about Best Buy. You'll find piles of comments from people all saying this is the only reason they go to Best Buy. I realize that Slashdot is not the majority opinion, but still...

      • by pLnCrZy (583109)

        Now you hear them whine about being "the internet's showroom" - they think people come in to look and then go buy online instead. That's almost a complete fallacy because almost all of their products are commodities, you gain basically nothing from a hands-on experience with just about everything they sell. Even things like TV's, AVR's and speakers don't really give up much useful information from the show-room experience because performance in your own home is always different from in the show-room. You are almost always better off reading a variety of reviews than trying to make subjective judgements yourself in the store.

        Yes, but not entirely. I still wander through Magnolia when I'm shopping for something. If they have it for me to demo (speakers, TVs, etc.) then I will give them an audition.

        Where they are really shooting themselves in the foot is that they won't price match. I gave them numerous opportunities to make a sale, but they wouldn't price match online prices from Frys.com, Amazon, or other online stores. They claim it's because those prices can't be verified or validated. In one case (an Onkyo receiver that

        • by jafo (11982)

          Many of the receivers I have looked at say that they won't honor the warranty if it is not purchased through an authorized reseller, and the authorized resellers all seem to have the same price for the units, including online and brick-and-mortar...

          If you want to save a ton of money, it seems like buying last years higher end model, which likely has very similar features to this years lower-end model, can be a huge price savings.

          Sean

          • Just buy from the unauthorized dealer and spend a couple of bucks on a 3rd party warranty like Square Trade. You still come out way, way ahead.

        • Is it necessary to price match exactly? Maybe if they could be say $30 dearer it would be worth the premium of being able to buy right now. There is a value in being able to buy now and also be able to bring something back if it develops a fault.

      • I certainly go in there if I happen to be stopped near a best buy and its been a while. Sometimes its nice to browse cameras or whatever, and hands on sometimes does tell you more than just the specs. That TV may be 1080, and may have 3 hdmi inputs, but are they well placed? How big is the trim on the screen? Etc etc, some things pics just arent as good as actually being there.

        That said, I dont believe Ive actually purchased anything there in over 10 years.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:53PM (#40570019) Homepage Journal

      It's more like their throat is being cut for them, so they got rid of some throat.

      The Geek Squad isn't about support, it's about selling you services you don't need that slow down your computer to produce additional business.

      It's been said before that consumers of today are actually savvy and well-educated. Well, I think that's a load of horseshit; some of us are, but most people are as ignorant as ever about things that matter. Most people are merely better educated than ever before on what celebrities are doing and on what corporations want them to purchase. I would like to think that the Geek Squad is failing because consumers are wising up, but I suspect it has more to do with people having less computer problems because they're abandoning antiquated systems that can't reasonably be maintained or secured.

    • by PopeRatzo (965947)

      When you cut support you begin to cut your own throat.

      That happens to be a national problem, not just at Best Buy.

    • TV sales are down and they are restructuring aggressively. They are trying to survive amidst a bitch-slapping from Amazon. Management has been slow to react, it will be interesting to see their progress. They are testing new store layouts and an Apple style of store/support using Geek Squad personnel to assist customers. Employees are going to get intense training for several straight weeks to bolster the transition. Best Buy is a good gamble for people with a little money to burn as their stock is a sel

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      Business folk who get to their positions via the accounting stack (too many damn CEOs are accountants who worked their way up cutting costs) always focus on what they know, cutting costs. They never see the other way to grow a business, increase value. Best Buy was so focused on Circuit Shitty for so long, they forgot they had customers. They assumed customers, and so the "value" of Best Buy is gone. I shopped at the first CompUSA back when there was only one. I shopped at one of the last opened before
  • First Post (Score:5, Funny)

    by CompMD (522020) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:12PM (#40569443)

    Brought to you by Monster Cable.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    well-qualified McDonald's workers ready for the job market!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The headline is incomplete. It should read, "Best Buy Cuts 650 Geek Squad Techies. Nothing of Value Lost."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:18PM (#40569517)

    You know, the customers' porn isn't gonna watch itself.

  • by Rone (46994) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:21PM (#40569545)

    Which technicians were cut?

    The ones with the lowest technical aptitude, or the ones who pushed the least amount of unnecessary service on their customers?

    • Actually, like most other job cuts, it was random.

    • by afidel (530433) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:25PM (#40569601)
      The ones that had been there the longest and thus cost the most for the company. Just like Circuit City when they were circling the drain, cut your best people because they are "expensive".
      • by Billly Gates (198444) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:54PM (#40570033) Journal

        Then GeekSquad is like the rest of the IT field.

        Remember back in the good old days when a System Administrator who had 7 years experience pulled in $120,000 a year? Now if you make over $40,000 you are eyed to be axed. After $45,000 you have to walk in water and know everything to justify to keep your job. They can find some guy with 1 year experience in help desk to always replace them for $32,000 a year to manage their mult million dollar IT infrastructure ... rolls eyes.

        I guess cost centers are always treated like crap even if they generate revenue and actually hurt the company when cut

        • That's ok by me. Because it takes someone like me making 60+k a year to come in and cleanup the mess left over by the 32K guys fresh out of college. It breaks my heart having to cleanup after epic failure... Ehh, not really.

          Lesson learned. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!

          • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

            Actually the lesson learned from the good old days is that the service provided just isn't worth $120k per year. Our company of 30 can get by fine with a monthly visit by a consultant for 8 hours. He can still make $120k or so, but we pay about $13k. Our total support costs, including my time and another guy that spends a few hours a month settin guy new computers and rotating backups adds less than $20k fully burdened to the equation. We could scale to 80 people in one location before our total IT labo

        • ...you have to walk in water...

          What's so hard about that? Even a little child can walk in the water. Now walking on the water, that's a whole different kettle of fish. Of course, back when I was working in IT, I preferred to part the waters and cross on dry land. Maybe that's why it kept getting harder and harder to get new jobs as time went on. Interesting.
        • by JWSmythe (446288)

          Walking on water, and wielding a magic wand that fixes any sort of technical or mechanical issue, doesn't help much any more.

          As one CEO said, "Why should we keep paying him $50k/yr, when I can hire a kid from McDonalds at $16k/yr to to keep the same chair warm?" The mention of "Well, the guy making $50k knows how to do the job. The minimum wage kid doesn't have a clue" is answered by "He'll learn."

          Companies would prefer to cycle through people working for the

    • I'm assuming this is a rhetorical question................
    • by Jeng (926980) on Friday July 06, 2012 @05:40PM (#40569819)

      Which technicians were cut?

      The ones with low agility, the others moved out of the way fast enough.

      • "no animals were harmed during the making of this movie. we tried, but that monkey was just too darned fast."

        (colbert, I think).

        ((not the monkey. I don't think...))

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Single skilled in home appliance and TV techs were cut (I being one of them). Dual trained (as in repair both TV and Appliances) were not impacted as much

    • by Chas (5144) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:01PM (#40570793) Homepage Journal

      Which technicians were cut?

      The most emo ones. They volunteered to do it themselves.

    • None, because Geek Squad has nobody worth calling a technician.
  • *spits drink*

    Heather Number One just looked right at me!
  • My boss often joked that if we screw up too much at our office, we can always find a job with Geek Squad. (A few of the fired part timers had, in the past.) Perhaps not, any more.
    • Urgh, just noticed the double pronoun in that title. I'm on my second rum and coke in anticipation of a final exam this evening. Good for programming, bad for English!
      • . . .what where we. . .

        . . .in anticipation of a final exam this evening.

        . . .bad for English!

        I really hope that after two drinks, that this evening's final exam isn't in English. :-)

      • by AK Marc (707885)
        Nobody reads subjects anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I concur with the other posters that should never *ever* cut any part of a business, and especially never fire large number of employees.

    This is based on the two principals of economics that (A) there is an infinite amount of capital available so a business should continually invest in and expand every part of itself, and (B) there are no other opportunities for shareholders to invest their money, and all money should be re-invested in a business, no matter how small the return.

  • The soon-to-be former chairman just resigned and is looking to sell off his 20% stake in the company. If the rest of the board adopts a similar attitude, this company will end up going the way of Circuit City.
  • Arrested for Multiple Counts of Assault with a Deadly Weapon. PNGs at 11.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Geek Squad are "techies" now?

  • Where else can I find these all so valued IT professionals? They are the only ones who know about these gold plated MONSTER grade $120 HDMI cables and those $60 power outlet extenders for superior computer performance and TV picture quality.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      That's gold plated optical cables and directional Ethernet cables for you (and yes, both exist and have been linked to many times on slashdot) (and yes, I'm too lazy to link to either right now) (but no, I can't recall that they were specifically at Best Buy).
  • by speedlaw (878924) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:05PM (#40570177) Homepage
    Things have gotten really bad. Back in the day, I worked in a stereo store. We had products that could be demoed, Salesfolk who knew something about those products, and within the rules of salesmanship, could oft match a customer with the right gadget. Fast forward to today. Retail electronics sales is dead. When Circuit City died/fired the old timers, that was the last gasp of mass market audio sales. I now go to BB, and they have mass market crap in audio, while the Magnolia side has Meh audio for big audio prices. You either have to go to a top end audio retailer, of which there are few, or buy blind off the net. I bought a HSU subwoofer, which is lovely, but it was the first item I'd bought "UN-auditoned". BB is the last one standing. The rest of us have to read internet forums and buy based on that.....it's crowdsourcing, but for audio, everyone's ears are different. There's nowhere to go to audition mid to low high end audio anymore.
    • by Belial6 (794905)
      Magnolia. Were they supposed to be anything more than a scam? There was one around here that last for about 2 years. I went into it when it first opened. It was when HD screens had just started to come down in price, but before mainstream adoption. I had noticed that most of the Wide screen TVs did not yet offer keyholing of 4:3 pictures. They just stretched everything out to look like Mario Bros. characters. I asked the sales person if they had any models that didn't stretch strand format pictures t
      • Before Best Buy bought them, Magnolia Hi-Fi was actually a pretty well-regarded retail chain. It was not a high-end audio boutique by any means, but they had knowledgeable sales people with a choice of numerous premium brands. If you were in the market for a $4000 Pioneer Elite RPTV or a Yamaha Natural Sound amp, Magnolia was a good place to look.

        It was not considered good news among home-theater enthusiasts when Best Buy bought the company, put it that way.

  • ...because Best Buy has demonstrated a lack of respect for this particular group of employees by giving them a derogatory title.

  • "the weight of its big-box format inhibits it from fending off competitive pressure of online retailers."

    If I'm in the mood to save money, or be patient, I find it hard to save less then about 40-60% off of the price at Best Buy. Amazon/Walmart/Meritline...

    The layout/pricing/(lack of)knowledge of the stores make me cringe.

    I don't know how companies like Fry's can possibly compete...

    • by PRMan (959735)
      Because Fry's, unlike Best Buy, has low prices and a great layout. Their support is horrible to non-existent, but as long as you know what you want, it's a great place.
      • I'm not sure about the "great layout" part - I love Fry's as much as the next slashdotter but the way the stores are organized is ridiculous. For many categories of things there will be at least two separate places in the store with a selection of said things (not the same selection, a different selection). You can't just go to one aisle and expect to see everything in that category.

        I mean, that does make it fun, because you have to hunt around the store meaning you'll see all kinds of other neat stuff - av

  • by rhook (943951)

    Nothing of value was lost.

  • by bschorr (1316501) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:21PM (#40570361) Homepage
    ...they'll be able to get their old jobs back at Foot Locker?

    Sorry...that was mean. There probably are some Geeks that know what they're doing and I'm sure they're brilliant at getting Grandma on Facebook. I just get the call when one of them has screwed up somebody's server or line of business application because they had no idea what they were doing. Which happens way too often.
  • If the Geek Squad kid did anything of value, I would say this is significant, but they are hired lackeys to do nothing but be a face for an overpriced and underperforming scam operation! When Best Buy bought the original Minneapolis-based Geek Squad, it was the beginning of the end of their integrity and reputation. This is just Best Buy trimming the fat. To many of these kids behind the counter aren't any better than if your neighborhood lemonade stand did computer repairs too.
    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Right I lived in MPLS when Geek Squad was an independent entity. I never used them because I never had a need, but I know plenty of people who did.

      They actually were staffing people who knew how to do things like run mem maker and configure emm386 to get your kids DOS game running properly. I know people who did have them do things like recover files of corrupt FAT floppies with hex editors. I am sure most of older slashdot'ers have been their done that and got the t-shirt but it really was a valuable ser

  • Likely to become 3rd party contractors doing the in home stuff. Like the cable CO's and staples.

    yes staples does farm out some of there in home stuff to 3rd party contractors.

  • oh..they just let them go. /pout
  • oh no! (Score:4, Funny)

    by bitt3n (941736) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:34PM (#40570509)
    great. who am I going to get to exorcise the virus from my power supply unit now?
    • A priest with holy water? Stand back, it could get ugly!

    • great. who am I going to get to exorcise the virus from my power supply unit now?

      For $30 an hour I will, just wire me your bank details and I'll do the required rituals remotely, I've got the pentagram and candles already.

  • by bratwiz (635601) on Friday July 06, 2012 @09:20PM (#40572021)

    Best Buy is the only company who can lay off 650 of its technical support staff and have its IT competence remain exactly the same.

  • by jsepeta (412566) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @11:50AM (#40575829) Homepage

    So there's no reason to go to Best Buy. To get a better deal on a TV, check Amazon or Walmart. To get a better deal on an appliance, go to Lowe's or Menards or Sam's Club. Want a better selection of movies, games, or music? Amazon.

    Screw Best Buy, with their overpriced products and ripoff "services". Plus, the Geek Squad is mostly known for screwing up customer's machines and stealing software.
    https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ie=UTF-8&ion=1#hl=en&safe=off&sclient=psy-ab&q=geek%20squad%20screwed%20me&oq=&gs_l=&pbx=1&fp=54147a6c24560a3&ion=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1599&bih=963 [google.com]
    http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2007/05/geek_squad_caug/ [wired.com]

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