February 20, 2008


This is part two of a review of responses to an article concerning a $54 million lawsuit against Best Buy. Click here to read Part 1:

Click here to read & PROTECTING PRIVACY OF PERSONAL DATA ON YOUR COMPUTER & Found: Flash Drive. What should I do?

Click here to read the original article on Raelyn Campbell:

During this phase of my life my title is photo/journalist, author. My laptop is a tool for writing and research. It has become a necessary tool, allowing me to work at home, in libraries, in courthouses. It provides a great freedom to write the historic journal article I am working on, as well as the historic romance novel.

And yes, I do keep a lot of personal information stored on my laptop. That is what it is for. That is why I purchased it. However, I do back up my information on an external drive, flash drives and/or CDs. Even so, I feel I am vulnerable to identity theft should the laptop be stolen or lost.

Numerous respondents noted that People are so dependent on computers today, they cannot think for themselves. Why would anybody keep all their information on something that can be so public. Best Buy should shot also — They are not the best buy in town.

Posts indicate that customers have nicknames for the store: Bust Buy, Worst Buy. It is an opinion expressed by disgruntled customers and former employees.

Numerous responses came from former Best Buy employee or others working in the computer service field.

I’m not surprised. I was a retail manager for Best Buy and I assure everyone, this is not the first time, or will it be the last. The manager’s letters in response to some written to the store are just as arrogant as they were ten years ago. It’s a template all managers use. As a consumer it does not pertain to me how many good experiences other consumers have… This type of situation is typical of Best Buy, and I am not at all surprised. Their consumer relations line or corporate number the store gives is another way to duck the consumer in the store… The issue with that manager, is he is less than qualified to be a store manager?…It’s a shame that Best Buy to this day has not changed the way it handles consumers. I would never work for them again, that I am certain of. Jeff, New York—I work at a box store that sells and services computers and I am surprised at what goes on. I’ve seen techs tell customers their motherboards were bad and that it would be cheaper to replace the computer. I personally got my hands on two of these PC’s and it was a dead battery that costs about $2.00…These tech’s make between 10-20 dollars and hour (this is being generous). Do you seriously think that this hires very knowledgeable technicians? Some claim “We only hire A+ certified technicians”. As a test my 14 year old took and passed the exam. He is very intelligent but even he will tell you, you don’t want his hands in your PC……Bill L., Wilmington, DE —I work at a service center that repairs many different items for customers. While I understand that parts sometimes can be slow in arriving, this was an insult to any customer as the company LOST her item and didn’t tell her. You CANNOT simply lose track of an item or your repair system is shoddy and what does that say about your business? Tim Ehlers,Leipsic, Ohio

One post I find particularly interesting is: If she had any of her health information on the lap top she also would be able to claim a HIPAA confidentiality breach. HIPAA is a federal privacy law. It seems that in today’s market place service is a rare commodity. Good Luck Anonymous.

I can understand the laptop being lost. This is life and it happens. What I will never understand is the months of slagging off a customer like Best Buy did. Terrible customer service and all for what? A power switch. Remarkable Mike, Branson MO.

In general the posts appeared to recognize that life happens. When it does, there seem sto be some protocol of respect for the customer that should be followed.

People make mistakes and accidents or theft happen. It’s Best Buy’s reaction to the problem that really sucks. Staff JM Miami, Fl — I don’t condone the amount of money she’s asking for, but I don’t think that’s the point she’s trying to make. I think she’s simply saying that Best Buy shouldn’t be such jerks and try to screw the customer at every chance they get. And if they simply told the truth from the beginning (that they lost her laptop) we wouldn’t be reading about this story right now.–Whatever happened to basic good manners that almost every parent taught their kids? Tell the truth and treat people with respect? Maybe all these executives today were orphans and never were taught that lesson? Or maybe they just don’t care anymore.–What a sad world we live in today…Anonymous

I am glad this made it to the media. Maybe, if the bill is high enough, Best Buy will take losing a computer more seriously. Just think, if they’d been upfront, honest, and accountable, it probably would have never gotten this far in the media and court system. The fact that they carried on like everything was fine really disgusts me. I have been a dissatisfied customer on occasion. Acknowledging the problem, apologizing, and doing something to fix the problem goes along way! Ann, Colo. Springs, CO

The customer service angle seemed to bring in the most posts.

At the point where they lost her computer, Campbell became a problem rather than a customer. That is a problem for BB’s business model. There is a glaring hole in the system. Why does BB force the customer to have to file a lawsuit? In this case it seems the only way to get this mega corporation’s attention is with a lawsuit and a demand for compensation that commands respect. Steve Lombardi—But, I totally agree with the premise of her lawsuit. Best Buy is completely at fault, their compensation offers and their attitudes have been insulting, and they clearly violated laws regarding lost information. Then again, this is what we have come to expect from Worst Buy, and most other retailers. Joe, STL—The high cost of low prices! Trim those wages down and the quality of effort from employees plummets too. So many retail stores lose sight of the customer service and follow-up. Wake up retail America people are getting tired of it. David F.— Best Buy should realize that customer service is the main thing people look for in a retailer. I wonder how much business that Best Buy may loose because of this. They should be ashamed how they treated this lady. . Is there any business out there that is totally honest? That store would be a welcome reality. Tom Tom Robinson, Westminister, Ca— I agree the store should compensate fairly. The matter should have been addressed immediately and truthfully by Best Buy employees. Obviously best buy has some severe internal training flaws with its employees. Andrew, Tampa, Florida—My blood boils when I hear about cases like this — the ball was dropped repeatedly and it’s completely unacceptable. Richard, Chicago, IL

This is precisely the kind of BAD customer service that needs to be addressed in this country. Companies no longer care whether or not they actually provide service. —And, please, Best Buy, and Robert Delissio, don’t tout “well, we have hundreds of satisfied customers”. Really? Fine, PROVE IT!!! Give me names and phone numbers of people who are so happy with your service that they want to tell everybody how great you are!!! Please don’t hide behind confientaility either, doesn’t work! If you make a claim, BACK IT UP!!!! GIVE ME THE FACTS, AND TO SEVEN DECIMAL PLACES!!!! Customer Service Man

As simple and common as technology has become to us, it shouldn’t be managed by companies that market themselves like fast food joints. You aren’t buying a burger, you’re asking someone to service highly sophisticated equipment that means a lot to you personally…Todd McEvoy, Palos Park, IL—Someone at Best Buy didn’t want to take the fall for a mistake and/or theft. Instead of addressing the issue head on – that person decided it was best to deny, deny, deny and cheap out in the end. Anonymous—This will show those corporate drones that they need to pay more attention to the details and less to covering up for poor management. Anonymous.

It’s unfortunate that it takes this kind of a lawsuit to bring public attention to a problem that exists on a daily basis with other companies throughout America with similar situations (IE: Cell phone carriers, Insurance companies, etc) Once the lawsuit is filed, the company goes into a “damage control” mode to stop the bleeding and pay “hush money” to limit the negative publicity instead of just doing what’s right from the beginning and correcting the problem with an apology, explanation and fair compensation. If in Cambell’s case all the facts she stated are true, the damage award should be a minimum of a “7 figure judgement” to set an example of “zero tolerance policy” in the customer service field who fail to tell the truth, mislead consumers and expose individuals to identity theft. Gary, Cleveland OH

I don’t suppose any business cares about the customer once they have the money and the product is out of the store. Anonymous—Arrogance, contumelious disrespect, fraud, and stonewalling directed at a consumer have their direct and proximate costs. In addition to her material losses, loss of productivity, and emotional stress, she should be compensated additionally for her cumulative, per hourly rate of annual salary for the time spent dealing with this unethical company…all with triple damages and the company’s payment for at least 10 years in a credit protection/reimbursement program for her. When a Best Buy turns into a “bust buy”…Enough Already

A few respondents noted that there are
some people that can’t be satisfied? Yes, absolutely and yes there are those that have nothing better to do than to play games and try to get more than they are entitled too, but they are the exception and not the norm. It’s a shame to paint all consumers with a broad brush and treat them so arrogantly.

Unlike the lawsuit for the pants (another well publicized lawsuit), we’re talking…lost work productivity, personal data that can lead to identity theft, and corporate bullying. Foster, USA—I think the biggest issue of all this is that Best Buy left her open to Identity Theft. If they are going to be so sloppy in their handling of people’s personal laptops, they should be held accountable. Sheryl, Chicago— The fact that there was so much personal data on the machine I believe warrants a lawsuit. One could see it as best buy stealing this woman’s identity. Andrew, Tampa, Florida—If my laptop was “lost” containing all of my personal information, it would be devastating; even though I have a backup external hard drive. It was hard enough to change my name after marriage, much less backtrack through every purchase, receipt, and photograph in my computer to see what ID thieves could pick up.— These huge chain stores need to be reminded of consumer rights. In this case, you have the potential to lose many more hours in trying to protect your personal data and hope nobody steals it. The cost of verifying your credit report each month is also something to consider in your lawsuit. Anonymous.

And finally: If no one has stolen her identity by now – then I speculate that Best Buy did misplace it or accidentally threw it away. Anonymous

Lying was a major issue with respondents.

This is simply inexcusable. All those help line employees lied to her. They knowingly did so, trust me. They all had the exact same data in front of them and only one of them told her the truth…. I just can’t believe that that many people probably lied to her. Do companies have no sense of honesty and customer service? Just hide under the veil of more customers are happy than not? wow!…She should be compensated for the lying and the run around…And the fact that they lied, and delayed and weren’t up front to begin with. They let this drag on for months. You’re just trying doing your job without your computer!

Campbell’s suing for mega bucks has turned some respondents off, but others recognize what her principle is.

It’s not the money, of course, at this point — it’s the principle of the thing. Bad service from any business should be called out to the masses so that the worst offenders are forced to change their ways. If that’s what comes out of this lawsuit, rather than one dime in compensation or damages, then let’s call this a service for the greater good. Zoso, Germantown, MD—It’s not about the computer, really, it’s about accountabilty and facing the problem up front. Its making the company admit they were wrong and making it good, not for you to get rich but to make them understand the problem you are having. tony hanners, webb, al

Some respondents suggested or implied that Campbell should file a class action suit against Best Buy.

I’d love to see other people who have had their computers lost or stolen join Ms. Campbell in a class action law suit – $54 million wouldn’t seem like such an unreasonable amount then! Mike, Tampa, Fl—You want to hit them where it hurts, I’d suggest trying to find a law firm specializing in class action law suits. I’m sure there are other computer users that have experienced the same type of treatment from Best Buy. Contact the local media. Many media outlets have consumer advocates that will promote your story to a venue that will reach many other computer users. Ah Clem, Elgin Illinois—What the heck if Campbell is going to be forced to file suit she might as well answer the question: How many other people have you done this too? Without the lawsuit they weren’t taking her claim seriously. As a consumer her bargaining power with BB is zero. But-for the court system, consumers would be treated as if they were illegal aliens in a foreign country. Steve Lombardi

Others were concerned about the effects on customers if Campbell won the lawsuit.
Great. Let’s watch our $9.99 CDs go up to $10.99 now to help cover the cost of needless litigation. Yes, their original offer was ridiculous, but now all she’s done by trying to embarrass the store is embarrass herself. No wonder why the US court system is locked up. Anonymous.

Numerous respondents suggested solutions for improving the service at Best Buy: documentation of transactions with big companies, background checks, staff training, chain of custody records, seeking reliable small repair businesses…

(The situation is) All too common in retail. She was correct in starting at the bottom to resolve the issue but should have escalated quickly up management ranks when nothing was happening. If the local store management proves to be a dead end, go to corporate headquarters. She was correct to call, call and call (document each one with the person you spoke, date and time, to as she apparently did) and a few written letters along the way to the right people helps. Anonymous.

Best Buy has been mistreating customers for years. I laugh every time I take my laptop in (Why do I continue buying from them? I guess I am a naive optimist.) and they ask “Has it ever been here before?” Do they do background checks on these “agents” that work for Geek Squad and are privy to unmonitored time with our personal data? Brava! I am glad this battle is being fought, even if it does nothing but tell Best Buy that we have had enough! Anonymous

Great idea to train employees on privacy issues…Anonymous

Maybe if we legislated personal responsibility in this country, we wouldn’t HAVE so much crappy service.

Customer Service Man states should pass laws requiring companies that take your personal equipment to do the same thing we did in the military (and what most police departments do with crime scene evidence), and that is to have each employee sign a chain of custody form.–When Ms. Campbell first turned in her laptop, the Best Buy employee that received it should have given her a signed receipt, with his name and date time stamp.–Then, when he handed it off to the next person, he or she would have to sign for the laptop, in effect taking ownership of the laptop for that period of time that they had it. Same holds true if the laptop has to be sent out for service. Get a signature and a name each step of the way. If nothing else, Best Buy should have been able to say, definitively, that at 11:23 am on January 4th, 2008, your laptop was, and Bob Sullivan signed for it. (Sorry Bob.. 😀 )–If the laptop goes missing, then it is Bob’s responsibility and HE gets to pay for the missing laptop, along with Best Buy, since they are the parent company.–And before I get emails telling me that this wouldn’t work, because “anyone could take it”, I say, yes, this is true. But if YOUR name is the last one on the chain of custody list, and it’s YOUR butt that’s on the line, don’t you think you would make it your life’s mission to ensure the safety of that piece of equipment??–This is PRECISELY what happens in the military. When you get issued your weapon, or your helmet or heck, even the sheets to your bed, you SIGN for it. If it comes up missing, guess what, campers? That’s right; YOU get to sign the Statement of Charges to pay for it. No whining, no claiming you didn’t know, no BS…YOU’RE RESPONSIBLE…

As a technologist, my advice to the general public is to seek out someone local that you trust. There are plenty of them out there and most will stand by you as opposed to employees of large corporations that in the first place aren’t paid enough to care, but even if they did, couldn’t help you because they are limited by corporate policy, etc. They couldn’t go the extra mile for you if they wanted to. Anonymous.

Finally, Jeffrey’s post deserves to be reprinted in entirety. It warns about discusses the dangers of many computer situations that will make users vulnerable to identity theft. Unfortunately, most laptop owners, myself included, are not savvy enough to deal with his solutions.
While I do hope Campbell succeeds in her lawsuit, I cannot help but wonder about her lack of common sense in storing personal tax file (and perhaps other sensitive documents) on her notebook computer.

First, the computer could be lost somewhere in her travels, as happened with BestBuy.

Second, she probably connects to the Internet using various hotel guest networks and hotspots at other locations which significantly increase her exposure to exploits and malware, capable of accessing sensitive data on her computer.

Third, if she ever needs to have her computer repaired, even if BestBuy did not lose her computer, the technicians at the repair facilities still have access to the data and files on her computer.

And if the hard drive fails, it would be replaced, and it is likely that she would not obtain the drive back. In many cases, a hard drive that cannot be booted can still easily have data recovered from it.

Thus the possibilities for Identity Theft are significant both desktop systems and notebooks, but definitely greater for notebook computers.

As a computer professional, I do not store personal information on a notebook computer, and I store limited personal information on my desktop systems. For very sensitive information, I store the information on removal media, such as flash drives, and restrict the access of the systems that process it to the Internet by physically disconnecting the systems from my network.

I urge everyone to take common sense precautions against having data on your own systems compromised. Think about this – if your system is lost, stolen, or simply needs to be fixed by someone else, what is the likelihood that your data can be stolen or compromised? Flash drives and removal media are cheap, and if they fail (and backups are available), you can easily destroy and replace them. Jeffrey, Upstate New York

Many respondents considered that Campbell is due a reasonable settlement covering.
I agree. However, I would also point out that the settlement should include an agreement that should her identity be stolen at any point in the future, regardless of the source, with an open agreement that all costs of identity theft, regardless of the source, that the financial end be covered and that some reasonable compensation for the necessary time and trouble for clearing up the problem be made.

This two-part article didn’t present some issues posted as comments. Many persons felt strongly that the service agreements marketed by Best Buy were misrepresented and worthless. Others commented on the youth and inexperience of the staff. Although

Anonymous would disagree: This is absolutely ridiculous. This is why there is little faith in today’s youth; as a large percentage of those who work in the big name stores, handling such crucial information are too young to understand the consequences of their actions.

The lesson, for me, is to take personal responsibility for my own data, yet make Best Buy take responsibility for their actions. And, like everyone else, I will watch for the results of this lawsuit.

I welcome you to post comments below.

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