By Christiane Cordero

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Twin Cities-based Best Buy recently launched a membership service that gives users 24/7 access to Geek Squad support for appliances and technology.

“Whether they bought their electronics from us, or they bought them somewhere else, we’re there to help them,” said Geek Squad Double Agent TJ Shay.

The company touts its new service as unlimited support online, over the phone and in-store for everyday items, for $199 per year.

Geek Squad agents will also go to the customer for an extra fee. The price varies based on the service needed, but Total Tech Support members will get an additional 20 percent off of certain repairs. Agents will also do things like mount televisions or install appliances for $50 per visit.

Total Tech Support doesn’t cover issues that exist outside of the device itself, such as glitches related to a cable company, damaged software or lost data.

Best Buy told WCCO there are two types of people who benefit from this service: people who want to make the most out of the technology in their home, and people who just need help making it work.

Company executive Trish walker said she heard from a customer who bought it for his mom.

“And the way that changed their relationship is, he says, he goes to lunch now with her, instead of working her whole list of tech support,” Walker said. “And she also feels more independent. She doesn’t feel like a burden to her son. She can really have that relationship.”

Privacy is another factor, as more traditional-looking homes start becoming more futuristic with connected devices. Each of those devices and the companies behind them collect data.

Total Tech Support members are required to have a My Best Buy account. Through that account, Best Buy collects users’ names, addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and payment information.

Depending on how the membership is used, the company might also collect things like driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, location information and lifestyle details based on buying habits.

With Total Tech Support, Best Buy gives the option to connect devices so their agents can help remotely. Eventually, the company hopes to automatically link all devices to the app, but says the customer must opt in.

“It’s really going to be incumbent for us to understand the types of things they may or may not want us to do, and then allow them to opt in or opt out of those types of options,” Walkersaid.

Best Buy says it encrypts customer information to protect it and doesn’t share it with third parties unless that company is acting on Best Buy’s behalf.

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