Best Buy Customers, Your Personal Info Is At Risk

By Lil

I bought a computer at a Future Shop in the summer of 2010, but because we’ve always called the Geek Squad to help us with our computer problems, I figured we’d keep calling them if ever we needed them.

In January 2011, I started having some problems with my computer. It wouldn’t even turn on/off make any noise, nothing. Brought it to the trusty geeks at Best Buy, was charged almost 250$, but in the end got a brand new hard drive… or so I thought.

Fast forward 6 months later. It’s a warm June day and I’m finishing off some work for one of my summer classes and suddenly I get this message pop up on my screen that my computer’s memory is almost at full capacity and I won’t be able to save my file. Finding this incredibly weird (as I have maybe 100 songs, and about 25 word documents) I went to check the My Computer folder. The blue bar that normally shows you how much memory you have left is bright red and is about 1 mm away from the end of the bar. Thinking that this HAS TO be some sort of computer problem, I search around to see if maybe someone had downloaded a program onto my computer without my knowledge and that’s what was taking up all the memory space.

Holy shit was I far from that. Like Montreal to Sydney, Australia kind of far. In the “users” folders, I discovered a folder which had a weird name, a female human name, one which I had never heard before. I was scared it was some kind of porn folder my brother may have been working on, but it was worse. When I clicked on this icon, it was like I was on a completely different computer. A separate “Documents” folder, “Music” folder, and “Favorites” folder. When I clicked on some of the documents I found personal pictures and videos of a family that I had never met in my entire life. Some pictures from a beach somewhere, a chalet somewhere, and a wedding. There were even videos of this family’s young daughters singing and dancing on their webcam, which also let me get a good glimpse into their home and bedrooms. In one word document, one of the girls had described her family for some sort of school project and I saw everyone’s names and what the parents did to earn a living. I
can’t even describe to you how I felt. I showed this to my parents, my brother, and my brother in law who is a computer programmer. He didn’t even believe me when I told him this happened, but we both came to the same conclusion: Best Buy had charged me 250$+ for a used hard drive which wasn’t even wiped clean.

When I showed up to Best Buy to explain what the situation was, the Geek’s manager laughed and said “there’s nothing to worry about here. What happens is that when people come in to fix their computers, we upload all their files to our servers. Then, once the computer is fixed, we upload the files back onto it and voila, fixed computer. This is a simple mistake of mixing up 2 hard drives and uploading the wrong information.” When we told him we’d go see the family (whom we tracked down because of the business the man of the house had, info we found out thanks to the little girl’s school project) the manager said “Oh that won’t be necessary, we’ll call them ourselves.” Then he offered to do a quick diagnostic of the computer. No 250$ refund, no hard drive replacement. He then told us our Windows wasn’t doing too great and we’d have to pay 100$ to have it re-downloaded. Um, no thanks. I grabbed my tower and left.

I went to get a second opinion at a local computer repair store which brings back to life old towers so that the hardware may be more affordable for others. The repairman there opened up the tower and just looked at me. The hard drive that Best Buy installed was a 250-something type when it should’ve been a 500, and it was a hard drive from 2006, which is clearly printed on the hardware. So not only did I pay for an old piece of crap, but it was full of personal info from some family. Wonderful.

Moral of the story? Dear God, do not bring your computers to get fixed at Best Buy because you don’t know who will one day find your personal files on their computer. Best Buy customers beware!!!!

13 Responses to “Best Buy Customers, Your Personal Info Is At Risk”

  1. 0

    Myrna says...

    Wow… I think I would still find the other family and let them know..that’s just creepy to know that could happen! Best Buy probably won’t tell the other family. Nice service, can’t believe the just laughed it off.

  2. 0

    escher7 says...

    There are lots of small computer places around that are fair and know what they are doing. One such company charged me $12 to bypass a forgotten log-in password. Geek Squad would have charged a minimum of $60 and probably more. But be sure to ask some real geeks. Small guys can be crooked too and uninformed users can misdirect you.

  3. 0

    Stahr says...

    Write a letter to your local paper. Perhaps you could contact the CTV and get them to do a Consumer Alert show on it…

  4. 0

    tink30 says...

    A very similar thing happened to me, only with Future Shop. I bought a computer around 2002 and a couple of years later I discovered all sorts of files and info in it that did not belong to me (a lot of it was ‘adult’ material). The files were from earlier than 2002 so I realized my computer had not actually been bought ‘new’ but must have been refurbished or a return that was sold as new.

  5. 0

    Lil says...

    I thought about contacting the local media, but I’ll be honest, I’m a little scared to get screwed over by Best Buy. They’re a huge corporation. This happened in June and now we’re in November. I thought about calling consumer protection as well but because I’m in Quebec, people don’t work here so they’re open from like 10-4 while I work from 10-5. I’m really frustrated. I feel like I wrote a 250$ cheque to a criminal, really.

  6. 0

    jee says...

    That is very strange and I am now very suspicious to see what my computer from Best Buy has. Thank You for this, I will now be more alert when buying items from best Buy. They always say that the local repair shops are always the best, guess ‘They’ were right. Appreciate the post, thanks.

  7. 0

    Mike says...

    Write or e-mail to the Better Business Bureau

  8. 0

    coil says...

    i sincerely hope you went to the other family and let them know their personal information was conpromied. if this happened to me, i’g go out of my way to let the victims know, contact the media etc.. whats the worst going to happend? bb probably offer to settle or some lame-ass freebie or something.

  9. 0

    Carlotta says...

    I had the same thing happen to me only with Rogers Mobility. I bought a “brand new” cell phone. Brought it home, charged it, turned it on and there were 234 new text messages on it. Opened them up and they were text messages from a girl named Alison to her boyfriend Jake, and messages between Alison and all of her friends. I had her phone number, her contact list…. all of her info.
    Went back to Rogers and asked if they re-used phones and they said “of course not!!” So I showed them my “new” phone. Turns out the phone was actually defective and had been returned by Alison (because I called her and asked!). They had never removed the sim card and just put the phone back in the box and sold it to me. Needless to say, I was not impressed. They upgraded the phone and gave me a free month….. but if I was not tied into a $%#@*&^ contract, I would have switched.

  10. 0

    Amanda says...

    This is very scary stuff I think….thinking of everything we have on computers these days….and cell phones. My poor sister actually gave her cell phone to an ex-boyfriend who we all thought wasn’t that nice. She thought she deleted everything on the phone but aparently he had access to her email account through the smart phone and lovely him he read through lots of personal emails and told her he no longer wanted to be friends because of what he discovered in her emails….which had nothing to do with him. I figure its his loss but it makes me scared to sell my used computers. How do we wipe hard drives ourselves?

  11. 0

    K says...

    Wow… reading that made me feel paranoid now since I recently gave a computer technician to fix my laptop and found that my memory card is missing.

    Like the commenter above said, contact the media - people should be aware of this.

  12. 0

    Alex says...

    Amanda, to “clean” a hard drive you have to basically rewrite over it hundreds and hundreds of times, as pressing delete doesnt actually delete. Google a thing called “DBAN” it will clean your drive for you so no one - not even computer forensic people, can get your data back.

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