Have you seen this? Woman Sues Best Buy For $54 Milliion!
To make a long story short, a customer brought her laptop in for repairs and it took Best Buy 6 months and at least a dozen phone calls to finally admit that not only did her machine never leave the store, someone stole it. Best Buy did after numerous phone calls offer her a $900 gift card – $200 less than what she paid for the computer and the extended warranty. It went downhill from there and now she’s suing in a large way to the tune of $54 million.
What is shocking is the number of me-too stories that follow in the comments. The article created such a firestorm that Microsoft actually moved the comments to another section of their site.
A major component of her case is the potential for identity theft as the customer had a great deal of personal information on the computer including her tax returns. Who knows who has her computer and what they could do with all of her information? One person even wondered if the computer had any medical information on it as that would trigger the federal HIPAA laws.
As easy as it would be to join the chorus of “Go Get ‘EM Girl”, I thought it might be more constructive to share some advice for anyone needing to send their own laptop in for repairs.
The first laptop I purchased was an NEC.
When I needed to send it in for repairs they told me to back up everything on my machine – done! Too bad that the Best Buy customer did not appear to do this. Whether you are sending your computer in for repairs or not, take the time TODAY to back up your stuff.
They then told me to remove the battery. That would save on shipping costs and they had plenty in their repair shop. Sounds like a good idea to me.
The biggie, grand-daddy, smartest thing they told me was to REMOVE THE HARD DRIVE!!! Again to save on shipping and they had plenty in the shop but more importantly to protect my information and remove any temptation from their techs.
When I had to send my second laptop off for repairs, they told me to remove the battery and I told them that I would be also removing the hard drive. They weren’t as keen on the hard drive removal – but tough tiddlywinks, if they didn’t have a drive that would work for my machine, they had no business touching it.
One person I met even recommended removing any additional memory or other extras that your machine is equipped with.
No matter what else you do, write down on the shipping information/receipt everything that has been upgraded from the base model. It protects both you and the repair shop. One of the shops I dealt with had quite an extensive questionnaire – I was quite impressed with their level of professionalism even if they ultimately could not keep my mother’s crappy machine working. (Sears was involved with that one and did replace the machine. Unfortunately, Compaq/HP sent another crappy machine that now functions as a very expensive doorstop.)
Also be careful on that part about being upgraded from the base model stuff. Many of the big box stores have computer models that they exclusively sell. Those models are not part of the manufacturer’s standard product line and even the manufacturer may not have an accurate inventory of what came with your machines. Trust me on this one, I almost learned it the hard way with one of our computers.
Before you give anyone access to your computer always think about what information it contains. Have current backups and protect yourself as much as possible.
I can’t say this individual customer should be compensated to the tune of $54 million, but any settlement she does get should at minimum pay for the lifetime of credit monitoring protection she now has to maintain. And should anyone use the information on that laptop to defraud her, anyone in her family, or her co-workers, Best Buy should have to pay for that too.
While I don’t think the customer should be compensated for the data itself, she should be compensated for full replacement (including the extended service agreement), have any on-going expenses compensated the rest of her life (the monitoring service), be liable for any future damages if any of that information is used to defraud someone, and finally be charged with punitive damages for their behavior. Go Get ‘Em Girl!
Any thoughts or other suggestions to protect yourself when you have to send your computer in to be fixed?