By Brian Goslow
During this holiday season, you may decide to buy yourself a new electronic toy — or take the big step of helping a parent or older loved one get online through a new computer laptop, tablet or Smartphone. Take comfort in knowing that you now have 20,000 people waiting to help you through this great transition.
Geek Squad, which has been providing assistance with computer problems through Best Buy for years, is now lending a hand to AARP members as well through its new Geek Squad Tech Support and Guidance program.
The AARP package, which costs $169.00 annually — $99 if you buy a new computer at Best Buy — includes exclusive content and pre-purchase advice for AARP members, unlimited in-store, online and phone support for up to three personal computer devices, expert installation, training and repair, and round-the-clock Geek Squad agent availability. Without AARP the one-year package costs $199.
Geek Squad agent Derek Meister said, while the stereotype of an older computer user being fearful of new technology is a real one, in reality, a lot of it is not as much about their ability to use the product as the intimidation factor.
“If you have a computer and if you’re intimidated by it, you’re less likely to actually learn how to use it,” he said. “So that intimidation factor is really the number one problem for most people to overcome.”
While the number is diminishing, some people still have computerphobia. “We have people that are very uncomfortable with computers, and at the same time, we have plenty of people who will surprise you with just how much they’re actually taken to their computers, getting onto the Internet and being able to connect to their friends and family, through Facebook, through Skype and that sort of thing,” Meister said.
The AARP Geek Squad website offers a video tutorial, articles and tools to make the learning process easier. If that doesn’t help, agents are available 24 hours a day, which is helpful should you find yourself pulling out your hair when things don’t work as expected.
“We’ve learned that a lot of times when people do call us, they’re going to be frustrated at the beginning; sometimes they’ll be a little upset from that frustration,” Meister said. “But as you go through that call and you provide solutions and get things working for them and even showing them things that maybe they didn’t realize their technology could do for them before,” they are less intimidated.
He gave the example of his mother, who, when she first went online five years ago, used to print out every one of the emails she received. “Now, she’s on Facebook, she has an I-Pad, she gets online, she sends us little videos,” he said. “It’s because we got her to get past that intimidation factor and basically learn to play around with it.”
While some Geek Squad Tech Support customers go into their Best Buy locations with their devices, the service can easily be carried out at home with Geek Squad agents able to access computers remotely through the Internet. Meister said approximately 98 percent of customer problems are solved over the phone.
Meister said the three biggest computer operation issues they’re asked to solve are “My computer’s running slow”; “What should I do about those little pop ups that keep asking me to click through?” and software-related problems tied to email or a printer.
Most often, a slow-running computer, especially if it’s older, needs to have its software updated and cleaned up. “We do what we call a ‘PC tune-up,’” Meister said. “We go through, get all the system updates, all those little plug-in updates that pop up and bug you all the time, like Java, Flash, that sort of thing, and then get the computer running a little bit faster.”
As Geek Squad agents conduct that process, as well as its virus spyware removal program, they’ll answer customer questions regarding those pesky pop-ups and whether it’s a good thing to click them. Agents also ask the customers if they have children who access the computer. “If they have teenagers (or grandchildren who visit) in the house, their computer is probably infected by a virus because they’re more likely to go and just click everything,” Meister said.
Another frequent problem area is email and non-working printers. Often, wireless network printers have “forgotten” they’re on a wireless network and need to be reprogrammed.
Meiser said it brings him pleasure to show customers how to do things with their computer that they couldn’t do before. “We know that when the technology is right, literally, anything is possible so we want to make sure they’re getting the most out of that technology,” he said.
To learn more about the Geek Squad Tech Support and Guidance program for AARP members, visit aarp.geeksquad.com or call 800-921-0907.