Call Kurtis: Best Buy Held My Computer Data For Ransom!

She bought one of those $350 extended warranties and dropped off her computer to be fixed. It had an issue with a  part… the hinge.

But she says they replaced her hard drive without her knowledge, then wanted money to get her data back.

“That is so dirty! That’s fraud to me, downright fraud,” says Denise Thomas, Foresthill resident.

Denise says Best Buy demanded $59.99 or they’d clear the data she had on her hard drive…. all her files, music and photos.

“You can’t give me back my hard drive but you can give me back my data for a price. How fraudulent can you get?” asks Denise.

She says Best Buy’s Geek Squad replaced the drive, saying it failed a diagnostics test. But she brought in her warrantied laptop for a broken hinge, nothing to do with the hard drive.

“I could not get anywhere with Best Buy or the Geek Squad,” says Scott Campbell, Editor at

It’s a familiar story to New York tech writer Scott Campbell who says they also took out his hard drive two years ago when he brought in his laptop for a broken hinge. He wrote an article about how he successfully fought to get his original drive back. And others have posted similar complaints online.

“I was disappointed that practice is still going on, Best Buy can replace a hard drive without any consent to the owner if it’s under a warranty,” says Scott.

Under California law, you must authorize any computer repair.

“There should be no automatic replacement of anything. That is something the consumer definitely and specifically should authorize,” says Russ Heimerich, California Dept. of Consumer Affairs spokesperson.

We contacted Best Buy about these nationwide complaints. In an email.. they say:

“… most customers appreciate this thorough diagnosis and correction…”

They go on to say…

“… this situation has prompted internal discussions to determine if we can make adjustments to identify unique situations like this and contact the customer to eliminate any surprises.”

“It’s upsetting, it’s just really upsetting,” says Denise.

After our call, Denise says she got her original hard drive back and everything seemed fine on it. She also says they promised to return her $59.99.

“For me, that’s great. I really feel bad for all the others that are still looking to get their hard drive and data back,” says Denise.

Whenever you send your computer in for repairs, it’s always a good idea to back up your hard drive before sending it in.

Aside from being replaced, it could get damaged in transit. Best Buy does say in its service agreement, it’s not responsible for lost data.

Best Buy Statement

“It is always our goal to exceed our customer’s expectations. As such, we designed our protection plans to thoroughly diagnose, repair or replace damaged equipment. In this particular case, our repair facility found the customer’s hard drive to be faulty. In accordance with our protection plan policies, we replaced the hard drive with a properly functioning unit in addition to fixing the hinge. Most customers appreciate this thorough diagnosis and correction. We recognize that this particular case is unique and we can understand why this customer is upset. We will return the hard drive to the customer and will refund her service fees. To help avoid these types of situations, we encourage our customers to thoroughly discuss their service options with their Geek Squad Agents.”

Despite our best intentions to take actions recommended by our thorough diagnostics, we know this customer’s situation is unique and we fully appreciate why she is upset. Again, this customer’s hard drive will be returned and all service fees refunded. In addition, the local service representative will work with the customer to find the best specific solutions for her. This situation has prompted internal discussions to determine if we can make adjustments to identify unique situations like this and contact the customer to eliminate any surprises. We will follow-up with KOVR-CBS directly once specific changes are adopted.”

As mentioned in the statement, we’ll follow up with you once specific changes have been adopted.

Candace Koehler
Account Supervisor
Edelman for Best Buy

Best Buy’s Response to our question: What happens to your hard drive and your data?

In response to your questions about what happens to the hard drives, please refer to the following video.

Best Buy’s Response to our question: Under California law, the service dealer is required to return all original parts back, if the customer requests them. Why didn’t this happen?

Just wanted to follow up and let you know that Best Buy is looking into your last question, but does not have a comment at this time. I hope we’ve answered all of your other questions.

More from Call Kurtis
  • Best Buy wreaks

    Why would anyone shop at best buy anyway? Frys is MUCH better service, MUCH better prices, and never has ANY problems with theft.
    And frankly, what best buy continues to do with these computer customers is just plain theft.
    I walked in ready to buy a 1700,00 frig. The guy at the birdcage store told me “Honey I can tell by the clothes you are wearing, you can’t afford us! Why don’t you go down the street to the used appliance center?”
    Excuse me?
    Just because someone goes shopping for appliances in jeans and a men’s shirt in between painting her kitchen, does not mean she doesn’t have money!
    Little does he know, I went around the corner to Frys and dropped my money there…all 5000.00 bucks! I HOPE this guy works on commission!
    Best Buy wreaks and always will!

  • still kicking

    A quick search on the Internet will find literally hundreds of stories similar to this one dealing with the deceit and overall shoddy practices at Best Buy. It is a deliberate company policy to trick customers into getting add ons or pay for unneeded repairs. Employees are constantly harassed if they fail to meet certain quotas in warranties. The people in the Geek Squad are trained in no uncertain terms about how they MUST attain certain sales goals. This leads to cases like what happened here. Thanks to the exposure brought by Kurtis and his crew the lady got her files and money back. But don’t think that the same store will now cease doing this scam because it won’t.

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