Best Buy has launched a new $200 per year subscription version of its Geek Squad service called Total Tech Support, which — despite the name — is anything but total, and is probably also a questionable value for tech support. Geek Squad’s limitations aside, this is actually an improved version of an existing Best Buy tech support subscription that offered less coverage for the same price.
The new service offers subscribers 24/7 tech support over the phone or online, for most tech products in the home (even if they weren’t purchased from Best Buy). Subscribers will also be able to go into Best Buy stores to receive help with basic tech support asks, like transferring data between computers, removing a virus, and something called “Level 1 Data Recovery,” which is where this also starts to sound like a Scientology scam. What is Level 2 Data Recovery? I’m not entirely sure. But I know you have to pay for it.
It turns out that, despite paying $200 per year, you still have to pay for a lot of Geek Squad services as a Total Tech Support member. Anything that requires someone to come out to your home is going to cost $50 at a minimum. If you need a bunch of appliances set up and installed over the course of a year — maybe you just moved into a new home — then this could make sense; it’s a big discount on what Best Buy normally charges. But if you’re not going to need multiple visits in a single year, you’ll probably be wasting your money.
Plus, the $50 fee doesn’t cover everything. Wiring your home theater, electronics repairs, and more advanced installations (like mounting a TV to anything other than drywall) are going to cost even more; members only get a 20 percent discount on whatever Best Buy normally charges for those services.
So mostly, you’re paying $200 for tech support. But given the dismal reputation of Geek Squad, it’s questionable whether it’s even worth that. The service is known for often lacking in expertise and trying to sell customers new products and services when they come in for repair. It sounds like you’ll end up paying Best Buy each year for the opportunity for the company to sell you on even more stuff.
The service launches across the US today after several months of testing. Presumably, Best Buy’s trial run found that there was a market for the service. And I totally understand that; it’s an absolute hassle when the basic functions of your gadgets aren’t working. Some of the stuff Best Buy can help with (like programming a universal remote) really can be a pain to do on your own. But unless you treat this as a way to get cheaper in-home installation services, it’s hard to imagine getting your money’s worth from sitting on the phone and asking for help with products that the customer service rep likely doesn’t have experience with.
That said, Total Tech Support actually appears to be an improvement for Best Buy. The company previously sold a subscription called 24/7 Support that cost the same amount of money but offered much less. It was limited to three devices, didn’t cover phones, and didn’t include discounts on other Best Buy services. So even though Total Tech Support is likely to have issues, it seems much more useful and valuable than its prior incarnation.
Update and correction May 24th, 3:55PM ET: This story has been updated to note that Total Tech Support is a revamped version of 24/7 Support, an earlier subscription product. The article originally implied that Total Tech Support was Best Buy’s first tech support subscription.