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Best Buy Geek Squad Black Tie Protection aka Extended Warranty vs Squaretrade

As a previous Best Buy Geek Squad employee I use to say "eh, maybe" to extended warranties when asked by many of those who purchase electronics and such from Best Buy. (They use to force us to say "Geek Squad Black Tie Protection" but we all know what it really is). Note, the Geek Squad Black Tie Protection GSBTP was previously known as PSP or Product Service Plan. Even I personally purchased it on some items like notebooks. Although I can repair any defects that may occur, I could not pull parts from my hind end.

I now redact and advise all to consider the alternative. Don't get me wrong, I've never had a bad experience and they do cover what they say they will cover. Assuming the sales person gave you correct information, or didn't bend the truth to make their individual goal sheets look better.

My reason for the change of heart is an alternative company who covers more , for less. Sometimes they even have sale pricing on warranties. Best Buy's policy is to never adjust pricing of a Product Service Plan (from now on PSP), or now the Geek Squad Black Tie Protection (Often referred as GSBTP or BTP). There is also ADHD which is your accidental coverage. This new found company also guarantees 5 day turn around. Squaretrade is that company, and that's where I'll do my warranty purchases for any electronics from now on.

So let's do a comparison of what Squaretrade, and Geek Squad Black Tie Protection warranties cover and you can make your own judgment call to which warranty is best. In these examples, I'll cover a couple of common items you'll find yourself purchasing at a Best Buy or any other electronics retailer.

Apple Macbook Pro 2010 Aluminum Unibody
Probably the most commonly purchased item from Best Buy is Notebook computers. For the sake of easy comparison we'll do an Apple Macbook Pro with a 13.3" display. You can get your hands on one of these bad boys for $1,199.99 of your hard earned money. For an additonal $299.99 you can get a 2-Year Geek Squad Black Tie Advanced Protection Plan that will cover you in case of accidental damage.

That's a lot of your hard earned money, and as far as you know there is no other alternative. Not anymore, now you're educated enough to compare with Squaretrade. Squaretrade offers a 3-Year with accidental coverage for $299.99 So not only are you getting more for your money, with an additional year of coverage, but now you're also getting better benefits than what Best Buy can offer.

Geek Squad Black Tie Protection Logo on White Universal Power Symbol with Tie from Best Buy

Best Buy's states their Black Tie Protection with Accidental Coverage to cover the following. Note: Accidental coverage is not included automatically. Do not assume so, you must opt-in and purchase the completely different sku accordingly.

  • Defect in materials or workmanship (How is this a benefit when your manufacture already covers this?)
  • Normal wear and tear (It sounds like you could take your notebook in for a cracked palm rest, or scratched notebook lid. That's not the case, the policy is that it must affect the normal function of the notebook. For example, cracked hinges would be covered. Another example of vague wording.)
  • Dust, internal overheating, internal humidity/condensation (Covered as stated.)
  • A power surge/fluctuation (Covered as stated, but most home owner / even apartment insurance will cover this anyway.)
  • Preventative maintenance. (Scare tactic, computers don't need their oil changed, Geek Squad will simply air out any exposed vents and run updates as well as a courtesy virus scan. Nothing the average consumer can't do on their own and save themselves a trip. You'll thank yourself, as previous Geek Squad employee I know exactly how bad and long it can be standing in our line.)
  • Vi-Spy protection. (This one drove me nuts, ok on a Mac OSX based computer you'll likely never use it. To be fair it can occur on a PC, but you should know that your manufacture already empowers you to easily wipe your computer and rid of such malware. Next time you're in a Best Buy, have some fun, ask any Agent if they can briefly tell you how to restore your own computer because you have a virus. Then wait for the flood of excuses and avoidance of answering the question. To be fair not all agents are like this, I personally had no problem teaching [briefly] and empowering them to do it on their own.)
  • One battery replacement (Covered as stated, it use to be unlimited, but that probably started to cost them a pretty penny.)
  •  Take a look for yourself at the whole agreement yourself here. There are some things that are covered that I felt were to small and hardly a benefit to cover but you can view the agreement yourself and make your own judgment call.
From my experience as Geek Squad Agent I'll point out that they will not cover full immersion into any liquid. You will likely never hear about this until after the fact. Also, if you're in a car accident and your notebook is damaged in the crash, don't bother telling them. At that time they'll refer you to your car insurance for coverage, and that's not a fun venture. I will also note there is no specific turn around time gaurntee for repairs that are sent to Geek Squad city. You can expect most repairs that are beyond basic memory, hard drive and OS related issues to be shipped out. I've seen it take anywhere from 10, 14 days up-to 2 months for repairs when items are shipped out. That does not include weather or not the repair was done correctly the first time. It is not uncommon for Agents to ship items back multiple times in hopes of resolving the issue.

SquareTrade Logo

Now to go over what Squaretrade states their 3-Year $299.99 with Accidental Coverage will cover along with many other benefits.

  • 5 Day Service Guarantee. (Claims can be filed online or over the phone, 24 hours a day. No need to wait for a store to open. They provide a pre-paid shipping label and a specialized box for shipping notebooks.)
    • Option 1: Reimbursement.   For most items below $500, or if it's going to take too long or is too expensive to fix, Squaretrade will pay you the replacement price of your item. 
    • Option 2: Repair. Repaired and shipped back to you at no cost.
    • Option 3: No cheap refurbs: Squaretrade will not replace your item with a refurbished model. With a reimbursement from SquareTrade, you can go out and get a newer model for the same price you paid originally.
  • Email Updates. (This was just introduced at Best Buy but it's functionality was very iffy before I left, it may have improved.)
  • Mechanical and electrical failures that occur during normal use of your item. Your item is covered for up to the full purchase price of your item (tax and shipping are excluded). (Similar to Best Buy, except Best Buy will only reimburse you the current value of your item. Squaretrade will cover you up-to the purchase price of your item.) 

Apple iPhone 4 Black Front and Side View
Next example that I personally have taken advantage of is Squaretrade's iPhone 4 warranty. I purchased two iPhone 4's for myself and my girlfriend. iPhone 4 at the new contract price will run you $199 for 16GB and $299 for the 32GB model. I think we are all already on the same page on this but I'll cover it anyway just to be fair. AppleCare Protection is $69 for a total of two years. It's a well known fact that all that AppleCare will do for you is extend the manufactures warranty, which isn't much more than manufactures defects. Not worth it to anyone if you ask me.

Moving onto what Best Buy's Geek Squad Black Tie Protection for the iPhone 4 would cover. We find it to be just as unimpressive as AppleCare's solution. Coming in at $15 (rounded) a month which equals $360 a year. You also will NEVER get your original phone back, but a refurbished unit, which is what I witnessed when I was previously employed at Best Buy. They do try and resurface the unit to give a "like new" feel, but it looks terrible.

Squaretrade faces off the the Geek Squad Black Tie Protection by offering a $124 plan that covers your iPhone 4 for 2 years! Still falling under all the great benefits they offer like no refurbished units. There is in fact a deductible for phones replaced due to physical damage of $50. Fortunately, even with a deductible, it would still take 5 replacements before reaching the price of the Geek Squad Black Tie Protection or PSP offered by Best Buy.

"One more thing..." at the writing of this article that particular warranty offered by Squaretrade for iPhone 4 has been on sale for about the last month for $99. The savings continue!

I'm pretty sure I've painted a clear picture of the winner now.

Don't get me wrong, if you already have a Best Buy warranty you'll be covered as promised, but it will not compare to what Squaretrade can cover. For you unfortunately, it's too late, but keep it in mind on your next purchase.

Have you ever purchased something from Ebay and been in fear that it may break. If you purchase electronics from Ebay, Squaretrade as an added bonus also has the ability to cover such items purchased.

Just trying to help my friends, family and loved ones!

Feel free to rebuttal or ask any questions, I'll be more than happy to help!

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