PC Repair Services Review – Firedog

I recently had to take a Windows Media Center PC in for repairs. I had moved and the PC had been in storage for a couple of months. It worked fine when I packed it, but when I pulled it out of the moving box and connected it, all kinds of error messages were popping up. I tried running diagnostics, but came up with conflicting results.

It was time to call in the, uh, experts.

I first tried my local Best Buy store and their Geek Squad. Either they are real good or real bad. I didn’t get a chance to find out which because the geek behind the counter informed me that it would be at least ten days before they could even hook the PC up to run diagnostics in the store. On the other hand, if I wanted to use the (way more expensive) in-home service…

I passed. Down the street is a Circuit City which I noticed had recently put up a “We do PC and laptop repairs” banner, so I took it over there. Their Firedog desk could take it immediately.

Anyway, here’s a copy of an e-mail I sent to Firedog outlining my experience:

I took a Windows Media Center PC to your Palm Desert, CA location at Circuit City for repairs recently. The PC did not seem to want to recognize the 300 GB IDE hard drive. It was confusing, because the PC would boot, but most Windows functions would not operate. I tried reinstalling Windows, but Windows kept telling me there was no hard drive. Other hard drive utilities I had on hand would tell give conflicting results. Some would say all was OK, others couldn’t find the drive.

So, I took it to your Firedog shop. They diagnosed it as a bad IDE controller, so I had to buy a new SATA drive. There was nothing wrong with the IDE drive, so I expected to get it back. I didn’t.

It took two weeks for the repair. I had to call the store myself to find out if the PC was ready. I was told it was, so I drove down to get it. Once there, the PC wasn’t ready. The tech couldn’t find the screws to put the top back on. Apparently, they weren’t standard screws. I killed some time while he looked, but nada. They offered me a small credit for my time ($25). I agreed to take the PC without the screws if they would keep looking. I never heard from them.

As mentioned, I expected to get my 300 GB IDE drive back. They couldn’t find it. Again, they said they would keep looking, but I haven’t heard from them.

Although the techs were extremely nice and polite, the whole experience was one of disorganization and chaos. And, you still owe me a 300 GB IDE drive and four screws.

Based on my one-time (and only one) experience, I wouldn’t recommend Firedog to a friend. Someone I don’t like, however…

As far as getting the new 500 GB (I took the opportunity to upgrade) and the OS installed, they did as promised. Of course, Windows Media Center was useless without several additional videos drivers and so forth that I spent several days tracking down and installing. A newbie wouldn’t have a clue about why Windows Media Center wouldn’t work when they got a computer like mine back from Firedog.

That about sums up my experience with Firedog. Granted, this is just what happened at my local store and may not be typical of other Firedog locations. But, since there’s only one in my area, this is what I’ve got to work with (or not).

I just sent the above comment to Firedog through their corporate web site this morning. If they respond, I’ll be sure to put up a follow-up post.

You might also want to see some of my other reviews – SanDisk Cruzer Titanium USB Flash Drive with Skype Review and Belkin Wi-Fi Phone for Skype Review.


2 thoughts on “PC Repair Services Review – Firedog

  1. Jeff Nulsen says:

    Hi Richard,

    Thanks for sharing that experience. I work at a competitor to Firedog, a company called HiWired and I am always reading about people’s experiences with Firedog and Geeksquad. I hear many more complaints about Geeksquad, but that has a lot to do with the volume of work they do.

    What I don’t like about Geeksquad and Firedog is that almost all of their services require you to bring your computer to them or them to come to you. Outside of the cost involved in getting them to come to you, there is also a major privacy concern, especially with all of the recent reports surrounding Geeksquad’s scandalis behavior. Next time you have a problem, I would recommend trying a remote service like ours. We find that we can solve 93% of the problems that come our way without ever having to physically touch your computer. Our service works remotely via screen share and the beauty of this is that you can receive immediate support, get very quick answers all along holding on to your computer and maintaining a very high level of security. We’re also much cheaper, and so are some other remote services.

    I would love to see you review HiWired ( next time you have a problem. Good Luck getting your IDE drive back!


  2. Whatever says:

    “Jeff” from HiWired is an idiot. There’s no way his company could have done anything with your computer remotely.

    Also, yes, Firedog and Geek Squad suck. You are taking a huge gamble when you take you computer in. You may get excellent service or you may get horrible service. Either way you pay a lot. Why is that? First, the people in charge at those places don’t know anything about computers. And they are the ones doing the hiring. Second, there’s no base-level of quality in place as far as technicians go. Some places have great ones, others have awful ones. Ironically, the ones with “computer education” or “training” or “certifications” seem to be the worst.

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