WRAL Investigates

Complaints lead to investigation of Raleigh Geeks

Posted October 31, 2013
Updated November 1, 2013

— When you take your phone or computer to a repair shop, you don't expect to get it back in pieces, or to get someone else's equipment. Yet, those are among the 18 complaints to 5 On Your Side from customers of a group of local computer repair shops called Raleigh Geeks.

There are four locations in Wake County: Raleigh, Apex, Garner and Fuquay-Varina. Our investigation found the business is also known as Fuquay Computer Center, ProTech, Garner Geeks Computers and operated previously as Foster Computers, and Caveman computers. It also has connections to the now-closed Sunshine Computers. We have viewer complaints against each Raleigh Geeks store.

The most serious involves a customer who says she went in for a computer repair, and ended up being sold a stolen computer.

Complaints pile up against Raleigh Geeks Complaints pile up against Raleigh Geeks

"You can't make out anything on this one," Kathy Russell told us as she looked at the blacked-out serial numbers on computers she bought from the Raleigh Geeks store in Fuquay-Varina.

Russell ordered three new HP computers. When they arrived, none came with paperwork. She says she spoke with a clerk named Steve.

"He said that somebody else opened up the box and he couldn't find the spec sheet and he couldn't find the box."

The computers were not what Russell ordered. Two were manufactured in 2012, had half the RAM and a slower processor.

"They're like don't worry about that ... that processor number is just a number," she told us.

The third computer, made in 2010, was a Toshiba, not HP. Russell later found out it was registered to someone else.

Caitlin Boyce took her MacBook Pro to Raleigh Geeks store on Glenwood Ave in Raleigh in February. She was charged $325 for repairs after spilling water on the keyboard. When she got the computer back, she says not only did it not work, it had a different case and different keyboard.

After some back and forth with unsuccessful, questionable repairs, she wanted a refund. She says they told her to provide a receipt. "So, I handed over that receipt and I haven't seen my laptop or the receipt or any refund since then," she told us.

"They have fought me or just ignored me for the most part every step of the way trying to get that back."

"They give you fake names, they change up the names," Boyce added. "They tell you, 'Oh, you're talking with the regional manager' and then the regional manager, you ask for him by name next time, and they say no one by that name works here."

We went to the Fuquay-Varina store to ask about complaints involving that location. 5 On Your Side's Monica Laliberte talked with Tim Staie, who identified himself as the store manager. "I mean you're going to have the occasional complaint every now and then when it comes to computers," Staie said. "I mean it is a product that people don't understand."

We asked him about customer Tim Castellana, who told 5 On Your Side he ended up with someone else's iPod Touch. Staie told us, "That's not true whatsoever."

Heather Burckhardt brought in a cracked iPhone and sent us a picture of the pieces she says she got back! Staie's response: "No, we wouldn't do something like that."

Joseph Pender has the same complaint about a phone he took in. Staie told us he'd "never even heard of that person." He also didn't recall Quenton Linyear, who wanted a refund when his iPod Touch wasn't fixed. Nor Jonathan Pierce, who says his computer was returned with someone else's hard drive. "Does that ring a bell to you? Jonathan Pierce?" Monica asked. Staie said, "Nope."

As for Kathy Russell not getting the new computers with the specs she says she ordered, Staie offered this explanation: "Say you bought a Ford Taurus and you were looking for a V-6 with cruise control, and maybe you got one that didn't have cruise control but had climate control instead."

Russell ultimately contacted law enforcement. Wake County Sheriff's deputies confirmed one of the computers she bought was stolen. That's now part of what Wake County First Assistant District Attorney Howard Cummings calls a "multi-faceted" investigation involving at least three law enforcement agencies and North Carolina's Attorney General.

Cummings says anyone who has had serious issues with Raleigh Geeks should contact law enforcement in the city in which they did business.

Raleigh Geeks has an F rating with the Better Business Bureau. We couldn't find any current registration for Raleigh Geeks with the Secretary of State's office. Our investigation also found Tim Staie was the focus of similar complaints in Myrtle Beach.

Since our visit to Raleigh Geeks, Kathy Russell's credit card company reversed the charges for the three computers she bought. Caitlin Boyce is still out the $260 she paid for the repair and did not get any compensation for the Macbook Pro laptop that was never returned to her.

Russell, Boyce and the other customers we heard from just want to get the word out about their experiences.

"I think that something needs to change here," Caitlin Boyce told us. "I'd really like it if they were held accountable in some way.

"If you go into a jewelry store and you order a 1 carat diamond, and they give you a 1 carat cubic zirconia, that's fraud," added Kathy Russell. "You took my money, you promised something, and you gave me something else."

43 Comments

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  • Pseudonym Nov 4, 5:36 p.m.

    Quote from superman: "Problems with the software are usually easy to fix."

    Dude, PLEASE quit posting about things you don't understand! You've already shown you don't understand Microsoft's licensing policies, and now you claim SW is usually easy to fix?? Nope! Usually HW is easier to fix because it's obvious what's broken. Software is made up of layers upon layers upon layers, and it's very hard to track down where failures are. That may be why you think SW problems are easier to fix, since in your experience, your IT guys just slap a fresh Ghost or CloneZilla image on your computer instead of spending multiple hours fussing with it.

  • drnc Nov 4, 5:09 p.m.

    Thanks for the warning.

  • TTDD Nov 4, 12:20 p.m.

    They are "GEEKS". What did u expect?

  • lifeq Nov 4, 11:47 a.m.

    Looks like shoddy Home builders, bad Home improvement etc, another way to people are being defrauded. Amounts are much smaller.

    Computers are relatively cheap(except apple products). There could be hardware problem or software problem. Only the manufacturer can really fix hardware issues since they have the exact tools to check since they made the product.

    When you buy a new computer, one of the first step is to copy the image of the hardware. If you do not have this, you are out of luck for ever.

    I would suggest asking a coworker or family friend who is in computer field for help if the product is worth salvaging.

    If computer is more than 3 years old, cheaper to get a new one, not worth spending good money on repairs unless you fix it your self by trial and error and reading up on the web for solutions.

    Always buy from chain or warehouse stores. When you get a new computer, set it up immediately, if not working take it back and get your money.

  • kelyvonne Nov 1, 7:57 p.m.

    I had the same type of experience with this store in Fuquay. They did not fix my computer...would not give it back...gave me another computer which did not work. They refused to refund my money. Ialso took in an iphone for a button fix...they never fixed it...the part never came in and they refused to refund my money for that as well. Now I'm out $200 and no computer. I hope this business is closed soon. The men there are very aggressive and mean.

  • workman99 Nov 1, 6:31 p.m.

    Owning a computer shop, I see why the customers were so fustrated with the substandard work. I have seen a lot of gargage pc mechanics. It takes more than just pushing the power button and inserting a cd to repair a pc. Repairing is just more than hardware and software, its also customer service. The market is so saturated with tech want a bees that it is hard to find a good pc repair shop. What has happened to professional standards and being honest with your customers. If you don't know how to do something then tell the customer that you don't know how to do it and help them findsomeone who does. It's shops like these that make it hard for those of us who are hard working to get the public to trust us. The customers want three things when they get their electronic devices repaired. 1 They want it to work just like the day they bought. 2 - Their data protected from loss. 3 - Honesty. You have to remember that the customer is your number 1 asset. Without them you would not have a job.

  • Poupmouse Nov 1, 4:34 p.m.

    These 5 on your side stories are sloppy excuses for articles and use absolutely no objectivity. I challenge your use of 'investigation'. I think 'harrassed by a person pretending to be a journalist' would be a more apt description of what is happening here.

  • wolfpack32 Nov 1, 4:18 p.m.

    I noticed the exclamations as well and thought it was odd for a news story.

  • Genie v2.0 Nov 1, 3:52 p.m.

    "Does this article really warrant the use of so many exclamation points? I mean, I am glad these folks are being investigated, but this article is hard to read..." - thephwner

    I agree and posted a comment saying they should never be used in journalism stories this way. First of all, the writer should be unbiased. All of the exclamation points make it clear there is nothing neutral here, granted, it seems they are shady, but the article should not be written that way. Very unprofessional, it reads like a high school paper.

    My comment didn't make it past the mod the first time, let's see if it will now since someone else noticed.

  • ThePhwner Nov 1, 2:22 p.m.

    Does this article really warrant the use of so many exclamation points? I mean, I am glad these folks are being investigated, but this article is hard to read...

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