Best Buy Geek Squad agents raise specter of mass layoffs in unofficial community forums — some may have been displaced by AI

Geek Squad tech support consists of field, instore, on-call and online tech support
(Image credit: Geek Squad)

Best Buy has laid off a large number of its Geek Squad employees this week, according to a report published by 404 Media. The tech retail company has not made any official statement, but many workers are said to have received an email about a 'work from home' event in which they were informed to wait for a call from their respective bosses to receive confirmation about their employment status. Some 'going sleeper' posts in r/GeekSquad, an unofficial worker's subreddit, indicate that the layoffs are of a larger scale than the hundreds we saw made redundant last summer.

One worker told 404 Media, "Our leadership gave individual calls stating we were being let go for the simple fact that the company couldn't afford to pay us, more or less. It was extremely short notice and devastating."  Meanwhile, we are sad to see some posts have been shared by people who say they stayed with the company for as long as 34 years. 

Despite the lack of clarity from Best Buy at the moment, it is clear that such an announcement via email does create mass panic, as all would question their future with the company. Companies routinely conduct layoffs for multiple reasons when needed, and decency dictates both tact and clarity should be applied. Laws in certain states also require companies to disclose mass layoff numbers, such as the WARN Act in California. 

Geek Squad agents replaced by AI?

Companies typically have many reasons to restructure, resulting in mass layoffs. Based on Best Buy CEO Corie Barry's response during the last company call, the company is redirecting its resources to incorporate AI and implement a new business strategy. The company further emphasized its commitment to integrate AI and said, "We will continue to lean heavily on analytics and technology to achieve these efficiencies. This includes leveraging AI safely and effectively.”

Best Buy wouldn't be the first company to implement mass layoffs to make savings from AI efficiencies. Last year Microsoft did the same, and this year followed up with further job cuts in the Xbox and Blizzard Activision, with some pointing at generative AI displacing humans in the workplace.

It is uncertain how Best Buy intends to integrate AI to undertake Geek Squad duties, or if it will be used as a support tool for tech support agents. But this restructuring plan also involves removing physical media from its Best Buy stores and updating its retail departments while adding that it plans to push Best Buy Health. With newer changes, Corrie anticipates better financial results, saying that the industry will grow again after two years of decline, adding that it is simply a matter of timing. 

Irrespective of the company's goals, it paints a painful story of people with years of service and dedication to a company being cast aside for quick cost savings. 

Freelance News Writer
  • Rokinamerica
    Horrible way to inform your employees they are laid off.
    Reply
  • DougMcC
    Unlikely to be covered by warn because of the 'single site' spec.
    Reply
  • thisisaname
    Rokinamerica said:
    Horrible way to inform your employees they are laid off.
    Is there a good way to learn you have lost your job?
    Reply
  • DougMcC
    Rokinamerica said:
    Horrible way to inform your employees they are laid off.
    This is pretty conventional, and has a good reason: safety. Because it is hard to identify which employees might grab a gun and head for the office, you want the employees to be laid off not to be in the office. At the same time, you are holding the list of employees to be laid off secret until the last minute, to avoid the possibility of a leak creating the same danger. So you send everyone home, and reveal the laid off, then invite the still employed back, typically aiming for a time gap that allows emotions to cool.
    Reply
  • COLGeek
    DougMcC said:
    This is pretty conventional, and has a good reason: safety. Because it is hard to identify which employees might grab a gun and head for the office, you want the employees to be laid off not to be in the office. At the same time, you are holding the list of employees to be laid off secret until the last minute, to avoid the possibility of a leak creating the same danger. So you send everyone home, and reveal the laid off, then invite the still employed back, typically aiming for a time gap that allows emotions to cool.
    Well stated. Unfortunate, but this is the world we live in.
    Reply
  • Rokinamerica
    I have had to do layoffs, early 90's. I went to every location (12) and personally told each person (23) that I had to let go what was what, and they were all helped to find positions in competitors' companies that we had good relations with.

    An email saying stay home and then a call saying you are now unemployed is impersonal and ungrateful to those that have put in years of service. No advance notice, just thanks, bye. That is going to hurt BB in the long run, no one will trust the company management. Just a bad way to do business.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    Rokinamerica said:
    That is going to hurt BB in the long run, no one will trust the company management. Just a bad way to do business.
    Hurt BB in the eyes of whom?

    People will still go there and buy stuff.
    Weird layoff procedures wouldn't even be a blip on the shopping timeline.
    Reply
  • Rokinamerica
    DougMcC said:
    This is pretty conventional, and has a good reason: safety. Because it is hard to identify which employees might grab a gun and head for the office, you want the employees to be laid off not to be in the office. At the same time, you are holding the list of employees to be laid off secret until the last minute, to avoid the possibility of a leak creating the same danger. So you send everyone home, and reveal the laid off, then invite the still employed back, typically aiming for a time gap that allows emotions to cool.
    If you run your business (not you, specifically, you in general) so impersonal that you worry that someone working for you is going to go Postal (perfect example of impersonal conditions/ my way or the highway type) then it is the culture of the company that is dangerous.

    If you take the time to know who works for you and have a 2 way street of loyalty, communication and respect, you need not fear that everyone is a nut.

    It is and always was a bad business model.
    Reply
  • Rokinamerica
    USAFRet said:
    Hurt BB in the eyes of whom?

    People will still go there and buy stuff.
    Weird layoff procedures wouldn't even be a blip on the shopping timeline.
    Sorry, should have been clearer. None of their employees will trust management. Kind of the whole point of my posts.
    Reply
  • COLGeek
    Rokinamerica said:
    If you run your business (not you, specifically, you in general) so impersonal that you worry that someone working for you is going to go Postal (perfect example of impersonal conditions/ my way or the highway type) then it is the culture of the company that is dangerous.

    If you take the time to know who works for you and have a 2 way street of loyalty, communication and respect, you need not fear that everyone is a nut.

    It is and always was a bad business model.
    Maybe so, but these things can (and do) go sideways even in the best of circumstances and environments.

    On more than one occasion, I have been involved with removal scenarios where in a very small number of cases security/law enforcement was needed. The other 99.99% of the time it went as well as could be expected.

    Someone said earlier, there is no good way to handle these situations.
    Reply