Best Buy to Restart Sending Staff Into Customer Homes as Early as Tuesday

One source who provided an internal Best Buy email said they are still fearful of exposing themselves or others to the coronavirus.
Best Buy store.

Best Buy will direct staff willing to do so to resume work inside customers' homes as soon as Tuesday, according to an internal Best Buy email obtained by Motherboard.

The news comes after the company made several large-scale changes to limit the potential exposure of customers and staff to the coronavirus. Best Buy stopped in-home deliveries and closed brick-and-mortar stores after Motherboard reported the company was working at "full capacity" despite the pandemic in March. This latest move is a sign that some businesses are trying to resume services and emerges as protests around the country try to have states reopen. This comes despite health experts saying it would likely contribute to the spread of the virus if done too quickly.


"Starting as early as Tuesday, April 21, you will start seeing jobs on your boards as we're giving our customers the ability to select any one of the services we offer, including our doorstep delivery option," the email written by Damien Harmon, president of operations and services, addressed to in-home agents and their leaders, reads. Motherboard obtained copies of the email from two independent sources.

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In-home agents, including those who work as part of Best Buy's Geek Squad, deliver, setup, and repair customers' products in their homes. Six Geek Squad employees explained to Motherboard in March how they feared contracting or spreading the coronavirus as they went about this work, especially as much of Geek Squad's in-home focus is inside senior citizens' homes.

One source who provided the new email still holds similar concerns.

"With the pandemic numbers rising, many of us are very concerned for our health and safety, and the safety of the clients," the source said. Motherboard granted multiple sources anonymity as they weren't authorized to speak to the press.

"I understand that installing and repairing home appliances (refrigerators, washing machines, etc) is important. Helping people with internet is essential. TV mountings and speaker installations: I think those are not essential services, which is the majority of my job code," they added.


The source said that in their case Best Buy is providing a face shield, but that workers need to provide their own mask, gloves, and hand sanitizer.

"These things are impossible to get ahold of right now in my area," the source said. (Best Buy told Motherboard it will provide Best Buy and Geek Squad employees with those items.)

A Best Buy spokesperson confirmed Harmon sent an email to in-home agents, and added in a statement, "Nothing is more important to us than the safety of our employees and customers, so when we weren’t confident in our ability to visit our customers’ homes safely, we quickly stopped. Now, we have an entirely new set of safety procedures and trainings that will keep both employees and customers safe during in-home deliveries, installations and repairs. Tens of thousands of our customers are waiting for us, primarily to install or repair the appliances they need, and we’re ready to be there for them."

Best Buy told Motherboard its measures include pre-calling the customer to ask if they are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms, disinfecting surfaces and tools before and after service, maintaining social distancing, and obtaining visual confirmation of necessary paperwork while social distancing, meaning the customer does not need to provide a signature or touch an employee’s device. The company said that the majority of its customers are waiting for repairs or installation of major appliances.


Harmon's email said that this in-home work "is entirely voluntary and Best Buy will make every effort possible to provide you with alternative work arrangements if you choose not to perform work in-home."

But one of the Best Buy sources who provided the email told Motherboard, "I was given the option to voluntarily furlough, but my manager told me I would not be able to file unemployment because they are technically offering for me to work. I tried researching myself, but it was impossible to get ahold of the unemployment office in my state (understandable). I could not risk the chance of not having an income."

The Best Buy source added, referring to working on non-essential products in peoples' homes at this time, "To me, it is not worth risking the health of myself, my family, my coworkers, and my clients."

Update: This piece has been updated to include more information on Best Buy's mitigations.

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