John’s wife’s laptop died, and his local Geek Squad wants $800 total to replace the motherboard. John says he found the motherboard for $150, and he wants to know why Geek Squad thinks it will require $650 in labor. So all you IT and geek readers out there, we ask you: is this a fair price?

Here’s John’s story. The first paragraph is really more about how Best Buy screwed up yet another easy sale by failing to offer the bare minimum of service. Paragraphs two and three are about the motherboard.

My wife’s laptop died about a 2 weeks after the 1 year warranty expired. We paid about $1000 (including tax) for it from Sam’s Club. We contacted HP on the off-chance that they’d be cool about it and cover it anyway. No luck. So my wife, desperate to get her laptop working, decided to take it to The Geek Squad. First, they told her that they couldn’t diagnose it there that they’d have to send it away to do so. She uses this as her work computer, even though we bought it ourselves, and couldn’t wait to get it back. So she said she’d buy a new one then and there and have them transfer the data to her new laptop. I’d already found one that would be good for her while she was at the Geek Squad counter and we went over to it. We couldn’t find a store associate anywhere. So my wife went up to the counter to have someone come over to help us. We told them where we’d be standing/waiting and they said they’d send someone right over. We waited, and waited, and waited. No one. My wife was fuming at this point and she went back up the counter and demanded that they give her back her laptop, and told them that they just lost out on a guaranteed $1200+ sale then and there.

But it gets better.

So, desperate to get her laptop working, she had me take it back the them the next day. They sent it in ($89 just to look at it, btw) and 2 weeks later the diagnosis is that it needs a new motherboard. I looked online and a new HP motherboard for this unit costs $150 to a consumer like me. This means, they’re charging $650 minimum to install a motherboard. Being a year old, I could buy a brand new laptop that’s almost twice as good for that same price!

We found this “Ask a Geek” article from a year and a half ago that says you should expect to pay anywhere from $250 to $500 for a new motherboard, but that’s including the cost of the motherboard, a new operating system license to replace the one your computer came with (which likely is not licensed to work on the new hardware), and 3-4 hours of labor to swap out the part and reinstall everything. Opinions? Advice? Suggestions on better places to go for this sort of computer repair?

“The Cost Of Replacing A Motherboard” [Ask a Geek]
(Photo: tarale)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Consumerist.