Amazon Launches Service Resembling Geek Squad

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is rolling out its own version of Best Buy’s (NYSE:BBY) popular Geek Squad service. The new offering has already rolled out in seven markets. Those markets are Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Jose and Orange County, Calif.

Amazon’s job postings confirm the news. There are also Amazon job listings for “field technicians” in cities like Tampa, Hoboken, Miami, Orlando, Houston, Dallas and Las Vegas. Preferred qualifications include past work as an Apple Genius or Geek Squad Double Agent.

The company notes on the service page that its experts are employees, not contractors, that they have been background-checked, and that they are “licensed and certified where applicable.” Amazon has not released details on how many of these workers it will employ.

Amazon has hired an army of in-house gadget experts to offer product installations for a fee inside customer homes. Amazon is charging $99 for installation services like setting up an Alexa-enabled smart thermostat. Multi-device set-ups that take more than an hour may cost more. Some services are discounted by 20 percent this week for Amazon’s Prime Day holiday, which runs for 30 hours starting Monday night. The discount will continue for the following week.

The company is also offering free 45-minute “Alexa Smart Home Consultations.” Alexa is the virtual assistant built into the Echo line of gadgets. Controlling the smart home by voice is one of the most promising uses for Alexa. During the consultation, the Amazon expert answers questions, demos Alexa-compatible gadgets, and helps the customer create a personalized shopping list. On Amazon’s site, 95 percent of the 551 reviews for the free Alexa consultations are rated with five stars.

Smart-home gadgets are one of the fastest-growing segments of the consumer electronics industry, but they can be difficult to set up and integrate with each other. New smart-home-related services help customers set up household systems, like heating and lighting, which can be controlled via apps or by voice. Shoppers can book the installations and appointments through Amazon.com. Amazon also has a marketplace for third parties to offer home services like TV mounting and plumbing.

Best Buy’s Geek Squad installation and repair service has been in operation for 15 years. They also offer free smart-home consultations and similarly-priced paid installations. Best Buy recently announced that 700 of its stores will be offering Alexa and Google Home demos and tutorials. The company employs 20,000 Geek Squad staffers, but also hires contractors. Best Buy shares dropped more than 7 percent following news of Amazon’s new service.

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