January 10, 2019
Natalie AlbersStaff Writer
Just a few days into 2019, one customer says Best Buy has already made his year by saving something he couldn’t replace: his late father’s voice.
Halidor Arkellsson is a longtime Best Buy customer whose father’s confusion about voicemail turned out to be a gift he treasured.
His father, Dale, liked that answering machines allowed him to talk until someone heard him and picked up the phone to continue the conversation. But when phone technology evolved to software-based voicemail and took away that interactive feature, Halidor’s dad didn’t immediately convert along with it.
“He would say things in a voicemail message like ‘Hey, It’s dad. Pick up the phone.’ He even got angry at my brother one time because my dad thought my brother was ignoring him when he needed to talk,” Halidor said.
So, after a little family discussion, the boys got their dad to understand how voicemail was different. Dale still enjoyed leaving long messages. He would tell a little story about why he called, share what was going on that day, and even offer suggested times to call him back.
“I think he kind of took pride in leaving voicemails after he got the hang of it,” said Halidor, who kept every one of those messages after his dad passed away.
Then one day, the voicemails disappeared from Halidor’s phone.
Music to his ears
Fast-forward to one day when Halidor was taking a shower — and heard his dad start talking.
“From the way it started, it literally sounded like he was calling right then and leaving a message. To say I was shocked is an understatement. It took me a minute, and him explaining why he had called, to understand that this was one of the missing voicemails,” Halidor said. “I was elated. I may have cried a little, at the time.”
As it turns out, the device’s voicemail files had somehow gotten mixed in with the music files, and the voicemail started playing over the Bluetooth-enabled fan speaker in his bathroom. Halidor raced to get the files off his phone and onto his computer, but there didn’t seem to be a way to do it, and an online video didn’t help.
A few months later, the phone died.
“Dead, done, kaput. Wouldn’t take a charge. Wouldn’t boot. Wouldn’t even turn on. I tried several things. New battery. Different charger. Slow charger. Fast charger. Nothing worked,” he said. “I was crushed.”
And despite trying to get help from a phone repair shop and visiting his wireless provider’s store, the device — and its precious contents — seemed like a lost cause. An employee at the wireless store finally suggested he visit Geek Squad at Best Buy.
“She said sometimes they work magic,” Halidor said.
Leave it to the Geek
At the Best Buy store in Overland Park, Kansas, he met Nathaniel Reichert, the store’s assistant operations manager (who just so happens to have a Geek Squad background).
“I was determined to help him however I could,” Nathaniel said.
After doing some basic troubleshooting in an attempt to power the phone on, Nathaniel went to remove the battery and noticed the device had a microSD card. With Halidor’s permission, Nathaniel plugged the card into Geek Squad’s trusty data backup PC and searched for the file format he thought the voicemails would be under.
Nathaniel found an archived folder with a bunch of files, which he quickly copied over to a USB drive.
“I remember telling Haildor that I didn’t want to get his hopes up, but that I found a few files that appeared to be voicemails,” Nathaniel said. They plugged in the USB drive and clicked on the first file.
One of the voicemails Halidor’s dad had left began to play.
“I wanted it to be the files so badly, and it just so happened it was,” Nathaniel said. “The relief and excitement our client had on his face made it all worth it.”
Nathaniel is a problem solver, said his general manager, Brandon Schockmel.
“He is the most go-above-and-beyond-for-customers employee I’ve ever met,” he said. “And the fact that this customer has those recordings back is just awesome.”
Halidor left the store that day with a flash drive filled with his father’s voice and the memories that go along with it.
“I had to fight back some tears to thank him. Nathaniel gave me back something I never thought I would ever hear again,” Halidor said. “I’m just beside myself with joy.”