However, Margins are notoriously slim
in the consumer electronics retail business, and Best Buy has been
using its Geek Squad services subsidiary to help bolster revenues.
In its latest investigation, The
Best Buy's Geek Squad optimization services which retails for
$39.95. During its investigation involving 18 Best Buy stores in 11
states, the publication looked to determine 1) What exactly is
included in the optimization service, 2) How does Best Buy market
the service, and 3) Is it worth it to the consumer to purchase the
The results were pretty much in line
with what most tech heads would expect when it comes to services
offered by Best Buy or similar big box retailers. The Consumerist
found that one Best Buy rep promised that optimization would boost a
new PC's performance by 200%. In actual Consumer Reports
testing, however, it was found that at least one machine which had
been optimized by Geek Squad performed 32% worse than a stock,
non-altered system -- in fact, none of the optimized systems
performed better than machines that were fresh out of the box.
So what exactly are these optimizations
that are being performed? According to The Consumerist,
Windows Updates were downloaded on machines, desktop icons had been
cleaned up a bit, and some UI tweaks were done to make navigation
"easier" for the consumer.
Even more telling were a few other
issues that cropped up in the investigation. While Best Buy's Geek
Squad removed desktop icons related to trialware that is notorious
for cluttering and bogging down new systems, the offending programs
were still left installed. A power cord for one of the systems had
even been left out of the box after the "optimization" was
In addition, at least one reader was
told that she could not buy a new laptop at the advertised sale price
because all of the machines in stock had already been pre-optimized --
and thus came with a price tag that was $39.95 higher -- and there
were no un-optimized machines in stock.
Understandably, The Consumerist
surmised that not only is the service not worth the $40 price tag,
but it didn't even improve the performance of the new machines.
For its part, a Best Buy representative
noted that the service "isn't for everybody" and that "I
would get optimization for my parents."
quote: And you are the very reason why Geek Squad exists. The cousin, next door neighbor, or brother in-law that thinks they are an IT expert, but in reality is the equivalent of a shady tree mechanic hack and messes things up.
quote: Qualification/experience is irrevelant; the standarization of industry best practices is what counts here.
quote: Since Geek Squad is a business, their services cost money with implied warranty where all of the "helpers" have zero warranty.
quote: PS - I'm a CTO
quote: Likewise, if friends or family ask for assistance beyond a genuine question (not the "aww, I got a virus again" or "its running slow again"), I kindly tell them they should further research the issue themselves.
quote: I know you mean cream. But why the backlash?
quote: PS - I'm a CTO and out resume you in both depth and scale.
quote: ...and not all Geek Squad reps are IT experts.
quote: I'm a CTO and out resume you in both depth and scale. But as you said before, there is no need to shout out resumes.
quote: It is my experience that on several occasions Geek Squad was used successfully to correct previous attempts to fix shady tree hack efforts.
quote: My limited experience with BB GS is similar to your story; a computer was shipped and did not work afterwards. I troubleshooted for a bit and then punted. BB GS removed reseated CPU and fixed issue and charged minimal fees.
quote: However, lets be honest about any trade. Any mechanic could have told your mom she needs a new motor when its really a sensor or a doctor could say she has cancer when its just a cyst. Thats why people get second opinions like your mother did.
quote: My argument is people pay the doctor for their opinion, but the expectation for IT is that its free no matter what.
quote: Remember Geek Squad is total entry level positions -- do they even pay over $15-18/hr these days?
quote: For its part, a Best Buy representative noted that the service "isn't for everybody" and that "I would get optimization for my parents."
quote: While it's true that computer salesmen often make ignorantly false statements (very few intentionally lie), IT people are on the opposite end of the spectrum. They know too much to be practical salesmen.
quote: So they're trying to sell the service by telling the customers that they're selling out of the _un_optimized machines? Their quality of lying has deteriorated.
quote: And they wonder why people prefer to shop online.
quote: In addition, at least one reader was told that she could not buy a new laptop at the advertised sale price because all of the machines in stock had already been pre-optimized -- and thus came with a price tag that was $39.95 higher -- and there were no un-optimized machines in stock.
quote: As a side note, they initially gave me the wrong model from the stock room, so by the time I pointed that out, sent them back looking for the right one and had the argument about why I was not going to pay for some less-knowledgable nerd's hacks that wouldn't be needed if they didn't put the garbage on there in the first place I was at the register for 30-35 minutes.
quote: Recently I saw some laptop memory..the exact same UPC code, for 99.99 in best buy. I bought it two weeks earlier from newegg for 24.99. WTF?
quote: Buy's Geek Squad removed desktop icons related to trialware that is notorious for cluttering and bogging down new systems, the offending programs were still left installed.
quote: Yes it seems like a "useless" service but the Best Buy rep is right it is NOT for everyone, in this case it is not for US IT savvy guys/gals. Like having your cars oil changed, you pay 30 bucks sometimes less, sometimes more but it is something you can do yourself but you pay to have someone else do it for you.
quote: I'm surprised the software vendors haven't started putting pressure on HP and them to kill the service, since they're subsidizing the computer price to have those trials on there.