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  (Source: Engadget)
Consumer Reports/Consumerist investigation details Best Buy's worthless optimization service

With Circuit City now out of the way as its major competitor in the U.S. consumer electronics retailing business, Best Buy is plowing along with little resistance. The Richfield, Minnesota-based company employs over 150,000 people and has over 1,000 stores in 49 states.

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 Consumerist tackled 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 service.

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 performed.

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."



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Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By callmeroy on 1/5/2010 8:44:34 AM , Rating: 4
This story just confirms what I always suspected of the Geek Squad.....pure BS.

It did make me also remember back about 3-4 years ago when I went to my local Best Buy to purchase my first ever personal laptop (all the others were work ones)...an slighly older couple (probably in their 50's) was getting a laptop as well just in front of me. The line was long so we were chatting a bit while waiting. They went to the cashier and the cashier starts asking if they would like to purchase Geek Squad's professional home network installation service (he saw that the couple were also buying a wireless router) --- the home install service was something like $150 - $200...well as someone in the IT field and who has a natural disdain for people taking advantage of others I couldn't keep my mouth shut. I politely said "Just so you know that's a lot of money for something you can do very easily yourself. Its not hard at all".....for the sake of not making this post longer I'll cut to the chase but we talked about it for a good 5 minutes each minute the cashier was getting more pissed at me than the last....saying things like "Well that's because he has experience -- but it may not be that easy for you to do....i suggest the service".....finally I handed the couple my email (one of many I have) address....if you have trouble installing this on your own email me but don't fall for this scam.

They thanked me, denied the Geek Sqaud service -- they even waited while I was rang up (by the same cashier glaring at me as I was smiling )....the couple and I walked twoards the exit briefly asking how to setup the wireless.

He emailed me a few days later I sent him a document showing step by step how to do everything...later that day I got a big thank you reply.

And that's my favorite "best buy experience" to date...the day I basically said FU to Geek Squad right in their face. :)




RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By Lord 666 on 1/5/10, Rating: -1
RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By callmeroy on 1/5/2010 10:40:25 AM , Rating: 5
10 years non-professional experience "fiddling" and fixing computers, 14 years profesional, 2 IT degrees, 5 certs and a geek at heart and self admitted computer gamer freak who loves computer games and building his own systems for gaming....

I loathe the idea of trying to shout out my resume, ego is just not me -- but in this case because of the previous post I thought it relevant as I do find it a bit insulting with the insinuation that Geek Squad is folks are more qualified in the area of IT (remember Geek Squad is total entry level positions -- do they even pay over $15-18/hr these days?).


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By Lord 666 on 1/5/10, Rating: -1
RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By wempa on 1/5/2010 12:53:44 PM , Rating: 3
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.


It's not irrelevant when you questioned his IT expertise. His education and experiences backs up what he claims to know. I'm sure there are cases where Geek Squad has been used successfully, but that doesn't change the fact that most of their services (at least everyone that I have seen) are overpriced scams.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By Lord 666 on 1/5/10, Rating: 0
RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By jonmcc33 on 1/5/2010 2:15:53 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Since Geek Squad is a business, their services cost money with implied warranty where all of the "helpers" have zero warranty.


Not sure if I would call "We can't fix your PC, please buy a new one from our selection" as a warranty.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By zsdersw on 1/5/2010 1:03:00 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
PS - I'm a CTO


Proving once again that certain stuff does indeed float to the top.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By Lord 666 on 1/5/2010 1:32:13 PM , Rating: 1
I know you mean cream. But why the backlash? Just because my point of view feels IT should be fairly compensated for honest work? Do you suggest that everyone should have a friend in each trade so they get all services for free; a butcher, a baker, and even a candle stick maker?

My personal approach is this; if I ask for assistance in an area a friend of mine is normally compenstated for, I pay their standard rates. To me, going to them adds the extra level of trust and at the end of the day, time is money.

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.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By fic2 on 1/5/2010 1:34:40 PM , Rating: 4
I think the backlash is because this article is about BB being overcompensated for dishonest work and you seem to think that is ok.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By jonmcc33 on 1/5/2010 2:18:11 PM , Rating: 2
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.


AKA you can't help them because you have no clue about PC technical support.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By Lord 666 on 1/5/10, Rating: 0
RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By jonmcc33 on 1/5/2010 3:15:26 PM , Rating: 5
Glad to see that you think that way of your friends and family. You must be a real trip during family reunions and on holiday visits.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By mindless1 on 1/6/2010 7:28:12 AM , Rating: 2
Would you people please just ignore troll-boy?


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By zsdersw on 1/5/2010 2:29:12 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
I know you mean cream. But why the backlash?


No, I meant fat. The backlash is a matter of style more than substance. I have no problem with the concept of fair compensation for honest work, but I do have problems with the following things you wrote:

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.


Cousins, neighbors, and brothers-in-law are not all "shady tree mechanic hacks" and not all Geek Squad reps are IT experts. Your one-size-fits-all rhetoric is unbecoming for someone with your purportedly impressive resumé.

quote:
Qualification/experience is irrevelant; the standarization of industry best practices is what counts here.


Experience is never irrelevant. Best practices and standardization are what lose a lot of relevance outside of the corporate or managed systems environment.

quote:
PS - I'm a CTO and out resume you in both depth and scale.


CTOs of any repute are not this childish.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By Lord 666 on 1/5/10, Rating: -1
RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By jonmcc33 on 1/5/2010 3:17:43 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
...and not all Geek Squad reps are IT experts.


Actually, I wouldn't consider anyone working at Geek Squad to be an expert at anything. All that is needed is a CompTIA A+ certification and that is entry level. $12/hour sure isn't expert pay either.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By TheEinstein on 1/5/2010 6:52:52 PM , Rating: 2
I was a Windows Tech for Dell Computers via contractor, and after that year I was doing tech support for my 'small business' for a few years.

I offered a straight $50 fee for any non-hardware issue. This included my travel. I would upload certain softwares, like Ccleaner, Hijackthis, teach them how to use it, remove any viruses, clean up the start-up, check .dll's for standard viruses, fix common issues, etc. By the time I was done 2 hours typically gone by, the customer always felt happy with the meeting, and I got paid.

If they were offering a similar service I think they would be better than I was, price wise, but since they do nothing but dress work... I have to mock them.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By lco45 on 1/5/2010 6:14:05 PM , Rating: 4
I agree with you.

After a dozen years in IT, I recommend you say the following to anyone who asks for for IT help:

"This is the 21st century. The rest of your life will be made infinitely easier if you learn how to operate computing equipment."

You can throw in "gramps" or "sh1t-for-brains" at the end, if you've had a particularly trying day.

Luke


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By erikstarcher on 1/5/2010 1:30:00 PM , Rating: 3
It is my experience that as a computer repair professional, the Geek Squad does not know what they are doing. I have, on may occasions, had to correct previous attempts to fix shady Geek Squad hack efforts. In fact, most of the techs at the local Best Buy send business directly to me once they charge the customer, screw up, then tell them that it isn't fixable. Two hours later, they are back up and running.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By Lord 666 on 1/5/10, Rating: 0
RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By erikstarcher on 1/5/2010 2:00:55 PM , Rating: 4
Sure, the customer (not BB) pays me for any work I do. And if my customer wants shortcuts deleted, I will do it for free. If they want crap removed, I will uninstall it, not just delete the shortcuts, and charge them for it. I will not charge them for doing worthless things. If BB removed trialware (not just delete shortcuts) then the service may be worth the money.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By fic2 on 1/5/2010 1:35:54 PM , Rating: 2
I have a friend that does computer consulting. He told me that 1/2 of his new business comes BB GS business. Basically same experience that you have.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By fic2 on 1/5/2010 1:33:33 PM , Rating: 2
So, "industry best practices" is not knowing what the hell you are doing except "follow a support script" and "sell services"?


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By Alexstarfire on 1/5/2010 4:11:38 PM , Rating: 2
He's a CTO, he's got to support his business policies after all. Generally, what you quoted is what makes most support personnel incompetent IMO. I usually can't blame them because they are just doing their job and what they are told, though every now and then you find some people that truly believe the crap they are told and they need to be set straight. I usually blame the company and as a result don't support them. Granted I'm a bit tight on money and can fix the stuff myself, but even if I couldn't I still wouldn't go there. Having to call for support is the final option for me, not the first.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By jonmcc33 on 1/5/2010 1:38:46 PM , Rating: 5
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.


But you just did. FYI, I have known more mentally retarded CTO/CIOs in my time then I can count on two hands and two feet. Being an executive doesn't mean you have superior intelligence over anyone else. It means that you are great at kissing your ass to the top.

One thing I have learned in my IT career is that there is ALWAYS (and I mean ALWAYS) someone out there that is smarter than you. So tooting your own horn and resume is literally worthless.

quote:
It is my experience that on several occasions Geek Squad was used successfully to correct previous attempts to fix shady tree hack efforts.


You must be joking.

I built a PC for my mother a few years ago (Pentium 4) and shipped it to her. When it arrived it wouldn't boot. I had USPS insurance on it and they needed proof for cost of repairs. She took it to Geek Squad and they told her it was a bad motherboard ($50 value) and PSU ($50 value), that it would cost $700 to replace. She told them to forget it, we got the USPS insurance money and she sent me the PC back. I looked and the motherboard and PSU were fine. However, the CPU had been removed from the socket and had all 478 pins bent as if someone took a hammer to it. I replaced the CPU with a spare Pentium 4 ($20 value) that I had and it booted without a problem.

So Geek Squad lied to my mother. They tried to rip her off $700 of actual working parts. They destroyed her property when she declined their service.

Do you really want to go chanting about Geek Squad's successful solutions and claim any sort of intelligence with your resume?


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By Lord 666 on 1/5/10, Rating: 0
RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By jonmcc33 on 1/5/2010 3:13:56 PM , Rating: 2
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.


The problem is that I did not punt. In order for USPS to cover insurance, a quote had to be made and that is why my mother took it to Geek Squad.

The CPU that I had installed was seated properly, a brand new heatsink installed. I assume that before Geek Squad looked at it, possibly a wire had came loose. It's hard to troubleshoot hardware from across the country.

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.


What? No doctor I have ever known would lie when it comes to cancer and I have unfortunate experience dealing with that in my life. A biopsy is done to confirm whether a spot/lump is cancer and what type it is.

My mother did not get any sort of second opinion. Geek Squad was involved merely for the USPS insurance and no other reason.

quote:
My argument is people pay the doctor for their opinion, but the expectation for IT is that its free no matter what.


Again, you must be joking. Geek Squad charged my mother $70 to analyze the computer...and essentially destroy the CPU because she decided against their service.

That Geek Squad location was very fortunate that I lived on the other side of the country at that time. It wouldn't have been pretty if I had showed up with what they did. In fact, it could have been a potential lawsuit if I had wanted to peruse that avenue.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By Lord 666 on 1/5/2010 3:46:54 PM , Rating: 2
So did you send the inflated $700 quote to USPS or the actual $20 one? Smells like potential mail fraud either way.

I shipped the computer to a different country and it made sense for the end user to reach out to a local repair shop.

Sure, you should have sued BB because they are a business, but little Tommy next door, are you take him to court or his parents?

Getting more personal, medicine is NOT infalliable and biopsies are only as good as the doctor extracting the sample. Personal experience with melanoma and my father that has now spread to his liver, lungs, and brain. Going to a second opinion is what found the spread in the first place.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By croc on 1/5/2010 5:27:14 PM , Rating: 1
Industry 'best practices'...
1. lie about it.
2. If caught lying, lose all relevant documentation.
3. When that doesn't work, blame the issue on either:
a. A low level employe, or:
b. A foreign 'hacker'.

NEVER, EVER admit fault. I am not impressed by 'industry best practices' or CTO's that support them. TJM? Hacked because of an open wireless connection... Did their CTO get fired? Heartland? And don't get me started on the US governments' 'security reviews'...

Come over to AUS and try that crap, mate... You will be a 'window' manager so fast it will make you wonder what happened, and 90 days later you will be 'managed' out the door.


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By lco45 on 1/5/2010 6:26:23 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, I'm in Australia and we've got plenty of crap IT people. Don't know where you're working mate, but it must be a paragon of IT awesomeness.

Luke


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By DOSGuy on 1/5/2010 11:07:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Remember Geek Squad is total entry level positions -- do they even pay over $15-18/hr these days?


Hell no!

I bought a computer from Best Buy a couple of years ago. It booted fine, but I put it through the usual torture tests and it kept failing Memtest86 and Prime95. I took it back and explained that the RAM was no good. They booted it up and said, "It boots fine." I explained that I was aware that it booted and asked them what tests they had performed. They kept deflecting the question because the answer was none. Finally they said that they believed me (more accurately, they didn't care enough to try to prove me wrong), they said that they would refund my money. I just wanted them to replace it, but they explained that I couldn't replace it with one of the computers in the store because I had bought it online (why, are BestBuy and BestBuy.com different companies?). I had to get a refund an order a new one online. The second one worked just fine.

Anyway, while I was chatting with one of the techs, I mentioned that I'm A+ Certified and asked how much they paid their techs. He said $10/hr, which is 40 cents above minimum in Ontario. As is so often the case at big box stores, they pay their computer technicians roughly the same wage as the fry guys at McDonalds. Why should anyone be surprised that they're not computer experts?


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By dvinnen on 1/5/2010 9:56:44 AM , Rating: 1
Hahaha, you couldn't come off more smug if you had tried. That post right there is 90% wrong with computer janitors


RE: Good Ol' Geek Squad....
By callmeroy on 1/5/2010 10:46:49 AM , Rating: 2
lol well my point wasn't to PRAISE them so I'll take your comment as a positive.


Computer salesman are the new car salesman.
By iFX on 1/5/2010 8:05:20 AM , Rating: 5
Lying, cheating sacks of shit. Thank god I'm an IT person.




RE: Computer salesman are the new car salesman.
By tastyratz on 1/5/2010 8:23:02 AM , Rating: 4
You think that's bad? Try high end audio gear salesmen. Plenty of snake oil here, all you need are these $1500 speaker wires or that $600 power conditioner.

What about weight management? Take this pill and lose 900lbs like this guy or that girl. These people who lose hundreds of lbs always look incredibly sexy in bathing suits instead of the deflated baloons they should really be after that kind of weight loss.

Lets face it, there are sneaky sly salesmen in every field, and there are suckers born every minute that eat it right up. This just happens to be best buys flavor.

I have no problem with them providing a service like this as they have every right to do so, but they should be required to provide full disclosure of whats happening as well as be held accountable for misleading statements. call it the "no more fine print" law


RE: Computer salesman are the new car salesman.
By Spivonious on 1/5/2010 10:23:28 AM , Rating: 5
"Caveat Emptor"

"A fool and his money are soon parted"

"There's a sucker born every minute"


RE: Computer salesman are the new car salesman.
By mcnabney on 1/5/2010 11:03:51 AM , Rating: 2
FTA:
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."


Translation: Look, we are trying to rip-off people who don't know anything about computers. Why don't you just butt-out.

It is unbelievable that a company PR rep actually said that to a media representative.


By iFX on 1/5/2010 11:21:34 AM , Rating: 3
Absolutely, it's completely despicable. I haven't shopped at BB in years and have no plans to in the future.


By therealnickdanger on 1/5/2010 9:55:15 AM , Rating: 5
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.

When I (or likely anyone visiting this site) go to Best Buy to make a purchase, I have already done pricing research and read countless forums and reviews of the product I'm seeking. I just walk in and grab the box. No, I don't want your services. No, I don't want your Monster cable. Just give me the damned box.

Now assume for a moment that any customer that walks into Best Buy and needs to talk to a salesman before buying is probably a newbie - he is probably the uncle of the nephew who's "really good with all this computer stuff". He doesn't know RAM from ROM and doesn't need to know, he just wants to plug it in a send e-mail.

At a good location, your average Best Buy employee can probably sell 12 computers per day because he just sells the product without going into mind-boggling depth. He makes vague, reassuring comments to push the customer into buying a box that matches their perceived needs (along with some high margin cables and services). Often times the more ignorant salesmen are beneficial to this process.

Now you put an IT guy on the sales floor and you run into problems. The IT guy tells all the customers that the computers are overpriced for what you get, you could build it cheaper, don't buy Monster cable, etc... The IT guy enjoys talking about RAM timings, RAID backup, and can spend over an hour with a single customer talking about technology and probably lose the sale. Sales isn't about knowledge, it's about selling. For every one IT guy, there are 100 "computer illiterate" consumers that don't even want to know what the IT guy knows.

This is also why mechanics don't make good car salesmen. "Oh, these Pontiacs have transmission problems", "These Dodges tend to have low-quality tie rods", "If the turbo goes out on this, you're screwed!"

I'm not saying that's how it should be, it's just how it is.


By superkdogg on 1/5/2010 10:41:06 AM , Rating: 2
True. Same thing would happen with an engineer selling cars...

Bottom line is ^^^ Thank God we know what we're doing, the strong will prey on the weak, and companies will try to make money. It's never about the best product in retail-it's always about the best marketing and sales. Sometimes those match up, but if you have to pick one-pick S&M.


By brshoemak on 1/5/2010 11:53:06 AM , Rating: 2
That hits REALLY close to home. I used to work at Best Buy and was told I would be hired as a Geek Squad person (won't say 'agent' because it's ridiculous) but ended up on the sales floor instead. I was a horrible salesperson to say the least. I'm not going to tell people that a $30 gold plated USB cable is better than a $6 one or that you always HAVE to buy the service plan because every computer will break down in 2 years or that Sonys are better machines that's why they cost more (they sure as hell aren't any better than anything else out there). I was better at talking them OUT of a sale on a certain machine than into one in a lot of cases. They ended up with a better deal and got what they wanted while I got berated by douchebag managers more concerned with numbers than the customers driving those numbers.

I had a good time when a grandmother on a fixed income came in to buy a computer so she could talk to her grandson in the military. I sold her a bottom of the line eMachine for $199 and was reamed out by my manager for not getting a $300 service plan on it. Sickening.

Thankfully I'm out of that hellhole and back to IT related interests.


By tallcool1 on 1/5/2010 12:33:59 PM , Rating: 2
That was a well thought out written post and 100% right on the money. +6


By atlmann10 on 1/5/2010 1:32:54 PM , Rating: 2
This brings a specific lifetime period to mind for me. I remember when I first started working in computer hardware. My first job was actually at a computer city after I became interested in computers for anything but a user. I became manager for the refurbished open box department and eventually performed most tasks in multiple departments of the store except for direct management. However; I could never do very well in sales. I just could not direct people to junk machines the company was trying to clear, nor could I sell the extended warranty junk which is where sales at that time made the largest amount of there money. I left when they were about to sell out to Compusa, and went into contract work in many different areas within the industry. Specifically I remember when I interviewed for a position at AMI after leaving the (Computer City), I did not get the job. I spoke with the manager after I was told I did not get it. He told me point blank that I was over detailed when explaining things to a customer. This directly reflects what you are saying here. Following that I realized exactly what "therealnickdanger" is pointing out here. The customer does not want to know the details. They want you to advise or make there machinery work. They don't want to know how they just want it done fast and efficiently, a very small amount are more interested than that and want more knowledge on it. Those clients/customers/end users will ask specifically.


By ZachDontScare on 1/5/2010 2:08:14 PM , Rating: 1
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.


Untrue. I'm as technical as technical gets (programmer and own a software company), and have no problem being a salesman. I just dont lie, and make good products. And I'm hardly the only one in such a position.

Sales, like anything else, is a skill. If you plop your typical IT person on the floor of Best Buy, no he wont be a great salesman at first... but in a few months once he gets some skills, he might be the best salesman on the floor. You just dont typically see people like that on the floor because they're too valuable - they can get much better paying jobs.

Basically, you can teach an IT person to sell, but you cant necessarily teach a salesperson IT. There's a great misconception that people can be one or the other, but not both, and thats simply untrue.


By mindless1 on 1/6/2010 7:36:58 AM , Rating: 2
That is generally false. The truth is, salespeople are an additional overhead that has to come out of the profits. They're directed to selectively ignore the cons and deceitfully mention only the positives which goes against a proper scientific mind needed for any competent level of IT work.

So if you have no problem being a salesperson you are either:

1) Losing sales these low level floor people can't lose because of management pressure, or,

2) Deceiving customers that your product is always what they need instead of oh, say a competitor's product instead.

I'll assume you take the high road and go with #1, but how long would a Best Buy employee work there if they were found to be recommending customers go to a competitor to best suit their needs or just avoid the purchase altogether particularly when it is some service plan, a Geek Squad optimization service, etc?

Remember, they don't necessarily believe in the value of what they are selling themselves, but that is their job. Would an IT guy be true to his IT roots if he suggested something he knew was not suitable, did not apply technology towards the goal?


WTF
By Totally on 1/5/2010 8:25:31 AM , Rating: 5
I would of raised hell about that last bit. Unable to purchase at retail because they were open box I mean 'optimized'. Is that even legal?




RE: WTF
By Bateluer on 1/5/2010 8:31:48 AM , Rating: 5
Seconded. The box I take home will be sealed from the factory. If its open box, then the price will be slashed accordingly, and I will inspect everything in the box personally before I pay and before I leave the store.


RE: WTF
By Calidore on 1/5/2010 9:52:43 AM , Rating: 2
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. Look at the fake website thing. They deserved to be sued, but it was at least slick. Now they're telling lies that make them look bad in addition to the act of lying itself. Somebody in upper management has gone completely round the bend.

So take heart. Unless you're a Godzilla like MS, Intel, oil giant, etc., no company can survive showing such malignance and contempt toward its own customer base. The fact that BB has gone so whole-hog insane suggests that their time is limited.


RE: WTF
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 1/5/2010 10:11:30 AM , Rating: 3
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.


Great point! :)


RE: WTF
By Sleazell on 1/5/2010 9:52:47 AM , Rating: 2
I experienced this annoyance as well. What really pissed me off is when I needed to get a laptop that wasn't on the shelf. They had this guy floating around asking if people needed help and he would put their name on a waiting list until a PC associate was free. I didn't have a question I just wanted the laptop. He told us that we had to put our name on the list to see if the laptop was in stock. Of course the real reason was so that the associate could push the warranty on us ($230 on a $650 laptop). I found a pallet with next the geek squad area that had the laptop and got it. And they wonder why people prefer to shop online.


RE: WTF
By Suntan on 1/5/2010 1:11:57 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
And they wonder why people prefer to shop online.


It is telling that a store with no real human interaction with its customers(Newegg) still gets universally higher marks for customer service than a store like Best Buy.

-Suntan


RE: WTF
By fic2 on 1/5/2010 1:29:33 PM , Rating: 2
That is because they (on-line) don't waste your time trying to upsell you overpriced, worthless crap you don't need.

It is not only BB that does this. I bought a laptop at Staples in Oct and had to spend 30 minutes listening to the guy try to convince me to buy the optimization plan and the extended warranty. Same thing at Office Depot which had a "great" deal including McAfee AV which I would never allow on any computer I own.


RE: WTF
By webstorm1 on 1/5/2010 1:32:18 PM , Rating: 2
I love newegg! What's even better is that companies are now forced (by wanting to still look good) to reply to bad egg reviews in the comments section even though a lot of problems are caused by people's poor IT skills. But newegg is perfect for the IT community. They have unedited reviews, ship quickly, competitive prices, have full disclosure on product descriptions (I wanted Rev.2 not 1!) and carry all the products we want. They have earned their reputation and I hope they continue to work for it. Relating back to BB though, they have failed on almost every category.


RE: WTF
By mindless1 on 1/6/2010 7:39:50 AM , Rating: 2
Some places it can be even worse than that. They have a given allotment of laptops, a finite number, and will magically be out of stock for customers that don't want to buy the service plan discussed while they are waiting in order to try and max revenue on # of units sold.


By PAPutzback on 1/5/2010 9:24:06 AM , Rating: 3
Run msconfig and uncheck all the startup items not related to what the system needs to run correctly.

The way most endusers gauge their performance is first by how quick they can start up and get to the desktop and then how long IE takes to start and how long it takes to go from page to page.

Lately I've been seeing the ASK, Google, Search and Yahoo toolbars installed. One machine I worked on had almost half of the monitor filled from the top down with toolbars.




By webstorm1 on 1/5/2010 10:15:43 AM , Rating: 3
Actually I don't recommend using msconfig, try Autoruns instead from Mark Russinovich. Type in sysinternals.com and it redirects you to its new Microsoft technet home.


By inperfectdarkness on 1/5/2010 11:00:25 AM , Rating: 2
that...and process library...are the two of the greatest tools for DIY pc users.


By atlmann10 on 1/5/2010 1:56:04 PM , Rating: 2
I will have to check out process library I have never heard of that one unless your speaking of an admin tool. I have used autoruns for a long long time. I don't see whats wrong with doing it through msconfig either if you know what your doing. Then of course I also use the registry and tweak running services etc for some tweaks.


By callmeroy on 1/5/2010 10:58:55 AM , Rating: 2
I personally hate clutter --- if there is no unique value or reason for a "toolbar" or application -- don't install it. If you only use something once a month --- do you really need to download the application and have it sit on your desktop 24/7?

Web toolbars make little sense to me unless they are configured to be as streamlined as possible and you use its features on a daily basis.

So many clients have three web bars installed and another popular application are the those weather apps, like weather bug.....seriously -- do you really NEED 24/7 weather updates? Checking the weather a bit before you go home for the day isn't enough? Going to a news channels site and reading the forecast isn't enough?

In the end -- my issue isn't to say what someone puts on their own system...but it is "rich" when someone is complaining about performance and then you see they have 128 applications loading, 54 web tool bars, etc. etc.....hello.... :)


I thought $150 to set up a wireless network was bad
By nafhan on 1/5/2010 8:38:03 AM , Rating: 3
...but this definitely takes the cake. Most of the stuff they're charging over $100 for could be done by anyone willing to spend 20 minutes searching the internet and doing a little reading.

As an aside, the Geek Squad reminds me of Dogbert's tech support:
http://images.google.com/images?q=dogbert%27s+tech...




By Aloonatic on 1/5/2010 10:29:05 AM , Rating: 2
The same could be said for a lot of things though, and people don't have the time or inclination to learn even a little and tinker.

While most of us are happy to learn, read up and tinker with our computers, how many of us get ripped off with car servicing or the like?

Then when you pay someone else to sort something out, if it goes wrong, they should come back and fix it too.

In the end, maybe the time and effort is worth the money to them anyway? Sure, it's nice to be able to do stuff yourself but no one can learn everything.


By GodisanAtheist on 1/5/2010 11:46:11 AM , Rating: 3
Charge what the market can bear.

I'm pretty sure foodies laugh their asses off at normies going and blowing $100+ dollars at a fancy restaurant when they could have cooked the same meal for half the price for twice the people at home...


By nafhan on 1/6/2010 4:34:49 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, but setting up a wireless network can be done in 15 minutes by following the directions that come in the box. It's more like having someone come to your house and put a TV dinner in the oven for you, because reading the packaging is to difficult. There's a reason why the profit margin is so high on GS.


I had this exact experiece....
By superkdogg on 1/5/2010 10:36:07 AM , Rating: 2
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.


However, when I told them that I could do whatever it was they were doing in 10 minutes or less and that it would be completely unecessary if the crappy trials weren't on there to begin with they sold me the 'optimized' machine (only one in stock) for the same price as the regular one.

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.

I was really annoyed to find out that they didn't remove the actual trialware, and one thing that DT didn't say (CBA to read the real article) is that the trialware actually still prompts you to activate it! That's the most ridiculous part-the icons are gone but Norton still wanted to tell me about how awesome it is and how unsafe I am without it!

I'm disappointed in myself that it took me this long to realize why Explorer has the checkboxes enabled. This visually annoying feature for people far more proficient with a mouse than the Ctrl and Shift keys must be part of the craptimization.

I'd bet that the reason the machine slowed down is that the Geek dl'd a generic driver for the graphics or something similar since Windows Updates is part of it. BTW-that's mighty nice of you BB to do something for money that will automagically happen when I get my computer home and connect it to the internet. I guess it's a 'service' to somebody on dial-up but come on, that's just not right.




RE: I had this exact experiece....
By Cheesew1z69 on 1/5/2010 1:52:53 PM , Rating: 2
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.
Argue with the BB employees about software they didn't put on.....wow...


By superkdogg on 1/5/2010 4:03:43 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't accuse anybody in-store of doing the installation of the crapware-obviously I know that the manufacturers do all that. BB will do software installation, btw. Last I knew, that was $34.99 per program.

I just told them that the removal of software I didn't ask for was not something that I was willing to pay for. I would have gone farther down that path had I known that they only remove the icons and not the software itself....

Now, final question: Why isn't BB just asking to buy 2 different SKU's from Gateway in my case, but HP, etc. as well- one with the 'optimization' image put on them and one with the standard image? This way they can at least sell a sealed box in the store. As was noted, my box had been cracked open and the seal was taped over with a Geek Squad seal.


By ZachDontScare on 1/5/2010 2:15:56 PM , Rating: 2
LOL. So true - a large % of what people think are 'windows' problems are actually problems due to pre-installed software.

Personally I dont care how much trialware they install... cuz the first thing I do is wipe the drive and re-install the OS!


How unfortunate...
By Boze on 1/5/2010 7:38:08 AM , Rating: 4
What a shame that this Best Buy representative hates his/her parents so much.

What traumatic events occurred during this person's childhood for him/her to want to slow down his/her parents' computer by 32%?




RE: How unfortunate...
By Landiepete on 1/5/10, Rating: 0
RE: How unfortunate...
By wempa on 1/5/2010 12:55:52 PM , Rating: 2
That's exactly his point. The rep said that he would buy the optimization for his parents, which could slow down the PC by 32%.


Makes sense to me...
By ExarKun333 on 1/5/2010 8:23:06 AM , Rating: 5
It "optimizes" profits by making your computer slower, and your need for an upgrade happen sooner. ;)




Best Buy is such a joke.
By UncleRufus on 1/5/2010 10:20:55 AM , Rating: 2
Every Best Buy store I have been in has been a joke. Always a crowd of blue shirt employees standing around while a few customers wander. They never know where to find anything...I always end up saying forget it, and find it myself. Don't you think that if you worked in a store, even part time, you would have some idea of where stuff is?

And then, when I find the item, it's 400% the online price.

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?

And WTF is the deal with these gold plated monster cables?

It's dishonest, and disrespectful, the way they treat folks.

I don't understand how they exist with everything they have being cheaper and more pleasant to purchase elsewhere. In addition, half of their inventory...all those pc games, movies, and music...can be purchased and downloaded digitally in minutes from the comfort of your own home.

I wonder if such a dishonest company is also dishonest about the earnings numbers they send to wall street? It just seems like they would have to sell so much stuff to pay for all those blue shirt guys, the rent, the electricity, the commercials, etc...




RE: Best Buy is such a joke.
By Spookster on 1/5/2010 10:37:11 AM , Rating: 1
I got one even better. I was in BB recently and asked their HP Rep (and yes she had a tag that said HP Rep) if the HP PC I was looking at had an available PCI express slot in it. She looked at me with a confused look on her face like she had no idea what I was talking about and then said I will need to go to the Geek Squad desk and they will be able to answer my question. So she's an HP representative and she can't answer a simple question about an HP PC?


By ZachDontScare on 1/5/2010 2:13:06 PM , Rating: 2
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?

Best Buy is terrible for components. Dont buy things like ram, cables, ink, etc from them if you can avoid it - thats where they get their profit margins. ie, the sell their PCs at cost, and then make their profit by selling you a printer that 'needs' a $50 cable.

Try someplace like Target if you need components bought over the counter, not online. The only downside there is limited selection.


And yet...
By Marlonsm on 1/5/2010 8:24:32 AM , Rating: 2
...people will buy it as if it was the best deal ever.

That's what BestBuy wants, I don't think they care much about all these discussions in tech-related sites.




RE: And yet...
By MadMan007 on 1/5/2010 9:59:36 AM , Rating: 2
No, but they might care about articles on general interest sites like The Consumerist.


For $40
By webstorm1 on 1/5/2010 10:25:40 AM , Rating: 2
You get 1 hour of my time. That's enough time for me to actually uninstall the bloatware, put on a free AV or update and register the one you have, and update windows. Plus I will optimize the startup by removing unecessary programs. As a side job I do this for people at my work, but in their homes. I get repeat business but never for the same issue.

BestBuy has been scamming people from day one, it is proven time and time again, but the masses just manage to miss out on all that information somehow. I used to help people when I was in there, but for the last few years I have had a hard time justifying being in the store at all. They will continue to win because a large amount of consumers are ignorant and their whole business model is based around it: monster cables, replacement plans, useless overpriced install services, and bait and switch scams.




RE: For $40
By wempa on 1/5/2010 1:00:18 PM , Rating: 2
It amazes me that people still fall for this crap. I would think everybody nowadays would have some close contacts with technical knowledge that would do this for free or for a nice meal. :)


So...?
By LCS2009 on 1/5/2010 4:57:46 PM , Rating: 2
Hello:
I don't live in USA but I have heard a lot of BestBuy and GeekSquad. They are trying to open a lot of stores in Europe now, so my questions are:
1-Best Buy and Geek Squad are from the same company/owner or are they associated companies?
2-What's your opinion about GeekSquad? (because I read a lot of bad things about BestBuy in this comments already)
3-What type of service does GeekSquad offer?
4-Have you test that "optimization program" by yourself? How was it?
5-Did you work in GS or BB? Waht can you tell about it?




RE: So...?
By morphologia on 1/5/2010 6:06:52 PM , Rating: 2
(1) Geek Squad is an extra service provided as a subsidiary of Best Buy. They're part of the BB brand.
(2) Geek Squad can provide useful help in a minority of cases, but most of it is charging for things you can do yourself by actually reading the instructions.
(3) Geek Squad offers hardware and software installation and troubleshooting, both in-store and to your door. Some people are paying for them to wire up their home theater system with the wall-mounted speakers and multi-channel A/V receiver. Others are essentially paying to have someone defrag their harddrive, empty their recycle bin and run a built-in application they already have.
(4) I myself have had to "un-fix" such an optimization made to my mother's PC. I'm not sure how they sleep at night having people on their payroll whose idea of optimization is compressing the hard drive and downgrading the main account to non-power-user status.
(5) I have friends who work in Best Buy and they admit that though some Geeks have real knowledge and are helpful, most are just pushing the company's product with no regard to whether the service is helpful or even necessary.


apple rules
By queuetrip on 1/5/2010 10:49:29 AM , Rating: 1
There is no need for optimization on an Apple computer, which is why newbies (or those annoyed with Microsoft) should buy Apple computers... once the sting of the price subsides, you have a computer that just works.
(although there are some things one needs to re-learn... like how to do things without the right-click)




RE: apple rules
By morphologia on 1/5/2010 5:28:25 PM , Rating: 2
For "newbies" read "people with more money than competence" and for "computer that just works" read "computer that requires specialty service and possibly return to OEM for the slightest problem"...and you'll be closer to right.

All Apple does is narrow the spectrum of parts used by painstaking compatibility testing, and then apply the same narrow spectrum to the support provided by software. If limiting the options of those who know better by pandering to a small number of parts OEMs and shunning the rest is all that goes into making a better computer, that still doesn't explain why it costs 2 to 3 times as much as a PC made with THE SAME EXACT PARTS. And I'm not making that up...I built a high-end Mac on the Apple Store and built a comparable PC on an online retailer (won't name names) and the Mac was 64% more expensive for the EXACT SAME PARTS. What are you really paying so much extra for...comparison shopping and common sense by proxy?

You can avoid all those nasty Windows problems that Apple likes to whinge about if you (a) follow the compatibility guidelines provided by the various hardware manufacturers, (b) abide by the Windows approved software and hardware guidelines, (c) avoid things you know darn well aren't on the level, like various freeware (sleazeware!) applications, and (d) learn just enough about computers to not look like an easy mark to a Best Buy employee looking to push pricey Geek Squad favors.


By steven975 on 1/5/2010 10:49:47 AM , Rating: 3
They had 2 identical laptops. One "optimized" one not.

The Geek proceeded to power down both to show how fast the "optimized" one boots.

The Geek "shut down" the "optimized" laptop and forced the power off the regular one by holding the power button so it didn't shut down.

The "optimized" laptop powered up, I could tell the BIOS quick start was enabled (I think it is by default anyway), yet the regular laptop went through the BIOS screen and then had the startup error. The older couple was impressed by this demo, and I then couldn't hold it in and chimed in about exactly what the Geek did. The Geek got all defensive and said "It's not a scam". I said "sure" and the couple walked away. I then got a lecture from said Geek




Slim Margins
By HotFoot on 1/5/2010 10:04:37 AM , Rating: 2
How the hell are margins so slim for companies like Best Buy when virtually everything they sell is a good 20% or more expensive than competing online stores? The ONLY reason I'd go to a B&M store to buy electronics is if I thought I might need service for it later. Over two experiences I've found out how poor the service is (apparently I'm a slow learner) and I'm never going back.

I can see where this optimisation business came from. I mean, friends and family of mine ask me to clean up their computers from time to time. Just removing bloatware and making sure their security is up to date is something many people are afraid to do themselves. Of course it's a total scam if they're not actually doing those things - and I'm sure they'd be in violation of their contracts with OEMs if they pre-removed the bloatware for you.




its real simple
By alpensiedler on 1/5/2010 12:16:01 PM , Rating: 2
the sad fact is that when the tv says "buy" a lot of people just say "where do i sign?" this service is just like everything else. cars, tvs, computers, technology in general isn't well understood by the public, so places like best buy and meineke make up services and tell you that you need them. you see, these companies know that you dont know whether you need them or not. so they act like experts, and you believe them. its an age old trick to pray on ignorance; this is no different.




Oxymoron
By mooncancook on 1/5/2010 2:05:52 PM , Rating: 2
Let's optimize this computer so that it'll run slower.




Not worth it
By morphologia on 1/5/2010 5:12:23 PM , Rating: 2
Seems to me it boils down to having people pay for the privilege of not having to know what they're doing to any responsible extent. Might as well hire someone to chew your food for you and save you the risk of biting your tongue.

I realize it's a service that some fraction of the market can benefit from, but it's a small fraction and the odds are in favor of it being an unjustifiable, superfluous expenditure. Any Johnny Sixpack can run Windows Update and highlight desktop icons and press Delete. In fact, most new desktops remind you of those 2 very things when first powered on ("Don't forget to set Windows Update to run automatic updates!") or periodically ("Do you want to use the Desktop Cleanup Wizard? It's been 30 days or so since the last time we reminded you..."). Anything beyond that (and we assume, but can't guarantee, that Best Buy et al do more than that pathetic bare minimum) comes with gradual familiarization with the machine.

There's all kinds of online resources, many from reputable enough sources (like MS themselves) that the average person can learn from. In all likelihood, the only way to get your money's worth is to educate yourself and eschew those ridiculous "optimization" offers. That old pitch comes across as sleazy on those late-night commercials and blatantly shady banner ads...why is it any better coming from a hard-selling wage-slave at Best Buy?




By sapiens74 on 1/5/2010 11:41:09 AM , Rating: 1
oh yeah Best Buy Sucks too!

And Steve Jobs.....




Its a Service
By MrPerez on 1/5/10, Rating: -1
RE: Its a Service
By OCDude on 1/5/2010 9:16:11 AM , Rating: 3
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.


It is a useless service, they're effectively doing nothing to your computer and charging you $40.


RE: Its a Service
By Xavier434 on 1/5/2010 9:32:03 AM , Rating: 2
#1 The people that you are describing don't care about removing trial software. They only care about removing the short cuts on their desktop at best.

#2 You don't have to wait for the updates to complete before using the new computer. You can simply plug it in and start using it as the downloads and installation work in the background. You might have to restart a couple times that first day at worst.

#3 Some of the test results that The Consumerist determined was that the changes that Geek Squad performed actually decreased performance in comparison to the exact same machine that was purchased without their $40 "optimization".

It is a scam. It is lie. It is useless for both casual and power users. This is not one of those things which is worthless to the IT guy yet valuable to grandma. It is designed to cheat grandma out of her money.


RE: Its a Service
By gcouriel on 1/5/2010 10:23:37 AM , Rating: 1
the problem is that it isn't an "optional" service. i've been reading the entire Consumerist thread. this isn't the first time they've brought it up.

the real problem with the BB situation, and what will get them into trouble, is that they don't offer an unoptimized version. they lure the consumer in with a $599 laptop, but when they get to the store, the laptop is actually $639 or higher, because of the "optimization".

whether the optimization works or not, if you offer a customer a new computer, but sell them a used one, that's a big issue. BB will probably get itself into big trouble for doing this. i hope they saved some of those revenues for the lawyers who they'll be paying.


RE: Its a Service
By superkdogg on 1/5/2010 11:04:34 AM , Rating: 2
Now that you mention it, it does seem entirely too common that they 'run out' of the unoptimized machines.

Am I late to the party wondering if BB intentionally works on most of their machines to artificially bump up profits by paying a HS nerd $10 an hour to add $200 an hour worth of margin by 'optimizing' these things?

In my limited experience, it has been the case that the machine representing the best value is the machine that there were no 'unoptimized' boxes in stock. Seems that maybe this is a way to artificially bump profits for items that otherwise are good deals. Like Best Buy giving rebates to themselves lol.


RE: Its a Service
By MrTeal on 1/5/2010 11:22:06 AM , Rating: 1
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.


No, it's like the mechanic telling you at your oil change that he can add a special oil conditioner that will double your fuel efficiency, and the tops you up with a half pound of sand.

The wireless router setup, while horribly overpriced, is useful for some people. "Optimization" is not. 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.


RE: Its a Service
By Taft12 on 1/5/2010 2:26:15 PM , Rating: 2
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.


Ah, this is where Best Buy's insidiousness (incompetence?) pays off - the trials are not actually removed, only the shortcuts. Norton still tells you to buy or die after 30 days.


"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet.  A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis

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