Print 96 comment(s) - last by nafhan.. on Jan 6 at 4:34 PM

  (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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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?

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.

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.

By Brandon Hill on 1/5/2010 10:11:30 AM , Rating: 3
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! :)

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.

By Suntan on 1/5/2010 1:11:57 PM , Rating: 3
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.


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.

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.

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.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997
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