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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.


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