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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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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

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.

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