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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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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.


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