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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: 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


“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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