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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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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.

"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il
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