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
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
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
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."