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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: I had this exact experiece....
By Cheesew1z69 on 1/5/2010 1:52:53 PM , Rating: 2
As a side note, they initially gave me the wrong model from the stock room, so by the time I pointed that out, sent them back looking for the right one and had the argument about why I was not going to pay for some less-knowledgable nerd's hacks that wouldn't be needed if they didn't put the garbage on there in the first place I was at the register for 30-35 minutes.
Argue with the BB employees about software they didn't put

By superkdogg on 1/5/2010 4:03:43 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't accuse anybody in-store of doing the installation of the crapware-obviously I know that the manufacturers do all that. BB will do software installation, btw. Last I knew, that was $34.99 per program.

I just told them that the removal of software I didn't ask for was not something that I was willing to pay for. I would have gone farther down that path had I known that they only remove the icons and not the software itself....

Now, final question: Why isn't BB just asking to buy 2 different SKU's from Gateway in my case, but HP, etc. as well- one with the 'optimization' image put on them and one with the standard image? This way they can at least sell a sealed box in the store. As was noted, my box had been cracked open and the seal was taped over with a Geek Squad seal.

"I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
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