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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 ZachDontScare on 1/5/2010 2:08:14 PM , Rating: 1
While it's true that computer salesmen often make ignorantly false statements (very few intentionally lie), IT people are on the opposite end of the spectrum. They know too much to be practical salesmen.

Untrue. I'm as technical as technical gets (programmer and own a software company), and have no problem being a salesman. I just dont lie, and make good products. And I'm hardly the only one in such a position.

Sales, like anything else, is a skill. If you plop your typical IT person on the floor of Best Buy, no he wont be a great salesman at first... but in a few months once he gets some skills, he might be the best salesman on the floor. You just dont typically see people like that on the floor because they're too valuable - they can get much better paying jobs.

Basically, you can teach an IT person to sell, but you cant necessarily teach a salesperson IT. There's a great misconception that people can be one or the other, but not both, and thats simply untrue.

By mindless1 on 1/6/2010 7:36:58 AM , Rating: 2
That is generally false. The truth is, salespeople are an additional overhead that has to come out of the profits. They're directed to selectively ignore the cons and deceitfully mention only the positives which goes against a proper scientific mind needed for any competent level of IT work.

So if you have no problem being a salesperson you are either:

1) Losing sales these low level floor people can't lose because of management pressure, or,

2) Deceiving customers that your product is always what they need instead of oh, say a competitor's product instead.

I'll assume you take the high road and go with #1, but how long would a Best Buy employee work there if they were found to be recommending customers go to a competitor to best suit their needs or just avoid the purchase altogether particularly when it is some service plan, a Geek Squad optimization service, etc?

Remember, they don't necessarily believe in the value of what they are selling themselves, but that is their job. Would an IT guy be true to his IT roots if he suggested something he knew was not suitable, did not apply technology towards the goal?

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard
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