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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 DOSGuy on 1/5/2010 11:07:04 PM , Rating: 2
Remember Geek Squad is total entry level positions -- do they even pay over $15-18/hr these days?

Hell no!

I bought a computer from Best Buy a couple of years ago. It booted fine, but I put it through the usual torture tests and it kept failing Memtest86 and Prime95. I took it back and explained that the RAM was no good. They booted it up and said, "It boots fine." I explained that I was aware that it booted and asked them what tests they had performed. They kept deflecting the question because the answer was none. Finally they said that they believed me (more accurately, they didn't care enough to try to prove me wrong), they said that they would refund my money. I just wanted them to replace it, but they explained that I couldn't replace it with one of the computers in the store because I had bought it online (why, are BestBuy and different companies?). I had to get a refund an order a new one online. The second one worked just fine.

Anyway, while I was chatting with one of the techs, I mentioned that I'm A+ Certified and asked how much they paid their techs. He said $10/hr, which is 40 cents above minimum in Ontario. As is so often the case at big box stores, they pay their computer technicians roughly the same wage as the fry guys at McDonalds. Why should anyone be surprised that they're not computer experts?

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home
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