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Best Buy $39.95 "Optimization" At Best a Waste of Money 504

DCFC writes "The Consumerist deconstructs the appalling 'optimization service' that Best Buy has been pushing on consumers in recent weeks. The retailer charges 40 bucks to give you a slower PC, and make bizarre claims that it makes it go 200% faster. 'We ran the 3DMark 2003 graphics benchmark on each laptop, comparing optimized and non-optimized settings. For two of our samples, the Gateway and Toshiba, performance changes were negligible. On the Asus laptop, however, optimized tests actually scored about 32% worse than the non-optimized setup. We have been unable to isolate the source of this performance change. On none of the three tested laptops did the optimized settings give a performance boost in our test.'"
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Best Buy $39.95 "Optimization" At Best a Waste of Money

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  • Friends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Khris ( 1010709 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @05:31PM (#30646578)
    Friends don't let friends take their computers to Best Buy!
  • Re:Friends (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NecroPuppy ( 222648 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @05:34PM (#30646614) Homepage

    More basic than that: Friends don't let friends -buy- computers from Best Buy.

  • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @05:36PM (#30646638)

    "System tuning" would require actual tuning to the system.

    The Goon Squad is probably just running some automated crapware to defrag, "fix" the registry, and other such nonsense. Of course, being crapware, it can often do more harm than good.

  • Re:Friends (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stregano ( 1285764 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @05:41PM (#30646678)
    If I had mod points left, I would mod you up like crazy. That is one of the most true statements I have ever seen.

    I used to take tech support phone calls for a major internet company. I can not tell you how many times somebody would call in right after taking their pc to best buy and nothing would work correctly.

    They actually talked my friend's mom into getting a wireless router, Geek Squad charged her to set it up, but they did not put the wep key into her computer, and the wep key they wrote down on the post it note was wrong. Yes, they charged for setup. That was fun fixing that one that Geek Squad did.
  • by Galactic Dominator ( 944134 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @05:50PM (#30646802)

    This is not about "you". This is about the consumer which gets scammed into a worse than neutral purchase and someone else gets to clean it up. That someone is frequently an IT type person doing work for their employers, families, and friends. So continue to business with an organization known for it's perpetual fraud and know that you're only creating a more problems for youself and your peers, as it's your choice, but after considering to choice to do so maybe you'll understand it's not harmless, nor a net gain for yourself.

  • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc@carpanet.PERIODnet minus punct> on Monday January 04, 2010 @05:50PM (#30646808) Homepage

    Ahhh but did they say it was to be optimized for speed? Could it be that they are optimizing your machine for replacement? Optimized for reporting marketing data to best buy? Optimized for suck? Optimized to make other peoples PCs look better?

    I have to wonder, if surveyed, what percentage of users would report that their PC was faster :)

    Salesmen are kinda scumbags everywhere. NPR has been doing some great programs on it recently. This morning there was talk of car buying and all the tricks. They talk about "monthly payments" and other abstract notions, because it makes it much easier for them to hide fees into a fully broken up payment than if they were actually talking "out the door" price. Also they even make "math errors" to the point that the person telling the story claimed to have bought cars 4 times and EVERY TIME caught a "math error" that would have had him paying more.

    "Error" indeed.

    I like to keep the salesman's tricks in mind while talking to them. It takes away a lot of their power if your going over the tricks and intended effects in your head "Oh he is looking for a yes here so he can foster agreement" "oh, hes repeating his question again looking to see if I am faltering" "oh, there we go, mentioning value again, must mean its way overpriced"

    then again, I question even this. As it seems some salesmen are extremely vulnerable to their own pitches. I have a friend who briefly sold Kirby vaccuumes. From what I hear their best customers end up being their own salesmen sometimes, and judging from him.... he seemed so sold you almost thought he would end up buying one if he stayed with it. (you may see one demo on how much dirt it picks up, he sees several demos a week...)


  • by benro03 ( 153441 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @05:55PM (#30646894)

    No, but as an advanced user (I design SAN and NAS stuff) it insults me when they try and talk past me. When I buy a piece of electronics I've usually researched it to death and just want the salesman to get the box and ring it up for me; that's all. I've lost count of how many times these bogus "PC experts" have tried to blow smoke up my butt and impress me. Usually all it takes is telling them, "Fine. I'm on my way to Microcenter / Fry's," and they suddenly are able to sell me what I want.

    The worst thing you can do to them is walk out, buy someplace else, and TELL THEM.

  • by yurtinus ( 1590157 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @05:56PM (#30646908)
    Never attribute to malice what could be ascribed to incompetence.
  • Re:Stock Windows? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Archon V2.0 ( 782634 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @05:56PM (#30646912)

    How much do you have to pay for stock OEM windows? Because whenever I optimize a computer, it mostly involves removing the shoddy always-on software installed by the manufacturer / Best Buy.

    Hell, don't even pay for it. Borrow a disk from someone and use the already-bought-and-paid-for OEM license key on the side of the case. Usually works.

  • Re:Friends (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sir_Lewk ( 967686 ) < minus herbivore> on Monday January 04, 2010 @05:59PM (#30646946)

    wep key

    That alone should be considered criminal negligance.

  • by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @05:59PM (#30646958)
    An oversimplification. Again, I'm not suggesting the job is worth it FOR ME, but $40 to pre-install all updates, clean up the bloat-ware (at least visually), and perform a few tweaks (status bars enabled, automatic updates enabled, etc.) isn't out of line for a big-box company to charge. The problem isn't that they offer the service and that you get marginal value for it -- the problem that Consumerist has is that you can't seem to avoid paying for it. "Sorry, they're all pre-optimized."
  • Re:Friends (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fooslacker ( 961470 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @06:01PM (#30646974)
    Friends most certainly do let friends take their computers to Best Buy...especially if they don't want to be tech support for the rest of the friendship ;)
  • Best Buy salesmen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Monday January 04, 2010 @06:02PM (#30646986)

    Buying ANYTHING at Best Buy these days is a chore.

    "No I don't want your optimization plan."
    "No I don't want an extended warranty."
    "No I don't want any accessories."
    "No I don't want the super awesome $50 Monster Cables with gold tips."
    "No I don't want your PlatinumShield super-dupper service plan."

    What's bad is when you get a salesman who wants to argue with you. "But you need our service plan!!" Sometimes I just want to throttle these guys. If there was another place I could get computer parts and electronics locally (for times when waiting three or four days for Newegg isn't an option) I would never set foot inside their doors. A few weeks ago I had pushy BB salesmen try to sell me a warranty plan on a $20 card reader, for crying out loud.

  • Re:Friends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twentynine ( 984768 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @06:02PM (#30646990)
    Be fair. You can get a pretty decent deal sometimes. Just don't get any add-on services.
  •     Half (or more) of that bloat comes from the default installs. On new machines, I find it easier to blow away everything they have and start fresh. A nice clean OS install is always wonderful. :)

        I haven't bought a new machine from BestBuy in years, but even then it was a machine to install Linux on. They tried a variety of upsells on me, and couldn't quite grasp my answer. "No, I'm wiping out everything and putting Linux on".

        At another store, they were very insistent on selling me an antivirus suite. I asked "So, does it run under Linux". Their answer was "Oh, I'm sure it does." I had them spinning for about 10 minutes and finally broke the bad news to them. Come on, you're selling computers. You should have a clue what Linux is, even if it's just enough to know, a Linux person wouldn't want anything packaged for Windows.

        A friend of mine called me the other day about antiviruses for Win7. A friend of hers just bought a new computer for Christmas, and they upsold him on an antivirus suite. Unfortunately, it wouldn't install on Win7. They were going to return it for a refund, and I warned them that since the box had been opened, that'll probably be next to impossible. I haven't heard what finally happened with that.

        If they could, they'd upsell a karma suite. "You'll have good computer karma, you won't get any viruses, and not much will break anytime soon." :)

  • Re:Friends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by selven ( 1556643 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @06:02PM (#30647000)

    There's one word you could remove from that sentence and have it remain grammatically, orthographically and factually correct...

  • Re:Friends (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nitar ( 261628 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @06:09PM (#30647110)
    I'd make it even more generic: Friends don't let friends GO to Best Buy.
  • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @06:10PM (#30647116) Homepage

    A complete reinstall will clean out a kiloton of junk and make a computer much faster. Especially if it's reinstalled with a standard version of the OS and not some vendor crippled, bogged-down version with a lot of software packages you don't need or want.

  • by yurtinus ( 1590157 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @06:19PM (#30647248)
    While I can't really argue with anything you're saying-- you're missing that most computers come off the shelf with Windows and all the other crapware pre-installed. Reinstalling windows is something you and I can do in our sleep (and I'm sure we both have done just that), but many users can't. This certainly doesn't make "optimization" services worthwhile, it's still just a means of separating people from their money. I worked in a big box tech shop and know how useless a *lot* of these add ons are.
  • Re:Friends (Score:4, Insightful)

    by longhairedgnome ( 610579 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @06:31PM (#30647416)
    Who buys movies?
  • Re:Staples (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JM78 ( 1042206 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @06:54PM (#30647738) Journal
    Just to play devil's advocate here:

    Ignorance is expensive. Mind-numbingly simple isn't the issue and is in the eye of the beholder (I'm not a physics genius and I'm sure I'm a complete idiot to many). If 'just make it work' is worth $150 to someone then what's the problem?

    Sure, you could say the service COULD be less expensive but the consumer is the one who sets the price in the end. People pay for a perceived value. I wouldn't pay $150 for this kind of service because to me its highway robbery - then again, I'm not ignorant to this issue and can do the work myself.

    As a small business owner I do understand the value of doing business however and the more you know about who, what, when, where or how the less expensive things are.

    On the flip-side - selling a service that does the opposite of what it claims is false advertising and, last time I checked, illegal.

    Just my 2 cents.
  • Re:Friends (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DemonBeaver ( 1485573 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:06PM (#30647882)
    When visiting the US, I found out that my cellphone doesn't support GSM 1900... so I went to BestBuy and bought myself an unlocked phone, which was crazy expensive... I had no choice, since I absolutely had to be reachable. Now, this was a really bad phone, Windows Mobile, etc... and I spent $400 on it!

    Only after I grudgingly bought it, did the clerk tell me about the 30 day refund... I was rather happy returning it after my two week stay. Thanks, Best Buy!!! >:-D
  • Re:Friends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Awptimus Prime ( 695459 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:16PM (#30648010)

    So you go to Best Buy,

    and rip them off...

    That way we can make sure to encourage the retail chains in the US to remain as shitty as possible?

    I don't shop at Best Buy, but I disagree with the practice of wasting other people's time and money, which is what this is. It is much wiser to go to Microcenter and get a $10 SATA or IDE enclosure and just keep your old drive in it as a spare or to give to a friend who needs one. All my old 100-120GB drives from the turn of the millenium are happily housed in such units and come in handy when someone needs temp storage or truck around some data.

    Doing it this way, the retail establishment has no reason to jack up prices further, keeps employees employed, and Startech or whoever made the enclosure got a sale for a manufacturing a decent enough product.

    There is a thousand ways to royally screw over companies using warranty and return policies, they don't take much thought to discover and abuse, but I don't think doing so is the path to any form of enlightenment.

  • Re:Friends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GIL_Dude ( 850471 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:42PM (#30648304) Homepage
    I guess some big-wheel producers or their companies could be said to buy movies. The rest of us just license them for non-public presentation in our homes or some such nonsense (I fast forward that part when possible; it isn't always a no button press area even though it is a no skip section for some reason). Of course there are many folks these days who acquire their license through less than legal means. I personally have a wall of DVD's that are all legally licensed. But I'd agree with you that pretty much no normal person "buys movies" since the several million dollars for them are out of our price range.

    I guess if you said "who buys round plastic shiny discs that ship with a limited viewing license for a movie" I would hold up my hand and say "me".
  • Re:Friends (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Monday January 04, 2010 @07:46PM (#30648362) Homepage Journal

    and rip them off...

    Uh, read the article. Who's ripping who off?!

    That way we can make sure to encourage the retail chains in the US to remain as shitty as possible?

    It's the function of many people within the corporations to ensure that they continue to be as shitty as possible while keeping profits up. Corporations will always strive to cut costs no matter how much money people throw at them. They'll just put the item back on the shelf anyway. I know as a fact that some chains even put defective returns back on the shelves.

    It is much wiser to go to Microcenter

    With its 22 locations nationwide. That's not feasible for many of us.

    Doing it this way, the retail establishment has no reason to jack up prices further, keeps employees employed

    See my second point above. I know as a fact that certain chains give their Store managers bonuses for keeping payrolls low. "The economy" is yet another convenient excuse to further lower the bar.

    There is a thousand ways to royally screw over companies using warranty and return policies, they don't take much thought to discover and abuse, but I don't think doing so is the path to any form of enlightenment.

    How so? You have to return the item either way. And hardware companies are increasingly and knowingly churning out defective and/or incomplete products (see NVIDIA fiasco). I have worked in the electronics test/measurement/repair industry for ten years, including a stint with a company who was contract warranty repair for Best Buy's laptops!

    Call me old fashioned, but when I buy something, I expect it to Just Work(tm). Defects should be anomalous and warrant immediate replacement. I should not have to wait months for the next board revision or firmware hack just to use my product as was advertised.

    Dammit, I've been trolled again.

  • Re:Friends (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DarkOx ( 621550 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @08:18PM (#30648798) Journal

    Bestbuy used to be much much better. I grew up in MPLS/SP where it got started and before it became a national chain they had much wider selections of stuff. I really blame the internet for killing their selection of PC parts as I can totally understand no b&m is going to be able to compete in that space. Other stuff though like stereo equipment and the like I really don't know what happened. You used to be able to go in and look at 20 different receivers/amps and 10 complete sets of speakers, now you'd be lucky to find five different makes of either.

    They have really gone lowest common denominator and totally main stream.

  • by IKnwThePiecesFt ( 693955 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @08:44PM (#30649164) Homepage

    So as a former Geek Squad agent I have to chime in. First, I do believe the service is overpriced. Second, I don't speak for the whole company, just my store.

    That being said, the "optimization" service that we sold consisted of 1) Applying any available Windows updates, including service packs in the case of sales immediately following the release of a new one. 2) Uninstall of any trialware that comes preloaded that is of no real value (I.E. most of the shit preloaded on Toshibas, HPs, etc)
    3) Tweaking of MSConfig to disable any excess run-at-startup items that are for legitimate software but that shouldn't run at startup (Nero, Roxio, Adobe Reader, etc)
    Finally the agent would ensure that automatic updates are enabled etc.

    While yeah, you may say that this service is overpriced (I would tend to agree) it's not as much bullshit as everyone is imagining.

    Again, as you might imagine with a corporation as large as Best Buy, consistency is not exactly 100% (My agent number was in the 18,000s, and that was assigned to me two years ago) so YMMV.

  • If i am buying a new computer that computer had better be in sealed factory condition since i have no idea what was done to the computer after it was opened. If I select to have it "optimized" i want to see the tech that is doing the service (so i can "shoot him later").

    How do i know that the previous person didn't put a webserver and a nice selection of kiddie porn on it??

  • by mabhatter654 ( 561290 ) on Monday January 04, 2010 @10:05PM (#30650002)

    The REAL question is why the computer didn't COME THAT WAY IN THE FIRST PLACE!

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!