Report says Best Buy 'optimization' is a waste of money

According to a study done by The Consumerist, Best Buy's computer optimization service is "a big, stupid, annoying, waste of money." In fact, their conclusions were that sometimes, the service can even leave your computer slower than it would have been out of the box. For the study, The Consumerist sent out shoppers to 18 different Best Buy locations in 11 states to see just how "optimized" these computers actually were.

For $39.99, Best Buy tries to convince consumers to let them clean out and speed up their newly purchased computers. In some cases, the study showed that customers were lied to and forced to take the optimization package, or else they would not be allowed to purchase the computer. When expecting to buy a specific laptop, one woman was told that she'd have to pay the $39.99 extra because they only had pre-optimized versions of the laptop she wanted in stock. Since the optimization was already done, she was told that she could not buy the laptop without paying the extra fee. This specific customer managed to talk her way out of it, but unfortunately, most consumers can't.

This is what Best Buy claims of their optimization:

"Our Geek Squad Agents enable up to 100 system tweaks that improve PC performance and functionality, including optimized startup and shutdown, improved menu navigation, quick launch and taskbar cleanup and program shortcut creation."

One shopper sent by The Consumerist was told that the optimization makes the computer's processor 200% faster (a Best Buy spokesperson later called this claim, "a big aggressive"). As well, the person was told that, sure, they could optimize it on their own, but then they wouldn't be able to increase the processor speed. Other people were told that the computer was "incomplete" without the optimization and it would not come with anti-virus software or Microsoft Office.

Here is some of what The Consumerist found from the test models they received:

  • The job was sometimes rushed, leaving the computer in standby mode or in the middle of installing Windows updates
  • A power cable was missing
  • Papers for another computer were in the box
  • Desktop was cleaner, but the bloatware was never actually uninstalled (only the shortcuts were removed)
  • Windows updates had been downloaded, but one machine's Windows Defender was not up to date, because it was deactivated by the system's default factory settings
  • The other "tweaks" were basic things that any normal user can do, such as adding the status bar to explorer, or showing the file menu in IE

The Consumerist also ran a graphics benchmark and found that changes from the optimization were negligible, except on one of the laptops, where optimization caused it to score 32% worse than the non-optimized laptop. They were unable to determine the source of the performance change, but a commenter pointed out that this could have been due to the dedicated graphics card being disabled by the Geek Squad in the optimization process.

In a world where you can rarely buy a computer that's not pre-loaded with oodles of junk, it's unfortunate to see Best Buy taking advantage of people and taking their money without providing any real service in return. The Consumerist concludes that people should avoid Best Buy's optimization service. At the end of the report there's a list of free programs that a person can use to optimize their computer by their lonesome.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft announces 8th annual Imagine Cup

Next Story

Seesmic acquiring Ping.fm social networking service

117 Comments

View more comments

Optimizations for what? Saying the PC is optimized is so broad that with no actual proof like benchmarks is fraud imo.

Apple and Microsoft OS by itself are "moderately" optimized for all tasks. Once you start to tweak it for a specific task "optimization" then you will see a speed hit when you use it for something else.

And with nothing on it and no usage thus far, what could possibly need to be done too. It's silly. AND dear god if I saw that all they did was remove SHORTCUTS?? What a fun conversation THAT would be... LMAO

Only time I have "used" geek squad was when I purchased a sony record player... they were selling the floor model for $40 or so (originally $120, pushing it out for the new model with the USB port) and I got the replacement protection for $15 in case it didn't work. Well, it didn't. Brought it in, geek squad was going to fix it, couldn't, so i got a new one! No complaints there!


Otherwise, I would never allow them to touch any computer product of mine... never.

Little known fact,

When you buy a computer that was optimizated, it's ready to go, theirs nothing more that you need to do to the computer. All the updates are completed for you, Advertisements are removed, anti virus is installed, updated and configued for you.

Surely anyone with a brain can do this, but its more about the convenience your paying for not the labor.

250$ acer laptop was a holiday item a week before Christmas, if your a bby employee its the 5446 model or whatever one is 349$ reg priced.

About the black tie protection, We make 60% profit on the plans and they really do cover a lot more then your manufacture warranty. Do you really wanna call Tom from India for help? These plans do get fulfilled on a daily basis.

However, We push protection plans, credit cards and services because we are a business.
We sell computers nearly UNDERCOST. We make either 10 cents on a computer or we loose money on em, especially if they are on sale.

Our credit card helps us because we don't pay fees at the end of the day to visa, Amex, or master card.

Alone in the month of December we paid Visa 40k, Amex 90k, and master card 50k, thats 180k in just fees.

zeroeh said,
Little known fact,

When you buy a computer that was optimizated, it's ready to go, theirs nothing more that you need to do to the computer. All the updates are completed for you, Advertisements are removed, anti virus is installed, updated and configued for you.

READY TO GO?! UPDATED?!

How about you read the article. it very clearly states that
"â€Â¢The job was sometimes rushed, leaving the computer in standby mode or in the middle of installing Windows updates"
So tell me, if the lid of the laptop is closed (obviously for packing), how was it "ready to go" since Windows Updates won't complete if the computer is in standby? In fact, presenting them with a half-completed window throws them into the middle of a problem they may not be able to handle. at least if they do it themselves, they are presented will the intro explanation pages of what WU is going to do.

Or perhaps
"â€Â¢A power cable was missing"
Is it truly ready to go if the computer is lacking an essential feature that would be required for more than 8 hrs? (let's be generous and assume a thin and light, battery efficient model).

What about this
"â€Â¢Papers for another computer were in the box"
So you want to confuse the consumer perhaps? What if that paperwork discussed features that were not available for that model?

Or this
"â€Â¢Windows updates had been downloaded, but one machine's Windows Defender was not up to date, because it was deactivated by the system's default factory settings"
Again, NOT ready to go. If they "fully update," your computer, then ALL anti-virus/spyware tools should be ready for use. Why not just disable Windows Updates? They did Defender.

Finally, ur thoughts on this please:
"â€Â¢Desktop was cleaner, but the bloatware was never actually uninstalled (only the shortcuts were removed)"
Advertisements were not fully REMOVED. They were HIDDEN.

So please, tell me how your original comment applies to this article.

zeroeh said,
We sell computers nearly UNDERCOST. We make either 10 cents on a computer or we loose money on em, especially if they are on sale.

Money is neither loose nor tight.

/Wonders why people lose the ability to spell lose correctly...

zeroeh said,
Little known fact,

When you buy a computer that was optimizated, it's ready to go, theirs nothing more that you need to do to the computer. All the updates are completed for you, Advertisements are removed, anti virus is installed, updated and configued for you.

Look. You missed some other obvious ones.

Optimizated? OPTIMIZED! L3@rn to sp311

"their's nothing more that you need to do to the computer" Theirs? "Their's" is plural possessive. You mean "There's" as in "There is"

GOD. /cries at the eduction system of the world

Duh!! Do you think?!!

I have the EXACT same cd those guys use for "cleaning" computers.

Nothing more than Spybot, AVG AV, and a few other goodies that are FREELY available on the net.

The Geek Squad is a total joke.

As much as I know bestbuy pre-optmizations are a joke.

I bought a PC that was pre-optimized. My assumption was they didn't know it. I didn't ask nor was it offered.

The one thing I was impressed with and find it worth it marginally if they make the recovery discs all the time for the user. That was a suprise when I opened the box to find the recovery discs already made. It made it easier for me to wipe it out and put a clean OS (not using the recovery discs). But normally I have to make them myself.

ANYTHING GEEK SQUAD is a waste of money! When will people get this through their heads to stop using the geek squad for anything??? They are the most incompetent and unprofessional bunch of losers you'll ever see! I cannot believe they have lasted as long as they have, I honestly don't.

**** i live in New Zealand and even i know to avoid any company offering to "Optimize" for a fee a new PC/laptop first thing i do when i get home is format c:\ and clean install only what i want and need

Atlonite said,
**** i live in New Zealand and even i know to avoid any company offering to "Optimize" for a fee a new PC/laptop first thing i do when i get home is format c:\ and clean install only what i want and need


Here here!..or is it "hear hear"? hmmm lol

...
As far as what XChrome said.

If the people buying these computers have nobody to help them set them up, like friends, family or the local computer guy (me) then maybe this service (while it is expensive) may be of some value to the costumer (assuming they don't turn off UAC).

He does have one thing right. Most of the people out there don't know there ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to computers. I hate to say it, but if the geek squad didn't remove the free trial antivirus that came with the machine, then the customer would mostly likely be running 2 AV's, the one they bought and the one that came on the computer.

The one guy said 30% of people know what an service pack is. I'm shocked the % is that high. I'd put it at around 1%. You would be surprised (or not) how many people have never installed service pack 2 for Vista.

So while i'm not very fond of Best Buy as a whole, if idiot goes to buy a computer and has NOBODY to help them set it up, then MAYBE the optimization service could be beneficial.

With any type of service you are going to get helped by someone who knows a lot and other times with someone who knows a little. Unfortunately if we could get someone who knew what they were doing 100% of the time it would be a perfect world.

As an example, I helped someone who was having problems installing windows and didn't know how to install the drivers for his machine and needed my help. Long story short this same guy wanted me to write him a recommendation to Best Buy to work for the Geek Squad *laugh*. I basically told him "Dude you didn't even know how to install your own drivers, so no!". I'm going to guess these are the kinds of people that do most of the half ass job mentioned in the article. All in all these people give the ones that know what they are doing a bad name.

"The Consumerist concludes that people should avoid Best Buy's optimization service."

People should just avoid Best Buy. That's my .02 conclusion.

.

I used to work for the computers department at a Best Buy... and believe me the LAST thing they care about is the consumer. They're a sales team, plain and simple. I was reprimanded many times for not offering top of the line PCs, battery backups, and gold plated USB cables to old grandmas who just want to email their grandchildren. I was working around the time when Best Buy first started the GeekSquad services and believe me there is a TON of pressure on the employees to sell those services. Most people didn't want them at all, and especially didn't want to listen about them. Who's going to pay good money for someone to set up their PC when the cables are color coded? In any case I didn't stick around there very long... this was mostly off topic but I never miss an opportunity to rant

ninjagowoowoo said,
I used to work for the computers department at a Best Buy... and believe me the LAST thing they care about is the consumer. They're a sales team, plain and simple. I was reprimanded many times for not offering top of the line PCs, battery backups, and gold plated USB cables to old grandmas who just want to email their grandchildren. I was working around the time when Best Buy first started the GeekSquad services and believe me there is a TON of pressure on the employees to sell those services. Most people didn't want them at all, and especially didn't want to listen about them. Who's going to pay good money for someone to set up their PC when the cables are color coded? In any case I didn't stick around there very long... this was mostly off topic but I never miss an opportunity to rant ;)

I don't think its off topic at all. I think its right on topic.

My biggest gripe with them is the bold face lie they tell when you buy a printer. Saying it only comes with a "demo" ink cartridge that will only allow you to setup your printer margins. I been told this lie about 4 times and I always say no to it.

Gotenks98 said,
My biggest gripe with them is the bold face lie they tell when you buy a printer. Saying it only comes with a "demo" ink cartridge that will only allow you to setup your printer margins. I been told this lie about 4 times and I always say no to it.

Well its just not the Geek squad, you read about that one online too.

Well some printers actually used to do that a few years back. It wasn't really a "demo" cart, but it certainly wasn't your standard capacity ink cart. The printer box itself would state that the cart was a "starter cartridge" or similar. However, most printers I've seen nowadays have ceased doing that.

Commenting is disabled on this article.