Adventures in Best Buy 'optimization'

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This is what happens when there’s no competition in an industry. Best Buy was the subject of Consumerist/Consumer Reports investigation re: “optimization.” Best Buy tries to sell computers to an unsuspecting public that have been “optimized” by the Geek Squad. And while the motives of the individual Geek Squad guy is probably on the up and up, the big bad corporation behind the guy in skinny black tie? The Almighty Dollar reigns supreme.

So Consumer Reports sent a bunch of folks to various Best Buy stores throughout the country to see what the deal was. You see, Best Buy advertised laptops for, say, $600, but you could only buy the laptop at that price provided you buy “optimization.” And what exactly is “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.

Basically, you know how when you buy a computer from a retail store and it’s loaded with all sorts of trial applications that clutter up the desktop? Best Buy will get rid of all of that. In other words, Best Buy wants $39.99 to uninstall a couple of apps. Neat.

The investigation hots up when the detectives start asking questions like, “Can I buy a non-optimized laptop?” only to hear “Uh, we’re all out of non-optimized models, sorry.”

This is a long way to say that Best Buy loves upselling you on things you patently don’t need. Now, I’d recommend that people skip all of this nonsense by, say, also buying an OEM copy of Windows 7 with the purchase of your shiny new PC so you can install a pristine copy of the operating system. It takes maybe 20 minutes to install Windows 7, and you won’t have any annoying trial applications mucking up your system.

Happy now that Best Buy is the only game in town? Not me: the chain violated my civil rights, and I shan’t be going there ever again. I hold grudges. Plus, I just use Newegg like everyone else on the Internet in 2010.

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