Best Buy Caught Using Sneaky Sneaky Tricks To Sell HDTV Calibration Service

I’ve read some bad Best Buy stories in my time here at The Consumerist, but this one really takes the asshole cake. To sell its special HDTV calibration service, this Best Buy in NC set up two identical model HDTVs, both showing ESPN. As seen in the picture tipster Robert took, the “calibrated” one is noticeably better. That’s because it’s showing ESPN HD and the one on the left is showing just regular ESPN. You can also see how a set of box have been placed in front of the non-calibrated tv on the left so you can’t see that’s it not ESPN HD. That, my friends, is quintessential deceptive marketing. Robert’s story of what he saw, and the rivers of bullshit and non-answer that came out of the Best Buy employees’ mouths when he confronted them about it, inside…

Dear Consumerist,

While helping my father look for an HDTV at the newest Best Buy in Charlotte, NC this Sunday, I came across their demo display of their color calibration service. On the left side of the demo, they had a HDTV tuned to ESPN, and on the right, there was the exact same model of TV presumably tuned to the same station, but with a far superior picture. The difference between the two was remarkable; the left one was grainy and blurry while the right one looked sharp and detailed. Thinking that something was not right, I took a further look at the demo and realized that the inferior tv on the left was turned to plain old ESPN, and the superior tv on the right was tuned to ESPN HD. What’s even worse is they had a box for their Black Tie TV Protection Plan strategically placed so that when looking at the display from most angles, it covered up the ESPN logo on the left tv as to disguise the fact that it was not an HD channel.

Having figured out the nature of their scam, I went to talk to one of the employees. I showed him the TVs, and he didn’t have much to say besides that the color calibration service would decrease power consumption on my TV by 30%, which if I am not mistaken, a flat out lie.

Another employee overheard our conversation, and would at first, not admit that one tv had an HD signal and that the other one did not. He insisted that the difference was strictly because of their color calibration. Not wanting to let him get away with his BS, I told him that his claim was impossible, and finally got him to admit not only that I was right, but also that the tv with the standard signal was set to stretch the picture out (presumably to make the picture even worse). He then say that it would probably help to set the TVs to the same channel, but he “didn’t know where the remote was.”

By that point I was tired of the crap flowing out of his mouth, so I proceeded to shop around. Ten minutes later when I was ready to leave, I passed by the demo again only to find that the employee had done nothing, and that it was just as misleading as it was before.

This is just a cheap tactic to get people to buy into their crappy calibration service, which I could probably do myself with a half hour of playing with the settings on my TV. While I noticed the scam, I highly doubt that my 70+ year old father would.

Attached is a picture I quickly snapped with my iPhone. It’s not the best, but you can still see that the right one is set on ESPN HD while the left one is just regular ESPN. I guess this is just another example of Best Buys classy business practices.

-Robert

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  1. mariospants says:

    Haha, classic. They didn’t honestly believe they would get away with this, did they?

    • mariospants says:

      @mariospants: BTW, 99/100 there are channel controls on the side of the TV; you should have changed the channel to something appropriate or rather “calibrated” the ESPN channel to ESPN HD. Hey, you could work for Best Buy!

    • HRHKingFridayXX says:

      @mariospants: Actually, the people who go in to buy a tv at best buy in the first place could be easily swayed. There are a lot of folks my parents age that haven’t read up on how hdtv’s work, they just think they have to buy on this season.

    • dlynch says:

      @mariospants:

      the only reason best buy is still open is that people are stupid, and they get away with this stuff all the time.

      • valthun says:

        @dlynch: or that they actually stock new PC game titles in a quantity that makes GameStop look bad.I play PC games, and they have the best selection at a brick and mortar store locally.

        • Raiders757 says:

          @valthun:

          Not only that Valthun, but my local Best Buy has the largest DVD and CD selection of any majot retail store in my area. The only store with a larger CD section, is a mom & pop shop a few miles down the road, which carries the more harder to find and limited print albums (Prog, jazz, jam band, and lesser known truely good music that doesn’t get airplay). Our local Best Buy now even carries vinyl albums.

          Jerkit City’s DVD and CD racks barely take up the area of the CD section at BB.

          My local BB’s video game and PC game sections are easily larger than any Gamespot store in my area.

          I find it funny. I read about all these bad things at Best Buy, but have never seen any of this happen at the one near me. It’s one of the more honest stores in the area.

        • Kounji says:

          @valthun: I’m totally with you on this one. Gamestop doesn’t sell pc titles at all and best buy always seems to have everything. With gamestop typically they make you preorder pc games or they will not have them. Which is kinda sad, really.

    • Gilbert Tang, Jr. says:

      @mariospants: They obviously did, and the probably have.

    • Anonymous says:

      I know exactly what’s happened there. And it’s no conspiracy.

      That display behind the answer center used to be a display for showing HD vs Std. Def.

      Merch kits (including signage) were sent to stores, but the calibration setups were to be performed by the “Projects teams” not the merchandise dept in the store.

      I’d bet my left testi that the merch team (trying to be proactive) or just not reading the merch instructions put the signage up and didn’t hold it for the projects team.

      I’d be willing to bet the TV hasn’t even been calibrated yet either because the planogram hasn’t been completed correctly for that section (OBVIOUSLY).

      I think people need to stop trying to find the smoking gun that Best Buy is trying shananagins and what not. The truth is, Best Buy offers a great service with no tricks, no shell games, no smoke & mirrors. It is an ISF certified calibration for $250. Easily $200 to $350 LESS than your average ISF Calibrator in the phone book. And that is for TWO inputs, which many of those aformentioned calibrators only do ONE for that price.

    • Anonymous says:

      Okay this is for every uneducated person! If you enter a place and specifically look for flaws, your going to find them! As for the picture above. This was not intended to demonstrate the calibration. This was originally set up to display the difference between DirectTV vs. DirectTVHD. They have recently added the calibration to the HD set, in order to display how well your tv could look, not to fool the customer! The calibration is done with a light meter and a special programmed computer, which is all done in your home. There is a specific Demo for the calibration in the Magnolia Room. There will also be a box under the tv that demonstrates the power usage. It is infact saving 30% + of energy, which drastically increases the lifespan of the tv. As for the boxes hiding the HD symbol, that was just a simple coincident and I bet if you walked in there today you would probably find that box not there. You may think Best Buy is out there trying to rip you off, but it is up to you the consumer to do your homework before making a big purchase. Don’t just take their word for it, go check the products reviews by both users and credible editors. Also find out some of the terminology so you know what your really getting. Yahoo recently posted an article that gave the results of several stores and their sales pitches. This included Best Buy, Circuit City, a local tv shop, and some other store. Best Buy ended up receiving the highest score because of customer service, time spent with the customer, best value, and available options to enhance the customers experience.

    • UnicornMaster says:

      @mariospants: Actually you’ll be surprised how many people actually fall for this crap. My boss tells me his girlfriend paid the $300 or so for this sort of calibration that amounts to nothing more than a light meter and messing with the video settings. I think anyone with a little patience and a discerning eye can do these type of adjustments themselves and it would take you 10 minutes and save yourself $300.

      Places like Best Buy push this service because it’s pure profit.

  2. Triborough says:

    Well it is obvious from the picture since if it was the same station the screens would have the same thing on both.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As a former employee at Best Buy we once set up the demo TVs with RCA cables for the lowest margin TVs and HDMI cables for the highest margin TVs to show you the “difference” in quality.

    • dvdchris says:

      @TeagueCabiri: and???

      • scootinger says:

        @dvdchris: There is a HUUUUUGE difference between the signals on composite/RCA cables and HDMI cables. they simply want to make the low-end TV’s look shitty compared to the high-end TV’s, when really there isn’t such a difference between, say, a $1000 Vizio and $2000 Sony.

  4. hewhoroams says:

    To be honest though, lowering the BRIGHTNESS on your HDTV can lower the life. Changing the colors won’t do anything but make the colors different.
    Super shady.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Also, it should be a dead giveaway that they are two different channels because there are two different scenes showing. Unless there is some sort of internal 3-second delay because of all the extra color calibration…which would save power, of course.

    • MSUHitman says:

      @SamidhaOphion: There’s always a lag of around 3-5 seconds on the HD version of a show vs. the standard def version if they’re showing the same show.

      FYI both TV’s are showing episode 18 of the World Series of Poker main event. The time is about 3/4 through the episode as Joe Bishop loses the hand to finish in 11th place, and then is the final commercial break then it shows the remaining 10 players at one table.

      < watched the episode downloaded to his XBox.

  6. Acolyte says:

    Sigh, seems it’s always en vogue for a retailer to go as far as they can go to make the consumer part with as much money for as little as possible.

    • Minneapolis Red Sox says:

      @Acolyte: BB tried to sell me a one year warranty on an Xbox 360 game tonight.

      They couldn’t explain why I would possibly want to do that.

  7. HRHKingFridayXX says:

    The last time in was in BB, I noticed that the coloring was off on some of the cheaper models. I’m sure that’s an easy fix, but if I didn’t know better I might have leaned towards expensive models. Of course, the jokes on them, I was just scouting out for when I buy from amazon or newegg. LOL.

    • Anonymous says:

      @HRHKingFridayXX:
      Personally I find doing that about as ethical as retailers trying to trick consumers into paying extra.
      Especially the practice of going into a small specialty shop such as a camera store or electronics shop. Pumping their salespeople for information and then buying at a big box store or online.

      • WasabiJoe says:

        @GemmaHorn:
        He went into Best Buy not a small specialty shop. Not to mention probably most of the information received from the sales people would be advertising mush and not real advice. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with going out and doing research about a product you’re going to invest a large chunk of money in. Completely different from stores running bait and switch tactics or tricking people into paying for warranties that won’t cover what the employees say it will cover.

    • ceilingFANBOY says:

      @HRHKingFridayXX: That probably isn’t Best Buy’s doing. That probably has more to do with the manufacturer’s settings on the tvs. They don’t have time to go around and calibrate all of those tvs, they just leave them on the default settings. Typically, those default settings are the “vivid” setting with everything cranked up to the max to make the screen stand out rather than being set to make the picture actually look better. Even if they did have the time to change the settings, a lot of the cheaper tvs do not have nearly the amount of user controls that the expensive tvs have.

      • HRHKingFridayXX says:

        @ceilingFANBOY: They don’t have time to calibrate their floor models? Or do they just have time to calibrate the most expensive models?

        • ceilingFANBOY says:

          @HRHKingFridayXX: They don’t calibrate any of them under normal circumstances. Perhaps in the Magnolia centers they do, but that’s a special area, but other than that, the TVs in the calibration set ups are the only ones that actually get calibrated. Besides that, Darkest Daze’s comment just shows why it is useless to even bother with calibrating the TVs. People mess with the settings on these TVs so much that the only thing that would be fair to do would be to set the TVs back onto the default setting because some customers are idiots and can really end up making a TV look like ass by setting everything to 100% because they think that setting the sharpness and contrast to the highest setting possible is always the best thing to do.

      • Darkest Daze says:

        @ceilingFANBOY:
        When I was looking for a new TV, I went down to BB to play with the models I was considering. I asked them to see a remote to play with the color settings since they were horribly washed out and saturated. As I was messing with the settings, the employee made sure to stand right next to me the whole time. After I set it to have a really nice picture, with good detail and black levels, I hand the remote to the employee, who promptly hits the “set to default” button.

    • kairi2 says:

      @HRHKingFridayXX: That’s pretty much what Best Buy is good for. To go check out merchandise in person before you buy it online from a respectable company.

  8. Git Em SteveDave loves this guy--> says:

    They could have at least played with the controls and moved the picture horizontaly to hid the logos. Use some brains Best Buy.

  9. everclear75 says:

    Best Buy is scamming consumers who don’t know any better.
    I got a 10 dollar calibration DVD that did a world of wonders on Flat Panel.. I’ve seen some of the GeekSquad” techs, I wouldn’t trust them with anything!!!

    • Ass_Cobra says:

      @everclear75:

      Do you mind if I ask which one? I need to do this but haven’t done the research. I could probably go to AVS Forums but might get heckled.

    • marsneedsrabbits says:

      @everclear75:

      Almost all Pixar and Lucasfilm DVD releases have a free calibrator in the special features menu that works as well as any other DVD calibrator.

      [www.engadgethd.com] for more details.

    • dvdchris says:

      @everclear75: Yes, you can buy Digital Video Essentials, but ISF calibration is done using controls/equipment not available to the consumer. While you can make a remarkable improvement using something like DVE,you are not ‘calibrating’ your set.

  10. triggerh says:

    WOW, I didn’t think it could get any worse than pre-packaging useless over-priced services with laptops and telling customers that they can’t buy the product if they only want the laptop.

  11. everclear75 says:

    Oh here is a link to one of those DVDs. Check out what other customers had interest in…

    • nycaviation says:

      @InfiniTrent: That description doesn’t mention anything about them using any professional calibration equipment. It also has customer reviews repeating the same “it saves energy!” nonsense they heard in the sales pitch. :(

      • physics2010 says:

        I’m not sure why everyone on here keeps saying that a calibration wouldn’t lower power consumption? Most of the reviewers of tv say the same thing. Typically from the factory the brightness is turned way up. If you are watching in a darkened room you can adjust the brightness down and they did see a lower power consumption. Significant power reduction.

  12. everclear75 says:
  13. mewyn dyner says:

    Well, BB and other big-boxers never use a decent HD feed or calibrate their TVs at all. It disgusts me that they are using different feeds to try and sell their service, but I’d be surprised that the TV that’s supposedly calibrated isn’t properly calibrated.

    And to those buying a TV wanting to get the best picture, don’t get scammed by stores’ calibration services. They are just install techs who eyeball the settings. Either get the Avia [www.amazon.com] or Video Essentials [www.amazon.com] DVDs and cailbrate the color that way. They are very easy to use and guide you through all proper steps in setting up your home theater system.

    Now, if you want to get the best bang for your buck, find a decent independent home theater installer who will come to your home with a color analyzer, and codes to break into the TV’s service menus to get the best calibration possible. This, though, in my opinion, unless you’re spending $15,000 on your HT setup, is overkill. :)

    • Traveshamockery says:
      • Traveshamockery says:

        @InfiniTrent: Crap.

        Best Buy’s calibration service is certified by the Imaging Science Foundation. It’s not a Geek Squad guy, it’s a traveling calibrator. Quit spreading FUD. It’s a real calibration, not just a “disc” calibration.

        • RedwoodFlyer says:

          @InfiniTrent: Imaging Science Foundation….yeah..that doesn’t sound like a sham group or anything

          • Anonymous says:

            @RedwoodFlyer:

            He’s actually right, ISF techs use other equipment to calibrate displays. Some of these include relatively expensive filters. The test for the filters is found on a DVE disc for example.

            If you don’t believe it, take a look on AVS forums. BB just gets a crap load of mark-up in comparison to directly going to one.

    • Raiders757 says:

      @mewyn dyner:

      I have a version from Sound & Vision that uses the Video Essentials methods. It works very well, and doesn’t take much time at all. It’s great for the do it yourselfer. Probably not as good as getting a pro out to your house, but the next best thing for sure.

    • Anonymous says:

      @mewyn dyner: First things first, know the subject matter before present an opinion. And although I respect your right and your entitlement to such, please present some sort of credibility before verbally vomiting all over this website. The difference between using a big box retailing, i.e Best Buy, and an independent home theater installer is such: Best Buy is a corporation that has the ability to provide such services at lower costs, independents do not have such an ability. Best Buy calibrations are $249 for the calibration of 2 inputs (generally speaking they are usually HDMI inputs), independents, in my particular market, are $275 for one input. All calibrators, regardless of their place of employment, must be ISF certified to gain access to the menu (unless they are a company that likes to take financial risks), in order to cover their ass. If you get into a service menu without knowing what you are doing, you can brick the tv. Do you want to cover the cost of your customers tv when your non-certified employees ruin the panel? I wouldn’t. Especially with the small business economy the way it currently is. So in regards to your opinion, the best bang for your buck is exactly what you make of it, not what ones opinion has onto your decisions.

  14. quail says:

    Curious, how the heck do the ‘calibrate’ a TV? Do they come out to your house? Do they use a light meter and a color meter? Surely they can’t expect some in store adjustments to improve your home viewing experience?

    Guess I’ll just stick to using my judgment when I set it up myself. And yea, use the factory setting for energy savings if the room’s not too bright.

    • blackmage439 says:

      @quail: From what the Consumerist has written in the past, all the “technician” does is use a DVD and the TV’s built-in calibration settings. Nothing more. You pay a know-nothing idiot to fiddle with your set for 20 minutes when you could have done the same thing. Not to mention 99% of HD TV’s have pre-set picture settings for movies, TV channels, etc. that are sufficient for 99% of the population…

    • kathyl says:

      @quail: I think the “calibration” mostly has to do with running your credit card through the authorization machine.

    • Raiders757 says:

      @quail:

      I’m not sure about the more modern HDTVs, but if you have an older rear projection, like I do, it is good to calibrate your TV. I do it myself, and it doesn’t take long at all. My rear projection(with built in HD converter) looks better than most of my friends newer HDTVs and a lot of other big screens simialr to it.

      It has nothing to do with running your credit card up, if you take time to learn how to do it yourself.

    • Anonymous says:

      ISF certified technicians come out to your home after you have 200 hours on your TV. They use a color and light meter and read the output IRE levels on your TV to calibrate 2 different inputs.

    • dvdchris says:

      @quail: ISF calibration is done using test equipment and service menus not available to the consumer. It is not a ripoff if it is done correctly by an ISF trained technician. It involves mainly adjusting the color temperature and greyscale to SMPTE standards.

  15. discounteggroll says:

    they forgot to enter ↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A on the remote control to make it look so good, that’s all

  16. albear says:

    That’s classic fraud! I hope Best BUy gets their asses sued by the state for that.

    It reminded me of this other scheme by unscrupulous stores to sell expensive *junk* Monster Cable.

    [www.gizmorepublic.com]

  17. spoco says:

    My buddy that works at Best Buy says that there was an internal memo stating that this is how to set up the displays to sell calibration services.

    • Ass_Cobra says:

      @spoco:

      If they actually memorialized this as corporate policy then they are truly as stupid as they appear to the casual observer. Don’t write it if you can say it, don’t say it if you can wink it.

    • Traveshamockery says:

      @spoco: That display used to be used for an SD vs. HD comparison. It’s now being used as a calibration demo.

      There is NO FREAKING WAY Best Buy published a memo advocating a fraudulent selling method. I’m calling BS.

    • Anonymous says:

      @spoco: @spoco:

      Nope, the “internal memo” actually said to avoid putting the TV on DirecTV since people will be confused and not understand a calibration vs. HD/SDTV. It said to put it on a Blu-ray feed.

    • f0nd004u says:

      @spoco: Get your friend to swipe a copy, and put it up on wikileaks.

  18. TheBusDriver says:

    Almost all stores screw with the signal that gets sent to a TV. If you really are looking to purchase a TV, insist they unplug the signal from one TV and use that signal in the models you want to compare- they can change the way a tv looks (brightness, sharpness, etc) just by having a different feed pumped in.

    • rushevents says:

      @TheBusDriver: As an ex-best buy home theater employee myself I can categorically deny they mess with individual signals. All the signals are bad. There are miles of cabling running from their central processors and any signal is going to degrade.

      Now if you wanted to show someone how great a top of the line HD looked you would show them a DVD hooked directly to the TV.

      I have never been in a store (BB, Circuit, Target etc) who had a TV signal which was worth a crap – even when they were all using a feed from a central Blue Ray.

      • Raiders757 says:

        @rushevents:

        Hello fellow Rush fan(the greatest band on Earth!).

        Also, aren’t most of the TVs sent factory set, whith everything put on “torch mode” so the TVs look good in store lighting?

        • endless says:

          @Raiders757:

          yes, most TVs will come in what has been called “torch mode”.

          i have seen a properly setup calibration demo and depending on what the image is, often times customers will think that the uncalibrated set is the calibrated one because its so much more contrasty. They don’t realize that the blacks are completely crushed, and the colors are willy wonka over saturated. its a very personal preference thing in terms of what you like, what is accurate is another matter.

    • Traveshamockery says:

      @TheBusDriver: Stick to driving buses…you know nothing about retail demonstration. How to you suppose they “screw with the signal”? There’s not a dial on the cables that says “Suck”.

  19. Psychosocial says:

    Please people, stop shopping @ Best Buy!

  20. TheSpatulaOfLove says:

    Now that CC is swirling the drain, watch what other scams these BB dirtbags come up with next…

  21. Anonymous says:

    I have a friend who is a calibrator for Best Buy. He is ISF trained and takes the light meters and sencore system to the home. The picture you took he said is a demo of Directv HD and not calibration. There is another input on those TVs that has a single DVD played hooked up to both TVs. That is the calibration demo not what you see in the picture.

  22. joshthephenom says:

    Ha! I worked for Best Buy briefly while looking for real employment after moving cross-country with my wife… One time corporate sent one of their ‘experts’ to calibrate a television. They set that tv next to the same exact model that had been auto calibrated using the tv’s own settings.

    I’m sure you’ve guessed where this is going… The expert setup actually looked MUCH worse. It had a yellow hue to it, and the whites were completely washed out. I tried arguing this will all the brain-washed monkey’s there, and they just couldn’t accept it. I’m a photographer, and know a thing or two about white balance and tonal definition, and no matter what I said, they just said it was better because corporate said so…

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      @joshthephenom: I’ve seen this a few times (ex-computer store worker here) and usually it’s because it was “calibrated” in a different lighting setting. So if it was calibrated in a room with tungsten lighting, it’s going to look like CRAP in a store’s flourescent lighting. Believe me I had to just about stuff that idea into my manager’s head with a fork until I got her to understand the concept.

      (I also used to work in a photo lab, where I had to do color corrections manually depending on what lighting was used).

    • Traveshamockery says:

      @joshthephenom: Most calibrated TVs look far worse in a harshly lit showroom than the “torch mode” that TV’s ship in. In the home is another case entirely, but your viewing environment has a huge effect.

    • joshthephenom says:

      @joshthephenom: A couple of other points that I left out:

      The ‘expert’ that was brought in calibrated the TV right on the sales floor during what could be considered normal light for that store.

      The store had a bit different setup than an average BB. The TVs were not out on the floor… there was a wall with a couple of rows of TVs, that were fully covered from light falling directly on them.

      I have a question. Normally when I work on photos, I have very controlled, even lighting, so I’m not sure of what effects this would have: As a customer out in the normal lighting looking at the televisions that have no direct light thrown on them… would that have an affect on my eyes? By being under the flourescents myself, but looking at the TVs which were under much better lighting, would this affect the way I see the picture? Probably, right?

      • Traveshamockery says:

        @joshthephenom:

        would this affect the way I see the picture? Probably, right?

        Yes, it would affect the way you see things. As you probably know from your photography background, your eyes constantly adjust to what’s around them.

        Color temperature is one thing that adjusts – fluorescent lights can throw your eyes out of whack, affecting the image you perceive from the TV.

        • joshthephenom says:

          @InfiniTrent: Yeah, I figured, I guess I’m just confused as to why they bothered in the first place, when what they did made the picture much worse for the lighting that was in place. And really, the thing that bothers me the most was the sheep mentality of the other employees that all said it looked better, when it plainly did not.

  23. mattman0726 says:

    Gee, it’s been a while since there was an anti-Best Buy post.

  24. GothamGal says:

    Just like with banks, the pool of merchants keeps getting smaller and we are forced to select from a few awful ones. I am looking forward to working for and buying from the Umbrella corporation where they provide everything.

  25. laserjobs says:

    You could always use the “THX Optimizer” chapter in the SetUp or Special Features on a Pixar and Lucasfilm DVD to calibrate your HDTV system.

  26. janespeak says:

    its been a few years since i last set foot in a BB.. i refuse to shop there.. the last time i did, i was there to pick out a tv, dvd player and surround sound for my newly purchased home…… i cant quite recall exactly what the bullshit fee was, but it was something along the lines of system fee… anyways, it was a bs fee that would have cost an added $100. I happened to have been with my retired lawyer grandpa as the merchandise was a gift from him and grandma when he were about to pay for the purchase, when he noticed something about that fee that screamed ILLEGAL!!! yuppers.. (ok, so this is in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) when good ole gramps told the employee to cancel the sale, and we would go to the BB in Hull, QC (for those americans, its 20 mins away, across the ontario/quebec river boarder).

    Ok, i know, what is $100 when you are about to drop $6000??? its not the money, but the principle.. the employee tried to BS the reason as the why the fee when gramps went into lawyer mode and got the store manager to admit that such a fee was illegal in Canada yada yada yada… yet it was still being applied and it was up to the consumer to inquire about it.. … they lost all my faith in their business that day. Tho I was still gifted the tv from gramps, i will never spend a dime of my money in there.

  27. janespeak says:

    know for a fact there would have not been ANY added fees etc other than the regular tax.

  28. blackmage439 says:

    Wow, I am so glad I never got hired at Geek Squad. I don’t think my conscience would have lasted 20 minutes of “training”…

  29. Anonymous says:

    This isn’t a Best Buy scam, because this isn’t the proper procedure for displaying calibrated TV’s. This is just some R-tard employee in one store!! And yes the calibration uses less power, and can extend the life of your TV. If you don’t believe me walk into a store and feel the heat difference of the calibrated and non-calibrated TV. Its great that everyone jumps on the ENTIRE company because of one idiot in one store. Calibration is done in the home with an extremely expensive tool, and is not a scam.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Guess you guys have never heard of the ISF (http://www.imagingscience.com/). A calibrated tv will generally give you a longer life span and cut down on the energy usage of a tv compared to it’s uncalibrated doppleganger. Anyone who calibrates a tv from best buy is certified by the ISF and doesn’t just guess at the coloring. I’ve had my tv calibrated by an ISF cetrified tech and there is a night and day difference in color and tonality not to mention in my power bill each month.

  31. IamSandman says:

    Not to be too much of a sock puppet, but that is a bad store. I would have just called corporate (in this case 1888BestBuy) if I had a problem with how a store was doing something. I think that being grossly misinformed is definitely a problem. It shouldn’t be happening in a store. I don’t know what you have seen in an ISF calibration, but they are worth while. You can feel the difference in a plasma TV, literally. If you get a good calibration demo you would be able to tell why they are worth while even if you don’t get it from Best Buy.

  32. vastrightwing says:

    Best Buy, next time you want to be deceitful, hide an HD -> SD convert box ($40 or free with Govt. coupon) behind your display. That way, the picture will have the exact same image except it will be degraded and look horrible and it will keep observant customers from noticing your deception so easily.

  33. ouphie says:

    My buddy took his PS2 with him to test out color and delay. He is a huge fan of rhythm based games and a few milliseconds means the difference between acing a song and and average score. He also took the opportunity to test out color settings to find one that looked good for gaming.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Being a Best Buy employee in a Home Theater Department, I can assure you that we are in NO way told to EVER mislead the customer in any such way. We recently went through a reset of our department and the calibration sign was put up but the team did not change the signal. What we were SUPPOSED to do was run both of these LG televisions (or whatever model was assigned to the store) to the HD signal and have the calibration done to show from that point. So while some employees may be misinformed or just flat out liars, I can assure you that at least in my store, none of this would ever be tolerated.

  35. handyr says:

    Make sure you buy $200.00 worth of HDMI cables too because they’re SO much better than the $10 ones off the web.

  36. Goatweed says:

    This is pretty funny, but not surprising. As mentioned earlier, this kind of deceptive practice preys on people who don’t know any better or people who aren’t very observant.

    Calibration is a GOOD thing, but for 90% of people buying TV’s they can get by just fine with a $20 disc that shows you how to do it yourself. Most times just lowering the brightness will do more for your TV’s picture and longevity more than anything else.

  37. IrvCrapper says:

    I’m sorry – why were you shopping at Best Buy?

    Just curious.

  38. Mr-Mr says:

    The FTC and the Attorney General should look into this. Remember that they tried to do the same with the Monster Cables fiasco last year.

  39. Geekybiker says:

    I would figure that the fact that the ESPN channels aren’t showing the same thing frame for frame (even in different resolution) would be a dead giveaway.

  40. ezacharyk says:

    Isn’t this something that should be reported to the AG? I think it should.

  41. xspook says:

    I was helping a friend shop for car speakers once and the sales rep was switching between different sets of speakers. Of course, the expensive ones sounded better, but what I pointed out to my friend was that when they were selected, it also turned on a subwoofer that was not included. The sales guy wasn’t impressed.

  42. aerick79 says:

    You know its a scam. If it was the same channel the pictures would looks the same. So you know its on a different channel.

    Thats my 2 cents

  43. Kichigai01 says:

    This surprises people why????

  44. hogfan1234 says:

    The employee was an idiot for not telling you that the two TVs had a standard vs. HD signal displayed. You probably ran into a new one that had no clue what he was talking about. It wouldn’t surprise me. After some research, BBs calibration is legit, as much as I hate to admit. They have certified ISF technicians to come out and actually hook your TV up to a machine to calibrate each individual color to your home environment, not a store environment. Every TV has the brightness cranked up so they look more appealing in the store. It isn’t designed to look appealing in your home. BB’s calibration isn’t a scam because it does increase the life of your TV and gives you a natural tone color as well as more detail. The particular store there just lied to your face, probably because they didn’t know as to what they were talking about.
    Although BB is the root of all evil, they didn’t pull a fast one…this time.

    • JeffM says:

      @hogfan1234: Hey- if Best Buy is sending out ISF technicians to do this for $300 (same price it was back in like 2001) that is actually a valuable service. I personally couldn’t justify it on my own HDTVs but that is a fair price for a worthwhile (for some) service.

      You can go into some indie shops and ask them if they could recommend an ISF technician and they will look at you in utter bewilderment.

      Consumerist should have put more time into the follow up to understand what the service was and whether or not it was a case of idiot employee or scam service. Sounds like in this case it was the former. :)

      • hogfan1234 says:

        @JeffM:

        I couldn’t justify paying that much my ownself for the service…but it is legit. Firedog Techs (although they won’t be employed in many locations much longer…) charge $150 for the same service, however they are not ISF certified and take your remote and tweak a couple of settings on the TV and call it calibrated…it’s not a wonder they are going under.

        In this case, it was the idiot employees fault!!!!

        And I agre

  45. Anonymous says:

    I bought a Samsung plasma for our conference room at Best Buy a few months ago when the salesman tried to entice me to purchase the “calibration” service. What a complete load of BS that is. At first I thought maybe there was something I missed in my research about plasma’s and that perhaps the plasma gas needed calibrating… blah blah. The salesman had a complicated way of explaining to me that calibration is having someone come out and adjust… wait for it… the brightness, tint, color, contrast. Right. Last I checked I wasn’t brain-dead. Are you freaking kidding me? They call it “calibration” because they know that no one on earth would ever, EVER pay ANYONE to adjust the brightness, color and contrast of their television! Ever.

    That’s very similar to how pet breeders have become crafty by coming up with “designer breeds”. When I grew up they were called “mutts” and they gave them away at the pound. Now they’re $500 at the pet store. Genius.

    Thanks Best Buy. Can you have one of your brainiacs come out and “calibrate” the volume for me whenever one of the shows I’m watching get’s a little soft? Now that’s money well spent.

    • JeffM says:

      @VeronicaIshbob: Seriously- do some reading about proper TV calibration before you’re so quick to judge. Many of the settings ISF technicians use are only accessible through a TV’s service menu. Getting the black detail and color temperature near-perfect is not a trivial task. Now personally I feel you can get it close enough with a home calibration DVD and color-temperature/brightness/contrast settings to save the $300 but this service isn’t total BS- just really expensive.

      • kathyl says:

        @JeffM: It wouldn’t be total BS if that’s what Best Buy did when they come out, but there have been multiple complaints, both on this website and at other media outlets, that at least some Best Buy employees do not access the TV’s service menu when doing a calibration, but do exactly what the commenter above said, and merely press the same remote control buttons that you and I both have easy access to.

        And if it’s such a valuable service that Best Buy intends to offer you, their display showing the “before” and “after” shouldn’t be as misleading as this one was. This article isn’t a smear against calibration on high-end televisions done by a professional, it’s a complaint about something I’m sure we all agree on, that this particular Best Buy was lying outright to their customers.

  46. effingroovin says:

    Has nobody noticed that it is NOT the EXACT same picture on the tvs?

    The one on the left has the score of a football game on the bottom ticker, and the one on the right has a hockey game score on the ticker… Pretty obvious to tell if you ask me…

  47. The_IT_Crone says:

    Honestly though, who would be fooled by tv’s showing TWO DIFFERENT PICTURES? If I’m being told to compare and was not shown identical images I’d know something was up.

  48. Trencher93 says:

    Cool! That is a clever setup. I never would have thought up something that clever. There’s a reason I have only been to BB once in my life, to buy an emergency computer part I couldn’t wait for shipping.

  49. Slack says:

    Just submitted this to whistle-blower 9. Would be cool if they trotted in there, cameras a blazin’

  50. wellfleet says:

    BBY sockpuppet here, but this is an example of a BAD store. Our demo is same TV, one ISF calibrated, one not, with the same Planet Earth blu-ray playing in both. The energy savings aren’t going to be as big as most manufacturers are now making Energy Star-rated televisions, but the picture is much better. The calibrated TV shows actual skin tones instead of pinks on humans, the fine details in dark colors, etc. Our calibration tech is ISF-certified, and gets into service menus, calibrates for color temperature, and carries around a few grand in equipment to do this.
    I’m contacting this store’s GM today.

    • ducttape38 says:

      @wellfleet: Before I start, I’m the submitter of the tip.

      There are several Best Buys in and around Charlotte, and the one that I went to is:

      Blakeney NC (Store 1767)
      9839 Rea Rd
      Charlotte, NC 28277-6655
      Phone: 704-814-1739

      It would have been nice to see an actual demo, because I just bought a fairly expensive TV and if there was a proper demo set up, I may have given calibration a thought (assuming the difference as you say it is).

      • Traveshamockery says:

        @ducttape38: Did you buy the TV from that Best Buy store?

        • ducttape38 says:

          @InfiniTrent: No.

          While shopping around for the best price, I found that Amazon.com had the exact same TV (Sony Bravia XBR KDL-46XBR6) for around $500 less than Best Buy. Needless to say, I purchased the TV from Amazon and received it less than a week later.

          • WBrink says:

            @ducttape38: LCD calibration is pretty easy to do yourself. You can do it with an AVS disc + film. If you were to buy a plasma, it is different and I’d highly recommend it for anybody spending $2000+ on a TV.

  51. Traveshamockery says:

    Let’s have a quick reality check here.

    This is NOT a Best Buy sanctioned display. ONE store (maybe more) has chosen to create a deceptive demo (just like with the composite vs. HDMI comparison earlier this year), and everyone’s skewering the entire company for it.

    Yes, it’s indefensible. But it’s hardly a directed effort from the CEO down to defraud the public. Let’s get real, folks.

    • joshthephenom says:

      @InfiniTrent: Good point, and I’d like to add something, not necessarily as argument, but something for all to think about.

      Best Buy is of course, heavily driven by numbers. One of the biggest things they push are services, as they have very high margin. I have seen employees and managers demoted and fired due to a lack of service sales.

      Could these high numbers be to blame for the deceptive display? I know that ultimately it comes down to the person, or people that actually did it, but if such lofty expectations (and bonuses in the case of managers) hadn’t been put on them, perhaps it would have never happened in the first place, which would then mean that maybe it is BB that is at fault.

  52. WBrink says:

    For everyone who has an opinion without knowing anything about plasma TVs- calibration is real, but you can’t just have any buffoon do it. The average random person with the AVS dvd cannot replicate what a real professional can do by setting your base white, turning down the temperature on your colors, etc… You can’t even set your colors properly with that blue film because it’s set to work specifically with 5k K colors; yours are probably 9-12k. I’ve recently seen some great TVs with pretty good picture come out of the box, but on something that isn’t a Pioneer/Panasonic/Samsung, good luck.

    Anyway, people should really research and understand something before giving an opinion. Otherwise you just make yourself look like a fool when someone knowledgeable comes along.

  53. DTaylor404 says:

    This is easily verified, isn’t it? I mean, I’d say that most of us live close enough to a Best Buy that we could stop by on our way to somewhere else, just to peek at their “calibration demonstration” and see what it looks like.

    And if they are doing the same thing, well, report ‘em.

  54. KidKobun says:

    That’s lame and all, but why do you have to point out that you took the snapshot on your iPhone? Does owning an iPhone give you elite class status?

  55. GrandizerGo says:

    Weird,
    On my home system, if I show both ESPN and ESPN HD side by side, in fact any SD and HD station, they are NEVER in sync… The HD or SD show always runs a few seconds behind the other.
    That should have easily been seen in the store as well….

  56. sashazur says:

    It’s obvious that the people who fall for this scam know very little about the technical aspects of TV – but these are exactly the people who would be most likely to benefit from a calibration service – even if “calibration” just means using an HDMI cable instead of a composite cable.

  57. moore850 says:

    We can only hope that the stock market will “recalibrate” Best Buy’s market cap based on this story.

  58. jdmba says:

    Look – this is WELL documented. Retailers get incentives for particular models at particular times, and they detune/decalibrate/mess with the colors, of the other sets.

  59. nerevar says:

    @undefined:

    save yourself the money and go to:

    http://www.avsforum.com

    and search for your model of TV

  60. Blueskylaw says:

    Is this the same as a new car dealer selling you a car with a flat tire but then saying that if you buy our professional “air supply service” for your tire, your car will drive the way it was meant to be driven?

  61. dasunst3r says:

    Just the fact that the two screens are not showing the same thing at the same time is an issue. How am I supposed to see the benefits of this “calibration” service if I can’t see the two pictures side-by-side?

  62. Anonymous says:

    this is a result of signage coming earlier than support products. I work at a best buy and it’s not meant to decieve, the stores are waiting for demo model blu-ray players and demo discs that will go there to show the difference between the calibrated sets. If the employees at that store tried to use it to sell then they are sleazy, but it was not intended for that purpose. aAs for the validity of calibration, all the techs are supposed to be ISF trained and if you think that the difference is unreal, take a tv out of the box, go to a completely dark room and watch the white ‘construct’ scene from the matrix without changing the television’s settings. If your eyes don’t hurt, salud!

  63. Coyote says:

    Grasping at straws. Ever consider someone might have played with the front-panel controls on one of the TVs?

    The BB near me has two TVs being fed from one Blu-Ray.

    As far as I can tell, the uncalibrated set has the settings cranked all the way up, and the calibrated set has them set to the middle of the sliders. It’s not a real calibration, but it’s as close are they are going to get without making the calibrated set too dim.

    A real ISF calibration would get the gamma curve as accurate and close to 6500K as possible. My JVC can get eyeball-searing bright, but also lets you dial in factory-preset calibration. It looks superb in my living room, but I had to trust the reviews on that, because it just looked dull and muddy in Best Buy.

    Now, walk back to the Magnolia HT floor, and you’ll notice the lighting is much dimmer. Those sets might actually be calibrated.

  64. Anonymous says:

    Hmm…that is awfully shady, butt my question is..who the heck still shops at Best Buys. The only thing they are good for is their return policy. I like to order products online, finding the cheapest price available, usually far below Best Buy’s prices. If I am too impatient or want to try out an item before hand, I just buy it and return to best buy, within the 30 days.

    I wouldn’t need to do this if Best Buy had competitive prices, or just good prices period. But they suck! SO wake UP, People!

  65. rubberkeyhole says:

    they push the calibration because it is pure profit…

  66. diasdiem says:

    Anyone else here reminded of the Dead Parrot sketch from Monty Python?

  67. strathmeyer says:

    Isn’t this when you call your local news station?

  68. Android8675 says:

    Robert you are the man,

    Next time just reach down and change the channels. I used to have one of those little casio watches that did IR, change the channel and leave it be.

    I had mine calibrated at home by BBY, but I know the guys that do it, and it was free for me anyways with the BTP and setup. Weather or not it really helped I dunno, but their settings do look better than factory.

  69. Anonymous says:

    A Best Buy used this tactic.

    Not Best Buy as a whole, as a company… one Best Buy location.

    That display is usually used to show the difference between SD and HD, hence the ESPN and ESPN HD. For them to use that as a calibration selling tool is wrong, but it’s THAT STORE, not Best Buy as a whole.

  70. N00BIES says:

    love this BS. a good friend was just quoted by BB for over $1300 in “Monster cable” install, not even counting the other $1000 in extra stuff like a Universal remote programing fee for $149.00 ! when we people learn to get a second opinion or shop online.

    all said and done we saved my friend / mentor who’s in his 50’s well over $2000. with the help of Newegg and a few other online sources.

  71. Anonymous says:

    My inlaws recently bought two huge LCD tvs from Best Buy, and ponied up $600 for this “service” after the Geek Squad people told them that Geek Squad had the only technicians who were certified to do this in the country. When I told them they were getting scammed, they went back to Best Buy and said they wanted to cancel this service and get the $600 back.

    Geek Squad refunded their money and offered to do the calibration for free. I told them if it were me I wouldn’t let Geek Squad goons anywhere near my house, but if they wanted to get them “calibrated” for free, it was up to them. I wasn’t there when the service was performed, but as far as I can tell there was nothing changed in the configuration and no difference in picture at all..

  72. radiochief says:

    This is shady. But why argue with the rank and file? If you are going to make noise (especially if you are there to purchase), just speak to the manager directly.

  73. Xero says:

    This is just one of the MANY reasons I just quit my position on Geek Squad after a year of being told to sell ‘valuable’ services…

  74. Demonbird says:

    Reminds me of when my best buy had the HD vs standard video on one single display where half the screen was supposed to be hd and half was standard, an impossibility as far as I know, and the standard side looked as if someone had rubbed half a tub of Vaseline on the lens.

  75. Danairyeah says:

    This is the same thing at Best Buy’s Danbury, CT location too!!!!

  76. mdovell says:

    At CC before someone tried to tell me there was no such thing as HDTV over the air…um…ever major network and the NAB clearly say there is.

    BB seems ok at first but if they go downhill after CC closes who knows what might happen. Maybe regional chains will start to grow again. I hear great stuff about HH Gregg.

    Sears might be going under soon as well

  77. narayan1121 says:

    I just spoke with an employee there, and this is display is only partly set-up. They are waiting for a Blu-ray demo disc to arrive to connect to both TVs to show the difference. It used to be a SD/HD comparison, and someone just forgot to turn it off until the Blu-ray arrived. So chill the fuck out.

  78. ZanebonoOeneus says:

    I just got back from Best Buy in Phoenix (20th st and Camelback), and those SOB’s were doing it too!

    The uncalibrated TV was showing an over the air channel in standard def, the other calibrated TV was showing ESPN HD.

    I told them about this article, they laughed. I asked them if there was anything funny about fraud and ripping people off.

    NEVER buy anything at BB other than a DVD or software, you will be lied to, hosed and ripped off.

  79. Anonymous says:

    I am a best buy employee and more than likely this is a display that was previously set up to show the difference between HD and standard definition, my guess is that the new signage about the calibration was just put up, as we had recently changed displays, so this was more than likely just a mistake, can’t guarantee it but I don’t think they are tryig to rip anyone off.

  80. koath says:

    Calibrating your tv will save you on power consumption but usually it comes from turning the back light down on it. That is what uses most the power in LCDs.

    I had a Best Buy employee try to sell me some $100 Monster HDMI cable. I proceeded to tell him that since HDMI is digital and only sends a ‘1’ or a ‘0’ any HDMI cable would be fine. However if it were a component video cable quality would matter more since it was a sine wave but I still wouldn’t buy a monster cable. He didn’t have anything to say after all that.

  81. Anonymous says:

    I can tell since I work for bestbuy, the display the Op was looking at was a direct tv one, they have to leave one tv on hd, the other on sd, to show the difference for directv hd, there should be 4 more tvs in a different section, 2 plasma, 2 lcd, 1 of each calibrated. I can tell you the calibration is great if you want the best picture quality and longer lasting tv sicne it does reduce energy use, no real number for it, but it differs on tvs. If you rather just look at a so so high def picture then so be it, calibrations are for people who really want the best, not looking for deals on tvs and stuff. And most likely wouldent get a LCD.

  82. popthis says:

    I brought this up before but I saw Best Buy doing it again. They are showing
    3 tvs this time one says 480i, another 720p and the last 1080p. The first 2
    are using standard dvd and of course the 1080p uses Blu-Ray. I feel it’s
    misleading to show 720p upconverted when you could show 720p on a Blu-Ray or
    better yet show the same channel with the different settings.

  83. f0nd004u says:

    I call BS. I just did a cursory check on “ISF” and it does not seem legitimate at all. What sort of science foundation sells calibration dvds on the front page of their website? There’s no Wikipedia record; it seems really sketch.

  84. Smorgasbord says:

    If I remember correctly, The Consumerist doesn’t want us to use any dirty words in our comments, but it is evidently OK for the staff to use them. I guess The Consumerist needs an “R” rating on the Internet so kids that haven’t learned the dirty words used in the above article, won’t get an education while reading it.

    I am not a church goer, but I have wondered for many years why the cuss words are flowing more freely. I have heard parents bragging about their baby saying their first cuss word, and how excited they were. Again, why are they used so much now?

  85. Anonymous says:

    Yeah, this is pretty much ridiculous. This store in particular is less than a month old. All new employees for the most part. Its the only store open in a brand new shopping center. Its so hard to believe that they got the signs for a display they dont have yet? Practically everyone here is so quick to judge. I don’t agree with everything BB does. This was not done to lie and deceive the people shopping there, its just a display that isn’t finished yet. I would have hoped that they would have been smart enough to NOT put the sign up till they actually had the stuff needed, guess I’ll have to chew a few people out.

  86. Anonymous says:

    Well as a current Best Buy Employee let me say this… that’s freaking shady! the way we do it in our store is we have two reuglar tv’s doing the SD feed/HD feed conparison both from direcTV (that’s what we use to get the feeds). Just as a note we don’t calibrate any tv’s we put on the floor.

    We also have another comparison setup where we have two TV’s connected to a blu ray player via component cables. One is calibrate and one is not. This way we can show the diffrence between a calibrated and noncalibrated tv using a blu-ray (since feeds from DirecTV aren’t that good for comparison purposes).

    As for this store they wanna sell their services but confuse the customer at the same time. This sucks :|

  87. sam-i-am says:

    People who read Consumerist still go to Best Buy?

  88. Anonymous says:

    I can assure you that there is no memo stating this is proper procedure to sell calibration services. This was something concocted at this particular location by a less-than-ethical employee or manager.

    I know a lot of you really like to hate on Best Buy. But realistically, I doubt they have some mandate to fool people out of their money. Instances of this nature are purely on the individual’s part, so take off your tin foil hats, call that particular person on it.

  89. Anonymous says:

    I am a Best Buy Home Theater employee. Just to let all of you informed consumers know this article is incorrect. This demo was originally set up to show the difference between high def and non-hi def. Hence what you see. The new demo is to show the difference between a calibrated television and a non-calibrated television. A LOT of the stores received the signage before receiving the equipment to show the calibration demo.

    It’s because of writers like this one who don’t do enough digging to confirm facts that consumers receive false information. The calibration service is an amazing service. I alone sell at least one a day and have never had a complaint about the service. Everyone please go into your local Best Buy and check it out. If your local store has anything but a demo disc playing on it ask to speak to the Home Theater supervisor or the Customer Experience Manager. It is unfair for customers to not be properly shown this demo.

  90. Anonymous says:

    “I call BS. I just did a cursory check on “ISF” and it does not seem legitimate at all. What sort of science foundation sells calibration dvds on the front page of their website? There’s no Wikipedia record; it seems really sketch.”
    Better dig a little deeper. ISF (www.imagingscience.com) is a well-respected organization that trains display calibrators and has been doing so for over 14 years! ISF-certified calibrators have an enormous investment of time and money ($3,000 to $20,000+ for their equipment) in their craft and are the best way that I know of to insure that your video display is giving you all of the performance that you’re paying for. ISF calibration is an intensive process (generally taking 3-4 hours per display) that insures your display is adjusted to the same industry standards used by the broadcasters and movie studios to produce the content you’re viewing. In addition to greatly improving your viewing experience, a properly calibrated display will use up to 50% less energy (than a typical set with factory “torch mode” settings) and last up to twice as long (of particular importance if you’ve got a front or rear projector with a $300-$800 bulb that needs replacement every year or so!).

  91. eGRENADE says:

    Just like Monster Cables; exploiting consumers who don’t know any better, and laughing all the way to the bank. I only use Best Buy for comparing things in-person and then getting it from Fry’s, Outpost.com or Amazon.

  92. rsfrid says:

    Doesn’t surprize me in the least. These assholes would do anything for a buck. They’ll screw anyone that wants to bend over.

  93. Anonymous says:

    I am a home theater supervisor at a best buy location and this is the most ridiculous sales tactic I have ever witnessed by one of our stores. I understand why the store would do that though when those LGs that we have on display look like a piece of shit anyways, calibrated or not. Best Buy has some good people working for them. Don’t let assholes that care more about their installation attachment percentages ruin your image of our people. Some of us actually do want to help you out.

  94. OmarMojojojo says:

    Damned Sales Managers are so damned freaking greedy

    Exactly how is Best Buy any different ethically from a used-car dealer?

  95. Anonymous says:

    Look, If the employee did not know how to use the display, I cannot defend that. On this demo you speak of, there is a bluray player that is hooked up to both tv sets, playing the same dvd to the tv’s (it is going through an amplified HDMI splitter). If the employee worked in that department, they should have been able to change the input on the tv sets to show you a difference using the same source (not an HD/SD sportcenter picture). Now, before you knock the ISF calibration services, you need to speak to somebody that is familiar with the demo at a store, whether it be Best Buy or anywhere else. You can get excellent information at cnet.com or the imaging science foundations website.

  96. Anonymous says:

    I work for Best Buy and after reading this article yesterday, I went and checked out our set-up in Home Theater this morning when I got into work. We have the same set-up as the one you see in the picture. And to be honest, this set-up does look to be deceiving from a customer’s standpoint. It’s really just signnage in the wrong place. There are calibrated tvs in the Home Theater departments of Best Buys. I must admit, the charge for the calibration service is exorbitant. As far as the salesperson saying the color difference was strictly due to the calibration, its obvious that the HD picture looks better. However, many people don’t realize that HD and calibration are completely different things. HD displays a sharper, clearer picture. A calibration adjusts tv settings to make the colors look more ‘dimensional’ — more like you’d see it in real life, rather than just a vibrant and sharp picture. Most people don’t know what a calibrated tv looks like, so they just assume its a waste of money. They’re used to analog or digital tv. Go in to a Best Buy and ask for a calibration demo. You’ll see a difference. Though for most people, HD picture will do just fine.

  97. Anonymous says:

    First off, as a ISF certified tech for Geeksquad (here comes the bashing ) has anyone even taken in account that just because a store display is doing this, doesn’t mean we are crooks? Honestly, this is quite embarrassing to see, but we are 99% independent from the BB stores. We use Sencore Colorpro tools and a calibration typically takes 90 to 120min to do. For people that think you can fully calibrate a tv using the TVs user controls are wrong. Yes it will look better but odds are you are still no where near D65 on your white balance. D65 being the standard for an ISF calibration. I’m not defending the store, that is a horrible way to try to market us, but unfortunatly a lot of us don’t know what scams the stores pull to sell stuff. And to end it, if you do decide to get a calibration with us, hopefully you will be pleased with it. Pricey? sure. A calibration kit from Sencore will run you 10 to 15 grand, plus to be certified to access the service menus on TVs without voiding your manufacturers warranty will cost you another 5 grand, plus if you screw up your TV you can’t return it to Bestbuy or the manufacturer. Where getting a calibration from us, you don’t like it? Return it and we can set it right back to the manufacturers default settings, simple as that.

  98. Anonymous says:

    Well as a current Best Buy employee you really should notice that there is a sign on the right of the TV that says High Definition and an additional sign to the left of the TV on the left that says Standard Definition. The purpose is to demonstrate the difference between standard and high definition and also the benefits of our calibration service. During our demo we set both TV’s to the same high definition signal so you can see that having the TV calibrated by an ISF Certified Geek Squad Installer truly makes a difference. Maybe you should pay a little more attention next time

  99. Anonymous says:

    I used to work at BBY and that behavior doesnt surprise me one bit. I feel the company is filled with dishonest pricks, who get their rocks off by selling higher margin products and services. and low level employees get in trouble if they don’t i quit twice LOL. one i have extreme hatred for that place, i am so looking forward to day after thanksgiving in that i dont have to do that crap anymore

  100. timmus says:

    How come no one ever turns on a personal device to secretly record these discussions with the salesmen? Can’t the OP’s iPhone record audio? This would have been a great addition to the story.

  101. Anonymous says:

    Well, I work at a Best Buy, and we do not use this “tactic.” We use two of the very same TV’s and put in a bluray disc which is then shared to both TV’s. You can definately see the difference in color, one showing near neon green grass compared to the calibrated one which has realistic colors. Power consumption is also decreased. We have meters that measure the power used for both TV’s. The calibrated one saves you about $300 a year. Also, you can FEEL the difference in heat dissipated. The calibration is great addition to your HDTV. I agree, this Best Buy was not doing the right thing is lieing to the consumers. I urge you to go to other Best Buy’s and see the differences in their calibration demo’s.

  102. dj-anakin says:

    Plus, you know, not even showing the same picture.

    WTF is wrong with Best Buy? Don’t they realize that if they were just honest they’d have so much more business?

  103. tehronin says:

    No, those boxes arent there to hide anything, I work at a best buy and that is NOT a calibration demo. That is a HD v non-HD station with the new “geeksquad black tie protection” boxes displayed. Stop your bashing, this is debunked. Go to ANY home theater department in any best buy and prove me wrong with pics. You wont.

  104. Anonymous says:

    This week I visited the Best Buy at St Peters Missouri. The salesman I encountered was pushy to say the least. I was interested in a 52 inch Sony LCD HDTV and was inquiring into the bottom line price.
    He immediately tried to lead me to a Plasma HDTV which I had no interest in. Then he proceede in attempting to see me a contract with a satellite TV provider which I was not intersted in. He tried to include costs for wall mounting which I did not want, cables that I did not want. etc.
    Bottomline is I never did even get a price of the Sony I was interested in. Circuit city had a much better deal and did not try to sell me the Brooklyn Bridge.

  105. howtragic says:

    I guess I just don’t get it. How long do you need your TV to last anyway? You’re just going to go out and get a new one as soon as yours becomes “obsolete” any way. So who cares? All of you know you’re not keeping your current TV for 20 years.

    All this shit BB sells to expand the “life” of your gadget is a scam. You aren’t going to be keeping your “tech” stuff for that long!!! That’s the truth. So just let it die.

  106. Anonymous says:

    I went to BBuy to buy a 30″ tube TV a few years ago. The sales person told me I should buy the support contract since this unit has a “digital comb filter, and it needs cleaning every year”.
    I told him a comb filter is a chip, and it did not need cleaning, He said if it didn’t get cleaned it might void the warranty.
    I asked how the extended contract would work. He said “bring the TV in once a year, and if the comb filter needs cleaning, we will clean it”
    They probablly remove any elephants that get in there too.

  107. Anonymous says:

    I work at bestbuy as a GeekSquad agent in fact and here’s what it comes down to. Yeah some stores occasionally use shady practices. The company as a whole does NOT support this. Our store even had its problems. Talk to a manager at the store. More than likely the deceptive person will be reprimanded or fired. I’ve heard just as many stories from small local and online stores as I have from big box stores. The sad truth is dishonest people are everywhere, not just at BestBuy

  108. glocksout says:

    The power savings claim isn’t a lie. There have been studies that have shown an energy savings of “up to” 30%. This is on a large screen plasma display who consumes less energy with a lower-brightness level.

    LCDs showed very little power savings.

  109. burukuki says:

    I purchased a Sony LCD HDTV and Blu-ray player from BB a year ago and boy were they insisting I get the calibration service!! I do understand it’s their job to offer this crap so I listened patiently knowing in my mind I wasn’t crazy to shell out $200+ for this service. Besides, the supposed difference didn’t exactly blow me away. I politely said no so then they proceeded to try to get me to buy their overpriced HDMI cables ($60 bucks a piece!! Are you kidding???). I knew I could get them much cheaper elsewhere!! Not giving up, when I went to get my car to load the TV and my teenage son stayed behind, a salesman told my son “tell your dad that Blu-ray player is useless without the HDMI cables”
    Extended warranties, calibration services, overpriced wires…..what will they think of next??