Use The Internet To Subvert Bogus Best Buy Optimization Fees

Patrick discovered a clever way of avoiding Best Buy’s silly optimization fees as he shopped for a laptop: Shop online and opt for in-store pickup.

The revelation came after a runaround in which Patrick had to drive across town to pick up his laptop, then was charged two different optimization fees as he tried to buy the computer. He writes:

My dad wanted to buy my mom an early Christmas present, and a new laptop fit the bill. We went down to our local Best Buy and found a Toshiba model that we liked, but alas, they had none in stock. I asked if there were a nearby store that had one, and waited while the sales clerk called another store to verify that one was, in fact, in stock and would be waiting for us when we arrived.

We traipsed across town to the other store, and picked up the laptop without incident. When we got to the registers, however, a $39.99 charge was scanned from the box. “What is that?” I asked. “This laptop has been optimized by Geek Squad,” the cashier replied. I declined to pay the fee and went back to the computer department to pick up a pristine model. Alas, the one we were originally given was the only one in stock. I asked my dad if he wanted to swallow his pride and spring for the extra (wasted) $40 to have the laptop now, or wait until later. He decided it was worth the $40 to have it now. So we went back to the cashier, who scanned the box and up popped a $69.99 charge. “Wait a minute,” I objected, “it was $39.99 just 5 minutes ago.” She sheepishly replied that she had scanned the wrong code the first time, and that the new optimization price was correct. We declined the purchase immediately and walked out.

About 10 minutes later, shopping at a different retailer for other things, I decided to try something. I used my BlackBerry to call up bestbuy.com, and I purchased the laptop with an in-store pickup at the store where the optimized laptop was. Sure enough, within 20 minutes, I got an email saying that the laptop was waiting for me.

I picked up the laptop without incident, and it was the same one that they tried to charge me an extra $70 for. I checked the receipt to be absolutely positive, and I was not charged for the Geek Squad “service.”

If you find yourself in a similar situation and have 20 or so spare minutes, I highly recommend buying online to avoid the Geek Squad optimization fee.

Have you tried this technique before? Do you know of any other ways to get Best Buy to drop its ridiculous optimization fees?

Comments

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  1. katstermonster says:

    Outsmarting Geek Squad? I’m impressed.

    • ekzachtly says:

      What impresses you about it? I don’t think there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that they’re an intelligent, well-educated, helpful group of people…

    • FDCPAGuy says:

      He actually just outsmarted the sales operator not actually geek squad. Geek squad wasn’t even the one attempting to do the original ring out.

      • katstermonster says:

        Seriously? You’re really going to nitpick this? Damn. I was in a good mood this morning.

        And yes, I’d say he outsmarted Geek Squad. They did an optimization and slapped an extra $70 pricetag on it in the hopes that some poor schmuck would pay the extra price to buy the laptop. The OP didn’t pay the extra $70. He outsmarted Geek Squad AND the salesperson.

        • FDCPAGuy says:

          yes I’ll nitpick :)
          Actually the agent doesn’t care they did the work and he got it for nothing. They were most likely given a certain percentage of their stock and told to do it on that percentage. Also had the OP spoken to management they would have given him the laptop for the selling price and not charged the optimization and restore disc fee. That’s the way it used to work at the store I used to work at. If it was the last one and the guy didn’t want it he got it and didn’t pay for it. All he needed to do was ask…

          • katstermonster says:

            But it’s so much more fun when you use their own systems to subvert them….

          • kcvaliant says:

            Depending on if the manager was a nazi or not.. From what I am told our local BB optimizing all of their stock now.. It is horrible, but I am sure they get at lease one to two people everyday to buy something they could do themselves..

  2. Admiral_John says:

    I would never buy a laptop from Best Buy, specifically because of stories like this. I’m an A+ Technician and have worked in IT for years; they’re not going to do anything to my PC I couldn’t do for myself.

    Does anyone know exactly what this “optimization” includes?

    • FDCPAGuy says:

      There are two things done on the laptop for the $69.99 cost: Optimization and Restore disc creation. I’ll break them down but the second one should be fairly obvious what it entails to you.
      Optimization:
      1. Removal of what I call ‘crapware’.
      2. Removal of crapware/trial start menu item shortcuts and desktop icons
      3. Removal of unnecessary startup processes and services (basically like what you do in msconfig)
      4. Registry tweaks
      5. Updates

      Restore disc creation:
      1. Creation of the restore discs of the unit.

      Now restore disc creation is not a difficult thing to do by any means but I know a ton of people who never do it and when their HDD dies need to pay the MFG and wait a week to get them.

      • sammy_b says:

        I’m genuinely curious – how do you make restore discs for a PC? I’m buying my mother a computer for Christmas and want to be able to prepare her for when she needs to reformat (it happens a lot…she isn’t very good with the internets.)

        • ExVee says:

          It’s not hard at all anymore. I’ve done the process for newly purchased Toshiba and HP machines, and the restore-disc maker utility is placed right out in front during first setup.

          Of course, while it’s always a good idea to have the backups, it might be better to add protective software to prevent problems rather than planning to reformat every so often.

        • SPENCERG says:

          If your computer doesn’t come with Restore Disc software, you can try some free application-restore sites online:

          ninite.com
          allmyapps.com

          As I understand, these websites will create custom packaged installs that include installs for the programs they support.

          As for backing up data, you’ll have to do a manually scheduled event for that (i.e. schedule it out on your calendar every 3 months or so…)

          PS- this is my second time posting this bit of info in this comment thread… Methinks this new comment system will take some time to get used to, or it still needs some tweaking..

        • Rachacha says:

          You might want to look at Windows Steady State (Free download from Microsoft) for your mom’s computer. I assume that you need to do frequent reinstalls because of virus infestaton, if so, with steady state you configure the computer and then “lock down” the computer with a known good configuration. Any changes that are made to the system (including a virus or trojan) are undone at the next reboot. You can set up the system so that she can store documents in her “My Documents” folder and set the sysyem up with auto updates.

          I use Steady State on some internet Kiosk machines that would become unusable after a week of use, but with Steady state, I have not had to do a reinstall for 3-4 years. Worth looking into.

          • sammy_b says:

            Definitely worth looking into – thanks for the tip.

            I try to be preventative for the most part (virus scanners, adware scanners, etc) but she never remembers to run them and I live far away so I can’t fix everything in a timely manner. Steady State sounds like it might work for her though.

          • H3ion says:

            Is Steady State at all useful for a single-user computer? It appears to be designed only for shared access.

      • Bob Lu says:

        Seriously? If they really do all these things, and do them RIGHT, I say the work worth the $70. Not for me, for I can and like to do those things myself, in my own way. But if someone ask me to do those things for them, unless they are my loved ones, I WILL charge them more than $70.

        • FDCPAGuy says:

          yeah doing it right is always going to be the difficult thing. I could only control my locations quality control and not any others. The scope of work is what should be done to a non-presetup Optimization and Restore package for $70. The presetups still contain some of the crapware depending on location because until the unit is purchased it would be in violation of the manufacturers agreement to proactively remove things like ‘My HP Games’ and ‘HP Total Care’ without the user consent. Once purchased though my previous location would remove those with no problem.

    • Howard says:

      Knowing Best Buy “optimization” likely means they downloaded Windows updates.

    • katstermonster says:

      They’ve started doing it on Macs as well. One of the main selling points seems to be that they create a user account with the customer’s name. You know, because Apple isn’t really good at that “intuitive menu” and “step by step instructions” thing.

      • FDCPAGuy says:

        That option for mac optimization has been around at least over 2 yrs. When I worked for GS (a few years) I never saw one sold. Of course, our sales people were honest and would tell people it was updates and simple enough to do themselves. The PC optimization is actually worth it to a non-tech savvy person who cannot do it themselves.

        • katstermonster says:

          Yeah, I just mentioned it because I saw an article about it in The Big Money yesterday. I didn’t realize anyone was stupid enough to pretend that a Mac optimization even exists or is worthwhile. But then again….this is Best Buy…I should have known.

          • FDCPAGuy says:

            I guess it would make sense for people who are on dial up but that’s about it honestly. After all Mac OS major updates (10.6.0 to 10.6.1 for example) can weigh in well above 300 MB and I know I wouldn’t want to attempt that via dial up!

      • Tim says:

        Yeah, I saw that too. Don’t forget about the part where the techs tell people that Macs are “often faulty” when new, and the optimization fixes that. It’s playing off the fears of PC switchers, basically.

      • LastError says:

        That’s BS. If I got a new Mac there, and they did that to me. I would refuse to pay for it, and most likely wipe the drive and reinstall the OS fresh.

        When I send my Mac in for Apple service, I back up my install, wipe the laptop and install a fresh OS and let them have it for repair. When it comes back, I wipe it again and restore my backup.

        I don’t trust people to have full access to my computers. Especially not my Mac. It’s MY Mac. Not theirs.

      • Laura Northrup says:

        It’s not just that they offer optimization on Macs. It’s that they’re pre-optimizing every computer in the store.

        • FDCPAGuy says:

          They shouldn’t be. I checked with my ex-boss. Macs are not pre-setup at all and neither are netbooks. Of any new trucks approximately 40% of incoming units are pulled to do pre-setups on. It’s possible that all that is left are pre-setup units but not all incoming stock is pre-setup. Also speaking with mgmt will get the person the pre-setup unit if it’s the only one remaining without paying for the services if they didn’t want it. These are the corporate guidelines per my understanding. So if you make a generalization that ‘they’re pre-optimizing every unit in store’ you’d be incorrect.

    • Rachacha says:

      The answer is on the GeekSquad Blog. They basically install all of the security updates and create Restoration disks.

      http://www.geeksquad.com/intelligence/blog/what-exactly-is-geek-squad-computer-optimization/

    • xredgambit says:

      A program that send all porn directly to their computers. That way they don’t have to fish around for it once you take it in for repairs.

      I think they just do a fresh install and maybe an antivirus. I think I have heard they just get all the updates for it though.

      • FDCPAGuy says:

        nope your comment is completely wrong. Look above for the actual scope of work and what is done.

      • katstermonster says:

        Hey, I thought your porn joke was funny. He used to work for Geek Squad, I guess that explains the righteous indignation.

        • FDCPAGuy says:

          honestly the porn joke has gotten old for me. It was humorous the first 200 times I saw it on a consumerist GeekSquad story but at this point I no longer laugh. It’s very predictable at this point; of look a GS consumerist story I wonder how many porn references I will see… same thing with the ‘why is this on consumerist’ and ‘I make my own at home’ they are played out to me frankly.

          • katstermonster says:

            Honestly, the nitpick thing has gotten old for me. Just sayin’.

          • MostlyHarmless says:

            Well, may be Geek Squad has something to do with that, dont you think? Also, seriously I know it is a Monday after a break, and everyone is pissed off at having to go back to work, and you probably forgot that you had to get up early this morning, but thats no reason to act like you have something up the other end.

            That is what Open Thread is for. And Consumerist has been kind enough to open one up for us this morning…

    • Bob Lu says:

      BTW, is it legal for a 3rd party to create backup disc for its customer?

  3. randomscrub says:

    I got around optimization fees by discussing with the sales associate that charging me fees above the marked price and not having any at the advertised price available constitutes a bait and switch. He talked to the manager and they waived the fees. Easy!

  4. rpm773 says:

    I have a better way of not getting ripped off by Best Buy.

    It’s complicated, but it involves not buying anything from them. Ever.

    It works pretty well.

  5. Smashville says:

    Have we ever figured out what exactly an optimization entails?

  6. Razor512 says:

    the geek squad optimization can be done by anyone willing to spare 1 minute of time

    in most cases, all they do is click through the initial setup menus that come up the first time you turn on a brand new PC, no crapware is removed and sometimes due to mistreatment you may get a laptop that has a dirty screen or a screen with a pressure mark thats noticeable when you look at the screen in a angle because the idiot decided to pick it up by the screen.

    they prey on people who know nothing about buying computers. in most cases a computer that has the optimization, runs worst than a new untouched computer.

    And while I don’t have enough evidence, I also believe that geek squad workers steal computer parts and replace them with old crap
    my reason behind this was when I was setting up a brand laptop to dual boot ubuntu and windows for a neighbor (I told them which laptop to buy and they insisted on getting it from bestbuy because they wanted it the same day)

    The laptop battery held much less power than the rates milimaps and also everest ultimate reported a heavy wear level (I generally see problems like this when a batty has been heavily used for about a year, the battery also has a few marks on it (happens when the laptop is on a sable and you tilt the front up and move it so the rubber feed don’t offer resistance (if you live in a house where there people who know nothing about computers, especially if you have little kids, dual booting ubuntu if good to do because you can have them use ubuntu for web browsing and avoid most of the infections and other problems)

    the laptop was geek squad optimized (even though I told them to avoid all of that crap)
    and it seems their optimization included swapping the new battery for a used one, and getting past some of the menus which would have otherwise takes taken the customer 5 seconds to get past

    he didn’t want to take the matter further with bestbuy because he said it will only be used in the house and thus plugged in, but I was really annoyed.

  7. fantomesq says:

    Best Buy will waive the optimization fee if 1) they only have optimized systems left and 2) the customer objects to paying the fee. If the salesperson can’t do it, a manager can.

  8. chuckreis says:

    Refuse to pay for the fees. When I bought my fiance a laptop a year or so ago it was loaded with all kinds of AV and Security software, they had 5 laptops in stock of the model I wanted, all of them loaded. I had to complain to the manager but they dropped the fees and left the software on the laptop.

  9. pot_roast says:

    “Do you know of any other ways to get Best Buy to drop its ridiculous optimization fees?”

    Yes. Don’t shop at Best Buy. It’s highly likely that he could have gotten the same laptop elsewhere for a better price.

  10. yoink says:

    We have another “box store” electronics retailer here in Canada called Future Shop. It was (within the last few years) purchased by Best Buy and so now Best Buy competes against itself. Additionally, Future Shop (which was pretty awful to begin with) now displays the same lack of service as Best Buy.

    Last week they were advertising some cheap SDHC cards. My wife went to pick two up for an audio recorder I use for work. The salesperson couldn’t be bothered to look – the website was saying they were available.

    I ordered online for in-store pickup at the very same store. Within the hour, my cards were available for pickup.

    The thing that irks me the most about this system has nothing to do with Best Buy or Future Shop. It’s actually the workers. I wonder if people realise that their motivation (or lack thereof) is contributing to their own unemployed future? I say this because, at this point, they could pretty much staff a store with one or two stock people and a cashier.

    • Razor512 says:

      bestbuy workers are very lazy because they don’t get paid extra to help you get a item you are looking for but it is bad for them if someone places a online order and it says they have it and no one does anything to get it that attracts the attention of the higher ups and things can go bad for a easily replaceable worker so they will find it, but if you are patient enough, you can often find much cheaper prices at stores like amazon.com, newegg.com, tigerdirect.com

      • yoink says:

        I totally agree. In this case there was a 50% sale on some well made SDHC cards which made it temporarily cheaper than the alternatives. In Canada, I usually shop with NCIX and lately with Newegg here, there are lots of good options.

        However sometimes sales combined with no shipping costs, do make some products worth picking up locally.

    • SkuldChan says:

      I remember future shop here the states. I think the problem they had is they would undercut any price (so they would come out under their competitors price). So whenever I (or any of my friends) shopped there – we’d find the best deal online from one of their competitors, then show up and pay whatever their competitors had minus the discount.

  11. ganzhimself says:

    You can also call their corporate customer service line and get a pristine one ordered for you from the district warehouse for in-store pickup. Did that once and was fairly happy with the process, seeing as I didn’t want to pay full price (+39.99) for what amounts to little more than an open-box item.

  12. GrantGannon says:

    This time last year my laptop just up and died and I neededed a new one immediately. I did some quick comparison shopping and found a deal at my local store via BestBuy.com for a new HP at about $300 less for what it was going elsewhere online.

    I opted for the in-store pick up and went to go get it. Having never purchased a laptop at Best Buy I was surrprised to get an open box with the sticker on the side. I asked if the laptop was a return and was told that the sticker was for the same optimization the emailer speaks of. I double and triple checked with Geek Squad and an asst. manager that the laptop I was buying was not a return and that again, it had been optimized. Like the emailer, I too did not incur an extra fee because I did an in-store pick up after purchasing online.

  13. KCBassCadet says:

    I have found that most people who complain about their Best Buy experiences are those who are timid and not assertive enough to simply ask for what they want.

    With their 10% off coupons nearly perpetually available, I find their prices very reasonable for a brick and mortar store. I bought my Samsung 46″ LED tv for a price far lower than I could get anywhere online…by using a coupon and simply negotiating with the salesperson.

  14. ChemicalFyre says:

    The ‘Optimization’ is a joke. Any not-particularly savvy computer user can do what the process includes.

    According to their website, you pay them between $39.99 and $69.99 (no details on what the price differential is, but I assume its probably OS based or if you chose a desktop vs laptop) to complete the OS install, which is started and completed by TURNING THE SYSTEM ON. That’s hard, and possibly has legal ramifications since the end user isn’t accepting the EULA, the retailer is.

    This is followed up with a connection to most likely a rats’ nest of a corporate LAN, and put through the Microsoft Update process. Which, if you’re savvy, can be done at the command line with a single push of the button, but more likely is done by, you guessed it; opening Internet Explorer and, gasp, selecting all required updates and letting the machine sit there while the automated process takes over.

    Yeah, thats’ a service worth paying for. In all reality, I bet they put the sticker on there to hide the fact that the machine is returned merchandise and has been re-imaged to cover the fact.

    So, what it boils down to – they’re gaining money with the restocking fee, off the customer who returned it. on a $1000 laptop, thats a big chunk of change. Then they gain an additional $40-$70 for slapping what amounts to a bad attempt at misleading the customer that their machine isn’t new, and is in fact returned and ‘re-conditioned.’

    …which is to say why I don’t buy there and strongly suggest for others to do the same. I admit most of that is speculation, but it does make sense.

    • Ayanami says:

      I worked at GS for 5 weeks before I found a government gig, and pretty much you’ve summed up what gets done, also, usually the geek squad techs don’t do it, new hires in training are given a sheet that tells them what to press or click to do it. There is also a system optimizer cd that removes the crapware and tweaks the registry as well. Is it worth more than 5 bucks, no.

      Also, when Win 7 was about to come out we were doing these non stop, dragging down our LAN and making repairs on machines take 3x as long as normal. Getting updates and drivers for machines we were fixing took forever, and we couldn’t use Agent Johnny Utah (guys from India who remote into the machine and do 80% of the work for us) to work reliably either.

      • BrentNewland says:

        More than likely you were fired from your job. The optimization process is a lot more involved than that. Hell, just making restore discs usually takes 1-3 hours for an HP or Toshiba.

  15. pdxazn says:

    The optimization most likely is an open-box item from a return.

    It is a very clover way to get more money for something otherwise would be marked down because of the opened box.

    • PunditGuy says:

      Unless the person returning the laptop also returned the static stickers, or Geek Squad pays its people to X-ACTO static film to make the laptop look like it was never opened, I’d say it was not returned.

      • coren says:

        If it had those, then how was it optimized either? If I’m understanding you what you’re saying is the item was never opened – so how does one optimize it. Psychic powers?

        • PunditGuy says:

          Poor choice of words on my part. It was definitely opened, but nobody had taken the protective stickers off of the various parts of the finish. If it had been purchased before, the original user of the laptop would definitely have taken those off. The Geek Squad folks do open the laptop and turn it on, but they don’t remove the stickers.

  16. admiralriker says:

    I went with my Grandmother to buy a new laptop for school (and give my one year old laptop to my sister). I was looking at an ASUS G51VX, since I do heavy gaming. We flagged one of the computer department guys over. The salesman asked “What can I help you with today?” in which my grandmother pointed at the G51 and said “This one”. Things started to take a turn for the worse after this. He just about got in her face and said sarcastically “This one? This one? THIS ONE? Are you sure This one? What is this one?” and acted like a total D-Bag. At this point, he’s on my $^*&$ list and I DO NOT want to buy. He takes the box up to the front counter and they ring up that it has not only been optimized, but has “Special Recovery Discs”. I explained to the guy that I didnt ask for optimization and that ALL ASUS Laptops come with Recovery Discs (I owned an M50VM previously). He told us we couldnt leave the store with the computer unless we paid the fee’s. I immediately told my grandmother we were leaving and looked the guy in the eyes and said we would get it somewhere else.

    5 hours later, she is at another store picking it up with the online in-store pickup. THEY TRIED TO CHARGE HER AN EXTRA $70! She had to spend 10 minutes with the online receipt demanding that they waive those fees, as she never asked for them and the final price did not match what she paid for on BB.com.

    You may THINK that you can get around those fees, but you better watch out, because they will STILL try and screw you if you buy online. These were two different stores in different counties in Ohio.

    • FDCPAGuy says:

      Actually I bought a new Asus that did not come with restore discs. I remember when all toshibas used to come with them which is also no longer the case. Your point still stands though: the associate was a d-bag. Glad you got it worked out eventually.

    • BrentNewland says:

      The associate was probably a dick because your grandmother treated him like a dog. I know the type – that customer will come in a week later screaming and having a fit just to get an extra discount.

      As far as being forced to pay, that is wrong. You should have been told to come back in 2-3 hours after they’ve finished restoring the operating system and tossed the recovery discs.

  17. TVGenius says:

    Best Buy’s store pickup is great… a lot of items are cheaper on their website than in the store, but will still allow you to do the in-store pickup within the hour. I abuse it all the time.

  18. waybaker says:

    Its nice that Consumerist feels the need to be slanderous. Hope it doesn’t land you in court.

    The Optimization or other setup fees are not “Bogus”. The fees are convenience fees. Are they for everybody? No. But then again, paying $5 for a hamburger you can make at home for $1 isn’t for everybody either.

    Yes.. I am an agent.

    Here is what these fees entail, and why they are good for some people: (prices are for the store I work in)

    $39.99 – Optimization
    – Turn on the computer, process the welcome screen and registration information
    – Remove trial software at CUSTOMER request only. Presetup machines do not have trial software removed as the customer has not purchased the unit. Customer can request that trial software be removed at no additional cost.
    – Process all Windows Updates/Services packs.
    – Install the Geek Squad Tweaks for improvement in performance. These include, but are not limited to, adjusting how much space the recycle bin and system restore use of the computers hard drive.
    – Delete all old restore points from system restore and create a fresh one once work is completed so that the work cannot be accidentally undone. (who wants to pay for something twice?)

    $69.99
    Optimization and Restore CD Creation
    Entails everything above, also includes the creation of Restore CD’s on certain models that do not come prepackaged with Restore Media.

    $69.99
    Standard Security and Performance
    Includes everything in the Optimization, also includes installation of the Customer choice of Antivirus software (customer must either provide, or purchase software). Also includes updating and configuring the software for the machine.

    $99.99
    Advanced Security and Performance
    Includes everything in the Standard Security, but includes creation of Recovery Disks as well.

    Those are the basics. There are other options, but most customers do not choose them.

    So what the above options bowl down to are convenience. For an average person who doesn’t know how to do the above services themselves, or doesn’t have time to wait for their neighbor to come over and help, it is a benefit to being able to walk out with something that you press the power button on and can use immediately. It gives the customers peace of mind that the computer works out of the box and that they don’t have to spend hours doing the above processes.

    It normally takes on average, about 2 hours to make the recovery media if you are sitting at and focusing on a single machine while it does its process. Updates, depending on size can be another hour or 2. The software install only takes a few minutes, but configuring it can take 5-10 minutes as well.

    So breaking that down, for the Advanced Security, it comes out to roughly $25 – $33 per hour you are paying for the service. Most I.T. companies charge between $100 – $150 an hour for personnel. Which is the better deal?

    • PunditGuy says:

      Slander is spoken; libel is written.

      These fees are bogus. I certainly didn’t ask for an “optimized” computer, but it was all that was available. If you feel so strongly that there’s a value to your service, how about if you only do it after you’ve been asked for it?

      • waybaker says:

        Some customers do not wish to wait for the service. As I stated, it can take upwards of 4+ hours to complete on some machines.

        Customers want to take their item home with them immediately more often than not. Thus, we pre-set them up so that they can leave with the product and not have to come back for it.

        As was stated above, and this is true in my store as I rang a few of them out on Black Friday, if all that remains are pre-setup computers and the customer has declined the service, they still get the laptop at the advertised/agreed on price with the service intact, without paying the fee.

        • Spin359 says:

          1. it is bogus to charge a fee for a service not requested. i have left without a purchase due to this on a net book that i wanted.
          2. the time it would take to complete those tasks could be lowered greatly with a little equipment or some software. these are just imaged drives, you could re do them with a optimized image. then just slap the new updates in and you could be done in less than five minutes. all Microsoft updates can be downloaded as a separate installation. You all just download them the first time to a small server or jump drive and you can install them quickly from there.

          If you all only did it when requested you could save time that the techs could use to fix machines quicker or perhaps not need as many and make more profit.

      • waybaker says:

        BTW.. Thank you for the correction. I did not realize I mixed up Libel/Slander.

        • hotdogsunrise says:

          And actually, the trend is to just call it defamation. That way, you can use one word for both and not mess up.

    • LadyTL says:

      I hope you are getting some sort of bonus for failing in justifying these ridiculous fees. The problem with your list is that the customer Never seems to get to choose if this is done to the computer or not. Almost all of the in-store computers have this junk on it so where is the choice in getting it? This is nothing but bait and switch for things even my computer illeteriate family members could do themselves.

      • waybaker says:

        We only presetup 40% of the computers that we receive in our shipments.

        There are plenty of non-presetup machines available for purchase. The customer DOES have the choice while stock remains.

        It does not happen often, but there are instances when there are no more new in box machines and we are upfront and honest with our customers about it in our store. I cannot vouch for other stores, only the one in which I work.

        This same thing happens if all we have left is a Demo Model. Once stock is exhausted, if a customer is still wishing to purchase a certain model and all that remains is the Demo, they are given the option of purchasing it. We do not bait/switch telling them anything but the truth about the product.

        • redstapler says:

          Doesn’t it tell you something then if the only ones left are consistently “optimized” machines? If no one wants them and you are just giving away the “Optimization” how is that a benefit? I would never buy that because it is an open box and therefore has warranty implications and return implications, not even if you only have those models left and you aren’t charging me.

        • greg7079 says:

          It’s amazing how you actually believe your own bullshit… oh wait, it’s not your bullshit, it’s ShamCity’s.

    • RookOmega says:

      Curious how you manage to get around that tricky EULA issue, doing this service prior to the customer actually asking for it?

  19. Shadozbane says:

    So I used to work with Best Buy, Actually all of the services for Geek Squad, They are not allowed to REFUSE to sell you the laptop, if you decline the services, you may buy it anyway if its the last one in stock, they cannot force you to buy them.

    Stores are suppose to know this as it is policy, if Services are performed on a laptop and services were offered and declined and its the last one in stock, they are to sell the laptop for whatever price it is without services. They cannot FORCE you to buy any kind of geeksquad services on the laptop or hold it for not buying it.

    Hope that clears it up.

  20. highmodulus says:

    If you were going to buy via the internet, unless you have tons of Best Buy discounts in hand, why not just buy from Amazon? Much better company, better prices and no sales tax.

  21. crichton007 says:

    People actually buy computers at Best Buy (other than some of the suckers that work in our IT department)? Its either online (for a new work laptop) or the Apple store for me.

    • Spin359 says:

      Yeah, sometimes we buy computers there. Its all about the price. Hardware is hardware, and it is backed by the company that made it. i tried to buy a netbook there but failed due to moron squad. They told me that the netbook was poorly made and needed a extra warranty. I suggested to them perhaps i should not buy it then and they should carry a better class of equipment, they then changed there story. They wouldn’t budge on optimization so i did not make the purchase.

      The hardware was cheep and i had 2 gift cards i needed to spend anyway.

      BTW i guess i’m one of those IT suckers you spoke of, I could run circles around those geek squad guys.

  22. MaytagRepairman says:

    My wife and I went shopping recently for a laptop. We went to Best Buy and she decided she liked the look and feel of the Toshiba’s best but I couldn’t find a model with the specs I wanted. Most of what I saw were models designed to sell at an inexpensive price point. We custom ordered from Toshiba to get exactly what both of us wanted. I wouldn’t buy another laptop any other way.

    • PunditGuy says:

      I just tried configuring one at Toshibadirect.com, and with the same specs it came to $125 more than the Best Buy model. I obviously didn’t need everything the Best Buy one had — 4GB would have been fine, which would have made up the difference in price. I guess I can look at it as I got an extra 2GB for “free” and got the laptop right away instead of shipped.

  23. SPENCERG says:

    If your computer doesn’t come with Restore Disc software, you can try some free application-restore sites online:

    ninite.com
    allmyapps.com

    As I understand, these websites will create custom packaged installs that include installs for the programs they support.

    As for backing up data, you’ll have to do a manually scheduled event for that (i.e. schedule it out on your calendar every 3 months or so…

  24. PeterLeppik says:

    I’ve been told that most of the big-ticket items at Best Buy are sold at or below cost. Laptops, iPods, cameras, big screen TV’s, etc. are all essentially loss leaders to bring people into the store to buy cables, accessories, DVD’s, extended warranties, services, etc.

    So it really should not be any surprise that Best Buy makes it hard to buy a laptop without some sort of add-on. If you’re not going to buy the add-on, they’d rather you buy nothing at all because they’re probably losing money on the sale.

    Not that this is a consumer-friendly way to do business….on the other hand, consumers have proven time and time again that they’ll put up with an amazing amount of abuse to save fifty bucks.

  25. bigd738778 says:

    Yeah I’ve got a tip. Don’t buy from Best Buy. I purchased my new unopened, unused, not optimized laptop from an eBay vendor for $399 with shipping included, a $125 dollar off Toshiba Direct and Best Buy price. Bought the unit in June and has been great. Don’t pay retail and don’t buy it at Best Buy.

  26. d says:

    Having to play games like this is just one of the many reasons why I DON’T shop at WorstBuy…

    Everything they sell is sold by other persons all around the world at similar or better pricing. Often with free shipping or shipping that is less than what it costs you in time + mileage to fool around with WorstBuy’s imbecile squad and ESP pushing junkies…

    Just stop going there… they’ll go away or change their policies to become more customer friendly.

    FWIW, I had a friend buy a desktop there years ago – he called me to set it up. I tried and the PC wouldn’t boot. Told him to take it back and he didn’t have time so I went to use the restore disc on it. Opened the bag and the restore disc had writing on it in BLUE magic marker. The words “THIS DISC DOESN’T WORK – DEAD OUT OF BOX!”

    So the damn thing was sold, didn’t work, got returned, and was sold again as new! My buddy returned it, the mgr accused him of foisting a scam on WorstBuy. I told him to leave the box there, then call AMEX and explain the situation. Amex reversed the charges because the retailer had the item and it wasn’t as advertised. He planned to sue if necessary, but it never came to that because WorstBuy didn’t dispute the chargeback.

    He hasn’t been back to WorstBuy either…

  27. coren says:

    Even better, do this in their store on the kiosk they provide for you.

    • PunditGuy says:

      If I had thought of the idea any quicker, I definitely would have done that. You ever try to do e-commerce on a BlackBerry?

  28. nathancooper says:

    My girlfriend decided to buy a netbook on Saturday and coincidentally the box had a Geek Squad sticker on it. I told her what that meant, but said she should ‘play dumb’ and ask an associate. The associate said it adds $40 to the price for the services performed.

    I noticed that for items which come in multiple colors, that the stickers were only the more generally appealing colors, i.e., black and white, not bolder colors e.g., red, blue, pink. It seemed that the colors you would expect to sell better have the added premium, almost as an indirect way of creating an incentive to purchase a less appealing color and move that inventory.

    In her case, she wanted a black netbook, the four in-stock had stickers, the other color was red, of which none of the four in-stock had stickers. So she told the associate she wanted a black netbook, and he pointed out that because they each have the Geek Squad sticker that it will be $40 more.

    I remarked to the associate about how it seemed that only the more appealing colors come with this service which is an additional fee, almost as if it is a deliberate practice to move unpopular colors. Their expression changed immediately, almost as if realizing the practice at large had been exposed, and offered to waive the fee – very annoyed mind you, not as if they were being nice about it. Regardless it was nice that the fee was waived, but unfortunate the associate didn’t offer to do so until confronted about it.

    Afterwards we went to another Best Buy in the area to look for something else, but I thought while we were there that we should look at what colors of netbooks come with a Geek Squad sticker. In this case there were two black models in stock with stickers and four red models in stock without stickers. Coincidence?

  29. MyTQuinn says:

    Avoiding the optimization fee is secondary to avoiding the optimization. If Geek Squad touched it, it’s contaminated, and I don’t want it – fee or no fee.

  30. LACubsFan says:

    anyone else having use name issues?

  31. Tiandli says:

    Unless they opened the box the laptop came in, they haven’t yet performed any optimization to the laptop. If they did, they’re not selling you a brand new laptop since they decided to open it and “use” so it should be tagged an “Open Box” item.

    Either way, it’s an underhanded tactic by Best Buy to try to make money off those that know nothing about computers.

  32. JMP says:

    When I went to purchase my laptop, it too had already been “optimized” and was the last one in stock. I asked to speak to the manager and she readily agreed to leave the $69.99 charge for the service and discounted the computer by $69.99. I assume that’s pretty much complete profit for the store. I always ask to speak to a manager about extended warranties too. I have often gotten reductions in price to cover a large portion of the warranty. Again, I assume the add-on services are pure profit and they have some leeway on product price.
    As unpopular as it may be here, I can’t recall having ever had anything but positive experiences with Best Buy – even from the Geek Squad!

  33. Sauske27 says:

    You dont HAVE to pay for it. Just say you do not want it. If they do not have any without the optimization performed they must sell you that one at regular price. It is their corporate policy, any employee that forces a customer to purchase it can be terminated. A friend of mine use to work for the GS and this is policy. All you need to do is say you don’t want to pay for it, and if they don’t have another, then you get that for the original cost. If they argue with you, simply dial 1-888-bestbuy while you are in the store.

  34. Silversmok3 says:

    I used to work for Best Buy, so what likely took place is this: the store pre-optimized a set of computers with the Geek Squad service , so as to avoid tying up a sale for 5 or so hours waiting for the computer to completely ‘optimize’.Instead of quoting a time for installation , they just whip out an optimized computer and away the customer goes.

    Since the store only had an optimized computer available for sale, by default it was pulled for pickup by the store for the OP.However, if the computer has been optimized ( and the staff will know which ones) , the employee HAS to ring out the $39.99 package* , or they risk termination.

    * at my store we pre-optimized laptops at the $39.99 basic package, so I dont know why a store would pre-set up a laptop with a $69.99 package out the door.

  35. TheMonkeyKing says:

    Bought a laptop last night, picked it up with no fees or even an offer to add the service. Actually, I think the employee was on the ball and gave me a good shopping experience.

    Also bought it using Bing, so supposedly I should be getting 10% cash back from Microsoft at the end of January. We’ll see…

  36. steveliv says:

    my advice is to avoid any laptop that has been opened and has the geek squad tape/notice on it. about two months ago, when i bought two laptops from best buy, i simply asked for unopened, untouched by the geek squad, inventory. the rep climbed a ladder grabbed the unopened laptops and i was on my way, with no extra charges. it doesn’t mean they won’t try to sell you them, but just refuse

  37. xcoop84x says:

    I work for Best Buy and let me explain how the optimization works. The first cost that Patrick saw was the basic optimization and like how someone said it is basically complete the OS installs, if there are any updates those are performed and there is also a removal of software that the manufacturer licenses to be on the unit (ie Wild Tangent). The second charge was that same service and also the inclusion of a restore disk seeing how no units on the floor come with a restore disc short of the Macs. For someone who knows something about computers this is not a necessary service, but for your average consumer who does not know anything about computers this may be a time saving option. Most customers would like to just open the laptop and go, not having to worry about completing setup or removing programs. They also are not going to want to spend the 4-5 hours it takes to create a restore disc when one has already been made. The advantage of having units on the floor that have already had this done is a convenience so the customers do not have to wait for this to be done either late into the evening or possibly the next day. Just figured I’d comment from on the inside, from someone used to be on the outside and not understand why this was offered.

    • bc2108 says:

      >I work for Best Buy and let me explain how the optimization works. The first cost that Patrick saw was the basic optimization and like how someone said it is basically complete the OS installs,

      This usually means accepting EULAs that the customer is supposed to accept, not the retailer.

      Congratulations, you’ve found one more reason not to shop at best buy.

  38. TehGarza says:

    A tourist based store in Florida hires Portuguese speaking sales people even if they don’t have any experience in computers and they sell this “service” like hotcakes since Brazilians LOVE BBY! The management staff REQUIRES 40% of their entire stock of laptops “Pre-Oped”. ^-^

  39. TrustAvidity says:

    Doing this can be good for more than just avoiding extra fees. I went to an auto parts store and found the item I needed for $110 but I needed to go home and verify I was getting the right model before I bought it. While at home I checked the website to see if it matched or if other stores’ sites had it for cheaper. The site for the store I was just at had the item listed for $40 cheaper so I ordered it on there for in-store pick up and got it same day for $70. PS: The item was actually rung up during the first visit so I know it wasn’t a POS discount that gets marked down at checkout.