Hey, Best Buy, Way To Drive Another Customer Away With "Optimization" Nonsense

J. in California tells Consumerist that he liked Best Buy. He was a loyal customer until he attempted to buy a laptop there for a friend, and ran up against a brick wall of strangeness and dysfunction, all in the name of… Geek Squad optimization.

He copied us on his EECB to Best Buy. Here’s what he wrote:

I would like to share with you an experience I have with Best Buy Store
[redacted] today ([adddress redacted]). Before this incident,
I have a perfect relationship with best buy and have been a happy
customer. In fact, I have been trying to make the company I work for to
shop at a newly opened Best Buy instead of another large nearby retailers.

I am an IT personnel at a networking equipment manufacturer, so I’m
usually the person that gives advice to my friends regarding hi-tech
items. Today, my friend told me that he needed to buy a laptop before
his upcoming trip on Sunday. I asked him to join me at Best Buy during
lunch time so that he can take a look at the selection of laptops and I
can give him some advice. He narrowed his choices down between an Asus
or Acer and told me that he’d let me know later that day which one he’d
prefer. Close to end of my working day, he called me and told me that he
prefers the Asus that he sees at Best Buy. Since I work near a Best Buy,
I decided that it’d be better for me to order it online with the option
for in-store pickup, then he can reimburse me later. That way, he
doesn’t have to go out of his way to get the laptop. As extra perk, I
also get some points on my rewards card.

I made the order at 7:08pm and got the confirmation email almost
immediately. Since I have confirmed that the store have everything in
stock, I assumed that it’d be a very quick before I get my pickup
notice. I left the office around 7:25 and reached Best Buy around 7:30.
I checked in at the customer service desk and asked if my order has
turned up. The lady at the cashier (K.) told me that she can’t find
my order and would check with the inventory team. She came back and told
me that the inventory team is on break and I’m early for the pickup.
That’s understandable and I told her that I’d browse the store before
going to go back to the service desk and get my item.

I received my pickup notice on my email at 7:49 which was earlier than
the 45 minutes time limit. I probably checked my email around 7:50-7:52,
and approached K. again. Once again she was courteous and friendly.
She was apologetic that it took so long to get my item. I hang around
the service desk area while she went to the inventory room to check on
my order. At 7:55, I received a call from H. (Store Operator) that
my item is ready for pickup. I told her that I was already at the
service desk already. She stepped out from the room behind the service
desk and found me. She then told me that the laptop is currently being
optimized and it would be ready soon.

This is where the trouble start. I told her that I am comfortable
working with computers and don’t want an optimized laptop. I also
requested if she could stop the procedure. She then asked me to wait for
a minute while she checked on it. She went to the inventory room and I
followed her up to the door to the inventory room. She then came back
and told me that the laptop HAS already been optimized. I told her that
I’d like a non-optimized laptop, preferably an unopened one. She told me
that both of the laptop currently in stock have been optimized. I either
have to pay for the optimization or wait for it to be unoptimized and
have it reset to default. I told her that I need the laptop fast because
I need to go back home and help my wife with the children. She told me
that she needs to talk to the manager and it should be about 5 minutes.
I waited around the service desk for a while, but I didn’t see her
anymore. I ask several other employee (F. and S.) to get me
H. because I can’t wait too long. When I saw her walking toward the
service desk, I stopped her and asked her if she knows how much longer
it would take for me to get the laptop. She told me that she’s working
on my case and would appreciate it if I stop bothering her.

At this point I make the following observation:
1. She started telling me that they’re optimizing my laptop, but later
told me that both in-stock laptops are already optimized and I have to
get it optimized or wait for it to be restored to default. If both are
already optimized, then by the time I arrived one of the laptop should
have been optimized already, why didn’t she offer to give me that one
instead of optimizing the other one?

2. Wouldn’t selling an optimized laptop to a buyer that doesn’t want the
laptop to be optimized at non-optimized price would make a better
business sense than having to have Geek Squad spend time and restore it
to default? By doing this, unneeded resource is being used to restore it
to default.

3. Why must they optimize all of their inventory? Is this a way to force
a sale for the Geek Squad service?

4. Or, is this a way to make sure that we can’t return the laptop
without being charged restocking fee? Opened laptop carries 15%
restocking fee; thus by optimizing it, the laptop is already opened.
What if my friend decided to change his mind? Will I still be charged
restocking fee?

5. Is this also a way to hide returned item from being marked “open box”?

I just need an ETA because I’m working with schedule. By this time, it’s
already 8:10-8:15. This is starting to feel like negotiating with a used
car dealership. She then told me that it’d take more than 1 hour and if
I can’t wait that long then I should just cancel the order and buy it
elsewhere. After she told me that she just walked inside. I know she’s
busy, but you can’t leave a customer hanging. I also find that it is
definitely unacceptable schedule. It’d be 9:15-9:30ish by the time I
walk out of best buy. I had only a small lunch because I had to go to
Best Buy during lunch, and I was hungry. Additionally, I’d have an
unhappy wife because no one is helping her to take care our preschooler
and newborn. I also had a long day and have WAY too much time at Best
Buy. I also find that her attitude is rude and unprofessional. I decided
to draw the line and cancel the purchase. I might just take her advice
and buy it elsewhere.

I asked F. to page H. and tell her that I want to cancel my order.
He told me that she’d be right with me and help me with the order
cancellation. I waited, but she never came out. I saw Charles, the store
manager, nearby so I waited for him to finish talking to another
customer. I then told him that I’d like to cancel the order. I also
explained to him what happened and asked him my concern #4 regarding
optimized laptop. He told me that Best Buy have a way to make sure that
customer haven’t use the laptop, so optimized laptop which later
unoptimized at customer’s request can still be checked if the customer
used it already or not. He told me about a mechanism to check the uptime
of the computer and usage timer. Honestly, this doesn’t sound right at all.

1. He make a generalization that all vendors have this functionality

2. My 6 years working in IT, I haven’t heard or seen something similar

3. My 20 years experience using computer, I haven’t meet something
similar to this

4. He has no idea what I’m purchasing. I didn’t tell him what item I
purchased and/or show him my receipt.

This definitely sounds like a tactic to make me not buy an unoptimized
laptop and keep the inventory for people who want it to be optimized. I
don’t know if this is true or not, but I can feel a difference in
treatment between the first time I came into the store and after I
indicated that I don’t want optimization. I feel ignored, brushed and
scammed. I told him if he could help me cancel the order so that the
hold on my card can be reversed earlier. He told me that he can’t do
that and I just have to wait until the 8 days past. He added that NO ONE
can do it. This is where he is wrong. I know this for sure. I canceled
another online order earlier because I’d rather pick up the laptop near
my office than the one near my house. All it take is a phone call.
Beside, if Shelly knows that the store can’t cancel the order, why
didn’t she told me about it rather than making me wait for nothing?

I left the best buy with a real bitter taste in my mouth. I told my
friend what happened that told him to purchase the computer I have
confirmed available from Amazon.com. He is an Amazon prime member so 1
day shipping is only $3.99. He will receive his laptop on Friday and I
can help him set it up when it arrive. Now I am pondering if I should
stop shopping at Best Buy. My experience so far with Best Buy has been
positive, but it seems that Best Buy slowly becoming Worst Buy. It’s one
thing to try to sell optimization and extended service plan, but it is
another thing to force the optimization service down my throat. Worst
thing that they can do is ignoring and brushes your customer away.

Best Buy already lost this purchase and may lose me as customer
permanently. One thing definite is that I will not shop at store [redacted]
anymore. I will give other Best Buys another chance to keep me as
customer, but if this continues on, Best Buy in general will lose
another customer and all other customer that I might recommend to shop
at Best Buy. Best Buy used to be geek paradise, but it slowly transform
into a place that try to profit from ignorant general public and drive
away geeks who are already familiar with technology.

Thank you for your time. I have attached confirmation email and pickup
notice into this email. I hope you take this issue into consideration
and hope to hear from you in regards to this matter. In case that you
can’t open the attachment, my order number is [redacted].

We’ll let you know what (if anything) he hears back from the Supreme Geek Squad.