Don't Fall For The Best Buy, Circuit City "Recovery Disk" Sales Pitch

PC World wants to let you know that you don’t need to buy the “recovery disks” that Best Buy and Circuit City are always trying to sell you. PC World says they’ve heard from consumers that Circuit City is telling people that they need FireDog to create these disks and that they can’t do it themselves.

That’s a bunch of BS. From PC World:

When Ian Griffith of Queens, New York, purchased an HP notebook from a Circuit City store in Brooklyn earlier this year, the salesperson urged him to have the chain’s in-store Fire Dog technicians create Windows XP recovery discs in case Griffith needed to reinstall the OS.

“I specifically asked if this was something I could do on my own,” Griffith says, and the answer was no. The salesperson, Griffith says, insisted that there were only two ways to obtain such discs: have them made at the store for $30, or buy them from HP for nearly twice as much.

But the clerk’s assertions simply aren’t true. Recovery discs are fairly easy to make yourself. And if you don’t want to take on the responsibility of burning your own, you can buy them from HP for half what Circuit City charges.

PC World investigated the rumors. While Circuit City’s sales people eventually admitted that recovery discs could be made at home… 3 of the 5 Best Buy salespeople insisted that consumers couldn’t make the recovery disks themselves and would either need to buy them from Best Buy or the manufacturer (for more than Best Buy charges.)

Lies! Don’t fall for it!

Read the rest of the story at PC World.

Best Buy, Circuit City Reps Push Unnecessary Recovery Discs [PC World]


Edit Your Comment

  1. nightshadowon says:

    OMG! Everyone PC I know that you buy at the store comes with instructions to make the recovery CD(s)/DVD(s) yourself. Some manufacturers even provide you blank CDs/DVDs.

    This has to be an outright lie from CC and BB and should immediately entitle them to never get to pass Go!.

  2. Knux says:

    Heh this is nothing new, I used to work for Circuit City and $30 for the recovery cds isn’t too bad considering that my store used to try and force em out for $80. But this is always going on, the sales people know nothing much, they just do as they are told, and in retail numbers is everything so the more they sell the better they look.

    Whats worse is when people from another country come into the store and the sales associates exploit that and get them to pay more because they don’t understand english to well. Charge em what they think it is worth, or what they want to pay, now whether or not that is the REAL price is no matter. Anything for numbers… That is what they do…

  3. mindshadow says:

    Horray, I finally remembered my login credentials.

    I remember hearing about this practice about 2 years ago when I still worked at CompUSA (so glad I’m out of that hell hole). It’s a horrible scam, and I’m surprised that the computer manufacturers haven’t put pressure on Circuit City and Best Buy for more or less lying about their computers.

    We had a similar incident when I worked at CompUSA. The sales manager (he was a huge douche and I still hate him to this day) was opening Toshiba laptops and removing the warranty cards because the extended warranties were cheaper than ours and covered more. We put a stop to those antics real quick, between the threats to quit and the threats to call corporate HQ on him.

    Ugh, I hate retail.

  4. Balance_In_Life says:

    I never say that the customer can’t create the recover disk. The fact that toshiba comes with the recover disk we let the customer know that. The reason we offer the service is that it makes it easier for people to allow us to do it while we set up the computer. My guys are trained to let the customer know that they can do it their self but we supply the DVDs and make it a bit easier. We never force anything onto our customers and we still do very well.

  5. mindshadow says:

    @Balance_In_Life: Um, sorry, but there’s no justification for charging $30 for a disk that’s either already made or easily created. Maybe $10. Even supplying a DVD… how much is one of those guys now? Especially since you get it at cost.

  6. mindshadow says:

    @Balance_In_Life: There’s still no justification for charging $30 to burn a CD/DVD that usually comes with the system anyways, especially considering you get the CDs/DVDs at cost.

  7. warf0x0r says:

    My favorite is: Geeksquad can “customize” your PC for you…

    WTH is that?!?

    I know what they are doing, removing all the freeware from your PC and adding your first name as a user with a pretty kitty icon for you to login with!!!

    All for the low, low price of 39.99.

  8. mindshadow says:

    Oh snap, sorry for the double post.

  9. endless says:


    Justification? If people can’t do it, they are justified to charge what ever people will pay. I don’t know how people can afford to be bad at using computers.

    now the question of how ethical the techniques used to sell such disks is an entirely another matter.

  10. Krossbones says:

    @Mindshadow: I work at the technology sales department of Circuit City. I really hate pitching some of the services that Firedog offers, because they can be ripoffs. However, we never tell the costumer that they can’t do it themselves. A good majority of the people that come in to buy new computers would have no clue what a recovery disk is, let alone how to make one. A lot of the computers don’t come with any disks at all, so we are trying to provide them with a service cheaper than the manufacturer would.

  11. Phuturephunk says:

    I don’t know a single computer that doesn’t have a reinstall disk in
    the box, especially from retail. I know with Dell you get your default
    ones free on all models.

    This is hooey.

  12. AdidasMJO says:

    I work at CC and know plenty of people that would say that you can’t create your own recovery disks. But these are also the same people that will say that you can’t set-up your own wireless network. The truly shocking part is that the majority of people really can’t, so we offer it to everyone. Most people will get home, and a year later come screaming back that their computer’s broken. Wishing that they had the 30 dollar disks, in their home rather than have 15 dollar disks in the mail.

  13. mindshadow says:

    @endless: Well, I work in a nice cozy corporate job so I don’t have the ethical issues myself, but if it was my computer shop I would provide the disks for free, since the DVDs cost me nearly nothing and it’s hardly anything to do that could mean a lot to your customer (and probably create a repeat customer). To each his own though, but I definitely see your point.

    @Krossbones: Yes, Microsoft does hide the recovery feature a bit, it’s not like OS X or Linux that prompts you as you’re configuring your PC after booting it for the first time. But I think this article actually just pointed out that the “service” of creating a restore disk is actually half price of what Circuit City charges.

  14. Kezzerxir says:

    Since I’ve just been building my own computers for a long time now, I wish I could build my own car and house. If they standardized all the parts it would be possible!

  15. scoopy says:

    @Kezzerxir: This is why I like Legos so much.

  16. ncboxer says:

    Is it BB or CC’s fault that manufacturers are too cheap to include discs in the box? Most new computers nowadays do not come with discs like they use to. BB and CC are offering a valuable service (albeit at a grossly inflated price just like all their services are) to many people who don’t know much about a computer.

    That being said, the main point of the post was that BB and CC were lying about it- saying you couldn’t do it yourself. If true, that is definitely despicable, but I would say on par with both companies. They are out to make money and will do so “however” they can. I used to work for BB, I know how corrupt they are.

  17. Nilt says:

    @mindshadow: Microsoft isn’t the one to “hide” a recovery process; that’s up to the OEM themselves. See my Acer comment below, for example. The official MS recovery is “insert the CD your PC came with or your Windows CD if a retail copy”.

    @Phuturephunk: I don’t think Dell gives them free anymore with all models. The latest systems tend to use the despised recovery partition that’s lost when a hard drive dies or is replaced. When walking customers though the occasional Dell order (if they insist on Dells) I’ve seen charges along the lines of $10 for the recovery media. Perhaps they’ve changed this as I haven’t had to hassle with a Dell order in awhile now.

    All that said, some OEMs make it more difficult than others to create or acquire these discs. Acer prompts you first thing after boot to make one so they win there from what I’ve seen. HP comes in a close second with pretty nominal shipping and handling charges only.

  18. cde says:

    @ncboxer: Define most computers. Gateway, Hp, IBM and Apple all supply the disks. Dell did too when I ordered a laptop recently, at no charge compared to the recovery partition.

  19. MrFreshy says:

    @CDE: Actually, Toshiba laptops do come with a recovery disk, but most of the HP, Compaq, Gateway and Emachines do not. There usually is a menu that pops up the first time you boot telling you how to create one, but most do not come with the disks.

  20. SBR249 says:

    @cde: Actually HP computers do not come with recovery disks. I’ve dealt with more than a few HP computers within the past 6 months to know that you have to burn them yourselves, buy them with the laptop for ~$10, or buy from HP later for ~$15.

  21. phobs says:

    $80, $30, or even $10 for a recovery disk has to be amazing profit for what is mostly an automated process.

    I haven’t bought a boxed PC in a long time. Whats the motivation behind manufacturers not supplying recovery disks? Doesn’t this make their support more costly since they cant just do a simply restore?

  22. lestat730 says:

    Thats terrible, I feel bad for people who don’t know any better. My most recent desktop PC purchase was a HP and it was the first computer I’ve ever bought that didn’t come with recovery discs included in the box. At first I was really annoyed and thought I’d have to purchase the discs or buy 3rd party software to make them myself until I figured out that HP had included a recovery disc creator program that you could only use 1 time to burn 1 set of recovery discs. While it was easy, quick, and painless for me to burn a recovery DVD and make a few backup copies I still think that computer manufacturers have become incredibly cheap. I mean come on, how much could it possibly cost to include 1 dvd recovery disc with my $1500 desktop. There is simply no excuse for this especially when you think about how much bloatware and trialware they preinstall on your machine.

    Is it all a ploy to try and get uneducated and computer illiterate people to spend even more money to order these discs?

  23. Extended-Warranty says:

    Phobs, do manufacturer’s have any reason to include the discs with the system? That’s just an extra cost for them. It’s not like they will lose sales because the discs aren’t included. It’s an extra profit source for them.

  24. XTC46 says:

    CompUSA sales people either say the customer can’t do it, or make it sound so incredibly hard and time consuming that its better for the customer not to even try.

  25. XTC46 says:

    and PHOBS, yes its almost pure profit as all shops already have the images burned and just need to copy the disks. I know the compUSA near me has a computer set up with 4 burners for this task alone.

  26. mindshadow says:

    @Extended-Warranty: Since you *paid* for the operating system it would make sense for them to at least give you the software.

  27. phobs says:

    @Extended-Warranty: I’m not saying they’re obligated to. Since one of the most costly aspects of these box PCs is support I figured including the restore disks would provide simple avenue for tech support solutions, keeping the company’s support costs down. In a sentence, I was wondering if they’re losing more money than they’re saving.

  28. also…you wanna make a backup of all those (200+/- megs) family photos? $299 bill

    obviously people will pay for the convenience of not having to do it themselves. I do not work for ANY store, but people will pay for things the won’t do themselves (i.e. who changes their oil themselves???)

    I do, and I also backcup/restore/RAID5/image my own drives…do you?

    f*ck forest fires, only YOU can prevent (and restore) hard drives that will eventually die

  29. @discounteggroll:

    I have never replied to myself, but a spelling correction in the third paragraph should read backup, not backcup

  30. roguefox says:

    I used to work for Circuit City and they would always hound me to sell all of the FireDog service which could be done yourself for free. A recovery disk cost $29 bucks for them to make. It’s mostly a rip-off. Optimization is just removing preloaded adware and disabling some start-up services. Security is just setting up the already installed Norton software. People do some research and you’ll find that these things aren’t hard to do.

  31. smbfl says:

    They shouldn’t lie about customers not being able to do it, but I find that most people don’t bother to make the disks or if they do they have no idea where the disks are now. I think the service is a value to the customer as it gets the CD made and since the customer paid extra for the media they understand it has a value and purpose so it doesn’t just get thrown away with the rest of the packing material.

  32. CamilleR says:

    @Phuturephunk: I bought a Dell two years ago and there was no recovery disks, just a lovely peace of cardboard that said something along the lines of “system restore should solve all your problems”. I had hard drive issues earlier this year and needed the system disks. It took about an hour on the phone with Dell to get them to send them to me without making me pay for them. I think I spoke to four different people that night before finally getting someone who understood I wasn’t going to pay for something that should have come with the computer to begin with. I’mever buying a Dell again, and never buying a computer that doesn’t come with system disks.

  33. randomizer9 says:

    Support your local geek!

  34. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    The manufacturers don’t include a recovery disk(s) because they get a better deal from Microsoft on the OS!

    As part of a lawsuit a few years ago, some of the prices that the OEM’s paid MS for XP were found out.

    If I remember correctly, MS charged from $19 up to $30. HP, which doesn’t include the OS disk paid $19 for XP Home, while Gateway, which did supply the OS disk at that time paid about $25, because Gateway supplies a crippled version of Windows, with the device drivers on a separate disk. The few companies that supplied a full version of Windows on a disk, paid about $30.

  35. swvaboy says:

    I recently had some problems creating a set of recovery disks for my HP Laptop. I called the help desk and they sent me a set for free.

    There was even an icon on the desktop (had to find with all the crap-ware) to click to make the back up disks. The HP also came with 4 Lightscribe disks as a sample. One could use those as the backup disks.

  36. MrEvil says:

    @Nilt: The bad news is that yes, Dell has stopped shipping them by default. However, the second your Hard Drive dies and you lose the restore partition Dell will typically send all the discs along with the new hard drive at no charge. I get workorders all the time to replace hard drives in Dells and about half those orders come with recovery media. Heck, the customer didn’t even ask for it, the phone tech just sent them along for the ride.

    Typically for other manufacturers…if the hard drive quits and you don’t send the entire system to them. They tell you “too fucking bad, you should have made the recovery discs when you got the computer”

    I kinda wish the manufacturers did BOTH, sending the recovery discs and doing the partition (on newer Dells if you opt for the recovery discs you still get the partition) because most of the time the customers just lose the discs anyway…so handholding them into making recovery media on their own won’t help things.

  37. Frostberg says:

    Of course there is a profit to be made in recovery disks, just like any other service. The people who comment on a website like this are very tech savvy though and could probably do a lot of things on their own, but we might be only 1%. Retail stores need to make money like any other business, and they traditionally lose a lot of money on those weekly laptop deals, so due to heavy competition they have to offer services. If you dont need them, just say no. If you think the salesperson is lying, ask him to show you why he or she thinks that.

  38. Nilt says:

    @Mr3vil: “I kinda wish the manufacturers did BOTH, sending the recovery discs and doing the partition (on newer Dells if you opt for the recovery discs you still get the partition) because most of the time the customers just lose the discs anyway…so handholding them into making recovery media on their own won’t help things”

    Agreed. I find the HD partition handy as heck when a nasty virus and/or spyware infection cripples a client’s system. I’m an independent IT consultant (or, as I prefer, geek-for-hire) and it gets tiresome explaining they should have saved those CDs the computer came with. Heh.

    Having both would really be the best option but as others have said, it’s more about profit to the OEMs than anything else. That’s why my recommendation of choice is a local shop that still includes restore media.

  39. Joafu says:

    I don’t think it’s a matter of the consumer not being able to make a recovery disk, it’s just that not many people know how to. Many people would rather not browse teh internets for an answer, they’d rather get a fast fix up front so retailers satiate this desire for a hefty price. It’s too bad that a retailer can’t just explain how to make one, and even worse that they’d flat out lie about it. For the record, I never remember where my recovery cds are; if the computer takes a dump on me, which it usually does every two or three years, I figure it’s time to upgrade. I backup all the important files every week to a flash drive. It sucks for the bank, but it makes life a lot easier.

  40. Android8675 says:

    They aren’t making you buy the recovery CDs, they are offering to burn them for you so you don’t have too, it’s a labor charge of like $20 I think.

    Ask anyone who has made these CDs/DVDs, it’s usually something that takes like 30 minutes or so depending on the speed of the system. I’ve seen them take 2 hours or more.

    If you’re lazy you might feel it’s worth while. More than half the time when I service a notebook that needs to be restored (HD died, replaced) the user doesn’t have or never burned the recovery CDs, so now they have to call the manufacturer and order them for $20’ish. (price seem familiar?)

    Could be this person got someone in sales who didn’t understand what he was selling and that’s too bad. Read the fine print, make sure you know what you’re getting, shop when the store isn’t busy so you can ask questions without getting rushed into a purchase.

    Buy a Mac or a Toshiba for gosh sakes, they come with Recovery CDs, problem solved.

  41. girly says:

    I just went through the Best Buy wringer!

    I got a computer, and they tried to sell me the recovery disk:
    “Can’t I just get it later if I need it?”
    “It could cost you $100 to get it later.”

    “…I’ll take my chances.”

    He did a good job of looking like he thought I was completely insane! He was telling me he’s had to rebuild his system several times (meanwhile I am thinking is it Vista, or is it him?).

    Of course as I hoped, when I get home the first thing I see in the manual is how to make my own recovery disks. For the cost of 2 blank DVDs.

    They also told me I could get virus protection and configuration for $149.

    I told them I had virus protection (most people have it from their ISP) and they told me that only the most current programs work with Vista. They said if I installed it myself I could get into a scenario where I “keep trying to hit Next but that doesn’t make it work.”

    I asked “So, if I go home and find out it doesn’t work, can’t I just come back here and go buy some virus prot. software off your shelves?”

    He said it was a serious risk.

    I said “doesn’t the packaging say if it’s Vista compatible?” He said it “might” work. (now I thought that was amazing!)

    I could have point blank said no to everything, but I just wanted to see if they would be reasonable.

  42. girly says:

    I just wanted to add, I wondered to myself if the Geek Squad was sad to leave my computer untouched because they were part of some hacker ring… hehe

  43. girly says:

    Just checked with the manufacturer.

    The ‘convenient’ $29 recovery disks they offered me are less than $15 (and that’s including 5-7 day shipping) from the manufacturer, and very easy to purchase.

    Now I wonder, android says Toshibas come with the recovery cd–if you by a Toshiba from BB do they try to sell you a recover CD anyway?!

  44. girly says:

    I was having trouble creating recovery disks for myself–a quick chat with HP and I am expecting free recovery disks in 2-3 days.

    They are much nicer than BB made them out to be (“they might cost you $100”).

  45. hubris says:

    @Android8675: 30 minutes? 2 hours? What kind of crappy burners are people using? If you’re backing up XP (or slipstreaming a Service Pack), it should take less than ten minutes. And Vista, which is a DVDs worth of information, shouldn’t take longer than 20 at the most. Sheesh.