Best Buy "Optimized Laptop" Features Nothing But An Error Message

Reader L951B951 saw our recent posts about Best Buy’s dubious “optimization” services, so he went to the store armed and ready to demand an unopened laptop. The trouble is — he says Best Buy had opened them all. Did this stop our hero from coming away with a laptop without paying the optimization fee? Of course not.

L951B951 says:

Thanks to your 9/28 article about Best Buy’s “Optimization” service on new laptops, I went into my local Best Buy fully prepared and left without having to pay the $40 for whatever this service is supposed to be.

I just returned from purchasing a laptop from Best Buy. The guys working in the computer area were already with customers, but luckily another Best Buy employee saw I needed help and came over. I told him I wanted this particular laptop, but the 2 they had on the floor had been opened and had a paper taped to them claiming they had been “optimized” (the optimization forms at this location looked different than the one shown here these appeared to have been made in MS Word and were taped on with cellophane tape, but it was removed at the register so I don’t have a picture of it).

The employee helping me told me he didn’t work in the computer department but would go see if he could find an “unopened one” (his words, not mine). The interesting part is that he didn’t understand what the optimization sheet meant; he thought it was an open box, and set about trying to find me an “unopened” laptop. After a few minutes of climbing the rolling stairs, he came down to tell me the bad news: of the 5 they had, all of them were opened. Luckily, at that point, one of the employees from the computer department came by to help. He explained that they weren’t returns, as the other employee thought, but that a certain percentage of their laptops get “Optimized” by the Geek Squad (apparently that certain percentage is 100%). He was very friendly and offered to waive the $40 optimization fee since I didn’t want it and was unwilling to pay for it. I would like to state again: both employees were very helpful throughout the purchase.

I am home now, and curious as to what kind of Optimization service Best Buy does. It’s not listed under Geek Squad’s services ( ). Per your previous story about the optimization, I looked in the box for any recovery disks made – there were none. And when I booted my laptop up for the first time i was greeted by a Windows Error Recovery message (picture 1, taken with my phone). Once I passed that hurdle, and Vista booted up, I was greeted with 200+ MB worth of updates, some being authored in February (picture 2 below). So I’m stumped as to what the “Optimization” did beyond set my default language and timezone.

All the more reason to decline this silly optimization service. If Best Buy or any other store tries to pressure you into it, we suggest you call your state’s attorney general.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.