Best Buy's computer optimization service costs $40 and promises to double the speed of your computer. They push it hard, so hard that you're often forced to get it against your wishes. The trouble? It makes computers slower.
If you've ever bought a computer from Best Buy, you've doubtlessly been pitched an optimization. And you may have even been forced to buy a model already "optimized" against your wishes, as they have a practice of opening up a sizable percentage of laptops, performing the service, then sealing them back up. Want to buy this advertised laptop? Oops, only pre-optimized models are left! That'll be $40 over the advertised price, please.
That would be a slimy enough practice if the service was actually beneficial, but a new Consumerist investigation shows that the "service" is actually damaging, slowing down new computers by an average of 32%.
What exactly are they doing to these computers to warrant a $40, then?
Upon comparing the optimized changes, the first noticeable change was a cleaner desktop. Most of the removed shortcuts were for trials, promotions and software added by the manufacture. The programs themselves were still installed and available for later access. Updates had been downloaded on all three models, but differences in the factory default setup can affect how the system is optimized. On one laptop, for example, because Windows Defender was deactivated by default, its definitions had not been updated.
Some optimization changes seemed intended to make the laptop easier to use, such as adding the status bar to the file explorer, or displaying the file menu bar in Internet Explorer. Including a link to the Downloads folder in the Start menu, for example, can save you a few clicks. Security settings were adjusted to allow for automatic Windows updates, and in Internet Explorer, privacy settings were eased up to allow websites you visit to save info you provide on your PC.
Yes, Best Buy is charging $40 to delete shortcuts from your desktop. They don't delete the actual bloatware, just the shortcuts that let you know what bloatware is there. And they download updates for you. Good lord.
Oh, and did I mention that after one of the optimizations, the Geek Squad forgot to put the power cable back in the box? Oops!
Why is Best Buy being so crazy aggressive about rip-off services like optimization? Well, it's no secret that they make almost all of their money off of accessories like HDMI cables, extended warranties and services like this. Most of the products they sell have razor-thin margins, meaning they'll make three times as much profit selling you a Monster Cable than an LED LCD TV. And services like optimizations? Almost pure profit.
But that doesn't make such anti-consumer behavior acceptable. Pre-optimizing new laptops is a downright scummy behavior, and completely contradicts their claims that it's a mere choice and not something customers are forced into. If Best Buy is going to continue to push these expensive services, they need to make sure that it's always a choice for customers. They also need to make clear that it, you know, actually does something useful. [Consumerist]