Best Buy's "Optimization" Update: Technically Optional, Still DickishS

An email sent to Consumerist by a Best Buy employee lays out the changes Best Buy has made in pushing their optimization service. Basically, you can't be forced to pay for optimization—but the salesman won't tell you that.

What starts out promising soon turns shitty. Before, Best Buy would often advertise computers at a certain price, but only offer them "optimized," which adds $40 for a totally unnecessary process that nobody wants. Now, Best Buy changed their policy, saying that forcing someone to pay for optimization is now an offense warranting termination. Great!

But wait, don't get too excited—the idea is that the salesman will argue, forcefully pushing optimization on you even if you say you don't want it, because Best Buy judges the performance of its sales staff by how many of these ridiculous unnecessary add-ons they sell. So the salesman is going to do everything he can to get you to buy that optimization software. You have to know enough to keep arguing until the salesman gives up, at which point they'll erase the $40 charge and uninstall the software. Of course, that means your brand-new laptop isn't exactly brand-new anymore, since Best Buy has dicked around with the settings and software before you get your hands on it. The letter:

I work for Best Buy and thought you might want to know the Best Buy internal response to the recent article criticizing optimization. The items stated here were discussed on the employee Best Buy news.

To start of with, the policy [of] how many computers should undergo optimization was restated: 40% is the guideline. This should be altered as per demand. So stores offering customers only optimized models are not being properly managed. The article continued to say if demand for optimization is only 15%, then only 15% should be optimized. This is not in the store's interest, I should note. Best Buy does not make a significant profit on computer sales (less than $50 per unit, typically), instead relying on 'services' such as the optimization for a major source of profits. The more optimized computers sold, the more profits.

The article stated plainly, in large, bold letters, that a customer cannot be forced to pay for optimization if they do not want it and that is all that is available. Anyone who forces a customer to pay for it is subject to, and I quote, termination. I should say they did not state to make it easy to get out of paying for optimization, the article encourages salespersons to explain why it is worth the money before not charging it. Management can waive the fee if the customer declines. Optimization software, if any was installed, should then be removed before giving the computer to the customer. Anyone forced to pay should contact the store's management or someone higher up the ladder.

Best Buy considers optimization an important service, and believes it has great value to many customers. I, personally, believe most people can take care of such things on their own with minimal time and would never pay for it. Judging by comments posted below the article, many other employees believe so too, but just as many fervently believe that optimization is the best thing to ever happen since the wheel.

I feel I should stress that it is not a salespersons fault to push optimization and other services strongly on customers. Hours (and this pay, we are not commission) are often determined by the amount of sales made. Someone who isn't selling any optimization will see reduced hours as compared to someone who is. Especially given this economy, many just need a job and this is all they could find, myself included. So just be polite and remember you're giving people a job.

Optimization does just consist of booting up the computer and and putting in a disc that does some random stuff. Some GeekSquad agents may do more manually, some may not. I personally would suggest downloading free software to cleans up registry errors, broken and unused shortcuts, and defrags.

As one final note, the article initially refused to link to the Consumerists for fear of giving more hits. It was later added after complaints in the comments section stated they couldn't respond to customers citing the Consumerist without having read the article.

Way to keep on fighting the lousy fight, Best Buy. [Consumerist]