Never Trust a Best Buy Employee

Consumerist has a great expose on the ridiculous "Geek Squad optimization" they best buy uses to jack up prices and prey on unsuspecting customers. If you have limited technology experience and a less than assertive personality, it's nearly impossible to walk out of that store with a reasonable deal.

One shopper was told that optimization made the computer's processor
"200% faster." The same shopper was told that he could try to optimize
the computer on his own, but without assistance he would not be able to
increase the processor speed.

When the shoppers asked if they could duplicate the optimization
themselves, they got a variety of estimates of the time they would save
if Best Buy did it for them. One shopper was told she would save "an
hour and a half," while another was told that downloading Windows
updates alone would take 6 hours. One shopper was even told that optimizing a computer at home would take about two days!

Another shopper was warned that the laptop was "incomplete" without optimization.

When she asked what the salesperson meant by "incomplete," he told
her that it didn’t come with anti-virus software or Microsoft Office.
The salesperson went on to tell her that optimization was her choice,
but that Best Buy didn’t "recommend getting online" without it.

He explained, "You’ll get online, get a virus, and end up spending $200 to clean it up."

When she asked if she could install anti-virus software herself
instead of paying Geek Squad to do it, she was told installing software
yourself, "negates the vendor’s warranty."

During this same conversation, our secret shopper says the
salesperson also told her that the manufacturer's warranty was
"obsolete" and had been "replaced" with Best Buy service contracts
(which she would need to pay for, of course, and that were not included
in the optimization price).

(Full story at Consumerist)

If you're at all techno-phobic, here's how you solve your problems:

  1. Call up the nearest university, and ask for the IT help desk.
  2. Ask the student working if there are any student workers around who might be interested in making a quick buck helping someone with their technology issues.
  3. Offer an hourly rate to help you shop for, set up, and answer questions about your computer.

You'd be amazed at how far $50 can get you with a student geek- the money usually beats our outside options, we love fiddling with things, and we hate big-box stores and the idiots who run them as much as you do. Craigslist works too, but it's harder to vet people- with students, you can always call their supervisors to complain.