Would You Like The Undercoating For Your PC?

from the oh,-come-on... dept

It can’t be a good thing for consumer electronics retailers when their practices can more easily be compared to those of used-car dealers. They already push the expensive “extended warranty” on you (basically telling you they don’t really have much faith in the product they’re selling you), but the latest is reminiscent of car dealers trying to sell you the “undercoating” on your car (remember the scene in Fargo?). Just as almost all cars have all the “undercoating” protection they need, most PCs these days pretty much come with the anti-virus protection they need to start out. Yet, BestBuy is now pushing people to spend an extra $84 on a “3-tiered procedure” to keep your new computer “corruption free.” What are the three tiers? Step one is “system customization.” It’s hard to know what that includes, but the suggestion is that perhaps the geeks at Best Buy’s Geeksquad remove all the marketing crap that ships with many computers these days. I’m not sure that’s it, as Best Buy probably wants to keep that marketing crap there and doesn’t want to piss off its vendors. Step two is “antivirus installation,” but these days, it seems like almost any computer you buy from a major vendor (i.e., those that Best Buy stocks) comes with antivirus software pre-installed. Step 3 is the “functionality check,” which no one has any idea what it covers, and sounds like another way of saying they turn it on, click a few icons and say it works. In other words, they’re charging you for a bunch of nothing, and claiming they’re adding protection that’s already there. Sounds quite a bit like the undercoating scam. Either way, the claim that this will help keep your PC “corruption free” is ridiculous. People need to learn how to protect themselves online. Doing a bunch of “system customization” and a “functionality check” alone won’t stop the clueless user from downloading every last piece of spyware around.

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Comments on “Would You Like The Undercoating For Your PC?”

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sia says:

No Subject Given

Good point. What they SHOULD offer is classes to teach the many old and young people to stop downloading spyware and viruses. And they can charge $80 for that!

Or at the very least teach them how to do windows update, update their antivirus and make sure they use firefox. Hey… maybe of their ‘tweaks’ is to have firefox preinstalled on their comp!


Nate says:

Insufficient anti-virus protection

I would like to point out that most computers do not come with sufficient anti-virus protection. Most come with a time-limited trial version. It is quite likely that after 60 days (or whatever the trial period is) the user will just let the anti-virus program expire.

Even when purchasing the full subscription, you must remember to renew each year and not to mistake the real popups reminding you that your antivirus software is out of date with the fake ads that tell you your computer is “in danger” or out of date.

Matthew says:

Best Buy Geek Squad

I actually worked in the Geek Squad for a little over a month before becoming so frustrated by it I quit. Your description of their 3-tier service is pretty accurate.

With system customization, we would install windows updates, update the drivers, and do a few registry tweaks (stupid ones, like speeding up the time it took menus to appear to make the PC look faster.) We did -not- remove marketing software. That was a no no.

We would install our virus software and disable the free one that came with the computer for tier two. We’d also then push our “Security Package” which was just Mccaffe Anti-Virus and Internet Security programs.

Finally, we’d reboot and if the system started back up it was deemed functional.

The other joke was our spyware removal. We’d download adaware and microsoft anti-spyware, install it, remove the spyware, uninstall the programs, and call it a day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Bah Humbug

Consider me one person that LEARNED that lesson. I have always avoided laptops simply becuase I do not like proprietary hardware and with a desktop if something breaks, I can easily install a new component. Can’t do that with a laptop…or at least I am not brave enough to try and wind up voiding my warranty.
So, I bought 2 new laptops from BB. One for me and one for my girlfriend. The only difference between the two is hers has a high-definition display. Everything else is the same. Both laptops are used in the same room, so environmental conditions are the same and we both actively game on our machines (the reason they were purchased was mainly so that we could both play CoH together). 4 months into owning my laptop, it starts overheating and locking up…locking up solid. This happened quite a few times so I took it to BB. They don’t repair them on site so it was shipped to the manufacturer. Comes back within the 60 day period, with the hard drive wiped and Windows re-installed. Fine, I didn’t care…just wanted a working laptop.
Continues to overheat, while the second laptop works perfectly fine. The final time it overheated and locked up, I rebooted and the BIOS was stuck trying to do a network boot. I had never set it to do a network boot. Changed settings in the BIOS, laptop wouldn’t try anything other than a network boot. In fact if I disabled that option, it wouldn’t even start the boot process. Take it back to BB. Argue with the Geek Squad “geek” because he suggested re-installing Windows. Tried telling him that it was a low level hardware problem and had nothing to do with Windows. His solution continued to be that they could re-install Windows. I had him send it back to the manufacturer. He said they would most likely return it to the store and he would have to re-install Windows. Frustrated I left the store hoping that the manufacturer would fix the problem and my hard drive (if not dead) would be left alone. Boy was that a silly wish. Get the laptop back. Manufacturer replaced the heatsink on the CPU and someone (most likely the moron I argued with) wiped my drive and re-installed Windows. To top it off, it wasn’t even the correct version, so I had to remove it and do a re-install from my recovery disk.

Jim says:

Best Buy

Actually Mike, the first tier is the functionality check and it is free. Almost every computer that goes through the check passes. Once in a while though, one does not pass so the customer is saved having to bring back their nonfunctional computer. It also catches hard drive cables that have worked loose and stuff like that.

Tier two is the system customization. You guessed somewhat right on their removing annoying marketing stuff from automatically loading. Nothing is actually removed from the computer, but they are prevented from loading when you turn on the computer. Some more tweaks are made in the registry to make it load cleaner. It also includes downloading the latest updates from Microsoft, a good deal if the customer does not have high speed internet service.

Tier 3 is the anti-virus/anti-spyware. The software preloaded on the computer is a 90-day trial. Tier 3 loads software licensed for 1 year…the same stuff you’d buy if loading it yourself.

As for whether these are good deals or a waste of money for you, you have to decide. A lot of customers don’t know anything about computers and need this done for them. You and I probably wouldn’t.

Shrek says:


the 84 dollars, what they do is first of all install Norton Antivrus ( you are wrong about the pre-installed software: that is only a 90-day trial version). Under customization, they do remove the proprietary software (this pisses no1 off cuz Microsoft was paid for it). The functionality check is simply opening the computer up–do jus the free functionality if ur buying a laptop–this way if u want to return it there is no restocking fee.

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