Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back To The Future

Early this week I did something I’ve never done before: I bought a laptop. And while this may seem like no big deal to most of you, I’ve always taken a bit of a hard-line stance against these machines – mainly because the cost to benefit ratio seemed positively ridiculous to me. But in the wake of stories like these, paired with the fact that my wonderful wife wanted one for some classes she’s taking, I figured now was as good a time as any to take the proverbial leap into 2005.

And of course, I bought the laptop right before I read the aforementioned article.

Such is my life.

But all in all, I’d say I’m happy with the purchase so far. We ended up going with a Toshiba Satellite something or other that was a steal according to the online reviews I looked up prior to (insert link to consumer reports post from a few weeks ago). The laptop was only $299! And in a rare stroke of good fortune, I checked a few days after I bought it and the same model went up to $369. Nice.

After looking at a couple different places, I bought the laptop at Best Buy. I would say my experience was good overall. I knew what I wanted before getting there, told the kid in the laptop section what I wanted and that I was in a hurry, he tried to sell me an extended warranty and the services of Geek Squad (two minutes tops), I declined, paid and was on my way.

The only hiccup was that I was paying in cash, which is apparently a new concept there. The kid ringing me out had to have a manager confirm that he counted my $316 correctly – and of course it took five minutes or so for a manager to make her way over to us. Really? You’ll let this kid sell high-tech equipment, talk about warranties and finance options but he can’t count less than $500? Lame.

And another question – I looked online for awhile the other day and I just can’t figure it out: When you buy a new computer from Best Buy, what EXACTLY does Geek Squad do? Last night I spent an hour or two setting our preferences, uninstalling the useless pre-set programs and favorites (who chooses that stuff anyways?), installing the anti-virus and networking the laptop to my wireless connection. Is that really worth $129 or whatever it costs? The only thing I haven’t done yet is create a Recover disk, and I’m sure Windows 7 will walk me through it pretty simply.

But I digress. There are obviously millions of people who would rather not spend the two hours setting it up, so Geek Squad, I suppose you win. Although I’m actually considering buying stock in the company just so I can get a peek at what they actually do. I picture this back room full of nerds playing cards and looking at Playboys from the mid 90’s, laughing at all the people who pay to give them their computers to work on for 15 minutes then sit on a shelf for a day and half.

Final question: Anyone know where I can get a cheap copy of Microsoft Office? Just kidding! I really don’t need Bill Gates’ legal team tracking me down.

See you at 4 p.m.., friends. Ride Ride Ride.


  1. Check out OpenOffice. It's free and does anything you would need from MS Office

  2. I work in the computer department at Best Buy, and this comment is anonymous because of that. So, I'll let you know why they needed a manager to count your cash and what the Geek Squad actually does.

    The kid ringing me out had to have a manager confirm that he counted my $316 correctly – and of course it took five minutes or so for a manager to make her way over to us.
    It's a rule that we have to have someone (at my store, it doesn't have to be a manager -- it can be any co-worker who's around) double-count cash if it's over $300 or so. Most customers pay with debit or credit cards, not cash, and when we're dealing with large sums of cash we have to double-count. Some people haven't double-counted in the past, and the register's been short $20 at the end of the night. That's a big deal. It can get them fired.

    And yes, it always takes managers forever to get there. Believe me, I know.

    When you buy a new computer from Best Buy, what EXACTLY does Geek Squad do?
    Ah. I imagine the sales associate tried to sell you the service known as PC Setup. In a PC Setup, the Geek Squad installs your anti-virus, installs the Windows updates, gets rid of those preinstalled programs, and does what's called an optimization, which means they make the computer run faster. It's $69.99.

    They also bundle this service with restore disc creation for $99.99. Making restore discs is fairly straightforward, but you need about three or four DVDs and about three or four hours to do it. So it's more of a convenience thing that we do it than anything else. Most people can do this stuff on their own no problem, but we get older customers or people who barely have any idea how to open Internet Explorer or check their e-mail. So the service is there for them.

    The Geek Squad actually works on the computers. Most of the time if you get one of those setup services done you can pick it up that evening or the next morning.

  3. @ Mike: Thanks for the tip on open office. I've looked into it but I didn't know if it was legit. I wonder if my wife's teachers will accept papers in that format? Hmmm.

    @ anonymous: You're awesome for leaving that comment (and for not being offended by my playful pokes at your employer), thank you. I appreciate the info/openness and wish I could craft a letter of accomodation to your boss (not that it would mean anything or be well written, hehe). My issue isn't with Geek Squad though, honestly. What bugs me is that there's this prevailing notion that the average Joe is incapable of performing these services for themselves. But hey, to each their own. Thanks again!