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Best Buy Tries To Charge $50 For Creating Recovery Discs On A Netbook I Hadn’t Yet Bought



Earlier today I went to Best Buy (ETA: on the corner of 23rd and 6th Ave in NYC) with a friend of mine to buy a netbook. She wanted a new one and I offered her my expert advice.

We found a Samsung model I liked for $249 on the website, looked up where it might be in stock, and set out to see it in person before buying.

It should have been a quick, straightforward trip to the store. However, when I left, I did so vowing never to buy a computer at Best Buy again.

The netbook we were after is the Samsung N145. The price on the tag is the same price as on the website.

This is the price tag on the netbook, note that the extra $50 isn'tmentioned

It’s the price one would expect to pay, yes? When we told the clerk, who had helpfully checked to make sure they did indeed have the computer in stock, he informed us that this netbook came with some Best Buy enhancements. They’d done things to make it better (something about software), installed an anti-virus program, and created a set of recovery discs. For this pre-purchase helpfulness they wanted to charge an extra $50.

The “Say What?” look on my face must have been fierce, because he did take a step back at that point. When we said that we did not want these helpful enhancements he said that they no longer had any models in the store that didn’t have this added value and thus we could not get the netbook for $249.

I asked why the tag still said $249 and he said they hadn’t  gotten around to changing it yet. That’s when I asked to speak to a manager.

Having never bought a computer at Best Buy before I had no idea if this is a standard practice. If it is, someone needs to make them stop. It’s bad enough when stores offer unnecessary services such as this after the purchase, but to do so before the computer is even sold, rendering it more expensive by default? That’s a no.

After a few minutes a manager came over and compounded the fail already in play. Because as he approached the area, asking which netbook and such, he did not make eye contact with me or my friend. No acknowledgement at all that we were even there.

He then offered the original salesperson a solution to the problem in a low, mumbly voice. I forced him to speak to me directly and he informed me that he could give me a discount on the extra special extras so it “only” cost $30.

Obviously I did not find this acceptable. I told the gentleman that I did not want to pay for any extras, I just wanted to pay the price on the tag. Another salesperson said something about how a different person (presumably a manager) could work it out to give us the netbook for its stated price. How generous.

After this, the salespeople scattered to go find the manager or whoever to make this right with barely a word to us. We were left standing around waiting with no indication of how long it would take, if we should wait elsewhere, nothing. Essentially, the customer service was super crap on top of everything else.

Eventually one of the employees hailed to us from a register with the netbook and we did indeed get it for the correct price.

Of course, the seal on the box had been broken, there were no papers inside with warranty information, a quick set up guide, or anything one would expect in the box with a new computer. Great.

Readers, if you ever encounter anything like this in a Best Buy or any other store, turn around and walk out if they won’t sell you the computer for the price stated on the tag or online. You do not need a store to create these discs for you. Likely any computer you buy from a big box retailer will come with recovery discs or have a tool that will make them for you. You do not need some random anti-virus installed for you. You do not need anyone to open your computer’s box before you do.

Before you let any of this happen, go to a different location, go to a competitor, or go online. There’s no justification for this policy, nor the bad customer service.



  1. Anonymous

    11/10/2011 at 9:41 am

    Unfortunately this seems to be standard practice.  I had the same experience buying my wife a laptop at Best Buy.  I DID eventually find one without it but if you looked at the shelf, there were hardly ANY laptops that DIDN’T have this nice “service” attached to it.  I think its a load of you know what and it needs to stop.

  2. Cuhulin

    11/10/2011 at 10:01 am

    The manager obviously is trying to make points with Best Buy management by selling lots of the services.  The only way to stop this practice is to get the point to company management that the manager is engaged in fraud.

  3. Cuhulin

    11/10/2011 at 10:02 am

    By the way, I believe the author should identify the particular Best Buy involved in the article.

  4. James

    11/10/2011 at 10:06 am

    This practice is called “Bait and Switch” and is illegal. It is basically a contractual issue. Retailers are “offering” an item for a stated “consideration”.  If you, the buyer,  “accept” the offering, a binding contract is created.  If there is no statement of “additional fees” anywhere, in newspaper ad or store placard, the retailer MUST! honor their offer.

    Call the BBB and your state Attorney General and report these crimes.

  5. Amy Zunk

    11/10/2011 at 10:34 am

    I hate to tell you this folks, but this has been standard operating practice from Best Buy for several years.  It started when Geek Squad was introduced.  The “enhancements” were seen as a Geek Squad upsell.  A lot of people liked it and didnt mind the upcharge.  But, this was also when Best Buy was informing the public about these services.  Now a days, they dont care.  Geek Squad’s rep has been in the toilet ever since the scandal revealing that they rifle through customers personal documents/photos/etc and sometimes take illicit videos of customers.  Best Buy is losing sales of PCs to online retailers.  They want the extra revenue.  Now, the only way to get a non-molested Best Buy machine is to search the store stacks and find one that is still factory sealed.  

    • Brett Markman

      11/10/2011 at 11:13 am

      absolutely true! This has been a long time practice for Best Buy……..Caveat Emptor

  6. Anonymous

    11/10/2011 at 6:20 pm

  7. Anonymous

    11/10/2011 at 6:20 pm

  8. None

    11/10/2011 at 6:59 pm

    Lawl. You people are all pathetic. I work at best buy. And it’s not like that at my store. Maybe where you are. But not all stores are like that. Seriously.There are many people who don’t know how to do something with a computer. In which case services are provided. If you don’t need it. Say you don’t. Geez. If you cant get the computer then walk away. There’s nothing more I like than a customer walking away from me because he thinks he is smarter.

  9. None

    11/10/2011 at 6:59 pm

    Lawl. You people are all pathetic. I work at best buy. And it’s not like that at my store. Maybe where you are. But not all stores are like that. Seriously.There are many people who don’t know how to do something with a computer. In which case services are provided. If you don’t need it. Say you don’t. Geez. If you cant get the computer then walk away. There’s nothing more I like than a customer walking away from me because he thinks he is smarter.

    • Josh

      11/11/2011 at 6:35 am

      Oh I think you can rest assured anyone who walks away from you is most definitely smarter.

    • K. T. Bradford

      11/11/2011 at 11:12 am

      In this case, I *am* smarter.

      • Anon

        12/02/2011 at 11:01 pm

        I work at Geek Squad. The number of people who come in with absolutely no idea about recovery discs are the ones who buy them. Not everyone is as “smart” as you people are. If you don’t want the services with the unit, at my store, we give u a factory sealed one. Or if it’s the last one we have we don’t charge you for the services performed. I think that’s pretty fair. If they didn’t sell you the last one and penny out the services then that’s is their store’s loss. Don’t come down on BBY as a whole just because you had one bad experience. No one is perfect.

        • Kevin

          10/25/2013 at 11:07 am

          I think the issue here is not that Best Buy is offering a service to people that ACTUALLY need it, but rather the shady way in which they offer it – by bundling it in ahead of time and playing the odds that most people don’t want to hassle with the effort to NOT have to pay for it. The correct business practice is to offer the service as an add-on, not bundled.

          I give businesses one chance – if they try to screw me over with less than ethical business practices, I simply take my business elsewhere – no second chance for them to redeem themselves. Thankfully there’s plenty of competition in the laptop arena.

    • Kevin

      10/25/2013 at 11:00 am

      There’s nothing more that I like than going into Best Buy and showing the little punk kid employees that they’re not as smart as they think!

  10. Snoops

    11/10/2011 at 7:41 pm

    Take a look around your local Best Buy.   They are doing this sort of thing with iPods, iPads , Tv’s etc.
    Adding headphones, cables, cases.   just take good look at there ads any Sunday and you will find several items.   Add on sales used to be a soft sell, now to increase margins its a hard sell in many stores, not just best buy.   Kind of a follow up to the add on warranty they still push.

  11. Snoops

    11/10/2011 at 7:41 pm

    Take a look around your local Best Buy.   They are doing this sort of thing with iPods, iPads , Tv’s etc.
    Adding headphones, cables, cases.   just take good look at there ads any Sunday and you will find several items.   Add on sales used to be a soft sell, now to increase margins its a hard sell in many stores, not just best buy.   Kind of a follow up to the add on warranty they still push.

  12. Douglas Hopkins

    11/10/2011 at 8:43 pm

    Best Buy is a discounter and doesn’t need any defending, but both the arrogant article & most of the remarks can use a bit more information, as well as a tablespoon of Valium.  Only one major computer brand, Samsung, still supplies restore disks; the rest you must either make them yourself, or order them for $30-60 from the computer company, plus shipping.  Some brands limit your self-burning to a single set.

    The service BB offers is called “PC Setup” and is $99, if a set of restore disks is added.  In the case of the Samsung, it was probably lower since the disks were not supplied by BB, and it is probable most of the computer sales people are unaware of the Samsung exception, as it is somewhat of an obscurity.

    The rest of the “PC Setup” work is 1-3 hours of updating all software on the new computer, streamlining the OS, and includes an antivirus subscription & installation, worth maybe $30-50.  

    Guess what?  They have to break the seal on the box to do this, but all BB stores then add a signed Geek Squad sticker seal certifying who did the work, plus the antivirus package, both attached on the outside.  

    This is not “bait and switch”.  It is not rare for a BB store to run out of either the setups or non-setups because their computer prices are generally within 5% of cost and quickly sell out.  Managers do have the option to lower the price of the set-up on a contingency basis if a non-setup CPU isn’t in inventory.  Being rude doesn’t facilitate this option.

    Finally, the remark above about some — many — BB customers not wanting to do these operations themselves is absolutely true.  Why is the iPad the highest selling electronic gadget in the history of such…because it entirely escapes the ponderous Windows, mass punishment of user-defiant software, forced on us for decades, which certainly intimidates most users.  BB barely survives the cut-throat retail computer competition by add-on’s like PC Setup, cables, cases, etc.  Recall that HP, only a few months ago, was contemplating leaving the PC market altogether, and they are the largest in the world for such.  Let Best Buy make a meager profit so they stick around to distribute in the brick and mortar world where you can touch and feel new product for yourself.

    • Josh

      11/11/2011 at 6:34 am

      The problem isn’t the service itself, but rather that the store conducted the service prior to any customer interest in the product and without any expressed desire for such a service.  Then, to top that off, they didn’t advertise the product as being $300 due to the added service no one asked for, but rather at the original price of $249 and only mentioned the increased cost after a customer said, oh hey I want that product.  Therein lies the problem.  Best Buy is certainly entitled to make a profit and to provide these “services”, but they need to provide them AFTER a customer has expressed an interest in both a computer and the add-ons.  If they’re going to do it before hand, then it needs to be presented on the tag in front of the computer.  It’s a completely deceptive business practice. 

      • K. T. Bradford

        11/11/2011 at 11:14 am

        What Josh said

        • Anon

          12/02/2011 at 11:06 pm

          These services a pre-setup because they usually want to keep the agents working on computers that have been brought in. It actually streamlines the whole process. Otherwise the customers who do want the service are waiting about a day (because their computer isn’t the only one being worked on) to get to use their PC. It’s more convent for the people who need the services.

          • Kevin

            10/25/2013 at 11:15 am

            Then simply have a stock of computers with and without the added service. The only thing that will take time is burning recovery discs. Installing anti-virus software doesn’t take long and the other clean-up services they provide should all be scripted and run from a single executable.

    • Jax

      11/14/2011 at 1:07 pm

      I bought a laptop at BB in Jacksonville, FL today.  Bought one 5 years ago and had not problem paying a little extra for some additional software.  I had never heard of recovery disks before today and was made to feel like an idiot for not paying an additional $99 for it by the clerk who said she also works for Geek Squad.  I understand what can happen if I don’t pay for the recovery disks, but you don’t have to make me feel like an idiot.  Now way you will convince me she wasn’t going to make a nice bonus for selling me this option.

  13. Lee Deavers

    11/11/2011 at 9:28 am

    I use to like Best Buy and I have spent a fortune in their store. But lately it seems to be a lot of underhanded tactics and poor service. It took me 6 months to get the discounts (rebates) right after spending over 3500.00 on a TV system. I have been in the store 4 times (Greenville, SC) in past two months to buy a tablet and could not get anyone to wait on me. I saw someone dressed in a tie and so I confronted him; he told me he would get someone to wait on me….didn’t happen. 

    Good Buy Best Buy, Hello Amazon

  14. Kevin Purcell

    11/11/2011 at 10:51 am

    I can only share my experience having bought a few laptops at the Best Buy in Hickory NC and before that in Gastonia NC and I’ve never had this experience. And when you have an Open Box at a Best Buy they usually discount the price for you about 5-10 percent off the cost of the advertised price. I always ask if they have any open box buys before I buy an expensive product. They come with the same warranty and usually are a return that has been checked out as working. You can bring it back if not.

    All that said, KT’s experience is horrible and I’d not have been as patient.

  15. Douglas Hopkins

    11/11/2011 at 11:31 am

    Best Buy generally places the PC Setup option on the pricing placard in front of the computer.  They are not in the business of ripping customers off, contrary to the uninformed hysteria here.  The majority of the US, and the world, is not technically inclined, hence the monster iPad sales.  The average Best Buy customer doesn’t have a clue as to updating, virus protection, OS restoration practices….

  16. Agent Patrick B

    11/12/2011 at 1:47 pm

    Hi! My name is Agent Patrick and I work for Geek Squad HQ in Minneapolis.

    First, I’d like to apology for your experience at our Best Buy store. I can assure this is not the normal policy for our company.  Geek Squad does pre-setup a given percentage of our laptop models to minimize the time our Clients have to spend in the store.  Typically, these units are clearly marked with a Geek Squad seal, indicating which service has been performed.  Prior to offering computers pre-configured it could take up to 3 or 4 hours to create recovery media, optimize the Operating System, and ensure all critical and various system updates have been performed.  

    Occasionally, the only remaining laptop of a given model has been pre-setup by our Geek Squad Agents.  When this occurs, our Clients always have the option to purchase the laptop without the setup. The store should offer to have Geek Squad restore the system for you, completely free of charge, to its factory sealed settings.  You can then purchase the laptop at the advertised price without any additional charges or setup fee.I have forwarded your blog to our Community Connections team, and a member of the team should be reaching out to you directly for additional details around your experience.  This will allow us to contact you directly as well as follow up with the store to ensure they are providing a positive experience for all our Clients.

    Again I apologize for the experience you received in the store, as customer satisfaction is always our primary goal.

    -Agent Patrick B.

    • Douglas Hopkins

      11/12/2011 at 5:29 pm

      Agent Patrick, thanks for backing up my comments.  

      One procedural question: why “restore” a PC Setup when it is an updating to prime and current state the operating system, some system upgrading and tuning, and the addition of anti-virus?  Why add more labor labor costs, and in addition you are suggesting to take the computer backwards to a more primitive state.  Why not just remove the restore disks (if part of the PC Setup), drop the setup cost to zero, and call it even, while pointing out to the customer it is a custom upgraded computer?

      • Agent Patrick B

        11/14/2011 at 12:08 pm

        My pleasure :) We do try to reach out to anyone who may have had a bad experience, as every Client is important to us.

        Generally we find that most clients who do not want a PC that has been optimized by our Geek Squad Agents prefer one that has a factory sealed Operating System, allowing them to configure everything themselves. We offer the restore for free to undo the service that they are declining and re-seal the Operating System.  

        If they would like the PC Tune-up, but do not want the Recovery Media we have created we can remove the discs from the package and make an adjustment to the PC’s registry.   This adjustment tells the computer the discs have not been created, as PC’s only allow you to create one set, and allows the client to recreate their installation media at home.  In this situation we would subtract the cost of the Recovery Disc creation from the set-up price.

      • K. T. Bradford

        11/15/2011 at 4:43 am

        You been backed up by a Best Buy employee! That’s a seal of approval…. i don’t trust one bit.

    • K. T. Bradford

      11/15/2011 at 4:41 am

      Agent Patrick, I look forward to hearing from your team. If you ping me on Twitter and follow I’ll dm you my email (assuming you can’t find it otherwise).

  17. Seekinsr

    11/21/2011 at 11:39 pm

    Absolutely. Best Buy has plunged on customer service.

  18. Anonymous

    02/04/2012 at 8:36 pm

    I had an experience last night that caused me to Google “geek squad recovery discs”, and I stumbled upon this thread.  Yes, I obviously can see that it’s a little old, but I’ll post my comment anyway, since it does seem relevant, and someone else may come stumbling along as I have!
    Here’s what happened to me: BB had a Sony Vaio (VPCEH35FM/B) advertised for $599.  I went to the BB on Concord Pike in Delaware. My sales associate showed me that they only had three left in the store (the sale ends today), but that all three had been updated by the Geek Squad to create the recovery discs, increasing the price another $99.  (I could see them right there, so he was being honest about the inventory.)
    I advised that I was more than willing to create my own discs, so I didn’t want the “updated” model. After hemming and hawing for a bit, he finally said that, since they didn’t have any original (non-updated) models available, he’d do me the special favor of selling an updated one for only $50 extra, instead of the usual $99.  I said that I definitely wanted the computer, but not to the tune of an extra $50 for something I could do myself for free.  He just sort of threw his hands up, and said “oh well…sorry!”
    So, then I asked him to please check with other BB stores in the area to see what they had in stock.  He gave me the SKU and the phone number to another BB, located about twenty minutes away (Kirkwood Hwy., also in Wilmington, DE.)   I called that store to check on stock, and I advised the guy on the phone that I did not want a”preset.”
    After checking for a while (and apologizing profusely for the wait, which really was minimal), the guy in the new store got back on the phone and said that they had two in stock, but that both had already been worked on by the Geek Squad.  I reiterated that I wanted an original virgin model, and he immediately volunteered, “Well, since we don’t have any, I can’t in all good conscience sell you an upgrade that you don’t want.  Come on in and you can have it for the advertised $599 price, even though it does have the upgrade already done.”
    It was funny- – – I really hadn’t given him any kind of disgusted attitude or anything, and I had actually just been going to thank him for his time and head home to order it online instead, but since he jumped in and offered, I wasn’t about to turn him down!
    He put it aside for me, and away I drove.  As the girl at the new store was ringing me out, she said, “Wow, you got a $99 upgrade for free.”
    I just smiled and left.
    That was exactly how it should have been handled at the first store!
    Bottom line, I’m happy.
    I must admit that the phrase “bait and switch” did enter my mind several times throughout the experience, but it all turned out well.  Interestingly, I now have a good feeling in general about the second (Kirkwood Hwy.) store, but kind of a bad taste in my mouth about the first.  The kid at the first store was pleasant enough, but he definitely did lose a $600 sale, and even more important, he also lost my undying love.  LOL

  19. Dontmakehastychoices

    04/24/2012 at 5:40 pm

    I bought a recovery disk and setup fee at BB.  After I payed and took my computer up to the Geek Squad they told me that they stopped making a recovery disk for the computer and I needed to call the manufacturer and they would send me the disk.  I feel raped and wont by my next computer their.

  20. Sorcerer

    11/05/2012 at 1:01 pm

    It’s not nearly as underhanded as your making it seem. They offer services. I am a pretty hardcore tech person for a living – self employed for a very long time.

    Fact #1: Recovery discs are easy to make. Most every new prefab computer these days do this automatically with built in software, and require only 2 or 3 DVDs. It does not take a computer genius to figure this out at all.

    Fact #2: GeekSquad still is required, because the fact is that the average North American computer buyer is beyond clueless about almost everything….including even the OS they are running. So therefore, BestBuy does fill a need for a MASSIVE amount of people out there.
    They may have marketed computers for everyone, but it has also created a whole new market dealing with doing ‘very simple’ things for people and charging large sums for it. This is also the reason for the advent of idiot proof, push button Operating Systems like iOS, Android, and now even the new versions of Windows and Mac OS. It makes everyone feel ‘smart’ and productive.

    So when purchasing at places such as Best Buy, you will initially always get thrown in the category of this majority until you mention you don’t need it and know why. Then they will not be a bother about it. I buy computers there sometimes simply because of the prices. I’m right upfront I don’t need explanations or services. Just give me the good price and be happy with your commission you are making off a very easy sale.

    Do I personally agree with it? Not really. You’d be much better off to hire a person like me to actually teach you a thing or two about what’s happening under the hood, and get your product at the same time.

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