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Best Buy Unapologetic About Charging For PS3 Firmware Updates

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the a-fool-and-his-money dept.

PlayStation (Games) 454

donniebaseball23 writes "After discovering that electronics retailer Best Buy was charging ignorant customers $30 for the 'service' of installing updated firmware on PS3s, IndustryGamers got word from the company on its policy. Best Buy sees no problem with charging for this convenience, even though it's something Sony provides to PS3 owners completely free. 'While many gamers can handle firmware upgrades easily on their own, those customers who do want help can get it from Geek Squad, and we continue to evaluate this offering to ensure it meets their needs. The service goes beyond a firmware updates, and includes user account setup, parental control setup and other components,' a representative said."

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454 comments

retards (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33820774)

hey retards, you're paying for labor

if you pay for a firmware update, you deserve to have $30 taken away from you

sony will do it for free if you send it in for 6-8 weeks. eat that

but best buy is pre doing and forcing you to buy (4, Informative)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820876)

but best buy is pre loading it and forcing you to buy it with work done and non pre loading ones are out of stock.

and then when you try to buy they push a $50-$80 monster HDMI cable on you.

Re:but best buy is pre doing and forcing you to bu (4, Insightful)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820890)

so go to another store, let best buy charge whatever they want, and let consumers and the market show them their sins.

Re:but best buy is pre doing and forcing you to bu (1)

acedotcom (998378) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821016)

thats a great idea! until other retailers....

start doing the same thing
customers stop asking questions and just pay for it.

this has less to do with best buy charging fee and more to do with ethical behavior.

Re:but best buy is pre doing and forcing you to bu (1, Interesting)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821044)

this has less to do with best buy charging fee and more to do with ethical behavior.

But what is unethical about it?

Re:but best buy is pre doing and forcing you to bu (5, Insightful)

Osty (16825) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821134)

But what is unethical about it?

In the pre-installation case? They're selling open-box hardware at premium prices? And yes, it should be considered open-box, because who knows what they did once it was opened? They could have dropped it, lost cables and manuals, swiped free software/coupons, etc. Once the manufacturer's seal is broken, you can't be 100% sure what you're getting and thus the merchandise should be discounted appropriately.

Re:but best buy is pre doing and forcing you to bu (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821156)

How about charging for sonething that would happen automatically without the user doing anything more than accepting the update?

Re:but best buy is pre doing and forcing you to bu (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821074)

Another way of looking at it: Best Buy is preying on people's fears and lack of knowledge. If Best Buy straight out said that this is an automatic system update that you can get by bringing the thing home and plugging it in, I might be more understanding. There genuinely are people who bought PS3's as DVD players, and which will never see a game disk or a network that could upgrade the firmware. And maybe those people aren't savvy enough to download the update from sony.com. Those people could use a service like that.

That's not who Best Buy is pitching the service to, however. The inclusion of "PSN Plus!" on the list of features shows that they're advertising to people who intend to bring this online, but who may fear lack of stability, etc. It's preying on fears and ignorance. If we want the consumers and the market to show them their sins, then as consumers we should stand up and shout. Sharing information with other consumers is a big part of what makes the market work at all, and complaining to corporate actually seems to get things done.

As a side note, I might be more understanding if they had ever once stood by their Pricematch Guarantee. So far 2 out of 2 Pricematching attempts have been a complete waste of my time, as they simply didn't want to do it.

- Chris

Re:but best buy is pre doing and forcing you to bu (2, Insightful)

xclr8r (658786) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821210)

The problem with this is that the other stores look at the pile of money BB is making and start doing it to. The legitimate ones lose value as a non-competing dog in the eyes of the stock market and you know what happens after that.

Re:but best buy is pre doing and forcing you to bu (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821008)

...or you can buy it online for 4-9% cheaper (8.25% more expensive here in Dallas - no sales tax online - why would you ever buy consumer electronics at brick and mortar?) and have it shipped straight to your door for free. No hard upsell on overpriced cables (they're $3-11 online), no stupid coupons or "would you like to use your $retailer_X card today? would you like to apply for one?" questions, no "extended warranty" etc etc ad nauseum. I rarely go in to consumer electronics stores if I can help it, and grudgingly go into Radio Shack or Fry's if I need some sort of obscure connector, cable, or adapter TODAY.

Re:but best buy is pre doing and forcing you to bu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821058)

Amazon.com
Newegg.com
Frys.com

Anyone who still shops at Best Buy is a fucking idiot and deserves to lose at least $30. May Best Buy go the way of Circuit City.

What a deal! (0, Flamebait)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821078)

Just $30 to have someone install firmware without any risk to me if they brick it, not mess up my warantee, , create my user account. THink about it $30 is a smoking deal. I don't know what your hourly rate is but I'd pay that i a snap. Even if you were an expert at this and could do it in a flash it's still not worth my time. You must be retarded or earn minimum wage if you think they are ripping people off.

Re:What a deal! (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821110)

But this *is* Worst Buy, master of the bait and switch scam.

-uso.

Re:What a deal! (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821190)

If you can't be bothered to plug it in and create an account, you have no business buying it.

Wow (4, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820782)

A company making a killing on a service sees no problem with offering it? I am shocked. Shocked, I say!

Re:Wow (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33820808)

A company making a killing on a service sees no problem with offering it? I am shocked. Shocked, I say!

A nigger who fucks a really fat white woman sees no problem with "fat acceptance" and "affirmative action?" I am shocked. Shocked, I say!

Re:Wow (2, Funny)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820814)

I know you're being facetious, but should anyone expect less from a company that charges over $60 for a six foot HDMI cable? I'm surprised that haven't created a surcharge for being able to enjoy getting shafted really hard.

Re:Wow (0)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820888)

Why are you being modded funny? That's $10/ft! Holy shit ..... I just paid $180 for a similar length cable! Where ever this store is that charges $60 for a 6 ft HDMI cable is a real bargain.

Since this thread is about Best Buy is this the store you are referring to? I just never stopped by. I guess I should read their sales flyer more often. That other store really ripped me off!

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821024)

I find it hard to believe that anybody who is a regular reader of /. would actually pay that kind of money for a cable. You can find them on Amazon for less than $3 shipped. So on the same note, if your stupid enough to pay that much for it............

Re:Wow (2, Informative)

MichaelKristopeit 27 (1916932) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820898)

it's $229.99 now... [bestbuy.com]

You are an idiot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821070)

This is right up your alley Mr. Kristopeit.

You are THE Idiot! Please go away!

(all of) /.

Re:You are an idiot! (-1, Troll)

MichaelKristopeit 27 (1916932) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821136)

ur mum's face are the idiot.

i am here as myself.

you are NOTHING

Go away... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821202)

you are a troll. go kill yourself and make the world a better place!

Mum's are? Idiot who?

You are nothing,even with your 50 Slashdot usernames. I have good Karma, and virtually unlimited mod points because I contribute useful content. you have nothing. you are nothing. you contribute nothing.

Now Go Away! Idiot

Re:Wow (1)

WCguru42 (1268530) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820924)

I know you're being facetious, but should anyone expect less from a company that charges over $60 for a six foot HDMI cable? I'm surprised that haven't created a surcharge for being able to enjoy getting shafted really hard.

I think you've got that wrong. Best Buy offeres HDMI cables for around $5 a foot but they give prime shelf space to Monster Cables which retail for $10 and up a foot. You can buy spools of the stuff for much much cheaper, making connectors isn't really that difficult.

Re:Wow (1)

tekgoblin (1675894) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820836)

Best buy hasn't been the 'Best Buy' in a long time. Just don't shop there.

Because? (5, Insightful)

Gareman (618650) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820790)

Are you appalled by the charging or the ignorance? The entire IT service industry works on this principle.

Re:Because? (4, Insightful)

GiveBenADollar (1722738) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820826)

If someone is willing to pay $30 for a firmware update, then they probably do need someone to do it for them. I bet a lot of people on slashdot pay someone to change their oil/spark plugs/air filter. Same idea.

Re:Because? (2, Insightful)

SamJohnson2 (1858566) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820904)

I can change my oil/spark plugs/air filter with a few button presses of a PS3 controller?

Re:Because? (3, Funny)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820990)

Never played a racing game, I see. :)

Re:Because? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33820908)

No it's more like paying someone to adjust your rear view mirror. Clicking a "yes" button and waiting for a while isn't comparable to changing spark plugs. Changing a component in your computer is more comparable to that, and also more acceptable to have someone do for you.

Re:Because? (1)

Rijnzael (1294596) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820912)

Kind of a different concept, since in this case the car (PS3) changes its oil/spark plugs/air filter (firmware) automatically, provided there's an internet connection.

Re:Because? (1)

conares (1045290) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821142)

There is an internet connection, but I still have to go through the menus to install the update.

Re:Because? (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821222)

Err no, it doesn't.

In fact you have to know where the menu is, press X then right a few times and make sure you accept the agreement.

In case of a car, you need to know where the handle for opening the bonnet is, know what knob hides the oil and then know how to open a container of oil and pour it in. I see no problem charging $30 for either service...

Re:Because? (1)

Corporate Drone (316880) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820972)

Umm... when you go to a service station, you pay both for materials (new oil, plugs, filters) and labor. With the Geek Squad model, you get "materials" which are available for free otherwise... and you pay them $30 for labor? Hmm...

Re:Because? (1)

Ifandbut (1328775) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821004)

If I had to I could change my car's oil my self. The proublem is I have no idea where/how to dispose of or recycle the oil, whereas Jiffy Lube does. Also, it takes Jiffy Lube 10 min to change the oil whereas I could end up spending a hour or more.

Re:Because? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821102)

Most auto part places take used oil for recycling...
Only reason I take mine in is because after the price of oil and oil filter is is only $10 difference, and taking the oil filter of of my vehicle requires something like a contortionist. :p

Re:Because? (1)

eviljolly (411836) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821040)

Plugs on an LT1 (Camaro) is a 4 hour+ job, done mostly from under the car. I'd gladly pay someone to do it, especially since my apartment doesn't allow me to work on cars here.

I don't mind paying someone for their labor (even if they're Best Buy), but I think $30 is a bit expensive. Some geek squad kid could do 10 of these at once, and I'd imagine in under an hour (haven't done it myself.) The equates to $300+ an hour, which just isn't right. This is the kind of thing you do for free as a promotion to bring customers in.

Douchebaggery ensues...

Re:Because? (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821050)

If this is anything like their PC "optimization" BS, you may not get a choice. They pre-optimize a fair amount of their stock and when the non-optimized stock sells out you either pay for the "optimization" service they've already performed or you don't buy the item. Never mind the fact that as soon as they opened the box it should become open-box merchandise and sell at a discount, not a premium.

Re:Because? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821172)

If someone is willing to pay $30 for a firmware update... to change their oil/spark plugs/air filter...

Wow. Was that, like a 1st-gen PS3? Didn't know about the gas-powered versions. Does it still run Linux, or did they, like, disable the in-dash optical ROM?

Re:Because? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821240)

If someone is willing to pay $30 for a firmware update, then they probably do need someone to do it for them. I bet a lot of people on slashdot pay someone to change their oil/spark plugs/air filter. Same idea.

That's a bad analogy, you're not even opening the 'hood' so to speak. This is closer to charging you $30 bucks to adjust your mirrors, seat, change out the air freshener, and put your insurance and registration information in the glove box.

But you're right in general. Anybody who is willing to pay $30 to have somebody enter their personal information and sit around doing nothing while the console updates itself is either rich and doesn't care, or deserves to get bilked. In fact, I kind of feel that way about anybody dumb enough to walk through the doors at Best Buy, let alone approach the "service" counter. I have felt this way ever since I worked phone support for a large ISP... I just can't support a business that charges people $120 to format a hard drive and start the windows install process... and then return it to the customer without any drivers for the motherboard, sound card, NETWORK CARD, etc. and when they call BB are referred to their ISP to troubleshoot their "internet connection".

Re:Because? (1)

SudoGhost (1779150) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820952)

It's like going to a doctor for something that turns out to be very simple, and charging you an assload of money. He isn't charging you for saving your life, he's charging you for the expertise of NOT making it worse or killing you.

If Best Buy screws up your firmware, it's a safe bet they'll replace it. If you screw it up, you have a paperweight. Some people might think that's worth $30.

Re:Because? (1)

an unsound mind (1419599) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820992)

If Best Buy screws up updating firmware, they'll send it to Sony, and if it's covered by warranty, Sony will fix it for free.

If you screw up updating your firmware, Sony will also fix it for free, assuming you were doing everything as instructed and the console's still covered by warranty.

Re:Because? (1)

SudoGhost (1779150) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821034)

if it's covered by warranty

Because everyone's PS3 is still under warranty.

And even if that were the case, I'd be willing to bet if Best Buy screwed up your PS3, they'd replace it right then. Nobody would be okay with waiting weeks for their PS3 to come back because of someone else's mistake.

Re:Because? (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821106)

And even if that were the case, I'd be willing to bet if Best Buy screwed up your PS3, they'd replace it right then. Nobody would be okay with waiting weeks for their PS3 to come back because of someone else's mistake.

But only if you bought the Product Replacement Plan. If you didn't, too bad. Read the fine print -- they're not responsible for anything once you've given them your hardware.

Re:Because? (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821030)

How do you screw up the process of downloading firmware?

Re:Because? (1)

SudoGhost (1779150) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821076)

Lots of ways. Some of them actually aren't the user's fault, and out of his hands. The most common way to screw it up is power loss during the upgrade.

An error occured during the update operation. Contact technical support for assistance> (8002F1C1)."

Re:Because? (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821114)

So, waste money on something drastically easy on the off chance that your power will go off? I don't think so.

Re:Because? (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821122)

It's rather difficult to screw up your firmware update in a PS3. For one, the PS3 automatically selects the right firmware, downloads it, and installs in. You just have to decide between "Yes, I would like to update now" or "No, I'll update later".

If Best Buy screws up your firmware, it's a safe bet they'll give you a new PS3 and offer to transfer your saves between units for $150. They do have that little rider in their contracts that says you have to back everything up ahead of time. And while I have a hard time imagining how a consumer could screw up a firmware upgrade, somehow I fear that the Geek Squad (of barely computer literate high school students) could find a way.

Re:Because? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821232)

No, its like going to the doctor for something you THOUGHT was serious, only to be told it is minor. Regardless of how 'serious' the issue you had, you still have to pay the Dr. for his time.

Not to mention that responsibility for the unit is Best buys whilst they are servicing it.

Also, whilst I'm not used to BB's practices, I am a tech by trade and If I noticed say a persons PS3 (or say the DVD player, etc next to it) was plugged in via composite video to a HDTV; I could offer them advice on what to use and provide the parts whilst on-site - without extra labour charge.

Re:Because? (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821092)

I know a lot of independent IT service people who genuinely try to help their clients, and bring value to what they do. Sadly, I can't say the same about the institutionalized IT service departments.

A fool and his money... (4, Informative)

pete6677 (681676) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820794)

Anyone who paid for this deserves to lose their money. They can think of it as a teaching moment, and will ultimately be better off for it. The worst thing we can do for people like this is have some nanny-state government agency force Best Buy to refund them. This will ensure they learn nothing and continue making stupid idiotic decisions.

Seriously, if you own an electronic product and can't even handle installing simple updates just take it back to the store and be done with it. It's 2010 already: no more excuses.

Re:A fool and his money... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33820832)

That's even harsher than it needs to be phrased.

There are plenty of sharp, smart programmers or techies who are pulling down $150/hour; if this saves them more than 12 minutes, it's arguably a good deal. If it's a well-known enough operation that it eliminates the chance of spending an afternoon fighting with the install, it's even better.

Just because something doesn't have a high actual dollar cost doesn't mean it isn't worthwile; people pay $10 every day for a meal that isn't worth more than a couple of bucks in ingredients because it saves them time cooking and time cleaning.

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820906)

wow....someone read chapter 1&2 of their econ book

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

baka_toroi (1194359) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820950)

We, but he raised a more interesting point than GP. You order pizza instead of cooking it yourself for EXACTLY the same reason. Cooking pizza is extremely easy. So is installing the PS3's updates.

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820996)

COOKING pizza is easy.

Now let me see you flip and toss and stretch that dough.

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

baka_toroi (1194359) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821022)

Like a pro, bro!

BTW, you can get one of those pre-cooked pizzas in the supermarket but people order pizza over the phone/internet anyway.

Re:A fool and his money... (4, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821096)

You order pizza instead of cooking it yourself for EXACTLY the same reason. Cooking pizza is extremely easy. So is installing the PS3's updates.

Pizza requires raw ingredients, time to prepare those ingredients, and time to clean up from the preparation. This situation is more like you have a frozen pizza ready to go in your freezer. Would you take your frozen pizza to a store and pay $30 for someone to put it in the microwave for 5 minutes for you? That's about the level of effort required here.

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

TheMidget (512188) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821018)

There are plenty of sharp, smart programmers or techies who are pulling down $150/hour; if this saves them more than 12 minutes, it's arguably a good deal.

But does it even save them time? Either spend 12 minutes in the comfort of their home, or drive downtown, find a parking spot, wait in line, hand the thing in, and same dance again the next day to pick it up.

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821046)

"if this saves them more than 12 minutes, it's arguably a good deal"

I keep seeing responses such as this and it makes no sense. People are quite obviously going to do this in their free time, so they've lost no money. People don't work 24 hours a day, hopefully.

"people pay $10 every day for a meal that isn't worth more than a couple of bucks in ingredients because it saves them time cooking and time cleaning."

That's because they're lazy idiots.

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820850)

*sarcasm*Glad to see such sympathy for people like one of my good friend's parents*/sarcasm*, who got talked into buying a ps3 by their son to use as a media centre. They're in their late 60's and haven't grown up with technology as a central focus of their lives. They're just lucky that they have a good support network in their kids to look after tech related matters, so they can get the benefit of the tech without the "downside" of having to learn something entirely unfamiliar to them in this late stage of their lives.

Re:A fool and his money... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33820868)

I take it this is how you feel about those times you visit the mechanic and he or she rips you off as, just because you don't understand how to rebuild a clutch. You're just a fool and should be therefore separated from you hard earned money, right? Reality check: no one can know everything about everything. It doesn't mean you are a fool. It doesn't make the people who got scammed (which is what this is) fools.

Seriously, how hard is it to *not* rip people off whenever you can?

Re:A fool and his money... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821056)

"Reality check: no one can know everything about everything"

No, but they can spend a few minutes doing their research before being ripped off. The internet is a great tool for finding information, especially on simple things such as this.

Pot, kettle, black ... (0)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820922)

... if you own an electronic product and can't even handle installing simple updates just take it back to the store and be done with it. It's 2010 already: no more excuses.

Consider an automotive enthusiast's site where someone posted: "If you own a car and can't wash it yourself, or change the oil or filters, or rotate the tires then take it back to the dealership and be done with it." Do you think many of the techies around here would pass this test?

Re:Pot, kettle, black ... (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821178)

I can do all those things, but I have better things to do with my time.

Clicking "Update System" in the menu is not comparable to those things with a car.

What's wrong with charging for a service? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33820812)

I charge to installing free virus scanner software, free backup service, free driver updates & running free utilities on people's computers. I see no problem with this. If' you're not sophisticated enough to know the updates are free, you probably aren't sophisticated enough to do the update yourself.

Re:What's wrong with charging for a service? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821164)

Actually, the update kicks in automatically if you're on a network or use a newer game disk. If you're not sophisticated enough to do the update yourself, it will happen automatically at some point anyway. The *one* legitimate time you might need to run the updater manually is if someone uses the PS3 only as a blu-ray player, and never puts it on a network. But that's probably not who we're talking about here.

Sometimes people just want the reassurance (1)

IICV (652597) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820840)

It's sad but true - sometimes people just want to be reassured that someone who knows what they're doing is taking care of the problem, even if all it really is is some dude pressing "okay, update yourself" in the back room.

Why so controversy? (3, Insightful)

skuzzlebutt (177224) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820852)

So, if my grandma took in her computer to pay to have them do a defrag and update some drivers, maybe run a q-tip across the DVD drive laser--all things that she could do for free at home--she's getting robbed?

I don't get the controversy here, unless BB was lying about what they were doing.

How is this different from ... (4, Insightful)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820856)

How is this different from paying someone to install/upgrade an OS or applications, remove viruses, install a hard drive, add RAM, upgrade a video card, etc? All of these things can be simply done by an end user with a small amount of instruction.

Or changing the oil in your car, or washing your car, or the many simple things we pay other people to do for us?

Re:How is this different from ... (0, Troll)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820918)

How is this different from paying for sex.......you could masturbate for free instead of blowing (pun intended) a few bills on a prostitute

Re:How is this different from ... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33820970)

How is this different from paying for sex.......you could masturbate for free instead of blowing (pun intended) a few bills on a prostitute

Someday when you get to have sex you will discover that even bad sex is better than masturbation, well at least for guys.

Re:How is this different from ... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821104)

"How is this different from"

It isn't. The problem is that lazy idiots don't do their research before buying everything to save them a tiny bit of time.

Re:How is this different from ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821196)

"How is this different from"

It isn't. The problem is that lazy idiots don't do their research before buying everything to save them a tiny bit of time.

Its not that simple. If you study economics you will find that it is not necessarily optimal to do everything for yourself. This sometimes includes things that you can do as well as, or better than, others.

Re:How is this different from ... (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821246)

"If you study economics you will find that it is not necessarily optimal to do everything for yourself"

How so? If you mean that in the time it takes you to accomplish these tasks, you could have been making money, well, these tasks are usually accomplished when one is not working, therefore no money is lost.

Re:How is this different from ... (1)

Picardo85 (1408929) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821130)

as a matter of fact, on modern cars you can barely change the oil without bringing your car to a licensed service station ... so there is a difference from the car exemple ...

Re:How is this different from ... (1)

svanheulen (901014) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821146)

You don't need ANY instruction to update your PS3. It basically updates itself. Just use your PS3 normally and it will check for updates, and ask if you want to update, automatically. Select 'Yes.' Done.

Re:How is this different from ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821228)

You don't need ANY instruction to update your PS3. It basically updates itself. Just use your PS3 normally and it will check for updates, and ask if you want to update, automatically. Select 'Yes.' Done.

You are assuming it has a network connection. Many PS3s do not.

Re:How is this different from ... (1)

harl (84412) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821150)

It's a couple orders of magnitude below most of your list.

There's zero skill involved. The PS3 says there's an update required to connect to PSN. Would you like to install it?

It's literally 2-3 button presses.

Re:How is this different from ... (0, Troll)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821260)

It's a couple orders of magnitude below most of your list. There's zero skill involved. The PS3 says there's an update required to connect to PSN. Would you like to install it? It's literally 2-3 button presses.

Perhaps after setting up networking, but not all PS3s are configured for networking.

Re:How is this different from ... (1)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821194)

Those tasks require some level of thought or physical interaction. These upgrades aren't even hidden in menus: When you connect to the internet, the PS3 will automatically ask you to do them and you just hit "Yes." There. Update is applying and you'll have a fully updated PS3 in a short amount of time.

Re:How is this different from ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821274)

Those tasks require some level of thought or physical interaction. These upgrades aren't even hidden in menus: When you connect to the internet, the PS3 will automatically ask you to do them and you just hit "Yes." There. Update is applying and you'll have a fully updated PS3 in a short amount of time.

As you said: "When you connect to the internet". This is not a given.

Re:How is this different from ... (1)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821264)

At the risk of overposting in this thread, there are two components here:

1. Cost to actual effort saved. If you haven't used a PS3 before, you may not know that the upgrading process is completely automated and consists of pressing the "OK" button once. The closest comparison I can make is Windows Update, if all PC's shipped by default with Windows Update running in the background. Physically handing over the $30 is harder work than updating one, let alone signing paperwork or (gasp) bringing your PS3 in to be worked on. No knowledgeable consumer would ever pay for that service.

Which leads to...

2. It smells of ambush upsell. If you're buying a new PS3, you probably don't know how it works. Buying one with the firmware pre-updated, ready to go, "PSN Plus Compatible!" might sound fine. And you might be willing to throw down the extra $30 for the peace of mind that comes with agreeing with whatever the seller says you need. Really, the consumer buys the upsell quite literally because they don't know any better. And how should someone know how trivial the upgrade process is, if they're buying a PS3 for the first time?

When you pay someone to wash your car, you do it because you know how much effort it takes, and how good (or not) you are at it, and you decide it is worth the cost. This "service," which consists of hitting the "Yes I'd like to upgrade" button when automatically prompted, is only sold to suckers who don't know any better. It's the equivalent of "pre-calibrating" a GPS in your car for $50 so that you don't have to. And by pre-calibrating, I mean turning it on until it automatically gets a signal and can lock on to your location. But if it's your first GPS, how would you know that?

That's an ambush upsell, misleading the consumer to purchase a service with basically no benefit. That's a dirty business practice that any business should be held to the fire for doing.

Just do everyone a favor... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33820892)

Don't advertise your services by spamming everyone...

People are getting dumber and dumber (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33820976)

As someone who has worked for Geek Squad in the past, I have to say that we do not enjoy charging people for this kind of nonsense, but you would not believe how many people come into the store wanting a firmware update on their Blu-Ray player, XBox, or even their iPod. Since it is a business obviously we are not going to step away from a paying customer to set up a machine and download a firmware update for free, so we charge them our lowest service cost, $29.99 for a 1/2 hour labor. Best Buy eventually realized this was a service we were performing on a regular basis and created a "Firmware Update" service for that $29.99 cost.

I really have to stress how many people come in requesting a service like this. I tried to convince people many times just to go home, plug in their device and simply head to the 'download updates' section, but I would constantly get responses like "I don't have internet", "Its just too confusing" and "I don't want to do it myself". Its idiots like this that create a market for a simple service downloading updates, and Best Buy would be even dumber to turn away potential revenue from customers that are willing to pay for something this simple.

Wasn't there an article on here about how Denon only carried $15 HDMI cables at one time, but then created a $150 HDMI cable when their high end customers were demanding a better cable just because they wanted to spend more? I think its kind of the same principle. You cater to your clients and Best Buy's are just one step above Wal-Mart's.

Re:People are getting dumber and dumber (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821086)

So how do justify pre-optimization services, where you physically open the box of an unsold item, fuck with it, often lose or mix up parts in the process, close it back up, and then have the balls to sell it at a premium like you've actually made it better somehow? If people want to be idiots, fine, let them be idiots. You're even welcome to milk them for $30 (or $60 or $100) when they ask you for it. Opening unsold merchandise, "optimizing" it, and then telling people that they have to pay for a service that they didn't want if they want the product is just wrong.

Not saying that's happening in the case of PS3s, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was. And if it's not right now, it surely will be soon once Best Buy takes this to its logical conclusion.

Re:People are getting dumber and dumber (1)

Malatesta721 (972240) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821148)

Store policy on pre-optimized units (be they laptops, game consoles, etc.) is that if the sales person cannot "sell" the service to the customer, and the last units are all pre-setup, the customer does not pay for a service that they do not want. The store simply does not sell the pre setup service. Often times a customer will gladly pay the 40 bucks for a laptop with no trial software, a full battery charge and all updates, but will not want to wait an hour or two for it to be done. That's why the pre optimized units exist. If you don't want it and thats all they have, they cannot force you to purchase a service you do not want. Now I've read articles saying the opposite has happened, and it is probably true as every store is run by different management and salespeople will be salespeople. It is not company policy however, a simple call to the corporate number would fix that issue if it ever occurred to you.

Re:People are getting dumber and dumber (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821186)

Often times a customer will gladly pay the 40 bucks for a laptop with no trial software, a full battery charge and all updates,

In which case you've already lied to them. It's been well-established that Geek Squad doesn't actually remove trial software. They just delete the desktop icons (well, except in the case of useful stuff like antivirus, but only because that conflicts with their ability to upsell their own antivirus software). Every laptop I've purchased in the last 5 years has come with a pre-charged battery, and Windows Updates aren't terribly difficult to do yourself (and if you're doing them in "an hour", you're not getting everything anyway). I'm sure there are some suckers willing to pay $40 for that, but if it were me and the last unit was pre-"optimized", not only would I make sure the $40 is taken off, I'd also want an extra 10-20% for buying open-box merchandise (many documented cases of Geek Squad mixing up internals, swapping power supplies between different laptop makes and models, missing manuals, etc).

15 years ago when I worked for Best Buy, none of that crap would fly. But then that was before Geek Squad. The worst we ever had to deal with was pushing craptastic warranties and trying to get people to buy overpriced printer cables. Doing that turned my stomach back then as a high school/college student. I don't know how anybody could push Geek Squad "services" with a clear conscience these days.

We're always saying stupidity should hurt, right? (1)

mykos (1627575) | more than 3 years ago | (#33820982)

So let Best Buy hurt them; I think we could all learn a lesson. We should look at idiots not as a nuisance, but as livestock to be milked for everything they're worth. Don't hate Best Buy; they're doing the Lord's work. Profit is just a fortunate side-effect.

Re:We're always saying stupidity should hurt, righ (5, Funny)

svanheulen (901014) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821162)

I don't hate Best Buy for preying on stupid people. I hate them for thinking of it first.

Competition is a good thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821002)

Best Buy was once differentiated from their competition due to better customer service, knowledgeable employees, and polite sales staff. Since their primary competition (Circuit City and CompUSA) have gone away, they have slowly moved away from these values. I still enjoy going into the stores because of their enormous selection, but where else am I going to shop?

I'm on the fence... (2, Insightful)

DeadPixels (1391907) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821014)

I see both sides here. The reason most people who are upset about this are bothered seems to be that it's something that seems trivial to them. On the other hand, to Johnny Layman, perhaps 'installing firmware' brings to mind Druidic runes and rituals beyond comprehension - so he takes it to his Best Buy and pays a fee to avoid having to do the work himself. The process is still simple, but what Mr. Layman is paying for is the peace of mind knowing that it is being done by 'professionals' (at least, supposedly). It's not really any different from when Grandma calls a tech support service (and pays for it) because her router needs reset. Sure, she could do it herself, but it's intimidating and there's a fear of 'breaking' something.

To go off on a tangent for a moment, I feel that this is honestly the root cause of a lot of problems when it comes to the typical user and computers. Most people who were around before or at the very beginning of the advent of computers are simply intimidated and say that they're afraid of breaking the computer. They don't know how they would 'break' it, there is just that ever-present fear of the computer somehow being destroyed if they touch it. I try explaining that it's really hard to actually 'break' a computer short of physically damaging the hardware and that when your data is backed up on the company network, there's really not a lot to be afraid of, but it's no use. You can walk them through it step-by-step, but if you don't physically sit down at the computer and do it yourself, they'll still be afraid of something going wrong.

Re:I'm on the fence... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821144)

I'm sure BestBuy is quite adamant about pushing this service on people. Telling them ridiculous things to scare them into using their service. But I'd imagine that even with the most computer illiterate person(who would be in the demographic of PS3 users) if they turned on their PS3 and saw a message prompting "New Firmware update is available would you like to download now? x=Yes o=No" They would probably just hit X and install it without even thinking of any negative consequences. People see update and think "Oh my PS3 will be better" they don't think "Oh god it's going to break from being updated."

Re:I'm on the fence... (1)

Osty (16825) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821212)

On the other hand, to Johnny Layman, perhaps 'installing firmware' brings to mind Druidic runes and rituals beyond comprehension - so he takes it to his Best Buy and pays a fee to avoid having to do the work himself. The process is still simple, but what Mr. Layman is paying for is the peace of mind knowing that it is being done by 'professionals' (at least, supposedly)

People are upset in this specific scenario because it's something the device does automatically. Johnny Layman doesn't have to do shit besides click "OK" and wait a couple of minutes. If he connects the device to the internet at home (and these days, with idiot-proof home routers provided by ISPs, that's trivial -- and even if it weren't, all of few steps to do so are both provided in the box in big, diagrammed steps as well as with idiot-proof onscreen instructions), it just works. If he doesn't connect it to the internet, he has no need for the update anyway.

However Best Buy is selling it with terminology like "Plays all Blu-Ray movies and games", as if that wasn't the case without the firmware update. While it's true some movies won't play (blame Blu-Ray for that), if a game requires an update it will ship with that update on the disc and update the console if needed. The sales tactic here is pure FUD.

The end of brick & mortar? (5, Interesting)

daitengu (172781) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821094)

Really this is just another bump on the road that leads to the crumbling of brick & mortar stores. Best Buy is trying to squeeze as much cash out of their customers as they possibly can.

A couple days ago I went in to my local Best Buy to buy a hard drive that they had listed for $129.99 on their website. I got to the store, and it was $165 on the shelf. In the past, it's been no problem to price match things that were on their site. However, this policy has apparently changed in the last few weeks, as they informed me that they no longer match prices on their site. The tag on the shelf wasn't one of the standard corporate tags, (the font was different, and the background of the tag was different) so it looks like they purposely jacked the prices of some items up. Anyway, I proceeded to stand in front of their customer service desk and order the drive off of their website with my phone using the "pick up at store" option. As I walked around for 15 minutes while I waited for the order to "go through" I noticed a lot of tags that were similar to the one I described. When comparing them to the website, all the tags had a significant markup compared to the Best Buy website. Other tags with the standard background matched the price on the website.

The girl at the customer service counter that I talked to said that this was "a new policy that went into effect a few weeks ago." She then proceeded to tell me that they did some sort of study that showed they were losing a ton of money by matching prices on their website. Personally I just see this as a huge death knell for, if not all best buys, at least my best buy.

The high road (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821112)

I'm not going to say that Best Buy is a greedy opportunist. I'm not going to say that the customers are ignorant fools with too much money.

I'm just going to say that I will perform this service for $25*, with no coupon required. So if you're one of those people who need firmware upgrades for your PS3 and don't mind driving a few miles to get it done, I can help you anytime between 9am and 9pm in the South Bay Area. Look me up on craiglist!

*Additional charge of $5 for Other OS removal

OMG! Evil company take money to provide service! (4, Insightful)

khchung (462899) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821182)

OMG! How dare a money making company actually charge people money for providing a service to people who can do it for free!! /sarcasm

Is that kind of response expected by the submitter?

Seriously, for a site filled with geeks who think they are smarter than the general populace, this article FAIL on so many aspects. Just to name a few

1. Economics 101 - price is determined by supply and demand. If there are people who are willing to pay $30 for someone to do something for them, it is not a company being evil for providing said service for $30, even if it cost the company nothing. Cost does not determine the price, the cost of business only determines how much profit the company can make. If you are pissed about that, go ahead and start your own company to offer this service for free. (much in the same spirit of "write your own patch" in OSS)

2. Business has a fixed cost, in rent, in salary, in opportunity costs. So it is never really free to help people to install updates.

3. Guess what? Some people value their time at more than $30 for half-hour, and will be willing to pay $30 to someone if it will save 30mins time and headache. Not everyone is living in their mom's basement with nothing to do and no money to spend most of the day.

4. Grow up. Most "service industry" is based doing things for people that they can do for themselves, in some cases for free, and that includes a large portion of the IT industry.

5. From the comments so far, most /.er are more intelligent than the submitter.

I thought it was dumb.. until I met the customers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821184)

I was a Blue-Shirted Best Buy tech in the '90s. I was even an in-home Technician before Best Buy bought the Geek Squad. When I got the job I was appalled that they wanted me to charge $$ to boot up a computer, get them signed in to AOL & configure the printer.

Then I started meeting the users. You know all those grandmas that IT people keep on the internet? There are a lot of Grandmas that don't have anyone to do that. All of a sudden I could see why paying me to come to their house & setup their Speakers (which was really cool in 1996) and show them how to use a CD-Rom was cash well spent.

In the modern era I suspect most 8 year olds are fine getting their firmware updated. But I've also walked a bunch of my 35 year old Artist & Writer friends get their Wiis on their WiFi, so I can easily see how if they didn't know me they would either spend the $$ or do without.

Your point is nonsense (1)

bartwol (117819) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821230)

Best Buy sees no problem with charging for this convenience, even though it's something Sony provides to PS3 owners completely free.

Sony provides firmware for free, not firmware installation. Your words wrongly intimate that they are the same. Even more absurdly, you intimate that Best Buy should pay for the labor of installing people's firmware.

Since "it's" "free" why don't YOU install people's firmware without receiving compensation.

Absurd. Just absurd.

Short memories it seems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33821262)

Can no one here remember that PS3 firmware update about 12 months ago that bricked peoples consoles, and the fix was either send it to sony or pull the drive and format it?

If I'd paid bestbuy to upgrade my firmware and it broke my ps3, I would full expect to be leaving the store with a brand new ps3, and possibly some sort of compensation for my lost savegames / DLC (certainly the DLC, which has an actually monetary value attached to it) I'm not saying that it's a good idea, or even a valuable service, but how many people on slashdot have never been given a few sheets of paper for doing something as simple as a ram upgrade, or an OS reinstall (you know, on them nice netbooks with the recovery partition you can access by holding down a few keys during boot) People are prepared to pay for piece of mind, and other people are able to provide it.

ok, as a ps3 owner.. (1)

pjr.cc (760528) | more than 3 years ago | (#33821280)

it seems a little weird that people would "GO TO SOMEONE" to get it done given how often it happens (the fw upgrade that is).

But from a services perspective, 30$ seems cheap to me?

I kinda feel a small rage from the perspective that someone out there owns a ps3 and ended up going "im going to go to best buy to upgrade the firmware on my ps3". It just doesnt sound believable. Maybe the first time it happens people do it? but seriously as an on-going thing it sounds hard to believe and you have to assume they have friends (who might even have a ps3 themselves) you'd assume someone would eventually go "seriously, you dont need to do that". What gets me though is how they find out it needs to be done? i mean my ps3 jumps and says "hey, here's a fw update, wanna install it?" and you click yes.

Mind you, go back not too long ago and in order to get firmware upgraded on many devices it was "go see the maker/service person" (nokia phone for example). So its not too hard to believe that people may still have that attitude in general.

However, if you READ THE ARTICLE, it seems like engadget are playing pretty fast and loose with facts here. In my world the ps3 goes for quite a decent range of prices depending on where you go, and best buy has it for $329 with the firmware update (and it says you have to buy it). So a rep said they'll do it for $29.98... whatever? is that $30 higher than average in the US? i have no idea.

But the whole article just seems kind of bitching and moaning about someone saying they'd do a firmware update for $30 for you. As someone who works in IT, it would not surprise me to have someone come up and say "can you update the software on my X" cause they just dont get how it works. They know they put a disk in here, or a cable in there and they press that button to make it go... thats all they know...

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