Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Best Buy Busted For Bogus Billing?

CE Pro and Consumerist are both reporting shady dealings by Best Buy in selling their HDTV video calibration services.

While helping my father look for an HDTV at the newest Best Buy in Charlotte, NC this Sunday, I came across their demo display of their color calibration service. On the left side of the demo, they had a HDTV tuned to ESPN, and on the right, there was the exact same model of TV presumably tuned to the same station, but with a far superior picture. The difference between the two was remarkable; the left one was grainy and blurry while the right one looked sharp and detailed. Thinking that something was not right, I took a further look at the demo and realized that the inferior tv on the left was turned to plain old ESPN, and the superior tv on the right was tuned to ESPN HD. What's even worse is they had a box for their Black Tie TV Protection Plan strategically placed so that when looking at the display from most angles, it covered up the ESPN logo on the left tv as to disguise the fact that it was not an HD channel.

Aside from the fact that monkeying with the picture settings to make whichever brand of TV is on promotion that week look best is as old as the CE biz, what’s surprising and newsworthy is that there are Best Buy drones who even know how to adjust a TV’s picture.

Seriously though, deceptive marketing like this is bullshit. What's even more egregious is that Best Buy touts itself as using ISF calibration, which is not only the Gold Standard for video calibration, but quite costly to achieve certification in. If the clowns at Best Buy actually knew what they were doing, they wouldn't need deceit to promote the benefits of video calibration. Incidents like this make legitimate AV professionals look bad by association.

In my opinion, video guru Joel Silver, owner of the Imaging Sciences Foundation should be horrified at having his brand sullied by Best Buy's actions, and should seriously re-evaluate his business relationship with them.

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Anonymous said...

This surprises you??? There were a couple of manufacturers at at the Consumer Electronics Show that did the exact same thing over the last couple of years, especially cwith comparisons of Blu-Ray to standard DVD. First saw it 3 years ago. And it was amazing how many attendees (who are supposed to be in the business & know better) were taken in by it.

Lee_D said...

Far from surprised, Anon. As I said, this kind of chicanery is as old as the biz itself.

In fact, I recall calling bullshit on Sony's Blu-ray demo at CEDIA Expo two years ago, I'm just too lazy to dig up the link right now.