The Best Buy experience can be one of the worst things you’ll ever have to go through to get your hands on a shiny new product. The lines. The crowd. The never-in-stock hottest new gadget. The crappy pop-punk blasting over the store’s speakers. The, gulp, Geek Squad attempting to sell you their service. It’s no wonder people have been using physical retailers as a showroom for new products before running home to make their purchases online. But if you ventured into one of the five Los Angeles-area Best Buys last Friday, perhaps something truly unique caught your attentive eye. No, it’s not a refurbished Nintendo Wii U, but it’s a nearly “useless” gadget all the same.
A certain street artist by the moniker Plastic Jesus somehow infiltrated his way into five Best Buy locations in L.A., adding a faux device to the product shelves. As social commentary on the money people are willing to spend for the latest tech, Plastic Jesus placed an empty black box along with a Best Buy-style information card to make the whole thing look legitimate. Upon closer inspection, however, shoppers might notice that the details of this device says it’s a “Useless” box that “will not work once you get it home.” That’s okay because you “don’t really need” it anyway. The list price for this purposeless device? $99.99.
“Like many people out there I have bought every new gadget available, and each one is always heralded as the gadget that will transform our life. The hype for the newest piece of kit often starts weeks before with a build up similar to a Hollywood blockbuster,” the artist told CNET. “However, once we spend, often hundreds or thousands of dollars on the item we find that it is not as we were sold, either there are functionality issues, compatibility problems, and in-fact the frustration the item brings us far out weighs any benefit it will bring to our life.”
The Useless boxes were discovered by Best Buy not long after the prank took place. Not surprising, given a few typos, casual lingo, and a mix of Spanish and English all in one info card. Best Buy took the stunt in stride, with employees gathering to take photos of the fake device before removing it from display. “We [are] flattered that Best Buy is so top of mind for Mr. Plastic Jesus,” said Best Buy spokesman Jon Sandler. “Hopefully he also had the chance to check out our fabulous back to school deals.”
Come to think of it, how many useless black boxes do you have in your home? I’m still using my Chromecast – for now. Check back in a few weeks when the next gadget hits the market and see if that’s still the case.