By Harry McCracken | Monday, January 3, 2011 at 3:49 pm
BGR is reporting on apparent plans by Best Buy to launch a program called Buy Back. It doesn’t have all the details, but the basic idea is this: You pay an up-front fee–supposedly $59.99, at least in the case of phones–when you buy a phone, laptop, netbook, tablet, phone, or TV. That gets you the right to sell the device back to Best Buy for a gift card that covers part of the original cost–50% in the first six months, for instance, and 20% during months 18-24.
My instinctive reaction to this possibility is conflicted:
1) It sounds like one more add-on that Best Buy clerks will try to foist on me whenever I buy anything of consequence there (although to be fair, they seem to be pretty good at taking my first “no thank you” as the final word).
2) It could be a reasonable deal, at least in some cases.
I hope that the program isn’t too popular when it comes to TV sets: They’re both pricey and relatively mature products, and the best buying strategy in most cases is to purchase a good one and then hold onto it for several years, at least. (Me, I’ve never bought a new TV until my old TV has croaked.) But Buy Back might be helpful if you’re a phone fanatic who likes to carry the latest handset. Sounds like it would let you surf from smartphone to smartphone without completely bankrupting yourself or extending your contract indefinitely.
Of course, it’s possible to recoup your investment in tech gear through other means: Whenever I’ve sold gently-used gadgets on eBay, I’ve been astounded at how much people happily paid for them. eBay takes a proceed of your profits, but you don’t need to guess ahead of time about whether you’ll want to sell a gizmo. Then again, selling items on eBay requires effort that hauling them back to Best Buy does not; I have a goldmine of old tech products lying around here which I keep telling myself I’m going to auction off when I have a spare moment.
If you pay Best Buy for Buy Back protection, it sounds like it ends up a winner no matter what happens. If don’t sell back an item, it pockets the dough as pure profit. If you do sell back the item, you get paid with a Best Buy gift card, ensuring that you’ll spend more money at the retailer–and hey, it gets the opportunity to try and get you to pay $59.99 for the Buy Back option on whatever you buy with your gift card. And anyone who pays the fee is more likely to come back to Best Buy than to do business with a competitor.
Does it sound even a little appealing to you?