Best Buy's Buy Back Bonanza

By  |  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?



3 Comments For This Post

  1. Nick Says:

    No, not even a little bit.

  2. Mike Says:

    How about I give them the $59 AFTER they give me their offer, when the time comes, and we'll call it even.

    It sounds precisely like the sleazy "scout" who spots a cute girl in the mall and says "You are gorgeous and just what the modeling agency needs! Give my $250 to develop your photos from an initial photo shoot and they'll call you!". Uh, take photos of the girl for FREE if you're that confident in her.


  3. ahow628 Says:

    Let's do some math:

    New EVO (EVO1?) is $500 off contract, $200 on contract. Best Buy buy back is $60, for a total of $260 spent.

    The buyback price 12 months later is 40% of the off contract price or $200.

    Sprint has 12 month premier customer upgrades so the EVO2 that is now out is $200 on contract. Plus the $60 for the buyback for a total spent of $260 again but you have to net out the $200 they bought the EVO1 back for.

    Based on this, you spend $260 upfront for the phone and then $60 each year afterward.

    After 4 years you would spend $260+$60×3 = $320 vs if you just bought two EVOs for $200 each for a total of $400.

    But that is on Sprint with annual upgrades. If you look at the same scenario on VzW with 22 month upgrades, the picture is way more bleak because you only get one phone in the two year period and you also sell it back for $100 less.

    Droid X on contract is $200. Add on the $60 buy back. Sell it back for $100 and you net only $40 over the two years vs $80 plus a newer phone on Sprint.

    All else being equal, the bottom line is that it is a net benefit to you.

    None of this takes into account damaging, losing, or otherwise destroying the phone so it is not eligible for buy back.