This article is meant to serve as warning for all who are looking into purchasing a new piece of gadgetry but are wary that the value of the product will go down significantly after the purchase. This worry is totally understandable since over the course of about two years, a newer and a better version of any given electronic will make your old piece of tech obsolete. I think Best Buy realized that there is a value to this and therefore they started their “Buy Back” program. But first, let’s discuss what the program actually is.

When you go into a Best Buy store and find the product you want, in order to enter into the Buy Back Program you MUST first purchase the Buy Back offer that is associated with the device. Think of it as an “extended warranty” that the person ringing you up will shout into your ear until you comply to buy it. So in order for you to give back your product, you have to pay them to take it back. Every price range has a buy back price. For example, a $600 product has a Buy Back price of $50. The payout, in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card, is organized into different term periods which create a dynamic where the longer you have the product, the more it depreciates. Here’s the breakdown: within 6 months you’ll get 50 percent back, 6 months to one year (40 percent), one year to 18 months (30 percent), and 18 months to 2 years (20 percent). TV’s get somewhat of an extension as the last term of 2 years to 4 years will yield you 10 percent in returns. If you go over the 2 year period for regular electronics and the 4 year period for TV’s, then the whole deal is canceled. It is unlikely that a piece of tech, such as a smartphone, will get so far in advance within 0-12 month period that it will be worth trading in. It is more likely that you will want to return the product somewhere in the one year to two year time range.

As previously stated, in return for submitting your old electronic that must have been purchased from a Best Buy store, you will get a Best Buy Gift Card, not cold hard cash or even credit back on your plastic. You must have photo ID along with the receipt and all of the parts and accessories that came in the original packaging. This means that the Buy Back Program is non-transferable, so that if you happen to sell your device to a friend, they cannot reap the minor rewards of the Buy Back Program. If your gadget has more than just regular wear and tear, i.e. dents, scratches, or even minor functional damages, Best Buy will cut your payout by half. If there are major problems on the surfaces or internal failures, then you get $0 and the Buy Back purchase is wasted (hear the playing of the world’s tiniest violin).

Understand that this is a clever way to trick people who may not know the ins and outs of future projections for electronics, but there is a well-known formula, Moore’s law, that basically states that the amount of transistors on a circuit board will double every two years. This means that you’ll unlikely see a big increase in technology with the same type of gadget and within the time frame that would allow you any substantial amount in returns. Still not convinced that the deal is sour? Let’s do the math then. Say you get a laptop worth $600, you have it for a period of a little less than two years, and you purchased the Buy Back for $50. It is in good working order with no internal or surface problems with the laptop. Being that it has been almost two years since you bought the laptop; (recall Moore’s law) the electronic companies have managed to double the advancements for the device for the price of $600. After you pass the inspection, your buy back would be $120 (which is essentially $70 net if you take away the $50 initial fee). If there were any significant scratches or faulty hardware problems, then your gift card would be reduced to $60 (or $10 net). So if you wanted to buy that newer, more advanced $600 laptop, the Buy Back Program will net you either 12 percent or 2 percent towards the new purchase, depending on how well you maintain your gadget. But consider this… if your laptop is in good condition, there should be no reason to give it back. If it works well enough, you should use it for as long as it works and take it somewhere that recycles old electronics when they are completely blasted. Instead, Best Buy wants you to take that $120 gift card and put it towards a new laptop in their computer department. You are more likely to sell your gadget for more when you sell it on eBay, Craigslist, Amazon, etc. with the added bonus of getting that cash money in return.

For the reasons above, you should be skeptical of the Best Buy “Buy Back” Program. The only positive, I hope, is that Best Buy recycles the old electronics so that they do not clutter our already oversized toxic waste dumps.

About The Author

Scott Covit is a Blast correspondent

Leave a Reply