Best Buy to start offering "Buy Back" program to help gadget lovers stay on the cutting edge

Mike Segar / Reuters

A man walks past televisions for sale at a Best Buy store in New York

If you're one of those gadget fanatics who can't stand not having the latest and greatest device, there's good news for you. According to a leak uncovered by Boy Genius Report, Best Buy is planning a Buy Back program for consumer electronics, including phones, laptops, netbooks, tablets, and TVs (for starters).

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The idea is that when you buy your device you can pay an extra fee to opt-in to the Buy Back program. Then if you decide you want to upgrade to newer tech, you bring your device back to the store (it has to be in good working shape) and get Best Buy gift cards in exchange. How much you get depends on how long you keep the device. Bring it back in less than 6 months and you'll get 50% of the retail value, 6-12 months, 40% of the retail value, and so on. That could be a great deal or a terrible one, depending on how much it costs to opt-in. A second BGR post talks about the program as applied to smartphones. In that case, opting-in to Buy Back will cost you $60 at the time of purchase. That seems almost too good to be true to me. So if I buy a $600 retail phone for $200 with a 2-year contract, plus the $60 Buy Back fee, I can bring it back in 6 months and get $300 in store credit to put towards an upgrade? That's what the leaked documents would indicate. Apparently this program is being deployed this week, on January 5th. It'll be really interesting to see how much it costs to opt-in for a laptop or a television (this is, after all, Best Buy: home of the over-priced extended warranty offer). I'm also curious to know what Best Buy will do with all the returned gear; are they planning to start selling refurbished electronics in a big way?

Peter Smith writes about personal technology for ITworld. Follow him on Twitter @pasmith.

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