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March 10, 2022

Is Best Buy's 'buy back' program worthwhile?

Timing is everything when shopping for electronics. That's because there's always a possibility that a newer version of your favourite gear is just around the corner.

Buy Enter Best Buy’s new ‘buy back” program, a new take on trade-in programs that already exist, which usually don’t let you know how much you’ll be getting for your old stuff until you bring it in. 

Here's how the program (U.S. purchases only at the moment) works: When you buy new electronics at Best Buy, you have the option of paying a fee ($60 to $300 depending on the item and price) that will guarantee the store will buy back the item at a later date, if you're so inclined to upgrade or simply get rid of it.

In the agreement, Best Buy pays up to half of the original price if you bring the item back in perfectly good shape within six months, up to 40% if you bring it back within a year, and so on.

So, is the program a good deal for early adapters, let alone average consumers?

Not according Consumer Reports: “When you look at the fine details of the Best Buy program, it's not likely to make good economic sense for most of us. In many cases, the cost of the plan will exceed the trade-in credit you'll receive.”

“For one, you're prepaying for a service you might never use. For another, unless you plan to buy a new TV every six months, the amount you'll receive isn't likely to be meaningful,” CR declares.

As well, the buy-back usually comes in the form of a store gift card, not actual cash – and gift cards are notorious for being a better deal for stores than for shoppers.

That's why the folks at Digital Trends labelled the program “a total rip-off” when doing a price comparison on some fairly common items, including an iPhone 3GS, a Samsung Galaxy Tab, and a Samsung 52″ television.

Of course, for the most part, you can always sell your old gear on eBay or Kijiji. But that’s labour intensive if you’re not a regular seller since you have to collect money, ship it, and possibly deal with disappointed customers.

When this service arrives in Canada, will you sign up? If not, how do you currently handle the fight against obsolescence?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo), canoe.ca, AOL.ca, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...