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‘Buy backs’ for electronics have limited upsides

Promoting its new electronics buy-back program, Best Buy states, “Buy the latest technology now, and when you’re ready to upgrade, we’ll buy it back.”

The concept has some appeal if you crave the latest, greatest laptops, tablet computers, mobile phones and other gadgets before anyone else on the block. New gadgets seem to pop up every week, and it’s not just adults forking over the cash. Teenagers have developed the urge to update, too. The program allows consumers to return laptops, notebook computers, televisions and certain other electronic items they’ve purchased from Best Buy and receive credit on a gift card of up to 50 percent of the original purchase price. The amount depends on how long a customer used the product and whether it is in good condition with all the accessories. Don’t lose your receipt either.

However, consumers must enroll at the time of purchase and pay an upfront fee in exchange for the return guarantee.

Customers pay $69.99 to enter the program when buying a laptop or tablet computer. The enrollment fee is $59.99 for mobile phones costing $350 and more, and $39.99 for phones costing $349.99 or less.

There’s a value schedule and other terms and conditions on Best Buy’s website ( where you’ll see what you can get if you sell the product back to the company.

Naturally, the buy-back amount drops sharply the longer you hold the product. There’s also the risk that there won’t be a new product upgrade that whets your appetite before the buy-back period expires.

The “Buy Back” program should not be confused with the retailer’s more conventional and much simpler trade-in program. This option allows you to trade in more than 20 different products (including items purchased at other retailers) and receive a gift card. Other companies, including eBay, also offer marketplaces for used devices.


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