Buy Back Is Not Your Best Buy

The Buy Back Plan offered by Best Buy isn?t your best buy. This trade-in program in sheep?s clothing is just another form of an extended warranty. We all know that extended warranties make money for the seller and rarely provide a benefit for the buyer.

The scheme fired off for free during the Super Bowl ad competition, but quickly turned into a fee-for-service. And the fee just could end up being more than the trade-in credit you?ll get. Yes, I said credit in the form of a Best Buy gift card, to be applied to another purchase.

You could pay from $60 to $350 for the promise of being able to bring your TV back up to 48 months after purchase. Laptops, tablets and mobile phones are only covered up to 24 months. Don?t overlook the red tape either. How long have you had the device? What condition is it in now? Condition? Oh yes, that is determined solely by an acceptance test by the administrator of the program, Chartis WarrantyGuard, a third-party company, not Best Buy.

The most you can hope for is a six month return that is still in at least fair condition. That will garner a 50 percent trade in. On the other end, a $2,499 TV at the end of four years in even good condition is only worth $249. That?s $100 in round figures less than you paid for the buy back. Reminds me of the bumper sticker ?The Lottery is for people who are math challenged.?

Still, you can?t blame brick and mortar stores for trying to make a few extra dollars. With competition from cheaper, on-line outlets, such as Amazon, that don?t have the same overhead expenses as your neighborhood, touch-and-feel-the-product stores that corner Best Buy may soon become a thing of the past. Do we all want to buy everything sight unseen from a catalog?

Other stores offer you the chance to try-before-you-buy, such as Target which has an Electronics Trade In Program that applies not to TV?s but only to iPods, mobile phones and video games. Before falling into these for-a-few-dollars-more schemes, you should figure out why you?d return a device that was still working good anyway. Remember, if you are returning something that is in poor condition, its trade in value is nil. Additionally, if you are under a contract with the mobile phone provider, factor in the cost of early cancellation.

Clark Howard is a consumer advocate with a radio talk show. His motto is ?Pay less, save more and avoid getting ripped off?. He suggests that instead of grabbing the newest, untried device and being disappointed, hold back a bit and buy it after the bugs are out and the price has dropped. He also agrees that what may sound good up front, looses some of its charm when you read the small print. With the Best Buy Buy Back program and other schemes, it would pay to put on your reading glasses, and take a calculator with you to the store.