Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=176213
Story Retrieval Date: 5/18/2013 10:28:29 PM CST
Azra Hodzic, 27, and Tommy Omozart, 30, leaving the Lincoln Park Best Buy, were unaware of the new buyback program.
New Best Buy program buys back old electronics
Remember when taking a photo with your cell phone seemed like the hottest thing in tech? It wasn’t that long ago, but most people now consider it ordinary.
A recent study by the Impulse Research Corp. found that customers often postpone buying new electronics out of fear that their technology will be outdated in the near future. And in the consumer technology world, where new bells and whistles fly at consumers at a maddening pace, these fears aren’t groundless.
In response, Richfield, Minn.-based Best Buy instituted an in-store buyback program, the company announced Monday. Customers who opt for buyback plans with their new devices can later trade them in for up to 50 percent of their purchase price toward something new – at Best Buy, of course.
“Best Buy customers can purchase the Buy Back Program in-store or online when buying products in one of five popular categories: laptops, netbooks, tablets, post-paid mobile phones and televisions,” the company said.
The buyback plan costs $70 for tablets, netbooks, and laptops, and $40 or $60 for smartphones.
“We recognize that technology is changing faster than ever” said Brian Dunn, chief executive officer of Best Buy.
There are some limitations: the 50 percent return is only if you trade in your device, in good condition, within the first six months. It decreases after that: 40 percent back inside of one year, 30 percent up to 18 months and 20 percent up to two years. The company’s Geek Squad agents determine what “good condition” is, so try not to send your cell phone through the washer.
At the Lincoln Park Best Buy store, few customers had heard of the buyback program – or Best Buy’s recycling program. Nor did they think they would purchase the buyback option after they learned about it.
“I’m not in the demographic they want,” said Marc Hettinger, a 24-year-old bartender from Roscoe Village, who bought a television from Best Buy in 2009. “I wouldn’t get a new one unless the old one broke.”
Uptown resident Azra Hodzic, 27, said the six-month period where you can get up to 50 percent back was too short. “It’s not long enough to get used to what you have. I don’t think it’s worth it.”
So what does Best Buy plan to do with all of the electronics it buys back?
Electronics will either be refurbished and sold again or stripped down as part of Best Buy’s recycling program, vice president of services George Sherman told CNET green technology reporter Martin LaMonica.
Jack Anderson, a 22-year-old student, said he doesn’t update his electronics often enough to warrant getting the buyback plan. He said he was more likely to purchase a large device such as a television through websites like Craigslist.com.
However, having learned about the recycling program, he said he’d consider dropping off old devices. “Electronics are pretty bad to put in landfills.”
Last year Best Buy refurbished or recycled close to 74 million pounds of electronics – roughly .25 pounds per person, or the equivalent of one BlackBerry Curve cell phone. Best Buy also set the goal of recycling 1 billion pounds of electronics in the next five or six years, according to its 2010 Sustainability Report.
The new in-store feature is an addition to Best Buy’s previous online trade-in program that allows customers to exchange a wider selection of electronics, including navigation systems, cameras, navigation systems and game consoles.
Other electronics retailers, including CompUSA and RadioShack, also offer online trade-ins for store credit. However, according to their websites, they do not typically accept in-store buybacks for computers or HDTVs like Best Buy now does.
Tech junkies updating to the latest device can also recycle outdated electronics that aren’t up to trade-in standards for free through Best Buy’s Greener Together program, which accepts most TVs, DVD players, cables, phones, computers, fans and other small electronics.