Best Buy's "Mostly Free" Recycling Cost Me $20

Consumerist reader Jacqueline recently took a pair of old computers to be recycled at her local Best Buy in Virginia because, after close examination of the chain store’s recycling policy, she understood that it would be free. Alas, as she quickly found out — What Best Buy says in writing may not be true in reality.

According to Best Buy’s stated recycling policy for Virginia, “most things are recycled absolutely free, with a few restrictions.” In a box listing the products they will and won’t accept, the only specific items mentioned that will be charged a fee for recycling are “televisions and monitors.”

The sole mention of a charge for computers is a $9.99 fee for them to remove the hard drive, which is why Jacqueline and her husband removed the drives themselves before heading to Best Buy.

And that’s also why they were surprised when they were told there’d be a charge for accepting the computers:

When the CSR told me that it would cost $10 for each PC, but that they’d give me a $10 Best Buy gift card in return, I questioned that, and pointed her to the web site. She first brought me an old printout from 2009 of the recycling policy, which was different from the current one, allowing only two items per household per day and charging $19.99 for certain items. I brought up the current version on my PDA, and asked her to look at it as well.

She read the page on her PC (though I had to point her to the Virginia-specific page), and she told me that just because computers aren’t listed as requiring a $10 payment, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t required. “It costs us money to ship them back. We only take for free small items like cellphones that can be dropped in the bins at the front door.”

In the end, Jacqueline took the two $10 gift cards, but should she have had to?
If you’re not a Best Buy shopper and don’t intend on using the cards, aren’t you really just out $20?