Is "Geek Squad Buy Back" How Best Buy Plans On Revolutionizing Retail?

A few weeks ago, we wrote about Best Buy’s claim that whatever news it was going to announce during its Super Bowl ad would “revolutionize retailing.” Many of you took a guess at what that could possibly mean, and now we think me might have the answer.

According to documents shown to Consumerist, Best Buy is about to launch a program called Geek Squad Buy Back.

“[W]e’ll buy back a customer’s product when they’re ready to buy the next generation of technology and want to get value out of their old product,” reads the document allegedly sent to employees about the program.

Except, if these documents are accurate, Best Buy is not actually “buying” your purchase back. It’s giving you a percentage of your purchase price back in the form of store credit — not cash.

Put simply, it looks like when customers buy electronic devices at Best Buy, they’ll have the option of purchasing the Buy Back plan at a yet-undisclosed price (we’re going to guess that it’s proportional to the retail price of the product). And if you want to turn in that product in the future, Best Buy will give you a store gift card, the value of which will be determined by how long it’s been since you purchased the product.

For example, if you buy this program for a laptop and then decide to trade in the computer within six months, you’ll get a gift card worth 50% of the retail value; between six months and year, that goes down to 40%. And if you wait up to 24 months, you’ll only get back 20% of the original price.

Those same numbers apply to other portable electronics (tablets, post-paid mobile phones). TVs will have a different discount schedule that offers buy backs up to four years from the date of purchase.

But is this a good deal? If I buy a laptop today and decide to sell it in a few months, I could probably get a better offer than $.50 on the dollar for it. And even after 18 months, is $.20 on the dollar a fair price for a machine in good working order?

And of course there is the incredibly vague qualifier of “good maintenance required,” so we wouldn’t recommend you smoke a cigarette around, let your kids near, or even use any products for which you purchase the Buy Back program.

The question remains as to whether or not this is what Best Buy will be touting during the Super Bowl. The documents state that the ad push for the Buy Back program will begin Feb. 6, which also happens to be the night the Jaguars play the Rams in the Super Bowl.

However, the documents also state that this program begins in early January. It is possible that this is a soft launch, wherein Best Buy starts offering the program but not making a huge fuss about it.

We’ve asked Best Buy to comment on this news and will update if/when we hear anything back from them.