Timing is everything when shopping for gadgets. That's because there's always a possibility that a new version of the smart phone, tablet or other electronic gear will be released soon after you make a purchase.
To allay such fears, Best Buy has launched its "Buy Back" program, under which it agrees to buy back certain products within a limited time. Customers can get a partial refund based on how quickly they return the item.
Best Buy is touting the program as a way to "future proof"' purchases. But it comes with costs and catches you should examine carefully.
Here's what it costs:
• Laptops, netbooks and tablets: $70.
• Mobile phones: $40 to $60 depending on the price
• TVs: $60 to $350 depending on the price
And depending on when the item is returned, here's how much of the purchase price customers get back:
• Within 6 months: up to 50 percent
• Between 6 and 12 months: up to 40 percent
• Between 12 and 18 months: up to 30 percent
• Between 18 and 24 months: up to 20 percent
• Between 24 and 48 months (only TVs are eligible): up to 10 percent
So to obtain buyback protection for a $600 iPad, customers would pay $70. If it's returned in less than six months, they would get up to $300 back. If they returned it in six months to a year, they'd get up to $240 back, and so on.
For mobile phones, the amount refunded is based on the retail value of the phone, even if the customer paid a special discount price.
The refunds aren't made in cash, but are issued on Best Buy gift cards. To get the maximum buyback amount listed, customers also need to return the item in good condition with all of the accessories it came with. Otherwise the refund may be reduced or even denied.
That said, products can be returned for any reason. So even if customers aren't coveting a new upgrade, Best Buy will take the item off their hands.
And if the item is returned within Best Buy's standard return policy window, it's also possible to get a refund of the buyback plan purchase, too.