I bought two 32gb iPhone 4′s on December 30th 2011. At that time I paid $29.99 for their “buy back program.” They explained to me at the time that if I returned the phone to Best Buy before the 2 year mark, I would get a certain percentage of the retail value of the phone back. They gave me a card with information about the program. On the card it says “Future-proof your technology with the buy back program” The card specifies that if I return my phone between 18 and 24 months, I get 20% of the original retail value. The original retail value of my phones is $800 each, so for each phone I return I should get back $160.
Just to clarify, the important words in that last sentence are “original retail value.” I only paid $100 per phone for these phones. I remember saying to the Best Buy salesman, “Let me get this straight: I’m paying you $100 per phone right now, and after using the phone for almost two years you are going to buy it back from me for $160 PER PHONE?” He said, “Yep.” I said, “That’s crazy, but OK, sign me up.”
So here we are, almost two years later. I am now able to upgrade my phone, so I went to the Noblesville Best Buy on Saturday to return my iPhone 4 and purchase an iPhone 5S. The employee told me that they were only going to give me $77 for my phone. When I said that wasn’t right, he called his manager “Steve” who confirmed that $77 is all they were going to give us. When I pointed out that $77 isn’t even 10% of $800, let alone the 20% I should be getting, Steve gave me a cold look and said, “Ok, give him another $3.” and he walked away. Just for future reference, Manager Steve is not on my Christmas list.
When I came home I did some further investigating. I found my original receipt along with a brochure they gave me when I bought the phone in 2011. It says they will pay me “up to 20% based on the condition of your phone.” It is in perfect working order, there are no scratches whatsoever because I’ve had it in an Otterbox for 22 months. So I called Best Buy customer service at 1-888-237-8289 and gave the short version of my problem. The woman on the phone seemed helpful, but then she hung up in the middle of her sentence. I can only assume it was unintentional. I called back and got a woman named Sam, who seemed nice, but she told me she had only been working there for two weeks, and she had never heard of this program. Could she please put me on hold while she investigated. Sure. After a few minutes of being on hold, I realized I had to be somewhere, so I hung up.
I called back later, and got a woman who spoke with an Indian accent and used incorrect grammar. She said something like, “Please to be telling me what is the problem you are having with the Best Buy.” I confess: I hung up.
I called right back, and got someone named “Sam.” I think it was the same Sam as before. She sounded the same, and when I gave the short version of my problem, she had the solution right at hand. She told me that Best Buy has two programs. They have the buy back program and the trade in program. With the “buy back” program you pay $30 extra when you purchase the phone to get a guaranteed percentage of your phone’s original retail value, and the “trade-in” program which doesn’t require an up front fee and applies no matter where you bought it. Evidently the problem Saturday was that the man helping me (and his manager) were putting me in their “trade-in” program instead of their “buy back” program. Evidently the root problem here was that the Best Buy retail employees didn’t know what they were doing.
Now I’m supposed to go back to Best Buy and tell them that I’m a member of the “buy back” program, and they need to give me my $160. Sam gave me some kind of membership number that applies directly to my phone purchase, so that should tell them there’s more to my story than “I want more money than you are willing to give me.” If they don’t, I guess I’ll have to call back again. Either way, I’ll let you know what happens.
EDIT: I just got back from Best Buy, and they processed my claim, no questions asked. I provided my original receipt, my original box along with the charger and earphones (which I never used). He did say I would have to get the $160 on a gift card, but I told him, “No problem. Just return my new phone and then apply the gift card to the new phone purchase.” And he did. So the problem is fixed. And now I have proof for when I go back with my wife’s old phone.