• June 3, 2023

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Best Buy
recently became the first national retailer to offer a service that picks up old tech from customers’ homes to be recycled. The price of the service, at $199, however, may come with some sticker shock.

To be fair, items hauled away under the Best Buy Standalone Haul-Away service include major appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators that a household would likely pay someone to take off their hands.

The bigger value to the program may be Best Buy’s guarantee that items will be “responsibly and safely recycled,” avoiding landfills and potentially giving the item a second life.

In an online discussion last week, some of the experts on the RetailWire BrainTrust agreed that the service was worth the price.

“Yes, the price seems high on its own, but when you factor in the cost of labor and gas to haul these large and heavy items to a recycle center that is probably quite far away, the price actually is cheap,” wrote DeAnn Campbell, chief strategy office at Hoobil8. “This service solves a major pain point for customers, not just in freeing up space by taking away the old appliance, but also eliminating feelings of regret or frustration by the customer at having to source solutions on their own,”

“If you compare haul-away prices when you purchase large appliances from Home Depot, Costco, etc. they are comparable to Best Buy’s $199 service,” wrote Liza Amlani, principal at Retail Strategy Group. “The price should not deter customers from taking advantage of the haul-away services as the alternative is a landfill. Stressing the importance of our personal environmental impact of what happens to our old stuff when we upgrade our homes and tech stack is a critical part of the marketing for this strategy — it can be eye-opening.”

“This is a solid program,” wrote Doug Garnett, CEO of Protonik. “Added to a purchase, $199 is a small price to pay for them to take away the old ones and recycle them. Good for Best Buy.”

For $199 (20 percent off for Best Buy Totaltech members), Best Buy’s Standalone Haul-Away service removes and recycles up to two large products (including TVs, major appliances, all-in-one computers and monitors), along with select smaller products, like laptops, cameras, cords and gaming consoles.

Some on RetailWire’s BrainTrust did, however, see the price as a sticking point.


“I love the intention behind this, but the steep price is going to dissuade consumers from being eco-friendly more than it will encourage them,” wrote Melissa Minkow, director of retail strategy at CI&T. “Retailers should take on more of the reverse logistics process, even if it’s not a return, but when the cost to the consumer is high, it’s not going to be very enticing.”

“We feel we have an important role to play in helping our planet, including being there for the entire lifecycle of a product — from the time a customer starts shopping until that product is responsibly recycled,” said Tim Dunn, Best Buy’s head of environmental sustainability, in a statement. “This new service will make this important work even more convenient for customers.”

But some on the BrainTrust had other experiences with appliance removal that colored their opinion of Best Buy’s offering.

“Wait a minute,” wrote Rich Kizer, principal at Kizer & Bender Speaking. “When we bought a new freezer/refrigerator, the company took the old unit out of the house for nothing. That’s stiff competition. Maybe a new trend in competitive services is on the horizon.”

At the store level, Best Buy accepts a number of smaller electronics for recycling for free and charges $39.99 to accept many larger ones, including TVs and monitors. It charges $39.99 to haul away major appliances from homes when a replacement product is delivered. A trade-in program offers gift cards for items that still have value.

“I don’t get this,” wrote Ryan Mathews, CEO of Black Monk Consulting. “If I want an old refrigerator removed my local electric company will come, remove it, recycle the parts and give me a check for $50. So, why the $200 fee for similar activity? I could see it if multiple appliances (like ten of them) were being removed, but the truth is people tend to replace appliances one or two at a time, so why wouldn’t consumers just pay the lower fee to have their old appliances removed? If Best Buy really wants to help the planet, let them do what DTE Energy
does for me — pay me to take old, inefficient appliances away.”


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