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Best Buy takes aim at Amazon Prime with its own membership program

Enlarge / Extended warranties and unlimited tech support—including on things you didn’t purchase from Best Buy in the first place—are bigger potential value-adds to Best Buy Beta than the ubiquitous free shipping.

Best Buy is floating a new membership program called Best Buy Beta in some test markets. The new program, somewhat like Walmart’s Walmart+, takes aim at Amazon’s immensely popular Prime membership service—but does so while focusing on Best Buy’s own corporate strengths, in addition to the usual free shipping perks.

For $200 per year—or $180, for Best Buy credit card holders—Beta members get unlimited Geek Squad tech support, included extended protection (up to two years) on most purchases, free standard shipping, and free installation for most products and appliances. There’s also a 24/7 “concierge” service available exclusively to Beta members by phone, chat, or email.

The details Best Buy’s corporate announcement provides about the concierge service are slim, but it sounds like a sort of generic “niece or nephew who’s good at technology” who can can answer questions. (Nibling as a Service?)

Beta’s $200 annual fee is significantly more expensive than either Amazon Prime ($120) or Walmart+ ($100)—but its value-add services focus heavily on a human element, rather than simple economies of scale. The added cost might look like a no-brainer to customers who are particularly prone to technological confusion.

The pilot program is currently available in certain stores through Iowa, Oklahoma, and eastern Pennsylvania, with plans to expand soon to Minnesota, North Carolina, and Tennessee. If you’re in the market for 24/7 NaaS right now but don’t live in one of Best Buy’s pilot areas, you can subscribe to the company’s existing Total Tech Support program for the same price, but with significantly reduced benefits.

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