Amazon Prime is one of the most popular subscription services in the world, but other retailers are finally beginning to challenge the site with subscriptions of their own. For example, Walmart+ made its debut last fall, giving shoppers the option to pay $98 a year for free delivery, a new Scan & Go feature in the Walmart app, and fuel discounts. Now, Best Buy is following suit with its own service, but this one is the most expensive yet.
Starting on Wednesday, April 7th in select markets, Best Buy is kicking off a pilot of its new Best Buy Beta membership program which will give subscribers access to “exclusive member pricing, unlimited Geek Squad technical support, up to two years of protection on most product purchases, free standard shipping and delivery, and free installation on most products and appliances.” Here’s the kicker: Best Buy Beta costs $199 a year.
The reason that Best Buy Beta costs $199 a year (or $179 a year if you have a Best Buy credit card) is that it will be taking the place of the $199 Total Tech Support program in the pilot markets, as a Best Buy spokesperson told Bloomberg. If the program is successful in those markets, it could replace Total Tech Support nationwide.
As of this week, Best Buy Beta is available in certain stores throughout Iowa, Oklahoma, and eastern Pennsylvania. Before the end of the month, stores in Minnesota, North Carolina, and Tennessee will join the pilot as well. All in all, 60 Best Buy stores should be participating in the program by the end of this month.
The two key features of Best Buy Beta appear to be free shipping and delivery with no minimums and unlimited Geek Squad technical support on any technology in your home — even stuff you didn’t purchase from Best Buy. For some customers, these two perks alone might make the membership worthwhile, but you’ll also get dedicated and exclusive concierge support, exclusive pricing on a wide range of products in the store, free installation and two-year protection on most purchases, an extended 60-day return window, and 10% off subscription services. The one thing that Best Buy’s membership lacks is a streaming video service, but between Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Peacock, Disney+, Paramount+, Apple TV+, and HBO Max, do we really need a Best Buy original streaming service anyway?
“As we look to evolve our membership programs, the goal of Best Buy Beta is to create a membership experience that customers will love and to leave them feeling confident throughout their relationship with Best Buy,” said Allison Peterson, Best Buy’s chief customer officer, in a press release on the Best Buy website. “This pilot offers premium service, complete with support aimed at anticipating our customers’ needs.”