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Best Buy Will Give HD DVD Buyers $50 Gift Certificate plus Trade-in

Best Buy announced on Wednesday that they will give customers who bought an HD DVD player a US$50 gift certificate. The move is intended to mend relations with customers who may have felt they were led astray by the electronics giant. The move is similar to what Apple did when they first irritated early iPhone buyers by reducing the price drastically, but then later gave them a $100 store gift certificate.

"The DVD format war has divided our customers in a way we haven�t seen since Betamax took on VHS more than 20 years ago," said Brian J. Dunn, president and chief operating officer for Best Buy. "At Best Buy, we understood and shared our customers’ frustrations as they were being asked to choose one format or the other. Now that the format war is over, we hope these gift cards will reassure our customers that we will help them make a smooth transition into the right technology for their needs."

Best Buy said it will proactively mail the cards to customers and the card should be in the mail by May 1st. However, if customers think they’ve been overlooked, didn’t have a correct address on file, and so on, they can call 888-BEST-BUY if they have a credit card or Best Buy receipt for the HD DVD player.

While the HD DVD player, via upconverting, can make standard DVDs look even better than the older, standard DVD players, those customers who want to trade their HD DVD player in can also do so. "Beginning on March 21, customers who do want to get rid of their HD-DVD players can visit Best Buy�s Online Trade-In Center at Visitors to the site will receive instant estimates of the value of their HD-DVD players and movies. Those who agree with the estimates can then ship their goods to the Trade-In Center free of charge by downloading a prepaid shipping label and will receive an additional gift card as payment for their trade-in. This service is open to HD-DVD owners regardless of where they bought their player," Best Buy said.

In a comment cited at the New York Times, the question was raised as to whether Best Buy may have taken a page from Apple’s playbook when it sent a $100 gift certificate to early iPhone customers after a dramatic price decrease. "I would be disingenuous if I did not tell you we constantly survey what the industry is doing," Mr. Dunn said.

The move will cost Best Buy US$10M on the surface, but as with the Apple move, Best Buy customers will not only feel better about the company, but they’ll be back in the store spending those gift certificates.

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