Once again, users have taken to the internet to share their opinions about a retailer that is hiding products (that are incredibly hard to find) behind paywalls as a way to score some extra money from consumers. This retailer is Best Buy and the products are NVIDIA RTX video cards.
By paywalls, we refer to the annual memberships that these companies offer to customers at a premium price for specific perks like free shipping, special discounts and subscriptions, early access to special sales events (like Black Friday), or special tech support programs. Best Buy’s offering a few of these options, including the My Best Buy Elite membership (your typical shopper membership), and Best Buy TotalTech (an annual support subscription that covers “most” of your Best Buy purchases and gains some free delivery and even installation options).
Over the last few years, companies like Best Buy have been considering the sale of hard-to-find products as one of these perks. Forcing consumers to have to buy into these “optional” memberships in order to have a chance at getting these products. These companies have been doing the same for gaming consoles like the Xbox Series X or the PlayStation 5.
At first, you might think “what a perk”. At least, until you realize how many people sign up for a membership for a chance to buy into one of these products, just to find out that they sold out in a flash. Now you have far more people buying into memberships than there are available product. Quite the lucrative and dishonest trick waiting such a false promise around.
This time, it was a forced bundle, where Best Buy only opened a sale of RTX 30-series cards to those willing to also buy into the Best Buy TotalTech membership — a membership that would cost a consumer $199 annually. Thus increasing the cost of your video card purchase by a lot for those that had no interest in buying into such a plan on the side.
Other retailers, like GameStop (PowerUp Rewards Pro membership) and Amazon (Amazon Prime membership), do exactly the same and it has been creating a lot of distrust and anger among shoppers. Eventually, these companies are going to catch on that this is going to start driving people away faster than anything else. Not just from these memberships, but possibly from their stores all together as they look for relief from other companies.
Things like this made me boycott Best Buy the last year or so.