Best Buy offers $50 gift card, trade-in for HD DVD buyers

Now that the format war is over and Blu-ray is the only choice for next-generation DVDs, retailer Best Buy is attempting to make amends with customers who bought HD DVD players before Toshiba pulled the plug.

All Best Buy customers who purchased an HD DVD player or HD DVD add-on for the Xbox 360 earlier than February 23, 2008 are eligible to receive a $50 gift card. The retailer says it will be distributing $10 million in cards, which means 200,000 individuals bought into the losing format from Best Buy alone.

With many picking up the Toshiba HD-A3 during the holidays for just over $100, the offer is quite a good deal -- especially since customers can keep their players and continue to use them for either HD DVD movies or as up-converting players with standards DVDs.

In order to receive the $50 gift card, most customers shouldn't have to do anything. Best Buy says it will locate buyers using the information it has on file through its Reward Zone and service plan programs, or from sales on bestbuy.com. Those that cannot be identified are instructed to call (888) BEST BUY and will need to supply a receipt or credit card statement with the transaction.

Best Buy says customers should receive their cards in the mail by May 1.

The retailer also has an offer for those who want to get rid of their HD DVD players, whether or not they were purchased from Best Buy. Beginning March 21, the company's Online Trade-In Center will provide estimates for how much the company will pay for various Toshiba HD DVD player models. Individuals can agree to the estimate and mail in their players to receive a Best Buy gift card for that amount.

"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," remarked Best Buy president Brian J. Dunn.

Although the offer is costing the company at least $10 million, Best Buy is clearly hoping customers will use the gift card to replace their HD DVD player with a Blu-ray player. Since Blu-ray players -- whether from Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, Sharp or Pioneer -- are priced nearly three times higher than HD DVD players, Best Buy will reap the benefit in the long-run if this happens.

Prices for Blu-ray players have only gone up since the format declared victory over HD DVD, according to figures from comparison shopping service PriceGrabber.

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