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Best Buy, a large retail chain in the U.S., this week announced trade-in plan under which customers who acquired HD DVD players from one of its stores can bring them back and receive a certain sum for them. While the company claims that the program is in customers’ best interests, in reality the end-users will lose much more than they are going to get. Additionally, Best Buy will provide $50 gift cards to all of its HD DVD customers.

Best Buy will give $50 gift cards to customers who purchased an HD DVD player or Xbox 360 HD DVD add-on drive from its U.S. stores before February 23, 2008. Customers will get a gift card for each HD DVD device that they purchased. Through this program, Best Buy will distribute more than $10 million in gift cards to customers across the country. Best Buy will proactively mail cards to all customers that the company can identify as having purchased an HD-DVD player. Some customers will have to present a receipt or other proof of HD DVD player’s purchase.

“The beauty of this offer is that it doesn’t require our customers to give up their HD-DVD player. We know that many people who purchased these players have HD-DVD movies that they would like to continue to watch. We’re telling our customers they can keep their players to play these movies as well as their older DVDs and use the $50 to treat themselves to anything else in our stores,” said Barry Judge, chief marketing officer for Best Buy.

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 to receive instant estimates of the value of their HD DVD players and movies. Unfortunately, Best Buy is not going to buy HD DVD players and movies for a decent sum: the web-site offers just $195 for Toshiba XA2 ($799) in ideal condition with 11 – 20 movies and just $51 for Toshiba HD-A3 with 5 movies. Each movie on Blu-ray disc format costs about $20 in online stores, whereas Best Buy sells BD movies for about $30 a title. This service is open to HD-DVD owners regardless of where they bought their player.

Back in February Toshiba, the main backer of HD DVD format, said it would begin to reduce shipments of HD DVD players and recorders to retail channels, aiming for cessation of these businesses by the end of March 2008. Toshiba also plans to end volume production of HD DVD disc drives for PCs and video game consoles in the same timeframe, yet will continue to make efforts to meet customer requirements. Since then all the major Hollywood studios said that they would focus on releasing titles on competing Blu-ray disc format.

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