Best Buy Locks newest batch of GPUs behind a $200 paywall
Best Buy has landed itself in hot water by placing in-stock graphics cards behind a paywall. The paywall in question is a subscription to the Totaltech membership program which costs a whopping $200 per year. It certainly is not helped by the fact that Best Buy is an official retailer of the RTX 30 series cards in the US.
When Nvidia paused its store due to the increase of bot activity, Best Buy took over selling Founders Edition cards on their behalf. Best Buy would also later halt most of its online sales of RTX 30 series cards in favour of a ticket-based system at its brick and mortar stores.
On Thursday, Best Buy released more graphics cards on its online store, with one major stipulation: you need to be a Totaltech member to buy any.
A $200 Totaltech membership includes:
Geek Squad tech support
24 Months product protection (providing you buy another year of Totaltech after the first 12 months expire.)
‘Free’ delivery and installation.
VIP access to dedicated phone and chat teams.
Access to exclusive Totaltech member prices.
‘Free’ 2-day shipping
Extended 60-day return and exchange window.
Everyday savings on repairs, advanced services and more.
Subscription services from certain distributors aren’t new, but the issue here is the exclusive access Totaltech member prices, which include access to Best Buy’s stock of RTX 30 series cards, many of which, you cannot buy elsewhere.
This is only a surface-level issue because even with the subscription, it doesn’t guarantee a purchase of the new GPU, it’s merely a chance to purchase one.
Though nowadays, lotteries or special bundles that grant access to a new GPU have been in regular circulation for the past year or two, not many have put it behind such a massive paywall.
This isn’t the first time Best Buy has held products behind a Totaltech paywall. Previously, the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 have been locked behind it as well. Though, as Best Buy is an official distributor of the Founders Edition cards, and thus privy to GPU stock that other retailers are not, it just doesn’t sit right with most people.
To further rub salt in the wound, there was a one card per customer policy but was exclusive to each card model. Which meant that customers were able to buy one of each model available. This meant that those looking to resell GPUs for a profit were able to snap up more cards than any one gamer could need, and easily make back the $200 sign up fee several times over.
Ultimately, Best Buy has leverage over PC gamers and by placing its graphics cards behind a paywall, it’s showing its intention to use it. A good day for Totaltech members, but an awful one for goodwill among its non-member customers.