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October 13, 2021 12:02 am

Best Buy's New $200/Yr Membership Locks PS5, Hot Holiday Items Behind Membership

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: If you're still searching for a PS5 and are a Best Buy customer, your ship may have just come in -- that is, if you're willing to spend an extra $200 a year for access. That's because the big-box electronics retailer is locking stock of in-demand holiday items like Sony's console behind membership of its new Totaltech program. The expensive customer service package was recently rolled out nationwide. The $200 annual service -- which has benefits like round-the-clock tech support, up to two years of protection on Best Buy purchases (including AppleCare+ insurance, which can cost $200 on its own), and member discounted prices -- is throwing in exclusive access to "the season's hardest-to-find products" as a bonus perk for the holidays, the company said in a statement. The Best Buy retail site had the $500 disc drive model PS5s available for Totaltech members to buy Monday morning, with the consoles gated behind an "exclusive access event" paywall. Instead of selling out instantly, its stock lasted between 90 minutes and two hours -- a relatively glacial sales pace compared to the insane demand for the hardware that consumers have faced since it hit stores last November. Although the PS5's listing page pointed directly to Totaltech membership exclusivity while the hardware was still available, its seemingly unrelated VIP buying privileges aren't listed anywhere on the program's membership benefits and FAQ pages. We would not be shocked to see other highly desired products that have been affected by the chip shortage follow suit, particularly high-end PC GPUs and Xbox Series X/S consoles. The service is replacing a "Best Buy Beta" program that was tested in select markets starting in April. Beta seemed to target a more generalized range of benefits over one focused on tech support and protection, and it notably did not offer special members-only events to buy limited-stock electronics. The company's free My Best Buy membership, which sometimes includes exclusive discount sales, remains unaffected.

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