Wal-Mart offers tech support for shoppers

NEW YORK Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:50pm EDT

A new Wal-Mart store shows off the company's new logo in Loveland, Colorado July 21, 2009. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

A new Wal-Mart store shows off the company's new logo in Loveland, Colorado July 21, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Rick Wilking

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) is offering a new support service to help shoppers set up consumer electronics in their homes, posing a new challenge to rival Best Buy Co In (BBY.N).

Wal-Mart said it began rolling out the service this month with privately held N.E.W. Customer Service Companies Inc and is making it available through all of its U.S. Wal-Mart stores in time for the holiday season.

Shoppers can buy service plans on a prepaid card ranging from $99 to $339. The service spans help with basic television installation on the low end to setting up a home theater, wireless router network or a home office computer network.

The service includes a preliminary consultation and a tutorial after installation is completed.

Consumer electronics retailers have been offering technology support to differentiate their business and cut down on the number of products, particularly flat-panel TVs, that are returned after customers get the gadgets home but cannot use them properly.

Best Buy said last month it would hire more staff for the U.S. holidays and was betting that services like its Geek Squad repair assistance would give it a further edge over rivals.

(Reporting by Michele Gershberg; Editing Bernard Orr)

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