SMART TECHNOLOGY


Cash In Your Old Electronics

You probably have plenty of old electronic gizmos and gadgets tucked away in drawers. It’s easy to convert those cell phones, computers, iPods and movie DVDs into quick cash.

A number of big-name shopping sites, including Amazon, Best Buy, eBay and Gazelle, will offer cash or store credit for your gear. The process is quick and painless, and you won’t have to pay shipping costs—even if the buyer rejects your stuff and returns it.

Although you may earn more by auctioning gear on eBay, it’s hard to top the simplicity of the cash-for-electronics marketplaces.

You’ll often get top dollar for trading in high-demand items (such as anything from Apple). That’s the case with Gazelle. Gazelle chief gadget officer Anthony Scarsella says you can estimate what you’d get for your used item by seeing what it’s selling for at the Gazelle stores on Amazon and eBay. Figure you’ll get 10% to 20% less because the merchants add a markup.

Easy sell. As you might expect from the world’s top e-tailer, Amazon has an extremely user-friendly interface with its Trade-In Store. The site accepts trade-ins for store credit in four categories: Books, Video Games, Movies & TV (on DVD), and Electronics. To submit an item, you enter the product’s name in a search window, then answer a few questions about its condition. If Amazon is interested, you’ll get an offer on the spot. If Amazon decides, upon receiving your device, that the product is worth less than its original offer, you can accept a reduced price or have it returned at no charge.

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I gave the service a try. Amazon offered $63.25 for my Apple iPod nano, which was a few years old but in excellent condition. I accepted the offer and printed Amazon’s free UPS mailing label, which popped up in a browser window. Next, I boxed up the iPod and dropped it off at the nearest UPS store. Painless. Within two weeks, Amazon e-mailed that it had accepted my iPod and credited my gift-card balance.

Could I have made more by auctioning the device on eBay? Probably. I checked eBay and discovered that bidders were offering up to $100 for iPod models similar to mine. Lesson learned: If you want top dollar, trade-ins aren’t necessarily the way to go—though getting a good price at auction is always a gamble.

The eBay difference. EBay’s Instant Sale works pretty much the same way as Amazon’s Trade-In Store, albeit with a notable difference. Unlike Amazon, eBay gives you cash, not store credit. The fastest way to get paid is to open an account with eBay’s PayPal service (if you haven’t already), then transfer the funds to your checking account.

EBay offered $36.35 for my Apple TV video-streaming device, sight unseen. After examining it, however, eBay lowered the offer to $30.90; “visible scratches” were to blame, they said. (What scratches? I wondered. Am I blind?)

Nevertheless, I accepted the lower offer, mostly because it was higher than competing trade-in sites were willing to pay. Gazelle, for instance, offered just $27, and Amazon wasn’t interested in my Apple device at all.

In addition to eBay, other sites offer cash, including Gazelle. Gazelle also operates online trade-in services for big-name retailers, such as Costco and Walmart. If you’d rather not pack up your gear, take it to a participating Best Buy or Radio Shack store, where someone will appraise and buy your products on the spot. Many trade-in services offer to recycle your device free if they don’t want to buy it.

Always compare prices at several sites before you accept an offer. While you’re at it, surf over to eBay to see how much sellers and auctioneers are asking for your product.


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