There’s Money on eBay in Old Technology

Like a new car that plummets in value once you drive it away from the garage, electronics are worth less the moment you slip them out of the box. And the bad news is there’s nothing you can do about technology depreciation.

The good news, however, is that you can probably find a market for the gear you no longer want. Unloading spent gadgets can put cash in your pocket. Cash you could use to reinvest toward the latest technology perhaps?

Companies shedding old electronics used to have to pay other companies to help with disposal and with legal compliance. Now, however, there are several options for handling the process yourself.

In addition to the broader online marketplaces of Craigslist and eBay, specialized Web-based services will pay you for, and then resell or recycle, used electronics. In many cases the amount they’ll pay for goods that are only several seasons old can amount to more than half of the initial price. What’s the best way to navigate this market?

How to Sell

It takes only minutes to look up a quote for an item on a reselling service’s website and then request a prepaid shipping envelope. Within a few days you can send away the unwanted stuff and then receive the money via PayPal or a check in the mail.

For the greatest resale value later, when you buy new keep the original box, cables, and software intact. When you’re ready to give your gear a new home, polish that laptop up and send it packing with its manual enclosed.

Although you may lose money allowing electronics to sit around and depreciate, it’s also a waste of time and money if you spend a day scheming how to yield a £20 return from a five-year-old GPS device. Plus, selling one item at a time can give a minor payback, but you’ll get the biggest reward by dealing with a handful of goods simultaneously. For example, if your company is upgrading its computers, selling the orphaned desktops and flat-screen monitors in one swoop can help recover some of the previous investment.

What to Sell

Smartphones and laptops–particularly from Apple–tend to fetch the highest prices. Digital cameras, MP3 players, HDTVs, storage drives and inkjet printers are among the hardest sells. If you hold on to any product for too long its resale value may evaporate completely. In this case you might as well donate it to a charity, a school or maybe to a tech museum.

Cell Phone Recycling

Handing over a worn BlackBerry Bold 9000 could earn you more than £70. You can find a plethora of phone-recycling services online that pay a pretty penny for relatively new smartphones. A number of sites specialize in iPhone recycling and trade-ins.

It’s wise to wipe text messages, contacts, calendar items, and other data off a phone even if you’re sending it to a service that promises to do the same–especially when those security pledges are vaguely worded. Remote wiping is available for the iPhone with a MobileMe account, and for the BlackBerry 6 operating system.

Vendor Trade-In Programs

If you’re a brand loyalist, trading in a product through the company that made it can help you afford a same-name upgrade. For example Apple offers gift cards toward new purchases if you send an approved Mac, PC laptop or desktop to an approved Apple partner.

HP’s trade-in program pays in credit toward a new HP purchase for sending in equipment, from copiers to workstations, made by HP and other companies.

If you’re buying a new PC from Dell, that manufacturer will take any other old computer from you for free. The quarterly Greenpeace Guide to Greener Electronics can tip you off to recycling options from other big electronics brands, although most don’t provide payment or credit.

Selling on Craigslist

If you don’t mind meeting up with strangers, the Craigslist Website is among the fastest options for selling items locally. Depending on your region, you might also reap a higher price than you would on a tech-reseller specialty site.

Craigslist can be a good option for getting rid of printers, monitors, and other gear that resellers often reject. Remember, though, that the asking prices don’t reflect what buyers end up paying.

If you don’t want to post a custom ad, field e-mail messages from real people, and take the time to arrange for an in-person pickup and payment, the online reseller services are a better fit. Then again, you might also consider even less formal channels of exchange online, such as advertising what you’re getting rid of through Facebook or informing your Twitter followers.

Selling on eBay

If you’re already an eBay aficionado, selling electronics there could be convenient and may return a higher price than you can get elsewhere.

Research on eBay can give you an idea of a product’s fair market value. You can use the advanced search function to scour completed listings for what people paid in the end for items, versus the list prices, which often differ wildly.

Don’t forget to factor in PayPal and eBay fees when pricing your used technology offering.


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