East End Tech: New Year, New Gadgets…New Cash?

Out with the Old

Now that we’re firmly into 2013, it’s a good time to take stock of your holiday gifts. Deciding what’s worth keeping is pretty easy. Samsung Galaxy, sure. iPad Mini, check. Any model of Blackberry, don’t open the box.

Here’s the real challenge: With so many new gadgets flooding the market, you might end up with multiple versions of the same product—one that’s new, and one that’s not so new.

But do you really want to trash that first generation smartphone? It was cutting-edge just two years ago. The good news is, the web is full of sites that help you sell, trade, return or refurbish some of those products that didn’t make the cut. Knowing where, when and how to do it is an art form; I’m here to help.

Option 1: Run Like a Gazelle

If you’re looking to quickly unload your old device, Gazelle.com is probably the biggest and best known of the online trading posts. They accept most leading brands of handhelds and computers, including Apple products. The site is clean and simple to use. First, you click on the model of the device you want to sell. Then, you enter the product’s condition: from “broken” to “good” to “flawless.” You then receive an instant offer for your device, sight unseen.

Very simple indeed.

Gazelle offers several other cool features, such as free shipping and a free data wipe to make sure no one gets your old photos or emails. They also accept “unlocked phones that were set up for use with unauthorized carriers; manufacturers would never touch these devices.

Here’s the bad news: Prices can be rather inconsistent—and low. An iPhone 3G in flawless condition will score you $30. But a Samsung Galaxy Note II in good condition brings in $325. That’s fairly close to list price.

So what’s the secret here? Like the speedy African animal in its name, the trick with Gazelle is to move fast. Don’t let those old gadgets sit around and gather dust; the moment you stop using it, sell it fast while there’s still value.

Quick side note: If you’re wondering what Gazelle does with your items once they buy them, the answer is simple. They resell them on eBay, Amazon and in foreign markets.

Option 2: Cash + Carry

One device Gazelle won’t buy is your TV set. This is a problem because TVs are evolving nearly as quickly as handhelds and tablets. But they’re incredibly heavy and complex to remove. In this situation, I recommend Craigslist.

That’s not a typo. I’ve had very good success selling old TVs there; you just need to be patient and reasonable with pricing. Chances are you’ll only get a few hundred dollars for your old set, but the real value lies in getting someone to come and take it away from you.

Best Buy and most big box electronics retailers will also do trade-ins, but that’s the catch; you have to buy the new TV first, from them, before they will take the old set.

Option 3: The Old Fashioned Way: eBay

It’s hard to believe that eBay.com could be considered “old fashioned,” but this is the internet; any company founded more than 10 years ago qualifies. eBay is a great place to buy stuff, but despite improvements to its site, it’s still not an easy place to sell. You need to set up an account, go through a banking or Paypal certification, list the item (with photos and description), and figure out how to price the item you’re trying to sell.

If you’re lucky enough to find a buyer, you still need to ship it, which tacks on costs and hassles. (This is why I like Craigslist.)

So why use eBay? First, you open the marketplace beyond your local area and reach millions of potential buyers around the world. Second, you have potential to make more money for your device, because you’re eliminating the middlemen and Gazelles of the world.

My advice: use eBay for those rare, limited-run tech items that might have unique value. For your other devices, keep it quick and simple; the extra dough is probably not worth the hassle.

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