Instant Quotes, Simple Shipping
BuyMyTronics, Gazelle, and NextWorth are competing services that offer cash or credit for an array of electronics. Each Website displays an immediate price quote once you describe the condition of the item you're selling. Although I saw plenty of information for Apple computers on these sites, I couldn't find quotes for a ThinkPad laptop. Some of the products I looked up weren't listed on NextWorth at all.
After you click to commit to a sale on one of these sites, you need to mail in the gear via prepaid shipping that arrives at your door. The service adjusts the quoted price if the item doesn't match your description. When the transaction is done, you get payment via check, PayPal, or a store gift card.
Comparing quotes for the same products, I saw few drastic differences among the sites. A 16GB, first-generation iPod Touch would fetch $51 on Gazelle, a dollar more on BuyMyTronics, or $63 on NextWorth. The same kind of iPod in varying levels of condition was going for between $100 and $200 on Craigslist in the San Francisco Bay Area, and had sold for between $58 broken and $148 in great shape on eBay.
Price quotes showed a bigger range for larger and less-popular items. BuyMyTronics quoted $41, NextWorth quoted $66, and Gazelle quoted $95 for a 1GHz, 60GB Apple iBook G4. A Garmin Nuvi 785T GPS device, not found on BuyMyTronics, would garner $35 at Gazelle and almost $84 at NextWorth. For older, less desirable goods, such as a Canon SD400 Elph digital camera, you'd be lucky to get $10. I couldn't find any takers for a year-old Canon inkjet or an older HP laser printer.
Bulk-resale options for small businesses are available at Gazelle and elsewhere. If you're planning to off-load a bunch of machines, contact the services directly.
As for security, each service pledges to wipe data from your equipment, but the details are relatively slim.
Brett Mosley, CEO of BuyMyTronics, says his company resells tens of thousands of units--more than two-thirds of what it buys--on other sites, including Amazon and eBay. It refurbishes another 15 percent of the items it receives, and sends another 15 percent off for recycling in first-world countries.
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. Apple offers gift cards toward new purchases if you send an approved Mac or PC laptop or desktop to partner PowerON, which provides a prepaid shipping label and a box. On the other hand, recycling a PC or monitor through Apple partner WeRecycle involves paying a $30 charge.
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. This could be the best deal for getting old printers out of the office, since few third-party services take them. HP charges $15 to scrub data off your devices according to Department of Defense standards. HP's return-for-cash options include consumer buyback and asset return for businesses.
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-resesller specialty site; for instance, San Francisco-area Craigslist users selling the Kindle 2, which would fetch $71 or less on BuyMyTronics and its competitors, were asking between $100 and $169. Plus, 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. For more advice, check out our tips for using Craigslist.
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.