Make Money Selling Your Old Tech
Selling on eBay
If you're already an eBay aficionado, selling electronics there could be convenient and may return a higher price than what you can get elsewhere. In recent weeks the Kindle 2 sold for $120--or, loaded with books, for up to $209. The site is likely a time sink, however, if you're a first-time user who hasn't built up a reputation or learned the ins and outs of online auctions.
In any case, 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. You'll have to sign in to view the results, which cover only the past 15 days.
eBay users were willing to pay a range of prices for a 16GB, first-generation iPod Touch: from $56 for a broken device up to $148 for one with cosmetic wear and tear. An Apple iBook 1GHz G4 fetched between $40 and $170, depending on the condition. Don't forget to review eBay's fees before launching an auction.
Selling Media Items on Glyde
If you have a surplus of DVDs, CDs, video games, and books, Glyde is an up-and-coming service for selling and buying media. Unlike with eBay, users involved in a transaction don't learn each other's identity; and unlike with Craigslist, buyers can pay by credit card. Red Dead Redemption for the PlayStation 3, for example, is selling on Glyde for about $41, including shipping. NextWorth says it will pay $28 for the same game with normal wear and the original case. Amazon offers store credit for used games.
Selling on Amazon
Amazon allows smaller companies (including some tech resellers) to piggyback on its infrastructure and sell things through its WebStore. However, this service is for selling in bulk, not one-off unloading. After a 30-day free trial, pricing options start at $10 per month with a 7 percent cut of completed transactions.
RadioShack accepts some equipment that other services do not, such as car stereo amplifiers, radar detectors, and mice. In exchange for a store gift card, its Trade & Save program offers prepaid shipping of phones, GPS devices, cameras and camcorders, gaming consoles, games, and MP3 players.
The TechForward program at RadioShack, Office Depot, and online via Tiger Direct and CompUSA stores offers a resale program of sorts for consumers who upgrade frequently. You buy a TechForward plan at the time of a new product purchase. Six months later, you can return the product and receive half of its initial price, which you can use toward a newer model.
Makers of printers increasingly offer free mail-in recycling for empty ink cartridges, but you can earn back some of the fortune you lost buying printer consumables. Staples stores offer modest coupons for bringing in spent ink cartridges.
Environmental Office Solutions pays money for empty inkjet and laser toner cartridges, as well as cell phones. For a far-from-paperless office, a pile of cartridges with a return amount of $3 to $10 each can add up. The company says the most popular toners it takes include the HP C8543X, CE250, and CC530 cartridges. Inkjets fetch a few dollars less, with the HP 28 and 22, and the Canon CL41, among the most wanted. If you have more than 150 cartridges, Environmental Office Solutions takes bulk orders.
Donate Gear for a Tax Break
Giving away tech for resale through a group such as Goodwill can result in tax deductions for charitable contributions, with the side benefit of enhanced community relations. The nonprofit TechSoup has information on giving equipment to other nonprofits.
Businesses must take extra steps to ensure that their getting rid of old gear complies with the law. In some municipalities you can be fined for tossing electronics into Dumpsters. The federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act makes it illegal to carelessly dispose of goods containing hazardous materials, such as lead-laced CRT monitors. Electronics make up 2 percent of municipal waste and are the fastest-growing portion of the waste stream, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Saying good-bye to old computers and hard drives isn't just about getting rid of the equipment, but also clearing the data they store. Companies dealing with sensitive financial information have to consider the Sarbanes-Oxley and Gramm-Leach-Bliley acts. Those who work in healthcare must follow HIPAA regulations.
That's why it pays to research security and data-wiping options before handing your laptops or smartphones over to strangers. You can delete the data yourself. If you sell to a third-party service, see that it follows Department of Defense data-destruction standards.
There's no law against shipping electronics overseas to developing nations for unsafe recycling--and that's a problem. Just because you're selling electronics to a willing buyer doesn't mean that the product will wind up disassembled in a way that doesn't pollute or harm workers.
"Typically cell phones have a better reuse and recycling market than computers do," says Sheila Davis, executive director of the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition. And companies reselling phones to developing nations are usually doing the right thing environmentally.
Only 10 percent of obsolete computers, however, are recycled according to high human-rights and ecological standards.
"If they're taking your computer for free or giving you money for it, more than likely they're not handling it properly, because it actually costs money to recycle properly," says Davis.
Only recyclers certified through the Basel Action Network's e-Stewards program are certified not to ship equipment overseas for unsafe labor, not to use prison labor, and not to incinerate items.
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