I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that most of our readers probably don't stop when they have bought just one small computer or smartphone. We all see the slew of new technology getting faster, smaller, and even cheaper in most cases, so sometimes it's almost too easy to justify the purchase of one more thing to either entertain us or simplify our daily tasks.
But there finally comes a time when even the most die hard of gadget collectors takes a look around and wonders how they have accumulated so much stuff, whether it be a shoebox full of yesterday's smartphones or a desk drawer littered with those "must have" handhelds and small computers that have slowly lost their mojo. Once the decision is made to part with the unused items, we're usually left with a few options, most of which are tedious and leave us holding on to that older bit of technology for too long as the depreciation curve hits the fast track downhill.
A few months back, I found myself in this exact situation and I decided to try sending in a few things to Gazelle, who just so happens to specialize in buying practically any old gizmo you may want to get rid of. My experience was excellent, and since Jenn mentioned yesterday that her once-beloved imported HTC HD2 was being sent off for cash to the Boston-based company in order to get ready for the upcoming US-spec version from T-Mobile, I thought it would be the perfect time to go over the process with you, and just maybe you can get that extra dough you need to get ready for your next round of gadget buying.
First off, you're probably wondering why I didn't just use eBay or Craigslist, and for me the answers are simple. While eBay usually results in a sale as long as there's not a crazy reserve price or starting bid, you are basically rolling the dice in the hope of getting what you deem a fair value. You may get more than you thought, you may get less, but either way it's mostly out of your control. Then, you have to hope that the seller actually follows through with payment from a legitimate PayPal account with a verified shipping address. Now granted, most eBayers are good people, and I have never once been burned on an auction, and I've been using the service for over 14 years, all the way back to when it was known as AuctionWeb. Besides the worries of fraud, there's the little matter of all those fees that add up from listing and closing, plus PayPal and shipping charges. Not to mention that it's downright tedious to create multiple auctions when you don't make a living doing that sort of thing.
As for Craigslist, my idea of fun is not meeting up with a possibly shady character who might want to buy a phone or computer I'm selling if they can come up with the money. Plus, it may take numerous listings before I get a successful sale, and then I have to drive somewhere safe to meet the interested parties and finish the deal. Of course, one other great option is our own Classifieds section in the Pocketables Forum, where there have been dozens and dozens of successful transactions between many of the users, but sometimes impatience gets the best of us, and that's where Gazelle comes in.
With Gazelle, you simply go to their website and enter what you have in the giant search box and a list of possible matches will generate as you type a few letters. Once you find your device, you select it and move on to the next page where you rate the condition of the item. For most things, Gazelle will also have checkboxes so you can specify if you have the original box, included cables, and any other accessories. The value they quote you will obviously take into account the answers provided, and it will be adjusted accordingly. At the bottom of the page, you can see a stocks-like graph that illustrates the pricing history for this particular item over the past few months and what it might be in the immediate future, so you can make a better decision on whether to accept their offer.
Once you decide to take their offer, go ahead and create an account and just follow the steps. Gazelle will pay you either by check delivered via snail mail, Amazon gift card (you get an extra 5% using this option), or cash deposited right into your PayPal account, which is what I did. One nice thing about their payments is that there are no hidden fees, even with PayPal, so you get the exact amount they quote you.
Once you are finished checking out, they automatically know the approximate weight of everything and they will provide you with an electronic UPS shipping label that you print out and affix to the box you are using. They pay for shipping (unless you're in Hawaii like Jenn)! Can't get much easier than that: free shipping plus knowing that you are guaranteed payment once Gazelle receives your item and it goes through their inspection and approval process. Total average time for the shipping via UPS Ground from Texas to Massachusetts, the inspection and approval, and the payment into my PayPal was about 12-14 days. Running a 7-day auction on eBay and then getting everything settled would probably take about the same length of time, maybe even longer.
Now after reading about Gazelle, you may decide this is just the ticket to quickly get rid of a bunch of unused stuff, but keep in mind a few things. Not all items will get an offer, especially if they are really old, in which case Gazelle will offer to recycle them for free. Also, some things may get such a lowball price that you decide to either keep them or try and find a friend, coworker, or family member that may be interested, especially if you have a bunch of extras or accessories that add to the value, since Gazelle only wants the main device.
For example, right now I just checked the price of my trusty Archos 605 160GB that is in mint condition, with all original packaging. They are offering me $100, as you can see in the image, which by itself is not bad considering I've had this thing for a few years now. But I also have a Noreve leather case and two docking stations, plus the extra codecs and web browser I purchased from Archos. Since none of this stuff adds any value in Gazelle's eyes, I'm stuck with a bunch of extra accessories if I send in just my Archos unit. If I look over on eBay, I can see similar setups to mine going for at least 2x the Gazelle price, so in this case I would definitely be better off using eBay, unless someone reading this article is interested in a barely-used Archos system. You know how to get in touch with me; just don't tell Jenn I'm using the front page for my own personal classifieds!
Another example that shows a very acceptable price would be my iPhone 3GS 32GB, which is currently quoted at $440. Now, there's no way I'm getting rid of my 3GS right now unless Steve Jobs comes to my home and demands it, and even then I would need to get a free iPad or something for my trouble. But if this price holds up, I will probably be motivated to sell in June or July when the next-gen iPhone comes out. Again, looking at eBay I can find wildly variable iPhone 3GS prices, but they tend to average about $100-$200 more than what Gazelle is paying, before taking into account any fees or possible fraudulent bids. For me, the peace of mind and simplicity outweighs the possibility of a little more cash, at least in most situations.
So far in the last few months, I have sent in nearly $2,000 dollars worth of stuff to Gazelle that I just had laying around. All of these things had outlived their usefulness for me, and I had procrastinated long enough in trying to decide the best way to sell them. Sure, I perhaps could have squeezed a few more dollars out of everything by using eBay, but I'm happy to have thinned out my gadget collection the easy way with Gazelle, and I look forward to using them in the future because I have a strange feeling that I haven't made my last gadget purchase.