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How much is that old smartphone worth?

Created date

January 6th, 2017
smart phone recycling

Why not consider recycling your old smart phone?

If there is one absolute truth about modern technology, it’s that as soon as one product is released, another better, more powerful one will follow close behind. As a result, perfectly usable smartphones and tablets are relegated to the junk drawer simply because consumers have upgraded.

The logical thing is to recycle those outdated pieces of tech equipment, and if you can get some cash for turning it in, all the better, right? 

Not so fast. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the State of Georgia have charged Laptop & Desktop Repair, LLC, an electronics buyback company that specializes in buying consumers’ used smartphones, tablets, and other devices, and its owner, Vadim Olegovich Kruchinin, with deceiving consumers with high-dollar offers to buy back their electronics, only to give consumers far less after they sent their devices to the company.

Operating websites like cashforiphones.com, cashforlaptops.com, ecyclebest.com, smartphonetraders.com, and sell-your-cell.com, the company ran many Internet ads promising lots of money for old devices. After asking a few basic questions, such as the model number and condition of the tech equipment, the company promised an unusually high offer to purchase it. 

Bait and switch

Consumers were instructed to send the item to the company, where it would be assessed and a check would be sent promptly. However, once the company received the item, the estimate of the device’s worth routinely fell to as little as 3% of the original offer. When consumers attempted to have their device returned, they were given the runaround.

“This is a classic case of bait and switch updated for the twenty-first century,” says Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “The defendants in this case lure consumers with false promises of generous payments, then hold consumers hostage once they have mailed their devices to the company.”

In this case, the bad guys have been banned from operating and their assets have been frozen as the case moves forward. In the meantime, thousands of people may never get their property back. The lesson here is, if you can’t get money up front, you may not get it at all.

So, what should you do with your old device? You could:

• Trade it in. Ask the manufacturer or retailer if it will take your old device and give you credit toward a new one.

• Recycle it. Ask the manufacturer or retailer if it recycles old devices. You can also see the EPA’s advice on donating and recycling electronics at epa.gov/recycle/electronics-donation-and-recycling.

• Donate it. Contact a local charity and ask if it accepts used electronics.

Regardless of what you decide, make sure you delete all your personal data before letting the device go. First, try to use the factory reset. And second, remove or erase SIM and SD cards where all your data are stored.

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