Selling you old electronics is a great way to fund your next gadget purchase, build up a savings account, or simply make some extra money when you need it most. Electronics are notorious for dropping in value in a relatively short amount of time. This means that your window of profitability fades soon after purchase.
Electronics, even desktop computers, are like cars. You can fix them up and add new parts, but the price declines dramatically unless you replace virtually every component on a very regular basis. Computers are a money pit by their very nature, which is one of the reasons so many recommend simply buying a new one when the time comes to upgrade.
So, where do you go to unload your old gear once its usefulness as part of your geeky arsenal has passed? Here are five ways to sell your old electronics.
eBay has been a tried and true method of making money off your old stuff since the Internet was in its infancy. If you can pack it and ship it, eBay can help you find a buyer.
Thanks to eBay’s auction environment, you can potentially get more for your item than you would if you set an outright price on it. Frequently, people will engage in bidding wars, which drives up the price, making it a more profitable venture for yourself. Should you want to sell the item quickly, you have the option to set an immediate sell price.
eBay works well through PayPal, which itself is one of the most highly recognized transaction facilitation services on the Web today.
One of the best things about eBay is that it is where the buyers are. Unlike so many auction sites out there, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find a buyer for your electronics if the condition is good and the price is right.
eBay currently offers auction services for roughly 9% of the sale price up to $100. This means that whatever you expect to receive from your sale should be increased by 9% in order to get what you want out of it. Add to that shipping and handling, and you can make a pretty penny off of the right merchandise.
No online store is as well-known as Amazon. Not only does Amazon give you the ability to buy pretty much everything and anything out there, but it also allows users to sell their own used goods through a seller account.
Amazon has the advantage of being easily searchable via Google. If someone is looking for something you have, they are more likely to find it on Amazon than almost any other site out there. In addition, you’ve got the advantage of having the added marketing and audience size of Amazon itself. This is one of the big reasons big independent stores also list their items on Amazon. Instead of being the competition, Amazon becomes a partner in profit.
The referral fee Amazon charges sellers for each purchase varies from item to item. Computers are charged a 6% fee, while sporting goods are charged 15%. It all depends on what kind of item you’re selling.
I’m a fan of Gazelle. In minutes, you can get an estimate for your old gear, print a free shipping label, and have your products out the door as fast as you can box them up. In some cases, Gazelle will even ship you a free box to put them in. This service is made possible because Gazelle sells your stuff through sites like Amazon, eBay, and others for a small profit.
The real advantage to Gazelle is the convenience of the process. Estimates are generally dead on, the prices are more than reasonable, and in some cases Gazelle will actually give you more than the estimate if the item turns out to be in better condition than stated.
I’ve sold everything from old smartphones to pocket camcorders on Gazelle, and almost every time I’ve received more than the estimate. This may be due to the fact that I usually understate the quality of the items, but either way it’s a sure sign that Gazelle is an honest business that cares about the people it buys from.
Selling things online usually means shipping, but not always. Craigslist has become an overnight replacement to the traditional classified ads found in your local newspaper. Even more popular than Thrifty Nickel, Craigslist offers you the ability to sell your old stuff directly with a buyer with no associated fees. Craigslist makes the majority of its money from job ads and service postings, giving you the ability to get rid of your stuff without a middleman eating up your profits.
Craigslist is a favorite among home custom PC makers that assemble gaming machines out of parts and sell them for a profit. Because Craigslist doesn’t really care about makes and models, and it doesn’t have to deal with supporting the transaction after the fact, you can get away with selling just about anything and charging whatever you want for it.
I’ve personally used Craigslist to sell extra laptop batteries and computer parts. Usually the items sell very quickly and the transaction takes place in the parking lot of a nearby theater or mall. As with any face-to-face transaction, it’s always best to do these in a public place with video surveillance. Another tip here is to always offer a receipt and have the buyer sign a copy.
If selling your item(s) for a direct profit sounds too difficult, you can always donate it/them to charity. Goodwill has an entire division set up to take and receive computers and electronics. Tax write-offs can add up at the end of the year, and help you when Uncle Sam asks for his share of your income.
The benefits to donating your goods is two-fold. You’re also doing a lot to help Goodwill keep staff employed, and assist lower-income families with finding electronics to help make their lives easier.
Bonus Tip: Things to Avoid
Pawn shops are great for selling goods that don’t decrease sharply in value such as jewelry and tools, but I don’t recommend taking a computer to a pawn shop. The reason being that pawn shops have to sit on anything sold for at least a month while local law enforcement does background checks and makes sure the product isn’t stolen. During that 30 days, the price depreciates. Once it hits the sales floor, pawn shops have trouble even giving these things away. You’re better off taking your old stuff to Best Buy to exchange for a gift certificate.
Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. If you list a feature or capability of a unit on your ad, you should be able to deliver. Otherwise, your buyer has a reason to ask for a return and refund. The more you sit on your old gear, the less it’s worth. You’re better off just making every sale final and giving the specs as they exist on the manufacturer’s website.
Stock photos are a plus, but avoid using them if you have noticeable damage to the item. You don’t want your seller rating going down because there are surprises such as dings and scratches on the item. If the item itself looks like new, go with stock photos. Chances are, they will look a lot better than anything you could shoot, even with a light box.
Don’t sell to friends and/or family if you can avoid it. Selling to them means providing free tech support for life. If the item breaks down shortly after the transaction, it could create hard feelings and spoil a relationship. I’ve sold computers to family before, but I also know that means being on hand if anything goes wrong. This stands true even when the relative forgets how their printer works.