Spring Cleaning Unwanted Tech Gear (Part 1)

BreakingModern — Like many folks, you have a bunch of old (and maybe unused new) tech toys cluttering up your office or closets. And now you’re thinking about buying more goodies. What can you do to get rid of all your unwanted tech gear so you can bring in some new shiney stuff?

Here are the ins and outs (and pros and cons) of three approaches: store returns, Craigslist and pawn shops. Using these methods, you should be able to free up cash flow — either as cash in your pocket, store credit or, at the very least, a tax credit. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this feature in which we list four more great ways to get rid of that unwanted tech gear.

unwanted tech featured

Back to the Store

Okay. The bad news first. While retail store policies vary tremendously, many brick-and-mortar stores and websites show major favoritism to non-tech products over tech gear. Lots of stores loosen up their policies for the December holidays, but rarely will a store accept returns of tablets, phones and other tech items beyond Jan. 26 (or 30 days past the day after Christmas).

So if you’re looking to return a DVD player or set of headphones you received as an unwanted Christmas or Hanukkah gift this year, you’re probably out of luck. (Keep this info in mind, though, for next year, so that you’ll get to the mall sooner.) One refreshing exception to this general rule is Costco, which imposes a 90-day time limit on “certain items such as televisions, cellular phones, camcorders, computers, cameras and projectors.” If you return an undesired gadget bought at Costco by then, you’re probably all set.

Here’s some additional good news. At other times of the year, most retail establishments give you anywhere between 14 and 30 days for tech product returns. So if you’re having second thoughts about an impulse item you grabbed from a post-holiday sales bin, you might still have time to get it back for a full refund.

Meanwhile, return policies for anything other than tech can be exceedingly generous these days. If you can provide proof of purchase, stores like Costco, Macy’s, L.L. Bean and Nordstrom impose no time limitations at all. In addition, Kohl’s gives you a full year, and Lowe’s allows you 90 days (all within certain chain-specific constraints, that is). What if you don’t have the receipt? Again, store policies vary widely. But you still might be able to get store credit.

Did your unwanted Christmas gifts this year also include a couple of ugly sweaters, an extra set of glassware or power tools you’ll never use? If so, take (or mail) back these items pronto, and put the proceeds toward a new phone or laptop. 

Selling (or Trading) Through Craigslist

“I think I’ll sell or trade my iPad 1 through Craigslist,” said Frank (not his real name), even though Craiglist — an online want advertiser for various local markets — has been getting a bad rep over the years as an occasional haven for violent criminals.

unwanted tech craiglist part 1

Frank told BreakingModern that he hasn’t used the iPad 1 at all since he bought an iPad Air 3 in a retail store.

“I like the Air 3 a lot better. It’s thinner and lighter than the iPad 1, and it’s compatible with currently available apps. I’m running games on it, Facebook, news apps and various odds and ends,” he said.

Frank hasn’t sold anything via Craigslist yet, but he’s done a couple of trades through it. He first obtained the iPad 1 by trading his Samsung Tab to another user. Then he traded in a Nexus phone for an iPhone.

Frank said he isn’t worried about running into violent types through Craigslist. “It’s like anything else. If you’re meeting up with a stranger, you get together in a public place and you do everything out in the open,” he advised.

But he did get scammed once. The iPhone which he obtained through Craigslist turned out to be missing a couple of parts. So now he inspects a gadget thoroughly before forking over any cash.

You can sell or trade just about anything you want on Craigslist, and the site is particularly good for items that are too big or fragile to ship. Somebody else I know routinely uses Craigslist to buy and sell furniture.

(Maybe) You’d Better Pawn It, Babe

“But you’d better lift your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it, babe,”sang Bob Dylan, in the ‘60s anthem “Like a Rolling Stone.” Maybe the times have changed since then, or maybe not, but these days some pawn shops handle much more than just jewelry. You don’t have to be a desperado to go there, either.

Typically, a pawn shop gives you a choice of either selling or pawing an item. If you sell the item, you’ll get more money for it. If you take the pawning route, you can retrieve the thing at any time over a period of say, four or six months, in case you change your mind. But you’ll have to reimburse what you were originally paid and add interest. Also, many pawn shops place restrictions on what types of goods they’ll accept.

unwanted tech pawn rite part 1

Pawn Rite, a chain of shops in New York City, will let you pawn or sell gold, silver, electronics, cars and motorcycles. You can sell — but not pawn — lots of other goodies. In the electronics category, Pawn Rite only accepts smartphones, tablets and laptop PCs. “We only take recent models, and what you bring in needs to be in good condition,” said one company rep.

You’ll need to physically trot the item to a store before finding out how much it’ll fetch, since Pawn Rite won’t quote prices over the phone. They’ll check police records to make sure the gizmo hasn’t been reported as stolen, and they won’t accept a phone or a tablet that’s been locked by a carrier due to failure to pay a bill, for example.

Mark, another gadget lover, views pawn shops as a relatively easy and risk-free method of pruning out unwanted gear. “You can walk away with cash,” he said. “You don’t need to ship anything out or wait for a check.”

But Frank maintained that he’ll never use pawn shops.

“People there just give you prices from a list. They don’t have any personal interest in what you’re selling. But if somebody takes the time and trouble to meet with you about a Craigslist ad, it’s likely that he really wants the item. He might be willing to pay you more for it,” he predicted.

In Sum

There are certainly plenty of ways to clear out the old so you can make room for the new. In deciding which way to choose, factors to ponder include the type and model of product you’re offloading, when and where it was purchased, how much time you can spend on finding a new home for it, what you might get in return and the amount of risk you’re willing to take. Remember to check out four more ways to get rid of that unwanted tech gear here.

For BMod, I’m .

Featured Image Credit: © ermess / Dollar Photo Club

All Screenshots: Daniel Zweier

Author: Jacqueline Emigh

Jacqueline Emigh is a New York City resident and a veteran tech journalist, with thousands of bylined articles to her credit. Over the past 20 or so years, Jacqueline has worked full-time as a site editor at Ziff Davis, senior editor at BetaNews. and software editor for TechTarget's TechnologyGuide Division. As a freelancer, she's written news stories, features and reviews for tons of big name sites and mags, including PC World, PC Mag, eweek, Computerworld, Informationweek, ZDNet, Byte, American Banker, Windows in Financial Services, Linux Planet, Enterprise Networking Planet, Linux.com, Wireless Integration, Government Security, and Portable Computing, to name a few.

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>