Author’s Note: This is a pretty long post comparable to my other ones, so settle in. I think it’s worth the read.
I’m a pack rat. My husband can attest to that. I store things away and tell myself that I’ll use or sell them later. I have caches of things I haven’t done anything with all over the house.
This is especially true for cell phones because they’re still good, though a little outdated. I buy a new phone and then wonder what to do with the old one. It’s still good. Why waste it?
But I never use it and it sits in my house taking up space. This packrat confessional is simply a preamble to my latest effort to make money, selling old technology.
Believe it or not, there are sites out there that will actually take your old cell phone off your hands. I raided my junk drawers and my parents’ house before I conducted this test in an effort to truly find the best site to sell old cell phones.
What I Tried to Trade In
I started out with the following:
- iPhone 4 (8gb) (locked, but working)
- iPhone 5 (16gb) (working condition)
- HTC 10 (32gb) (broken)
- iPhone 5c (32gb) (shattered screen)
- Nintendo DS Lite (working, but missing parts)
- 3 random Xbox games
After a little research, i.e. Googling, I determined there are a few sites and locations that really work for what I’m trying to do.
Decluttr works like this. You search the sales inventory for your cellphone. Be prepared to provide the make and model as well as the memory storage size. Then you choose what condition your cell phone is in. Once all that info is inputted, Decluttr will make you an offer on the phone. If it’s a good one, you add it to your cart.
As for video games, the process is much simpler to the point that I wonder if it’s too easy. You search the sales inventory for the video game you’re going to sell and then click add to cart. There are no questions about the condition or anything.
Once you’re ready to checkout, you’ll be emailed a free shipping label. Safely package your items. I recommend very secure packing and padding because the screens on my DS cracked in transit. Slap a label on the box and send it out.
Then wait to get paid.
Inventory – 5/5
This site has by far the largest inventory of items it’s willing to buy. A big plus in its favor, it does video games and video game systems in addition to cell phones.
Pay Out Amount – 4/5
Decluttr offered me the best price for my iPhone 4 ($7), iPhone 5 ($37), and HTC 10 ($10) as well as the only price for my Nintendo DS Lite and the video games. However, for my iPhone 5c ($4), it actually offered $6 less than Gazelle, thus the 4/5 rating.
Ease of Use – 4/5
Decluttr is pretty easy to use. The only snag I ran into was trying to figure out if my phones were in “great”, “fair” or “poor” condition. While the system gives you a basic outline of what constitutes each condition, it’s open to some interpretation. If you interpret wrong, your “offer price” is wrong and Decluttr won’t tell you until the item arrives at its warehouse.
Communication – 3/5
Decluttr emailed me when it received my items. It then emailed me again when the items were being processed. It was nice to get updates.
The Nintendo DS Lite cracked in transit, so it asked me to approve or deny the new offer for a “poor” item. The offer was considerably less than the initial offer I received, but I had no use for a DS with a cracked screen so I accepted it. I was never offered photographic proof of the crack, I just accepted the company’s word.
I also sent a locked iPhone 4. I did not have the ability to unlock it, but Decluttr has no easy to discern method for conveying that. Instead, it just continues to email you that the phone is locked and the order will not be processed until you deal with it. I tried going into my order, but nothing really explained how to deal with it.
To rectify the issue, in actually ended up calling Decluttr and speaking to someone on the phone. She promised to take the phone off my selling “order” and to process the payment the next day. She delivered on that promise.
Speed of Payment – 2/5
Because of all the aforementioned issues, payment was delayed considerably. I think the lady I talked to on the phone pushed things along so once I got everything cleared up I was paid the next day via PayPal.
Still, it took nearly a month to get paid and longer for Decluttr to process my order than some of the other stores I tested.
Average Score – 4.5/5
I imagine Decluttr would have received a better score from me if my order had gone smoothly. The issues with my order only exposed some of the problems with the process and that’s why the company only receives 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Gazelle works much the same way as Decluttr. Search the sales inventory, add the items to your cart, print the shipping label that’s mailed to you and then wait for payment.
Inventory – 3/5
The inventory for Gazelle is much smaller than that of Decluttr, which is a huge knock against it when it comes to the big issue of saving time. I only found two of my four phones on the website and none of the video games or video game systems.
Pay Out Amount – 3/5
For the two phones, I did find in the system, Gazelle was hit or miss on the offers. For the iPhone 5c, it actually offered my $10, which was $6 more than what Decluttr was offering. However, for the working iPhone 5, it offered me $5, which was $32 less than Decluttr was offering. $32 is a serious difference, which is why Gazelle only gets 3 out of 5 stars in this category.
One thing to note about Gazelle, if you opt to be paid in an Amazon.com gift card, you receive 3% more on the payout.
Ease of Use – 5/5
I liked Gazelle better because it was easier to decide what condition my phone was in. It asks you whether it turns on, whether the screen works, if there are scratches, and if the screen is cracked. It then determines the condition of your phone based on those answers.
Communication – 5/5
I received an email when the order was placed. I printed the shipping label and sent out the phone. Gazelle emailed me when the phone was received. It emailed me again when the order was being processed. It emailed me again when the payment was made. I knew what was happening at every step of the way.
Speed of Payment – 5/5
First off, Gazelle received my order and started processing it three days after I mailed it. I was paid that same day. That’s four days before Decluttr even started its process.
Average Score – 4.2/5
The inventory and payout are what really kills Gazelle’s score. If Gazelle and Decluttr both offered me the same amount for the same phone, I would choose Gazelle because of the backend processing.
I will not give this company a full score because I never used it, however here’s what I found in the process leading up to to the sale.
Inventory – 3/5
Like Gazelle, the purchase inventory is hit or miss. Buyback Boss was open to buying two of my four phones.
Pay Out Amount – 4/5
Buyback Boss gets a 4 out of 5 in this category because it offered me $10 for my broken iPhone 5c. That’s $6 more than Decluttr and the same amount as Gazelle. It offered me $20 for my working iPhone 5. That’s $15 more than Gazelle, but $17 less than Decluttr. In other words, Buy Back Boss is middle of the road in payout.
Ease of Use – 5/5
Buyback Boss has five different categories to rank the condition of a phone but I’m not sure that makes it easier. You can choose from brand new, mint, used, damaged or broken. The categories are pretty self-explanatory, which is the only reason I’m scoring 5 out of 5.
Average Score – Incomplete (4/5)
EcoATM operates a little differently than many of the other cell phone purchasing companies. In this one, you don’t ship your phone but find an ecoATM kiosk. Many of the kiosks are located in your local mall or grocery store, though you’ll have to go onto the company website to find out where your closest ecoATM is.
EcoATM is linked to Gazelle, but they operate separtately.
The good thing about this system is that you don’t have to go to the kiosk to find out what kind of money you’ll receive for your old phones. You can check offers out online and create a list that’s saved for when you do visit the kiosk. I say kiosk, but it really is more like an ATM machine.
Inventory – 4/5
As far as I can tell, the inventory on ecoATM is a little better than Gazelle, a little worse that Decluttr. I found all of the phones I own on ecoATM, though I didn’t get offers that were as good as the ones I received from Decluttr, so I didn’t select ecoATM for my cell phone selling needs.
Payout Amount – 2/5
EcoATM made an offer for all my phones. It offered free recycling for the iPhone 4. That’s on par with Gazelle and less than the $7 Decluttr offered. It offered me $10 for the iPhone 5. That’s much less tan Decluttr and Buy Back Boss. I was offered $5 each for the iPhone 5c and HTC 10. Not a discernable difference from the other companies.
Ease of Use – 2/5
I went with an average score here. The score went down because you actually have to go somewhere to drop off your cell phones and get them evaluated. That means getting in the car and driving. If you have small children, you can see how this would be a hassle.
The other knock against it was the length of the process. The ecoATM actually scans your phone on site. You have to stand there and wait while the phone is scanned. It took me about 10 minutes to turn in two phones. Again, with small children, this can be an amazing hassle.
The process itself is actually fairly easy and the machine literally talks you through the process.
Communication – 4/5
The ecoATM communicates well when you’re on site. The problem I had was that the amount I was offered online wasn’t what I received at the kiosk.
Admittedly, I had a couple of crappy old cell phones that I found in a storage locker I purchased. (If you’re wondering about the storage locker shopping, check out my post on that.) They were dinged up and broken, but I specifically went to the eco ATM to try and get a few bucks out of both. I ended up with a free recycling bin.
Speed of Payment – 5/5
The benefit of ecoATM is that it pays you when you turn in your phones. It pays cash on site. You can’t beat that.
Average Score – 3.4/5
The Bottom Line
With the exception of ecoATM, all of the companies offer free shipping and all of them offer to pay you via PayPal or check so those two items are standard across the board.
I’m taking ecoATM out of the running because anyone with young children knows that standing in front of an ATM kiosk for 10 minutes while you try and conduct business is virtually impossible.
Of the companies left, I’ll choose Decluttr solely because the inventory is the largest.
However, if Decluttr and Gazelle offer me the same price for the same items, I’m choosing Gazelle. The process was easier overall and I felt more comfortable with the company.