Saturday, May 21, 2011

Selling Phones and Used Tech on eBay

   I've been on a personal finance kick over the last few months. I've saved up money, invested in my Roth IRA and read a ton of blogs and books. That's all non-tech stuff and I want to keep it off this blog, but the tech angle on it is that I managed to sell my old Blackberry Bold 9000 and my sister's broken iPhones on eBay for a nice sum. This certainly beats just leaving them sitting around collecting dust like so many of my other possessions. I considered other sites to sell on but went with eBay in the end, mainly for the chance to earn more.

   I'm something of a pack rat when it comes to computer and electrical components, gadgets and books. I recently purged my library of old books and switched to a Kindle 3 with 3G, the first step in my decluttering campaign. I figured it made sense to clear out as much of my old, unused tech stuff as I could and either invest the proceeds in stocks or just buy a new monitor to replace my 17" CRT. Yes, I'm still using a CRT monitor on my desktop gaming/programming rig. I know, it's sad.

   The first thing I did was consider selling my phone to Gazelle since I'd heard about it on Tekzilla, but the prices were too low compared to what WorthMonkey estimated I could get and there was no way to ditch my accessories, like my car charger and Otterbox Impact case. So I looked into selling on eBay, something I'd never done before.

   I'm the sort of person who (over)researches things before jumping in, so I googled and read a lot about how to best go about selling something on eBay before I listed my Blackberry. I created a seller account, linked it to my PayPal account, verified both, and bought a few cheap items I wanted anyway to build up my feedback. I read about how to write a decent listing, and got some actual use out of the photography books I'd read a couple of years ago by taking acceptable shots of the gadgets.

   Then I prepared my Blackberry and the iPhones for their new buyers before listing them on eBay. I backed up any useful data, wiped the phones multiple times, including the microSDHC card in the Blackberry Bold, and cleaned them up. The trackball on the Blackberry was the most important thing to clean, since the trackball on the Bold 9000 is hard to replace and I didn't want the buyer to have any issues with a stuck trackball. I hadn't had any problems with it, but it doesn't hurt to be proactive in avoiding returns.

   Before listing these items I listed a cheap spare microcontroller I had lying about, just to get my feet wet and experience what the selling process was actually like. My listing ended up being closed and I got a message from eBay saying I had to call them or my account would be shut down. All I had to do was verify my identity, the phone call took less than 5 minutes, but it was an unexpected annoyance that almost put me off the idea of using eBay at all.

   I relisted the microcontroller and it sold after being bid on by a couple of people. I promptly shipped it out, buying postage directly off eBay. I had purchased a digital shipping scale on Amazon with the money I earned selling my sister's college textbooks for her, and this came in handy for selling on Amazon and eBay since postage is cheaper when you buy it online, and I didn't have to wait in line at the post office.

   After spending more time than I probably needed to researching and reading, I finally managed to sell the Blackberry and broken iPhones for a decent amount, and I sold a couple of extra microcontrollers as well. The iPhones made it all especially worthwhile, bringing in the most money. Apparently there are specialists on eBay who buy broken iPhones to repair and resell. Not something I'd like to do, but I'm definitely going to look at some of my unused stuff and see if it's worth selling on eBay. If you've got old electronics stockpiled in your house you might want to do the same.

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