Seller beware when turning old cell phones into cash

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by Janet Roach

WVEC.com

Posted on February 6, 2012 at 6:30 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 17 at 2:42 PM

NORFOLK -- The second-hand cell phone market is booming. Instead of hanging on to old cell phones, people are selling them.  But it's not as lucrative as some people expected.  

Beverly Scott of Norfolk was excited about selling her two Samsung phones. She located a company online that buys old cell phones, Oklahoma-based Pace Butler. The company advertises it will pay up to $125 for a phone. So Scott sent her phones in. She didn't expect a lot of money, but she thought she would get enough to buy lunch for herself and a friend. It wasn't even close.

"I don't see the scam in that, but there's something really wrong, I think, when you advertise for up to $125 but people should know you're not going to get that much. But 50 cents for two?," says Scott.

Scott says the company claimed one of her phones was not working properly, which she strongly denies.

"I don't know what they were talking about, that they wouldn't power up. There was nothing wrong with either one of those phones," she contends.

A Pace Butler representative says they send all the phones to a testing center to make sure they are operational or not damaged. Phones they aren't willing to pay for are recycled and when handing out cash, the company claims to stick to the price list on its website.

It's not hard to find complaints from angry consumers about the prices paid for their old phones.

After this experience, Scott says she'll do her business with someone face-to-face.

Redial in Virginia Beach has a steady stream of customers selling their phones at its Kempsville office. Employees use a number of websites to check a phone's worth before making an offer.

And it's important for you to know its value before you go to sell.  A simple Google search can find out the general worth of your phone.

"If you don't know, then someone is going to tell you what they think it's worth and you're going to lose money," warns Ben Denston, a Redial employee.

He recommends checking phone values on websites like flipswap and phoneiscash.

PhoneisCash shows Scott could get $11 for her two phones. At Redial, after employees figure out what your phone is worth, they offer about half the value.

There is one thing they keep in mind when making a payout: What will this phone be worth six months from now? So, how much money can you make on it later?

They quote $25-$30 for a model #9330 Sprint Blackberry. The website phoneiscash quotes $40. In some cases, websites might offer more because they can use the phones immediately for parts.

Scott believes having a local contact is important. She says she never could get Pace Butler to return her calls.

 

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