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Turn old gadgets into cash

From eBay to specialty sites, get the most for unwanted tech gear

Jan. 7, 2011 - 12:03PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 7, 2011 - 12:03PM  |  
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Have an old phone, computer, MP3 player or other tech item collecting dust? There are a number of websites where you can sell computers and electronics, but before reviewing your options, here are some tips to help you earn higher prices quickly:

First, take time to clean your gear. Use a microfiber cloth to remove dust. Isopropyl alcohol helps with tougher grime, but distilled water is safer for monitors and televisions. Most office supply stores sell electronics cleaning cloths and kits.

Gather all the accessories and test the items. Take an honest assessment of the item's value. Note wear and imperfections that affect the item's working order. Check prices on the site where you intend to sell and price competitively.

Take clear photographs for your listing. Write a concise description, noting any defects. Pull warranty information, if the items are still covered. Original boxes help if you need to ship items.

You also need to worry about your personal data. Delete music from MP3 players. Wipe all your files from computers and smart phones. Visit www.komando.com/news for complete instructions. You'll also find links to sites mentioned below.

Social-networking sites

First off, try selling your gear over your social network. Selling to people who know and trust you can be easier, and many of your contacts may live nearby. It can be a painless way to sell, and you won't have to pay any fees.

Just don't let a bad deal sour a relationship. It is particularly important to be truthful about an item's condition. Take only cash — no checks or credit.

eBay

EBay will help you reach millions of potential buyers, and you can sell virtually anything. You can even sell broken gear, like iPods, for parts. Auction-style bidding can help drive prices up. Listing fees and closing costs depend on the starting and finishing prices.

Unfortunately, you're not guaranteed a good price, and the money you get may not be worth the hassle of packing and shipping. So, check the going rate before listing an item: Search for the item, then select "completed listings" in the "Preferences" section on the search page. You'll see auction results from the past 15 days.

Some local businesses may handle eBay sales, but watch out for steep commissions.

Craigslist

For large items such as HDTVs, you don't want to use eBay. Instead, avoid shipping hassles by selling locally. With classified advertising sites such as Craigslist and eBay Classifieds, you can sell to local buyers.

The buyer picks up the item and gives you cash immediately. There are no commissions or listing fees. However, be careful with classified sites — meet interested buyers in public and only accept cash.

Specialized sites

Maybe you don't have time to list your items online. If you're prepared to accept less, use a site like Gazelle.com. Find your item on the site and answer questions on its condition. You get more if you have the manuals, cords and software.

Gazelle will make you an offer. Accept it, and Gazelle sends a prepaid shipping box. Gazelle may revise its offer if your assessment of the item's condition is off. Ask for the item's return if you don't like the revised offer.

BuyMyTronics, NextWorth and YouRenew are similar to Gazelle. ReCellular and Flipswap are good for selling cell phones. Check all sites, as offers vary. For example, a Nikon D80 may sell for $700 or more on eBay. Trade-in sites may offer only $260.

Some items just won't sell. In that case, donate your old gear. Give it to someone you know or a charity. Or recycle the gear properly. The Environmental Protection Agency's site (www.epa.gov) lists resources for donating and recycling computers and electronics.

Kim Komando writes for Gannett.

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