Once-glittering gadgets rarely retain resale value - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

Once-glittering gadgets rarely retain resale value

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Posted: Tuesday, August 28, 2007 9:52 pm | Updated: 7:43 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Every weekend, East Valley residents descend on “big-box” retailers to upgrade their home electronics.

It may be advancing from a bulky, cathode-ray tube TV to a sleek, flat-panel one, or buying a new computer that’s more advanced than their current model.

And in many cases, consumers want to sell the previous models to recoup as much of their original expenditure as possible.

The value drops substantially the instant an item is removed from its box, said Catherine Schwartz, gadget director for online auctioneer eBay.

“No matter where you go, if you buy something new and take it out of the box, and then try and resell it, you’re not going to get nearly as much as you would if you were to keep it in the box and resell it as a new product.”

And even then, there is some depreciation because it was removed from the store, Schwartz said.

Chris Ruh owns the i Sold It store in Chandler. The business helps people sell their things online.

“As you can imagine, we go through quite a lot of electronics,” he said. “Just last week alone we sold everything from some Paradyme (audio/video) stuff, to a brand-new 24-inch iMac, to CB radios and 5.1 receivers.”

Quality brand-name products tend to hold more of their original value than newer and lesser-known brands, Ruh said. The value of a particular item drops steadily with each passing year, he said.

“A cell phone is the perfect example,” he said. “Say you get under a contract for a year on a new cell phone, and if you flip it within the end of that year — if you’re one of those people who always wants to have the brand-new technology — you can recoup about 70 percent of the value. If you wait two years, you’re looking at 30 percent.”

Many people don’t even bother trying to resell their old electronics, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, the trade organization of the consumer electronics industry.

The latest association poll found that most used electronics are donated (55 percent) while 19 percent are thrown away, 18 percent are recycled and only 7 percent are resold.

Buyers are looking for products with a proven track record, and the newer the technology, the better, Ruh said.

“Also, if you have the original remote control for an item, an original instruction manual and/or maybe the original manufacturer’s packaging, all of those items will command a value,” he said. “It will show the potential buyer that this is somebody who has taken care of their equipment, who expressed enough interest when they purchased that equipment to hold on to all the little tidbits of this item.”

It may be a good idea to make your used electronics available to buyers nationally, as opposed to strictly the local market, Schwartz said.

“You might get a better price from someone who’s outside of your area,” she said.

Older items, such as turntables, can fetch higher-than-expected prices from collectors, Ruh said.

“I’ve got receivers that look like they should go straight into Goodwill, that weren’t worth $5, go for well over $100 because the market demand is out there and you can’t just readily go to the store and buy these,” he said. “It completely reverses itself past a certain age.”

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