By John DeFore
This week I decided, for reasons having to do with software compatibility, that it was time to upgrade my laptop. I scouted eBay to get a rough idea of how much the one I use now might earn me, then conservatively factored that into what I can afford to buy.
Two days later, I learned about TechForward, a new twist on the e-waste-recycling front. While companies are offering more ways of keeping used electronics out of landfills, with Costco going so far as to institute a trade-in program, TechForward aims to eliminate guesswork in the trade-in game. Pay them a fee when you purchase a new gadget, and they will promise to buy it back from you, for a set price, at a future date.
Coincidentally, the example transaction that was featured at the TechForward home page on my first visit was an almost mirror image of the purchase I was about to make: a “Guaranteed Buyback” for an Apple Laptop. In their scenario, I could pay an extra $69 — a small fee compared to the computer’s roughly $2,000 price tag — to lock in a future buyback. (All buybacks require the device to be “fully functional,” with only minimal wear and tear, and all original packaging/manuals included.)
But what kind of deal would I get? After spending $2,069, plus tax, today, I can sell my MacBook to TechForward any time between now and six months from now — and get $840 for it. If I wait up to two years, that amount falls to $560. For comparison’s sake, my current computer is over two years old and is still selling online in the thousand-dollar range.
The company bills its service not just as a way to do the planet a good turn, but as an aide to staying on top of the tech curve, doing quick-turnaround trades for the latest, greatest tech. So another example: Got a “classic” iPod you’d like to swap for an iPhone? A 30 GB model that’s under two years old will fetch you $40 — or, rather, $31, after the $9 upfront fee is deducted. In my town, Austin, that $31 will almost cover the sales tax on an iPhone. Then again, my town is one where the marketplace (as defined by Craigslist, anyway) currently thinks a 30GB iPod should go for an average of $150.
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