How (and Where) to Sell Your Tech
Where you sell your old tech gear can be just as important as what you're selling. While there haven't been any Web sites that have managed to replace eBay and Craigslist for selling used electronics, there are a few other options to consider before starting up that auction.
Sell to Your Social Networks
Out of all the used gadgets I've personally bought and sold, the smoothest transaction I've ever had was set up through Facebook--a friend of mine posted a used Dell desktop on his profile for $200, which I was more than happy to take off his hands.
Since he was local, my friend had no problem handling questions before the sale, delivering the PC over and dropping off some extra S-Video cables when the ones he originally sold me didn't work, and offering to refund my money if I wasn't happy with the purchase after playing with it for a week. Meanwhile, my buddy got to save the cash and hassle of boxing and shipping the PC and dealing with eBay and PayPal fees.
Had I tried to buy the same PC on eBay, I would likely have had to swallow the cost of the extra cables, and if I decided I wanted a refund, the PayPal dispute process probably would have taken weeks. Buying through Craigslist would have been even worse--once the cash leaves my hands, the seller typically isn't responsible for anything.
Also, Craigslist isn't quite as useful if you're not living near a major urban center. So before you post on Craigslist or start an eBay auction, post a note with a few pics of the device on your Facebook profile and see if you get any bites.
Save Your Time, Sell to Gazelle
Selling on eBay and Craigslist can often take up more time than you initially expect, and the hassle of managing and shipping multiple eBay auctions--or setting up a time and place for your Craigslist customer meetups--often isn't worth it. This is especially true for older items that don't always sell on the first post or listing.
To cut down on the time and effort you spend on each sale, you may want to consider going to a handful of Websites cropping up that serve as a broker for sales of used tech.
Sites such as Gazelle.com and BuyMyTronics will let you immediately get a price quote on (most) of your used stuff. Just go to the site, pick your device from the menu, and fill out a few details such as the device's condition and included equipment (manuals, cables, and so on), and you'll get an estimate.
If you decide to okay the sale, the company will send you a shipping container to send the device to its office. Depending on their assessment, you'll either get a check for the estimated amount or less--and if they decide they don't want to buy it, they'll offer to recycle it for free.
Of course, what Gazelle and BuyMyTronics offer in convenience, they take in price. I decided to compare the pricing for two laptops on eBay, BuyMyTronics, Gazelle, and Craigslist to see what the differentials were, and the results were fairly telling.
A first-generation Macbook I sold to an acquaintance for $550 would have sold for about $600 on eBay (averaging the recent Completed Listings), though that would have been reduced to $525 after the $75 in PayPal and eBay fees.
On Craigslist, people were asking for $600 and up, though it's hard to know how many people were successfully selling at that price.
Gazelle.com, however, offered only $189 for that Macbook, and only if it was in mint condition with the original software installed, and BuyMyTronics quoted $332, though it seemed a little bit suspect since it didn't directly ask for the model's specs. (Edit: BuyMyTronics CEO Brett Mosley contacted me to explain that this was because Apple's computers typically adhere to a fairly standard set of factory specs, and customers with aftermarket upgrades can work with BMY to work out a custom price quote.)
For a Lenovo s10 IdeaPad netbook, on the other hand, the difference wasn't as large: Craigslist and eBay were both around $230 ($195 or so after eBay and PayPal fees), while Gazelle offered $147 (though it didn't have the laptop in the database); BuyMyTronics wasn't able to provide an automatic offer.
The verdict: Stick to the bigger sites for big-ticket items like PCs--the extra trouble is most likely worth the massive price difference. However, for older cell phones, cameras, and other gadgets which you just want to get rid of (and might not miss if they were recycled free of charge), sites like Gazelle can help you clear out your tech drawer with minimal fuss.