More ways to earn cash

Glennis Siegfried

Instead of throwing old electronics away, students can earn cash by exploring other options.

“Rather than just throw it away, it would be nice to get some cash,” said Matt Sirko, sophomore computer information systems major.

There are services that allow people to turn in their old electronics, such as cell phones, mp3 players, computers and video game stations for money. The company then either recycles or resells the items.

Without these services, many items end up in landfills. Some of these companies offer free disposal service, but Web sites are now offering cash for items as well.

Online options

Web sites,, and offer to take old and broken electronics from people in exchange for cash.

These sites accept a variety of items from cell phones and iPods to HDTV screens. They then take the items and either recycle or resell them, depending on the condition. All four sites offer cash for most products. Free shipping is even thrown into the deal.

“If my dad weren’t a technology nut who keeps everything, I’d probably take advantage of it,” said Kelsey Laverne, sophomore speech pathology major .

Customers are required to do a self-assessment of their item using specifications from each site. The company then gives an approximate trade-in value which the customer can either accept or decline.

Once accepted, a free shipping label and packing slip are provided (Gazelle will even send out a packing box). When the company receives the item, it will perform its own assessment to determine the final value.

Customers will receive their payment in the mail in the form of a check or gift card. They can also choose to either donate to a charity or deposit their payment directly into a PayPal account.

MyBoneYard, however, only distributes payments in the form of prepaid Visa cards.

All four companies perform data removal to prevent personal information from being released; but, they encourage customers to do it themselves before turning in the items.

Some items are then resold through other companies or the sites. Those that aren’t resold are recycled.

According to Gazelle’s Web site, more than five tons of potential e-waste have been saved from landfills by its customers so far.

A local option

For a more local approach, students have the option of selling their old electronics to The Exchange on Lincoln Street. The Exchange, however, accepts items geared more toward entertainment media – not computers or cell phones.

DVDs are the store’s most popular item, said store manager John Semonin. They also accept CDs, video games, video game systems and certain iPods and Zunes.

Third-party mp3 players, iPods more than a year or two old and “high-risk” items such as car audio players are not accepted.

Unlike VenJuvo and other online sites, The Exchange does not wipe electronic data from devices and does not have recycling facilities available.

Customers who trade in their merchandise will receive about 30 to 40 percent cash back. They also have the option of choosing 50 percent in-store credit. Final values are determined by condition, popularity and the number already in stock. “Mint condition” items (still brand-new and in the original packaging) may receive a higher value.

Sophomore marketing major Jacob Beurman traded in some of his old video games once, but received less than five percent back.

“I wouldn’t do it again,” he said.

Items are resold in the store at a considerably lower price than for brand new at a retail store. A $20 DVD might be sold for $2.50, for example, if it is not a new release.

Sophomore nursing major Kristyn Kerekes said she likes The Exchange for CDs in particular.

“It’s cheaper at the store than on iTunes,” she said.

Things to keep in mind

For students choosing the online route for extra cash, there are certain things to be aware of.

The item type and model can make a difference in the value. Broken electronics are even accepted and can occasionally fetch a few dollars. Condition, working ability, inclusion of original cables, software and manuals are all taken into account for determining the trade-in value. But the final prices can vary.

When inquiring about a first generation iPod nano, VenJuvo only offered $6. Gazelle, on the other hand, offered $20.

TechForward offered $40, with a $19 commitment fee.

An almost new Macbook Pro at Gazelle can garner over $800.

“I think it’s better to sell to someone you know,” Sirko said. With this method, a person might get back more money than by trading it in.

Laverne and Kerekes both like the idea of reselling old electronics at a cheaper rate.

“It’s a good idea,” Kerekes said. “Then someone else in need can afford (the items).”

Contact technology reporter Glennis Siegfried at [email protected].