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Sites to e-cycle (and maybe profit from) your e-junk

Like many of you, my wife and I have had too many old and broken gadgets collecting dust in various rooms. Like many of you, we could use some extra cash. Can we address both of these issues at once by selling these things to sites that buy old electronic junk?

Maybe. I tried four such sites--BuyMyTronics, Gazelle, MyBoneyard and YouRenew--to see how they'd deal with a grab bag of e-junk. (So you know, I heard about YouRenew from my colleague Patricia Sullivan, whose nephew founded the site.)

I started with two old handheld organizers: a working Palm Tungsten E and a deceased Sony Clie SJ30. MyBoneyard and YouRenew don't accept organizers at all; Gazelle offered a whopping $6 for Palm and nothing for the Sony, while BuyMyTronics valued both devices at $0.

Then came a dumb and a smart phone. The former was a Motorola i730 for Nextel with a small crack in its screen, which everybody agreed was worth nothing. The latter was a Palm Treo 650 for Verizon with minor cosmetic damage and a missing stylus; BuyMyTronics offered $1 for it, Gazelle $2 and BuyMyTronics and YouRenew $0.

A Pentax Optio 550 digital camera with a fried image sensor and no battery or cable (I'd unloaded those accessories on eBay years ago) fetched an estimate of $0 on Gazelle and BuyMyTronics. The other sites didn't have this model in their databases.

A second-generation, 4-gigabyte iPod Nano with a half-dead screen (it functions after a system restore until the first time it goes to sleep) was worth $3 at BuyMyTronics and nothing everywhere else.

Finally, a broken 4 GB Verbatim Store 'n' Go external hard drive wasn't listed at any of these sites. (YouRenew invited me to send in a description but did not follow up by returning an estimate.)

Of those four sites, Gazelle and BuyMyTronics only offer free shipping on items with an estimated value above zero--although in one test, Gazelle kept telling me to "Add more items to your box to qualify for free shipping" until I'd submitted four such devices. MyBoneyard and YouRenew advertise free shipping on everything.

Gazelle, YouRenew and BuyMyTronics all offered fairly straightforward designs, complete with auto-complete search results that include thumbnail images of products matching your query--so you don't have to remember if you have a second- or third-generation model. MyBoneyard, however, requires you to browse through a menu of options to identify your gadget. Its site also fails to specify what forms of payment it offers (the others offer a choice of at least PayPal or check).

Bear in mind that these sites' estimates can erode quickly. Back in March, Gazelle offered $30 for the Tungsten E and BuyMyTronics would have paid $15 for it; the iPod Nano could have fetched $3 at Gazelle and $7 at BuyMyTronics.

So what's your best option? Most of the time, you should research other options first. For example, if you plan on replacing on one iPod with another, Apple will give you 10 percent off a new model at its stores if you return any old one, even if broken. Don't forget that eBay can work remarkably well for unloading old hardware too.

Here's where I must confess that I no longer had the Tungsten or the i730 when I did this research--I got $37 for the handheld on eBay last July and all of the $1 for the phone in January. In turn, the Treo 650, bundled with a spare 16 MB memory card, just went for $19.49 on the auction site.

Have you used any of these sites, or others like them, to unload your old electronics? Please share your experience in the comments.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  August 11, 2010; 7:58 AM ET
Categories:  Gadgets , Tips  
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I got $68 for a very scratched first generation iPhone and $151 for a Nook in excellent condition that I decided to replace with an iPad on Gazelle. I was lucky to hear about Gazelle right before the iPhone 4 was officially announced...the price dropped then. And this was right before the price drop on the Nook was announced, too. Since they hold your offer for a month, I got almost as much for my Nook as a new one would cost and I was able to keep my iPhone until the new one was delivered.

Posted by: amy130 | August 11, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I don't think it's worth the effort to try and sell old electronics. I look to donate some items (old computers, cameras, or other working electronics, their power supplies, manuals, set-up disks and peripherals).

The other stuff (how many data cables (Centronics, parallel and serial), or NIC cards does one really need?) to the Fort Totten dump for responsible e-cycling.

It's amazing how much of this stuff accumulates over even a short period of time!

Posted by: wd3q | August 11, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I used when I recently upgraded my iPhone. They quoted the most for it out of all of these sites by over 10 dollars. It was an easy process and I was very pleased with my payout.

Posted by: Josh_terk | August 11, 2010 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I used Buymytronics to recycle my Palm tX in March. I ended up getting 64.50 for it, with cables, charger, manuals, disc. It was in good shape, but I had bought an iTouch, and could see palm was going nowhere. I don't know how much the accessories were worth, but I had them, so. There was some back and forth; they thought it wasn't working at first, but reformatted or something and paid off. First estimate was 72.00, but they paid shipping, so not bad.

Posted by: jimu22 | August 11, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

This all seems like a waste of time to me. All I want is a home for the stuff other than a landfill - the money isn't worth the bother. I also want to be sure my personal information is secure. The 5 year old Palm hasn't started in 2 years, but I assume it still has my data on it. Until I can figure a way around this, the stuff will remain in a desk drawer or closet.

Posted by: slar | August 11, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

I recently upgraded to the new iPhone 4 and wanted to recycle my 3g. I had heard about Gazelle, so went on line to check it out. The Gazelle site told me my old 3g was worth $116. I printed off the free shipping label, packed up the 3g, and within 2 weeks had a check for $102. I was very pleased.

Posted by: daveb3 | August 15, 2010 7:06 AM | Report abuse

I sold my iPhone 3GS for $202, which covered the cost of the new model. (I sold it before the new model came out, and sent it just before the 30 day price expired.) I also sold my 1 yr old MacBook Pro for $600-, upgraded for the new model with the longer battery. Total cost $400! All on Gazelle-a pleasure.

Posted by: Evergreen1234 | August 17, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

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