Monday, October 15, 2012

Reverse Channels for Old or Unwanted Cell Phones

So many consumers are upgrading their smartphones so often that entrepreneurs are figuring out ways to profit by providing a "reverse channel" for old or unneeded phones. The goal is to keep these devices out of landfills where they don't belong and create a way to collect and refurbish them for resale. Consumers win, entrepreneurs win, and the planet wins.

EcoATM is much in the news lately because its automated self-serve kiosks make it quick and easy for consumers to recycle their old phones with the bonus of making a few bucks--right away. "There's no 30-day wait for a check in the mail," founder Mark Bowles tells Businessweek. In essence, customers let the kiosks test their old phones, receive an instant appraisal, and get immediate cash or store credit for the value set by EcoATM, if they decide to accept the offer. (NOTE: The Economist notes that the EcoATM requires fingerprints and driver's license of sellers to discourage the sale of stolen merchandise.)

The EcoATM looks user-friendly, and its green-and-white theme has a recycling feel. (The animated "how to" on the company's home page features a robot who might be a cousin of Eve, WALL-E's companion, as shown at left--both have a white body and big blue eyes!)

There are numerous ways to recycle your old phone, not just through EcoATM but at online buyback sites, the store where you buy your new phone, and other drop-off points. Check it out next time you upgrade.

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