Erasing Electronics Buyer Remorse

Recycling as an everyday practice has become more and more common these days. But what about all those gadgets you accumulate? What happens to them? There are many options out there, but for most, they involve more cost, effort, and time then our busy schedules or motivation will allow. Sure, there are some newer options such as Second Rotation, the company I profiled in January that quotes you a value for your product based on the condition you claim it’s in, then they inspect it, and either give you that amount, or a different agreed upon one. But even there, with the free shipping and the possibility of getting cash rather then spending it to recycle, it’s based on current market value, a wildly fluctuating amount, as the new half price twice the speed iPhone exemplifies.

What if you could guarantee exactly how much you’d get, based on how long you’ve owned it, at the time of purchase? This is now a reality, via the company Tech Forward. You can buy a product at any store you like, then purchase their Guaranteed Buyback service, which covers a wide range of electronics, from MP3 players to desktop computers.

Who would benefit from this service? Anybody, really, but here are some examples:

  • You are going to be in a 2 year certificate program, and know you’ll need a laptop primarily for that, you can now do it, knowing what you’ll have coming back to you when you sell it.
  • Or perhaps you are someone who is a fiend for the latest gear or worried about what you’re about to buy becoming outdated (iPod Touch, before the recently announced half price iPhone) Tech Forward’s plan allows you to buy without worry.
  • The end buyer, who has a chance to get a quality piece of electronics that they can be assured is of good quality.
  • The planet, with a reduced load of toxics from disposed of electronics.

And the kicker? The quoted values are only for products in what they consider “good” condition! As in if it’s what they consider excellent condition, you can get 15% more then you signed up for. What an incentive to take great care of your electronics.

So, given the fickle nature of this industry, what happens to these electronics? TechForward first work to get it sold, which I should think is fairly easy, given that not everybody needs/wants the absolute latest thing, and would be glad to get a well taken care of older device. What if they can’t sell it? Tech Forward will, “recycle, in an environmentally-friendly way, any item that cannot be resold.” I’d prefer if they said how, with who, and where, but that’s something you can ask them about if it matters to you.

But there’s one problem with TechForward. No phones allowed. What to do?

For you, FlipSwap is a great new option that goes beyond what Second Rotation offers. They have partnered with a number of electronics retailers, so that you can go into a shop, have them analyze the phone, and get instant credit, to be used in buying a new one. And FlipSwap isn’t just for single phone returns. They work with cell phone businesses that could perhaps have 1000s of phones in storage. And with both, they don’t charge shipping. From their site, it appears they are quite conscientious with recycling, should it need to happen.

If it’s found that the phone isn’t functional or sellable, FlipSwap, in addition to recycling, will plant a tree. And internally as a company, they “closely monitor our consumption of resources and continually strive to reduce waste.”

Readers: What are other ways you’ve found to responsibly and easily reuse or recycle products? Have you used either of the above services? What’s been your experience?

Additional Resources:

What to Do with Your Old Electronic Devices: Get Paid, Help Those in Need! : Ecopreneurist

How to Green Your Mail : Ecopreneurist

10 Business Practices that Reduce Your Footprint : Ecopreneurist

About the Author

Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio School of Management in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations around, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media. Who he has and wants to work with includes consumer, media, clean tech, NGOs, social ventures, and museums. For more on GreenSmith Consulting, see He also writes for Triple Pundit
  • Nice article, Paul.

    Looks like there’s a typo when mentioning Tech Forward, you mention TechRestore by mistake. While we do our part in eco-recycling by helping you keep your electronics alive for a much longer period (overnight repairs on laptops, iPods, iPhones and gaming systems), we are not affiliated with Tech Forward.

    Very cool idea that Tech Forward is pushing, it will be interesting to see if consumers are comfortable with this type of arrangement.


    Shannon Jean

  • Thanks for the sharp eye. Noted, and corrected.

  • Nice post, I’m in the market for some gadgets myself… and getting rid of older ones.

  • Hi Paul,

    We’re glad to hear that you’re writing about Second Rotation and other services that are helping the e-waste problem. I think it’s great that retailers are jumping on board with these efforts and see the value in these types of programs. We hope these partnerships will only continue to grow.

    Second Rotation

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