by Mariana Byrd
The black screen of death - it happens to most electronics. Recently my iPhone 3G started to fail. It was slow for months and right before the release of the iPhone 4S it would only work when plugged in (coincidence?). Needless to say, I needed the phone to work when it wasn’t plugged in to the wall (who knew?!). I had phone envy from all those other people who had faster phones so my phone failing was the perfect opportunity to upgrade.
But what do I do with my old phone? Throw it in the trash? No. Sell it on e-bay? Nope, it doesn’t really work. Put it in the recycling? No, it’s not accepted. I could take it to Durham’s Waste Disposal and Recycling Center on Club Blvd or wait for one of their shredding and e-waste events. (FYI: There is a shredding, e-waste, and christmas tree recycling event this Saturday 1/14/12 from 8am-2pm in the Sears parking lot at Northgate Mall. For more information about items accepted at this event or the City’s recycling facilities, contact Durham One Call at (919) 560-1200 or visit the City’s website at http://DurhamNC.gov/ich/op/swmd/Pages/wr_transfer.aspx.) But, I had also heard of companies that will pay you for your old phone. I decided to investigate.
Two of the most recognized companies that stood out were Apple’s Recycling Program (it’s part of the process when purchasing your phone from their website) and Gazelle. Both options pay you depending on the condition of your phone. That’s where the problem arose - overall my phone was in good condition (no cracked screen, it had never been submerged in water, minimal scratches) and it did power-on (one of the main questions) but it only powered on when it was plugged in. Unfortunately there wasn’t anywhere that I could account for that piece of information. Basically, my phone was either worth about $35 if it turned on or $0 if it didn’t. I decided to continue searching.
That’s when I found other websites that offered much more for my phone but they didn’t seem legit. Most had complaints from previous customers who had sent in their phone only to be informed that it wasn’t worth what they were initially quoted. I stayed clear from these sites.
Then I ran across e-Cycle.com. e-Cycle’s main target audience seems to be corporations with a large inventory of outdated wireless technology. Their mission is to empower businesses and organizations to take a more responsible, secure and cost-effective approach to wireless recycling. The best part is that they have a set price list for what each wireless technology is worth that month - condition does not matter. In my case, my iPhone 3G was worth $70 - twice as much as the highest possible offer from Apple and Gazelle.
I was unconvinced that this was actually true so I decided to contact e-Cycle (fully expecting that they may never contact me). Within an hour an employee of e-Cycle called me, adequately answered all of my questions, and sent a follow up e-mail. I was blown away by the level of customer service and attention I received - especially since I was not a corporation and only had one phone. I packaged and sent them my phone (free shipping!).
Throughout the whole process I was kept up to date with emails stating that they received my phone, the data on my phone was successfully deleted (I had done that on my end as well), the check was written, and finally an email asking if I was fully satisfied. Wow.
Not only did e-Cycle offer the best deal but had the best customer service, is environmentally responsible (recycling obsolete equipment, disposing toxic materials in an EPA-registered facility, and salvaging valuable materials), and, if you choose, can directly donate your proceeds to the charity of your choice. Truly a great way for individuals and companies to be environmentally responsible in addition to adding money to your telecom budget or making a tax deductible donation to the charity of your choice.
I always find it encouraging to find other companies, big and small, that share some of the same social and environmental views as Urban Durham Realty. As always, I try to do my best in supporting their efforts. The next time you have a phone that needs to be recycled, I encourage you to try e-Cycle.