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Let's Discuss: What Do You Think of Amazon's Trade-In Program?

The online megastore is a natural choice for exchanging old devices for credit. But do you get the value you're expecting?
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Laptop in box

There are tons of options if you want to trade in old electronic devices to help pay for new ones, from online-only marketplaces to in-store programs at megachains. But with so many people already spending so much time and money on Amazon, that site's trade-in program would seem to be a natural choice.

However, some users — including me — end up getting less than their initially quoted. So is Amazon really the best option?

Getting Less Than Expected

Amazon's Trade-In program isn't limited to electronics, either — you can also exchange textbooks, video games, DVDs, and more. The items go to a third-party merchant, and you get an Amazon.com gift card.

I decided to check this program out recently myself. In college, I used Amazon's buyback program for textbooks, but I'd never tried to trade anything in. I had an old 3rd-gen Kindle lying around, and Amazon was running a promotion where you could get up to $20 for trading in older models. After answering a few questions, I was surprised when Amazon told me my Kindle was worth $15, almost the full offer. I wasn't using the device, so I decided to send it in.

The problem came when Amazon received my device. The reps stated that there were cracks in the display, and downgraded the condition, offering me just $5. Minus the cost of the box, that barely seemed worth it.

I hadn't mailed it with any cracks, so immediately I guessed any damage had to have come during transit. I started looking into it, and I'm certainly not the only one this has happened to.

Take It Up With Customer Service

When conditions are downgraded, this means that users' initial quotes aren't valid, and they often end up receiving less than what they were originally told. This isn't unexpected, and damage in transit is absolutely possible.

But if it happens to you, it's worth having a chat with customer service. As long as you're polite, Amazon is usually willing to work with you. There are plenty of cases where users have been able to receive the rest of their quoted amount. While Amazon might not change its ruling on the condition of your items, it's been known to get shoppers their full expected amount by doing things like providing a refund on an unrelated purchase.

But Are Other Trade-In Programs Any Better?

Remember, Amazon isn't the only game in town when it comes to trade-ins. Sites like Gazelle and Glyde specialize in it, and stores like Target, Walmart, and Gamestop will let you get a quote in person, Plus, you can always take your chances selling an item on eBay.

While phones are the most popular trade-in item, all of these stores and sites accept a range of products. Video games in particular have a popular aftermarket.

The in-store options might help you avoid a situation where you are quoted one sum and then offered a lower one, but the online options will still carry that risk.

Readers, we want to know: have you tried Amazon's Trade-In program? Was it a good experience? Did you feel like you were quoted and paid fairly? Let us know in the comments below!


Staff Writer

Julie joined DealNews in 2015, after many years of becoming well-versed in technology issues as a communications professional for a software company. She first entered journalism in college, reporting on issues facing frugal students for CollegeCandy.com. Julie lives in DealNews' hometown of Huntsville, AL.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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12 comments
billstewartiii
Same here. I sent in an used iPad I received a quote on. It was in fine, used condition.
They returned it to me indicating the condition wasn't good enough. I sold it one ebay for more later.
A-M-R
I have found there are better options that offer more and are easier to use... if you take 5 minutes to look around :D
spiker1877
I sent in an old Kindle after waiting about 3 months I sent Amazon an email, they gave me the credit to my account and then 2 months latter I got the same old Kindle sent back to me.
thisisasj
I stopped using Amazon for trading-in and selling. The trust is just no longer there. Years ago, I sent in a ridiculously old Dell phablet (so old it ran Android Gingerbread). They gave me $150 for it, even though it was so old I'm sure no one would have wanted to buy it. Early last year, I sent in a basically new Windows 8.1 tablet (I'd only had it for about 35 days and never used it). They rejected it, saying it wasn't in like new condition. I didn't try to sell it elsewhere. Finally last week I repurposed it as a wireless Sonos controller.
snaimpally
I tried trading in a Canon Point and Shoot camera that I had purchased a few years ago from Amazon. I had kept the screen protector on the screen when I sent it in and they rejected it because of "light scratching" though the scratches were on the screen protector. In hindsight, I should have removed the screen protector before sending it in.
mjollnir
It's worked fine for me, both times I've used it for an old phone and a tablet.
jimtsao
I have a bid issue with Amazon trade-in program. I send in my iPhone 6 for appraisal, and I didn't accept the price they offer and want to get it back. When they ship it back, I noticed that they took my iPhone apart and there are few screws are missing.
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
I'm just now realizing I've never traded in any of my old electronics. Hmm.
atthebriin
iphones*
atthebriin
I've tried to trade in two of my past 1phones. Both times they were sent back to me and said the condition was not good enough. The 1st one was perfectly fine and the 2nd only had a small crack on a corner. That 1st one I took to gamestop and they gave me over $200 store credit for it.
egruber
I used them several times to sell an iPhone and it worked well. But they recently changed the website and it was impossible to find my exact phone model and determine the value. Whatever I searched returned 144 phones, none of which was what I wanted. The old way worked perfectly. The new way is abysmal. I now sell my phone on eBay.
keithwm
I had the exact same thing to happen with Amazon. I was happy with their offer, so l sent the item in. I subsequently got the item back after they e-mailed me and said it was cracked and they didn't want it. I knew it wasn't cracked when I sent it in.

Anyway, I did e-mail them back, and they offered a credit. I never did contact the carrier, but I know it wasn't cracked when I sent it in. As usual, though, Amazon came through in the end.
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