Tech Buy-Back Offers

July 20, 2011 4:22:21 AM PDT
Today's technology is constantly being updated with models showcasing newer, faster features.

To keep up with the latest tech-trend, many consumers are tempted by retailer buy-back programs. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to weigh the pros and cons of these programs before parting with their money.

Typical buy-back programs come in the form of a one-time fee required at the time of the original purchase. To avoid falling behind the latest technology, consumers opt-in to these programs to ensure their gadget doesn't go stale. As long as it's in good condition, many buy-back programs allow you to trade-up items such as your cell phone, laptop, tablet, and television for a percentage of its current value. Usually this credit will come in the form of a gift card that may be used toward the purchase of a newer model.

"If you are an individual that likes to say on top of the latest technology, a buy-back program may be for you," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "However, as with anything else, you will need to do your research to find out if the program is worth the cost."

The BBB provides the following information to consumers considering a retailer's buy-back program:

Buy-back programs can provide a sense of insurance on your product. Buy-back programs essentially guarantee a resale value, meaning they act as insurance against loss of value. But like any insurance policy, its true value can become nominal and hard to define. Before becoming a member of a buy-back program, make sure to read the fine print. Many buy-back options have conditions and constraints that could ultimately keep you from being able to sell back your used gadget.

Remember that the interest of the retailer is usually at heart. In exchange for your old gadget, your return will come back in the form of a gift card more times than not. This plan and gift card means you are locked into the issuing retailer for your next technology purchase. Not to mention, you may end up paying triple the sales tax when all exchanges are said and done. While sales tax rules vary from state to state and buy-back programs vary from program to program, you are the one responsible for paying the tax. By paying the tax once when you buy the item and again when you return it, and then again when you use the gift card, you may end up paying triple the tax in the end.

Gadget-buy backs are not ideal for the forgetful or the disorganized. If you haven't saved your original receipts, power cords and manuals, you could be at a loss or your payout could be less than expected. Many buy-back programs insist that the original items be brought back to the store at the time of the exchange. Mobile phone contracts are not covered. When you purchase a new phone and add the retailer's buy-back program, you can resell your phone back to the retailer for the agreed upon dollar amount. Keep in mind that even when you sell your phone back to the retailer, your cell phone provider will keep billing you for the duration of your contract.

You can compromise your identity. Before selling your electronics back to the retailer be sure to take care of your personal data. Many electronic items such as your smartphone or laptop can hold a great deal of personal information. If this information gets into the wrong hands, your identity could be compromised. Be sure to fully wipe out all personal data before reselling to a retailer.

You could get more for your electronic gadgets elsewhere. Reselling electronics is not new. Many consumers use sites like eBay and Craigslist to sell their gadgets. In most instances you could get more for your electronics by using these sites than opting for a retailer's buy-back program

Better Business Bureau Warns Vacationers to Beware of Cell Phone Charges While Abroad

With today's technology, cell phone users can surf the web, receive emails and watch movies on their smart phones. When traveling abroad, many users fail to recognize their data plan is constantly in use, even when they think their phone isn't.

In the past twelve months, the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois received more than 482 complaints against the cell phone industry, many of which were from customers who were unaware their data was still in use as they traveled outside their coverage area.

"Vacationers often rack up more expenses than initially planned when traveling," said Steve J. Bernas, President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois. "It's important to make sure you aren't paying extra for a cell phone not being used."

According to the Federal Communications Commission, "roaming" is the term that describes a wireless phone's ability to make and receive calls outside the designated coverage area under your service plan. Before traveling abroad or out of your coverage area, it's important for consumers to be proactive and contact their provider for specific details regarding their individual data plan.

BBB advises consumers to do the following with their cell phone and cell phone provider in preparation for a trip abroad:

Turn off your phone. If you don't need your phone and don't plan to use it while traveling abroad, turn it off. Another option is to rent or buy an international cell phone. Many rental plans offer services that work in several countries and may provide free incoming calls.

Contact your cell phone provider. Cell phone users generally know not to make calls or send text messages while out of their coverage area or abroad. For the occasional traveler who doesn't frequently talk on the phone, it may be worth looking into an international add-on plan. Your cell phone carrier can provide specific tips that cater to the roaming needs of your individual cell phone and data plan.

Invest in a prepaid SIM card. For frequent, chatty travelers or long-term travelers, investing in a prepaid SIM card may be the best option. With access to a local phone number, you'll be able to make phone calls at the country's local rate.

Check with your BBB. Travelers should always check with your BBB before choosing an international service provider at

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