BBB Watch: Advice on buy-back programs

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

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 provides the following points for consumers to consider about 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 of any agreement. Many buy-back options have conditions and constraints that could ultimately keep you from being able to sell back your used gadget.

- Remember, the program favors the retailer. 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 completed. 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.

- 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 all the original items be brought back to the store at the time of the exchange.

- Mobile phone contracts do not end when you sell back a phone. 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 smart phone or laptop can hold a great deal of personal information. If this information gets into the wrong hands, your identity and information about others 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 online auction or classifieds to sell their gadgets. In many instances, you could get more for your electronics by using these sites rather than opting for a retailer's buy-back program.

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