BOSTON - Chances are you have an old cellphone, tablet or other device lying around in a drawer somewhere.
There’s no shortage of companies offering to turn those old devices into cash.
But Boston 25 News found the estimates those companies give you online aren’t always what you get.
We sent six identical iPhone 6’s to three different companies.
We shipped two phones to SellaGadget, which gave us as estimate at $73 a phone.
We sent two to Gazelle, which gave us estimates of $50 and $40.
We sent two to BuyBackWorld, which gave us an estimate of $93 a phone.
Before we shipped them off, we asked a "uBreakiFix" franchise owner Adam Siegel to take a look at the phones. He estimated they're worth $63 each.
"We're looking for bent frames, any sort of liquid damage on the front, back. Any cracks in the display or the cameras. Does the charging port work?" said Siegel.
Four days later, Gazelle paid the exact amount of its original estimates with Amazon gift cards: $50 and $40.
It took BuyBackWorld one week. Using PayPal, the company paid its original estimate for one phone: $93. But BuyBackWorld said the second phone had a blemish on the screen. The company offered us $41, less than half the original estimate, or they'd ship the phone back for free.
The third company, SellaGadget, offers two choices: You can automatically "accept the price" of the company's final assessment or click "contact me" to get an offer after inspection.
We selected a different option for each iPhone we sent SellaGadget.
SellaGadget claimed both phones were scratched.
For the first phone, SellaGadget dropped its payout from $73 to $60 and automatically sent us an Amazon gift card.
SellaGadget offered us $27 for the second phone.
We turned that down; then, SellaGadget increased the offer to $32.
We said no a second time. Then SellaGadget sent an email saying, "I am very sorry to report, due to an error with communication between the Inspections Department and Management, this device was sent to be processed and is not able to be returned."
SellaGadget sent us the full $73 from the original estimate.
"Read the fine print very carefully before you start clicking at a very fast speed," said Riz Sheikh, who sent two devices to SellaGadget.
Sheikh clicked to accept SellaGadget's final estimate of what he claims were two flawless devices.
He thought he'd get the full $765 from the original online estimate.
He wound up getting $220.
"You felt sort of taken advantage of. It's pretty simple. It's just, you know, like, hood-winked,” said Sheikh.
Our sister station drove to SellaGadget's Central Florida headquarters, but the company would not agree to an on-camera interview.
The general manager said photos show Sheikh's devices had cosmetic damage and not enough disc space.
Tech experts say it can be hard to prove what condition your device was in before it was mailed. Even if you take pictures, it’s hard to prove when the photos were taken or whether your device was damaged in the mail.
Taking your fight to civil court will likely cost more than your device is worth.
"We're going to pursue this legally," said Sheikh. "It is about the money, but it's more so about the principle."
SellaGadget filed a complaint with police about Sheikh, claiming he’s harassing them.
Sheikh’s advice: Read the fine print and know that, when you try to cash in on your old tech, it's at your own risk.
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