UPDATE: October 19, 2011, 4 PM Gazelle has finally responded below. Click to see the comment by Gazelle’s Andrew M. Shallenberger and let’s see if he answers my questions in my new blog post: Gazelle.com: Why They Still Suck.
I was introduced to a site called gazelle.com, that claims it’s willing to buy your old disused electronics. That claim of theirs is wondrous bullshit.
To help illustrate some of the major problems with their site, let’s take a look at one of the categories they push really hard: old satellite radios.
They claim, in their navigation bar, to buy 71 different types of satellite radios. The largest brand in that category is Sirius with 25 different types, so let’s jump to that.
Cycling through the items under that category, you see page after page of items flagged with “sell it now.” Then, two pages on, you start seeing:
What kind of fuckery is this? They claim to buy 25 different Sirius Satellite radios, but when you reach the third page of items you suddenly start seeing “recycle it now” instead. So, in other words, Gazelle doesn’t buy 25 different types of Sirius satellite radios. They buy 17. The others are there to lure you onto their site and to maybe get you to ship your shit to them (at your expense, mind you) for them to “dispose responsibly” for you.
So, they still buy 17 Sirius satellite radios, instead of 25, right? Wrong. Let’s jump to another brand, only because that was where I discovered this discrepancy. Let’s say that you have a brand new, functional, still in box with all the original shit XAct XTR1 Sirius radio.
Here we go. Let’s check all their criteria.
Powers on successfully? Yes. It’s brand new.
Overall condition? Perfect. It’s still in the original box.
Antenna? It’s mint in box. Of course the antenna is in there.
“I Have…” I have everything. It’s mint in box.
So, let’s click to get an offer. Well, lo and behold….
Wow. Brand new in box, the absolute best that this item they supposedly buy can be? And all they’ll do is “recycle it responsibly.” Yet we see that they’re not afraid to flag items that supposedly have no value as such. So why take you through all these steps? All I can say is that when anyone offers to take a perfectly good, brand new mint in box item off your hands and act like they’re doing you a fucking favor, then caveat fucking emptor, baby.
There’s also a question of “disposing.” I can dispose of something responsibly by unloading it on eBay or taking it to a flea market. One has to wonder whether or not someone who is offering to “dispose of” your item is doing this. Or selling it for scrap. Or selling it to someone who will take the component parts and make repaired items for resale.
For example, one of the few things that Gazelle actually seems willing to buy is an old iPod. However, if the headphone jack on your iPod is damaged, they will deduct $66.00 from your offer. $66.00! For a fucking headphone jack. Now, let’s say that I buy an iPod with a damaged headphone jack for $11.00, like Gazelle will. Let’s say that at the same time I “offer to recycle responsibly” another iPod where the case is cracked and the battery is shot, but the headphone jack still works. Wow. That headphone jack is worth $66.00! So swap the broken parts from the $11.00 iPod with the same parts from the “offer to recycle” iPod, and voila a $77.00 iPod.
Now, never let it be said that I don’t try to get the full skinny on a situation before I proclaim that the people behind that scam…er… situation suck. Since they had a huge “LIVE CHAT” button on the site I decided to take advantage of it. The name of the operator has been changed to protect the guilty.
[Pab Sungenis] What exactly do you mean by “recycle your item?”
[Bozo#1] Hello, Welcome to the Gazelle trade in program my name is Bozo#1,
[Bozo#1] I apologize for any confusion.
[Bozo#1] It indicates that the item has no cash value and the only offer available is having it recycled. This of course does not entail any kind of monetary compensation.
[Pab Sungenis] How does your company go about “recycling” these items?
[Bozo#1] You would have to mail the item(s) to us. The shipping cost must be paid by you. Upon arrival of the item(s) we recycle (discard) them responsibly.
[Pab Sungenis] How? What do you do to discard of them responsibly?
[Bozo#1] They are sent to a recycle center that will ensure that they do not end up in a landfill.
[Pab Sungenis] What benefit is there for me to send my items to you to be recycled, instead of disposing of them at my local electronics recycling center?
[Bozo#1] There are none if you are having them recycled responsibly.
Let me interrupt for a moment to underline this. If you choose to take them up on their offer to recycle, you’re paying to do this. In most major metropolitan areas (and a shitload of suburbs and metroburbs, too) there are places you can take old electronics to be recycled. I’ve been using the local one here in town a lot lately. So you’re essentially paying them to do something you can do for free right in your own neighborhood.
Also, I wonder what “recycling center” they use, and whether they get paid for their scrap. Too bad I didn’t think to ask.
[Pab Sungenis] Does your company use the component parts of objects sent to you for disposal to repair other items to be used later for resale?
[Bozo#1] We do not as we do not repair items.
[Pab Sungenis] Not even for items you purchase for resale?
[Bozo#1] What we purchase must be in working condition.
[Bozo#1] We sell them as is (working condition).
Not the hedge. “We” do not repair items. There is nothing about whether or not they have other people do the repairs for them.
I felt the need to let them come clean on items that are on their site as just padding. So I used the above example.
[Pab Sungenis] There are some items on your site where, even though they are flagged as “sell it now” instead of “recycle it now,” and even though they are in perfect condition, will not receive an offer. Why does your site do this? Why not just flag items you do not want, even in perfect condition, as “recycle” instead of “sell?”
For the record, I love when you force a CSR to go off script. This was followed by four minutes of silence, then each of the next three sentences had thirty seconds of silence between them before I decided to put the CSR out of his misery and interrupt.
[Bozo#1] Pab, I understand your concerns.
[Bozo#1] The cosmetic condition of an item does not necessarily mean that it has value.
[Bozo#1] For example….
[Pab Sungenis] No, I mean “perfect.” With all required components and fully functional.
[Bozo#1] A discontinued item, too old perhaps has very little value.
[Bozo#1] Technology takes giant steps.
[Bozo#1] An outdated phone, monitor, etc…
[Bozo#1] It may be in great condition but there is very little market for outdated items.
[Pab Sungenis] Then why not simply flag that item as “recycle” instead of going through the process of trying to obtain a quote?
[Bozo#1] Because, you (the owner) may have done some upgrades to it that may have given the device some value.
[Pab Sungenis] Let’s take one sample item here and go through your criteria: “Powers on successfully,” yes. Overall condition, “perfect” “I Have…” every item is checked. Click on get an offer, and it says “no resale value.” If that item is worthless even after going through all your criteria, why not just flag it for recycling?
Two minutes of silence.
[Bozo#1] Which item is it?
[Pab Sungenis] XAct XTR1 Sirius Satellite radio. I already have screenshots, so don’t bother to go change it now.
[Bozo#1] I’ll check for you.
[Bozo#1] One moment please.
Six minutes of silence.
[Bozo#1] Thanks for holding.
[Bozo#1] You are absolutely right. The item is to be recycled. You should not have the option of rating it.
[Bozo#1] Once in a while we do have to make these corrections.
So I move in for the kill.
[Pab Sungenis] Which brings up the question, how many items that you allegedly will buy will receive no offer at all?
[Bozo#1] Good question.
[Bozo#1] Keep this in mind….
[Bozo#1] When you do an assessment and an offer is made, you lock into that price by placing the order.
[Bozo#1] The only way the offer is revised is if we find that the assessment was over rated or under rated by the user.
[Bozo#1] A revision to an offer can go up or down.
[Bozo#1] When offers are revised, we do explain in detail why.
[Bozo#1] And you are given the option to accept or decline.
[Bozo#1] If you decline, we will send the item back at no cost to you.
Aww. He’s back on script. But please note that even if they make an offer to you and you pay to ship your shit out to them, then there’s still no guarantee they’ll live up to your offer. Again, caveat fucking emptor, baby.
[Pab Sungenis] Thank you for addressing my questions and confirming my doubts and fears. Have a good afternoon.
[Bozo#1] You are very welcome Pab.
What’s our lesson? If your item is in good shape go to eBay. If not, drop it off at your local recycling center for free. Avoid scammers like the folks at gazelle.com would appear to be.