Gazelle, godfather of the buyback industry, is closing up shop for trade-ins in 2021. The company announced the upcoming change on its website and in an email blast sent to some customers Wednesday, December 30.
“We’re saying goodbye to our trade-in option – here’s what you need to know. Beginning February 1st, 2021, we will no longer be offering our trade-in option. If you have a trade-in that is in process right now, your trade-in will continue as planned. You can also still log in to your trade-in account to view the status of any current trade-ins.”
Strangely enough, Gazelle’s homepage, trade-in portal, blog, and social media pages still haven’t gotten the memo. Prospective customers would need to wander over to Gazelle’s FAQs to even find out that the company will stop accepting used devices in the new year.
For those wanting to trade in with Gazelle one last time (although we’d recommend against it – here’s why), your window of opportunity is closing fast. The company’s online buyback portal will only remain open until January 31, 2021, so trade-ins must be initiated by then. Customers will then have a 30-day grace period to mail in their devices.
Coming from an industry leader thrice ranked on Inc.’s 500 Fastest Growing Companies list and one of the US’s longest-running trade-in programs, the news may seem like quite the surprise. And of course, with no explanation provided, speculation abounds.
The Verge theorizes the closure might be due to changes in consumer behavior, namely a trend towards leasing rather than buying smartphones. GadgetGone owner and CEO Patrick Haney, meanwhile, has another idea.
“Gazelle closing is really not much of a shock to anyone in this industry. Gazelle has always been the largest company in the buyback/trade-in industry, but not because they were offering the best service and certainly not because they were offering the best trade-in prices.
They were the biggest company for two reasons: One, because they were one of the first companies in this sector, and two, because their funding partners backed them with a lot of capital. They used that money to pay for huge advertising campaigns that helped establish them as the go-to place to sell old gadgets.
The problem with investing so much money in marketing is that you have to make up for those costs somewhere. Gazelle did it by offering trade-in valuations so low they were borderline insulting, and their customers accepted those very low offers for years.
The mid-to-late 2010s was really the heyday for Gazelle because they had little to no competition. Companies like GadgetGone, Decluttr, and others came into the picture within the past five to 10 years and actually gave customers fair offers for their devices. That was really the beginning of the end, in my opinion.
Gazelle tried to compete by increasing their valuations slightly and offering a rewards program, but their organization was just too bloated to offer prices even remotely close to what competing companies like ours can offer.
A lot of Gazelle employees are going to lose their job because of this and my heart really goes out to those people, especially in this COVID economy. But I see this as a huge win for consumers in the long term. Once Gazelle’s millions of customers start looking for new places to sell their devices they’ll realize how much money they’ve been missing out on.”
While this marks the end of an era for Gazelle – and hopefully, the beginning of good things to come for online trade-in programs like GadgetGone – the company isn’t closing up shop completely. The used electronics marketplace side of their website will remain open for business, with the pre-owned devices up for sale ostensibly being provided by their parent company, ecoATM.
Future trade-ins are welcomed with ecoATM as well, although the process looks quite a bitdifferent from trading in with Gazelle (and like Gazelle, we wouldn’t recommend it – read why here). Rather than mailing in their device(s), customers will need to go to one of the company’s over 4,000 kiosks.
Payments won’t be the same either. Not only will customers get cash that same day, but they will also receive quite a bit less for their trade-in than they would have with Gazelle (and significantly less than they would get by trading in with a company like GadgetGone).
How much less exactly? From our calculations, in past trade-in pricing comparisons, you’re looking at over 39% less on average, and that’s just by switching from Gazelle to ecoATM. Meanwhile, customers who switch from Gazelle to GadgetGone could see as much as 31% more, while those making the change from ecoATM could walk away with over 115% more money.
So, while this may be the end of Gazelle’s buyback program, it certainly does not mark the end of the trade-in industry. With independent companies like GadgetGone and Decluttr, manufacturer programs like Apple Trade In, and carrier-provided trade-in options, consumers have a deluge of choices. And for those willing to do their due diligence and shop around, they will certainly come out ahead.
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