New initiative offers appraisal and gift card toward iPhone upgrade
Apple’s retail stores will begin a new initiative allowing customers to trade their old iPhone for a new one. The program is called “iPhone reuse and recycle” and is set to begin on August 30, but some Apple stores are piloting the idea right now. These stores have been offering trade-ins to customers for several weeks, some doing multiple transactions a day.
The program allows customers to bring a working iPhone to an Apple retail store to be evaluated by an associate using a sort of “Kelly Blue Book” for phones as a guide, along with some basic interview questions with the customer to determine trade-in value. Thus far, values for a 16 GB iPhone 4S range from $120-200, and a 16 GB iPhone 5 in good conditions is worth $250. The determined value is added to a gift card and can only be used toward the purchase of a new phone. If after purchasing a new phone, a balance on the card remains, the shopper can apply the remainder to whatever merchandise Apple offers. Currently, the pilot program has no mobile carrier check determining upgrade status or a check for early termination fees in the event of a carrier change. These factors could affect the balance on the customer’s gift card after receiving a new device.
Apple has had a mail-in, trade-in initiative for quite some time that handles all of Apple’s products. This is the first time Apple has made offers for used products in its stores. Other retailers, like Walmart, have also begun trade-in electronics initiatives, offering consumers an appraisal and monetary offers via gift cards.
The process seems a bit difficult and convoluted, and sounds kind of like an automobile trade-in, but during the piloting process, that is understandable. It is probably a smart move on Apple’s behalf testing the program in limited locations to shake out any kinks before the rollout to all stores. However, if Apple can make this pilot initiative into a seamless, functioning program prior to September 10 — the launch of the next iPhone — the company can grab a large piece of the sales it would normally lose to competitors.