Cash in on your old kit

The jury’s out on whether a system is more or less desirable with Ubuntu than without an OS, as you’re effectively making a decision on the buyer’s behalf. Although a novice may prefer the PC ready to use, an expert may have his own OS in mind, so if you’re selling on eBay it may pay to offer the choice to the winning bidder. If you’re selling your system anywhere else, having Ubuntu installed will at least allow you to demonstrate that it’s fully functional.

Shipping

Shipping a laptop to a buyer is easy if you have the original packaging: just box it up properly, wrap it with brown paper and take it to the post office. If you’ve lost the box, it’s a little trickier. Find a box of a similar size, then smother the laptop in bubble wrap to ensure it doesn’t bounce around on its travels. If the box isn’t sturdy, consider adding a piece of thick card above and below the laptop to protect against sharp knocks.

Shipping PCs is much more complex, as you have the twin perils of damage to the PC itself and the danger of dislodged components inside. Take a tip from the professionals: when manufacturers send PCs into the PC Pro Labs, a common technique is to stuff bubble wrap throughout the inside of the chassis, being sure to fill the small spaces around the graphics card, hard disks and processor heatsink. As long as the components are properly screwed in they shouldn’t move too much, but the bubble wrap will cushion a potentially expensive blow if they do.

Put the PC into its original packaging if you still have it, otherwise place bubble wrap at the bottom of a large cardboard box, and again fill all the remaining space with bubble wrap or loosefill chips (often known as packing peanuts) until the system is packed solid. Don’t be tempted to put a monitor in the same box as the PC to save on shipping costs – keeping things simple is the key to disaster-free shipping.

Where to sell

You’ve gathered the necessary bits, you’ve securely boxed them, but where will you get the best price? The options are numerous, but the first port of call for most will be eBay. As we said earlier, eBay tends to be a good place to sell higher-value items such as MacBooks, and the prices you get should be better than elsewhere.

There are a few vital rules to follow when selling hardware on eBay. First, setting a high starting price is the quickest way to scare off buyers, as the number of £300 no-name laptops with zero bids will attest. Allowing the bids to build from a low figure might be scary, but it will attract more followers. Second, give your listing a meaningful name: “Desktop PC” might be accurate, but it won’t generate the same interest as a specific model name, age, and even core specs if you have the space. Finally, be honest about what you have and the condition it’s in, and take a good photo that includes all the kit you’re selling.

Cash in on your old kit

If you get all that right, you can fetch reasonable prices on eBay for recent kit. Even among the older items we quickly found a Core i3 Sony VAIO EB Series that sold for £324, an unboxed HP Pavilion dv6 for £360, and even a 2006 MacBook 13.3in that went for £200. Surprisingly, we also saw a variety of netbooks consistently topping £100, suggesting there’s still demand for them at lower prices than new.

There’s one caveat to this: eBay takes a hefty 10% fee (up to a maximum of £40), which, when added to shipping costs, can eliminate the site’s price advantage if you’re not careful.

There are several other options, however. A retail site such as CeX will buy your hardware on the spot, even without a box. The prices are lower than you might fetch on eBay, and they’ll fall further depending on the condition of the item, but it’s a guaranteed cash sale with minimum risk. Obviously eBay listings aren’t an exact science, but to give you an idea of the potential difference, CeX offers £258 for the exact same Sony VAIO EB Series mentioned above – a shortfall of just over £30 from the eBay figure after fees.

Alternatively, you could list your hardware on a site such as Gumtree and negotiate directly with buyers, or offer it for sale on a computing forum or magazine, such as our sister title Micro Mart, which offers free classified listings for hardware. Finally, although it may be stating the obvious, selling to a friend or colleague is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to go – the only drawback is the guilt involved in driving a hard bargain.

Smartphones

There’s such an obsession with owning the latest smartphone that a whole industry has grown up around trading in those that have gone out of fashion. In fact, right now, moving on an old smartphone is the most cost-effective and easiest way to make money from your old kit.

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