In a Nutshell: In an age of planned obsolescence, old electronic devices can accumulate in closets and basements at a startling rate. Rather than letting them gather dust, consumers can turn them into quick cash through MaxBack, which buys previously owned smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches. MaxBack offers competitive pricing, free shipping, fast payment, and a no-risk policy to anyone selling their devices, including organizations, like schools and businesses, looking to unload electronics in bulk. As technology progresses, MaxBack is keeping step and constantly examining the ways it can help consumers turn old goods into ready money.
It’s a common conundrum: you just bought a new phone, so what do you do with your old one? You could recycle it or donate it, but what if still has value? If so, how much is it worth? You could do the research, set a price, and try to sell it — or you could let a company, like MaxBack, do all the work (and pay all the fees) for you.
MaxBack is a buyback service for smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches. It assesses items’ values, processes them, and then resells them through online marketplaces. But MaxBack isn’t consignment; the seller is paid immediately upon receipt and evaluation of the device, providing fast cash for old devices.
MaxBack began as a school fundraising venture called FundingFactory, which was operated by Environmental Reclamation Services. Students were able to exchange old devices for points, and then use those points to buy other items. FundingFactory resold the old devices, and schools got a share of the profits.
“We just couldn’t get any traction with that model,” said Sean Michaels, President of MaxBack. “So we switched it up, and we made it what it is today: direct from consumer.”
Michaels initially worked on FundingFactory, and in 2016, acquired MaxBack from then-owner Clover Technologies Group. MaxBack is now an independent, nine-person operation.
“We try to run pretty leanly and not have a lot of operational expenses,” Michaels said, adding that this allows MaxBack to pay sellers the best prices for their old electronics. “It’s part of our business model to be as competitive as possible in terms of the pricing. It’s even our name. You get the maximum back for your device.”
Free Shipping and Fast Payment for Used Devices
When MaxBack makes an offer on a seller’s device, that quote comes with a 30-day price lock: as long as the device is received within 30 days, and it matches the described condition, MaxBack will honor the original price quoted, even if the market value has declined.
“We’re benchmarking every week,” Michaels said. “We have people who look to see what our competitors are paying.”
When sending devices to MaxBack, sellers incur no out-of-pocket expenses. MaxBack provides a printable, pre-paid USPS priority shipping label. If a seller isn’t able to print the label, MaxBack will mail them one to use — all free of charge.
Devices sold to MaxBack must be shipped with a functional battery and all necessary cords and accessories. Once these are received, they are inspected within one to two days, and payment is sent to the seller through PayPal or in the form of a check. The time elapsed between sending the device and receiving payment is typically about a week, making MaxBack an efficient way to turn unused electronics into extra money.
A No-Risk Policy and Privacy Protection Means Peace of Mind for Sellers
MaxBack prides itself on its no-risk policy for sellers. In addition to paying for shipping, MaxBack will also compensate sellers (at the full quoted value) for devices lost in the mail.
“That’s our problem,” Michaels said, “not yours.”
In the case of phones, MaxBack conducts ESN, MEID, or IMEI verification to ensure the devices can be legally sold and activated by the buyer.
“We have to make sure it hasn’t been reported lost or stolen,” Michaels said. “And then,, we check to see if there’s still a balance or it’s under a financing plan. We do that with every phone.”
Devices then undergo cosmetic inspections, as well as functionality testing. MaxBack conducts the latter manually.
“We tried operator-assisted sorts of software, but we found that we could go faster,” Michaels said. “We’ve got a team that’s been here for quite a while, and they know exactly what they’re looking for.”
These teams run through checklists for each device, ensuring everything is in good working order.
“It’s pretty in-depth, and it’s really human-centered. It’s a human who’s checking these devices out and using it like a customer would,” Michaels said. “That’s critical. We know as we resell and remarket these things, people want to have confidence they’re getting a device that’s been thoroughly tested and works the way it’s supposed to.”
If everything checks out and matches the seller’s original description, MaxBack sends the quoted payment. If MaxBack’s assessment differs from the anticipated condition, it will send the seller an adjusted quote, which may be higher or lower than the original. The seller can choose to accept or decline the new price.
This is where the no-risk policy comes into play again. If the amount offered isn’t satisfactory, and the seller declines the new quote, then MaxBack ships the item back for free.
“You always have the option to get the device back,” Michaels said. “That’s totally your decision.”
Like FundingFactory, MaxBack will still buy devices from people under the age of 18, but those sellers must have parental permission. MaxBack does not share or sell minors’ information to third-party distributors, in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
Before shipping items, MaxBack recommends sellers remove SIM cards from phones and restore devices to factory settings. MaxBack does both as part of its process but warns that any SIM cards it receives will be destroyed. But sellers can rest assured that their private information and data will be erased before their device is resold.
Bulk Sales: Convenient Solutions for Businesses and Schools
MaxBack limits seller transactions to one per month, each of which can include up to four items. This limitation on selling helps the company maintain its meticulous attention to individual consumers, its quality service, and fast payments.
MaxBack does, however, conduct bulk transactions on a case-by-case basis. These transactions must include at least 20 devices, which can be a mix of phones, tablets, and wearables. These transactions can only be compensated by check.
These bulk transactions provide a convenient solution to organizations looking to sell their old hardware.
“As companies are upgrading and turning over the phones they provide to their employees, MaxBack can be a buyer there,” Michaels said. “Schools also have one-to-one programs where every student is getting an iPad or a Chromebook. Those have to go somewhere as the schools upgrade them, so we can also address that market, as well.”
Working to Create Ideal Customer Experiences
As technology continues to progress, so will MaxBack.
“In some ways, it’s kind of like a startup, but a startup that’s been around for a while,” Michaels said. “We’re just trying to grow it, and add new features and new products to the portfolio.”
High on this list is expanding MaxBack into its own e-commerce site.
“I feel like we can give the best user experience there,” Michaels said.
MaxBack is also exploring the market potential for custom device accessories, like aftermarket bands for smartwatches.
Of course, MaxBack won’t stay limited to smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches; the company is dedicated to keeping up with innovations in the market by including new product categories.
In the age of mass-market consumer electronics, Moore’s Law dictates (or at least implies) people will always be buying new gadgets, and the old ones will always be lying around.
“And as long as the stuff has decent residual values and there’s a secondary market for it,” Michaels said, “then it makes sense to include it as part of MaxBack.”