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5 strategies to get the most for your used Apple devices

Even if your learning tools aren’t in perfect condition, you can still increase the value of your district’s used Apple devices with a little forethought
By Paula Currie, Vice President of Procurement, Second Life Mac
February 23rd, 2021

Even if your learning tools aren’t in perfect condition, you can still increase the value of your district’s used Apple devices with a little forethought

When school districts refresh their fleet of used Apple devices, they often sell back those used devices to a buyback company. These companies decide what they will pay for a device based predominantly on the age and condition of devices.

However, there are several steps that districts can take to boost the payout of most devices—even those that are badly damaged.

Here are a few insider tricks to get the most for your used Apple devices:

Refresh devices off-peak. There’s a reason airfare spikes around the holidays: everyone wants to travel and there are a limited number of seats. The same is true for device sellbacks. Most districts like to sell devices during the summer when students don’t need the devices. This creates a glut of used iPads on the market, and lower buyback prices. A better strategy is to refresh devices when demand for used Apple devices and technology is high and the supply is low. This tends to be in the fall, when buyback companies are looking for devices they can refurbish and sell to meet the demand of holiday buyers.

Fall also is when Apple announces plans to ship its new generations of devices. Once this happens, older generations lose some value on the resale market, so buyback companies will pay less for these devices.

Another good time to refresh used Apple devices is in late winter when there’s a natural lull at Apple. The negotiating power of school districts for new Apple devices will hit its peak during this period. Districts that trade in devices at this time can do so during spring break week, which will minimize classroom disruption. The benefit: refreshing devices off peak can net school districts as much as 12 percent more for devices.

Leverage your current AppleCare+ contract. Districts that have iPads under warranty with Apple Care+ and don’t have a deductible can send damaged devices to Apple Care+ before the fleet is refreshed. Apple Care+ will replace the broken devices with brand new same generation iPads that fetch top dollar at trade-in. A school district on the East coast of the United States refreshed a large number of Apple iPads and MacBook Airs last spring. Before the refresh took place, the district sent approximately 1,000 broken iPads to Apple Care+ for replacement. These iPads brought the school district an additional $140,000 at trade-in. The benefit: It doesn’t cost school districts anything to do this; they’ve paid for the service with their Apple Care+ fee.

Understand the grading criteria. Most buyback companies grade used Apple devices on a scale of A to F, and take deductions for things like scratches, dents, and cracked screens. These deductions can cost districts a great deal. For example, in a recent buyback scenario the buyback price for a used iPad 6th Generation ranged from $205 for a “Grade A” device in top condition, to $20 for a “Grade F” device with a broken screen or other component–a $185 difference. Understanding how deductions are taken can help you make better decisions that will protect the value of devices. For example, schools that engrave devices could incur a $10 deduction per device. Also, schools that stack devices instead of storing them upright (like books) often receive deductions for pressure marks on screens. The benefit: if you know how devices are graded, you can take steps to avoid costly deductions.

Invest in a good case. Most technology directors agree that iPads and MacBooks should be protected with a case. However, the wrong case can actually create more damage than no case at all. That’s because rigid plastic snap-on style cases can’t stop dirt and dust particles from getting between the case and the device. Over time, these particles act like sandpaper against the devices, creating scuffs and scratches that reduce their value by as much as $50 each. Instead, look for cases with a rubber inner sleeve that have a hard shell that snaps over it. The rubber sleeve is better at keeping particles out, plus, it is more flexible so that any particles that do make their way in don’t get ground into the device. Also look for cases with hard screen protectors that will protect the screen from every day use and scratches. The benefit: a good case will result in fewer repairs and help the device retain its value.

Select the right trade-in partner. Not all buyback companies are the same. Many promise the highest payout and outstanding customer service, so how can you choose the best partner with confidence from pickup to payout? First, look beyond price for hidden deductions and costly services that can really add up. Ask about the process from start to finish and assess how transparent the company is. Finally, beware of the bait and switch: companies that provide a high bid, take possession of the devices, and then come back offering far less. This happened recently to a district on the East coast that stood to lose almost $400,000 because the buyback company refused to honor its commitment. The district eventually demanded its devices back and used another buyback company, but lost valuable time and, no doubt, a lot of sleep. The benefit: peace of mind.

About the Author:

Paula Currie is vice president of procurement for Second Life Mac, an experienced Apple device buyback company.

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