Toronto startup aims to take the hassle out of selling your old iPhone

Now that Apple has lifted the veil on its latest lineup of iPhones, online marketplaces across the country are being littered with listings from users hoping to make some money off of their old device. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

TORONTO – Now that Apple has lifted the veil on its latest lineup of iPhones, online marketplaces across the country are being littered with listings from users hoping to make some money off of their old device.

But ask anyone who has experienced selling their devices on sites like Kijiji or Craigslist, and they will tell you it’s not easy.

“I’ve sold old phones on Kijiji and it was a bit of a hassle,” said Regina-based Kijiji user Mike Pollock. “Sometimes you go to meet up with a potential buyer and they never show up.”

“[Buyers] will always try to give you a reason to pay less – and unless you have a good justification for the price, you will end up getting less money,” added Toronto resident Robert Rotondi, who has sold iPhones online.

Enter Orchard – a Toronto-based startup that aims to give Canadians a way to sell their used iPhones without having to do any of the work.

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The service acts as its own online marketplace to buy and sell used iPhones.

For sellers, Orchard provides a diagnostic app that runs a 16-point inspection on the phone to make sure it’s in good working order. Users go through a series of tests that check the phone’s software capabilities – from turning on Bluetooth, to connecting to a Wi-Fi network – and are prompted to test the buttons.

The app then allows users to report any physical damage to the phone, even allowing the user to draw on any prominent scratches.

It then provides prospective sellers with an estimate of what their phone is worth, based on the diagnostic.

“The hardest part of selling your phone is eyeballing 10 to 15 listings to see what comparable prices are – it’s just a mess,” Orchard co-founder Bruno Wong told Global News. “The app tells you what your phone is actually worth.”

Prices are based on the average price for comparable phones on sites like Craigslist or Kijiji.

Orchard sells phones on a consignment basis. The company pays users once the phone sells and deducts a service fee based on how quickly the seller wants to get paid. Wong said fees range from 20 to 35 per cent of the purchase – the more time they have to sell the phone, the lower the fee.

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But those who have tested the app don’t necessarily see the fee as a downfall – in fact, most said they would rather lose some money on the sale then deal with strangers.

“If I were going to sell it on Kijiji for $500 I would have to deal with meeting someone, haggling, and worrying about it. With this it’s hassle free – even with the consignment I’m still making more money,” said Rotondi, who was offered $615 for his iPhone 5S through the app.

“If they can get me a better price than what I can do myself, then I don’t care.”

Pollock said he was also surprised by how fair the price was for his iPhone 4S.

“It was right around the area that I would have listed it at on Kijiji,” he said. “I wish something like that had been around before.”

Pollock added that the service is a better alternative to trading your phone in through retailers or phone carriers. When he inquired about trading in his phone with his carrier, they offered him $90.

Orchard also allows users to access potential buyers outside of their local area – with sites like Kijiji you are limited to posting ads within your city.

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To date, Orchard says it has sold 100 per cent of its inventory.

“We also have business customers who buy in bulk,” Wong added.

Safety of the buying process

Orchard checks every device’s IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) number with the device blacklist registry, to ensure that the phone hasn’t been reported as lost or stolen.

Online marketplaces are a hot spot for selling lost or stolen devices – but once a phone is added to that database it’s rendered useless, meaning it can’t be connected to any cellphone network in Canada. Orchard’s process protects users from paying for unusable phones.

Wong added if the company is sent a phone that is listed as lost or stolen they immediately contact the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, which runs the database.

“We think it makes more sense to accept the device and actually do something about it,” said Wong.

Additionally, the company guarantees that its used phones are in good physical and working condition and even offer a 30-day warranty on the used device.

“Not only are we winning people over from traditional listings, we are also enabling new buyers,” said Wong, who said there has already been an increase in site traffic thanks to the iPhone 6 announcement.

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“The iPhone launch churns many adopters – there are the early adopters selling their phones already because they want the 6. Then there are others who know that prices of other phones drop when the new one comes out.”

Currently the service is only offered for iPhone’s, but Wong said the company plans on expanding into the iPad market soon. You can download the Orchard app on the App Store.

Wong added that some users have reported that the “How Selling Works” button on the price page is unresponsive; however, the company is aware of the software bug and it working it fix it. To work around it, users can shutdown and re-open the app before clicking the button.

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