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updated: 8/16/2013 7:15 AM

EcoATMs offer consumers chance to sell, recycle phones

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  • EcoATM machines, that evaluate and offer to buy your older cellphone, are available at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Stratford Square in Bloomingdale, Westfield Hawthorn in Vernon Hills, among others. The company was recently acquired by Outerwall, formerly Coinstar, which also owns Oakbrook Terrace-based Redbox.

      EcoATM machines, that evaluate and offer to buy your older cellphone, are available at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Stratford Square in Bloomingdale, Westfield Hawthorn in Vernon Hills, among others. The company was recently acquired by Outerwall, formerly Coinstar, which also owns Oakbrook Terrace-based Redbox.
    COURTESY OF ECOATM

 
 

As the use of mobile phones, tablets and other devices continue to flourish, so will that junk drawer at home that's already filled with yesterday's favorites.

What to do with that older technology? Cash or recycling are options and EcoATMs can evaluate your device and make you an offer. The robotic kiosks started going into shopping malls in 2009 and are now available at about 700 shopping malls nationwide, including 18 locally. EcoATM sites include Woodfield Mall, Gurnee Mills, Westfield Hawthorn, Yorktown Center, Spring Hill Mall, Westfield Fox Valley, among others. EcoATMs, which is based in San Diego, Calif., was acquired in July by Outerwall, formerly known as Coinstar, which also owns Oakbrook Terrace-based Redbox, said EcoATM spokesman Ryan Kuder.

"EcoATM has a grand ambition to be located within five miles or closer to 90 percent of the U.S. population to make e-recycling as convenient as possible," Kuder said.

So far, about 1,000 people use an EcoATM daily, many interested in getting the cash value while others just recycle the device, he said.

Here's how it works: EcoATM prices each phone based on the model, condition and value in the secondary market. The kiosks use robotics, advanced imaging and electronic diagnostics to evaluate the device and determine a price, Kuder said.

The machine identifies about 4,000 different devices and can quickly analyze its operations, storage space and even physical damage. Offers can go as high as $300 for the most recent iPhones to nothing for older or damaged phones, which make them candidates for recycling. He declined to provide an average amount paid for some common flip phones, but said an iPhone 4 or 4s could fetch about $200, he said.

"Typically, newer smartphones will be worth the most, where older feature phones like flip phones might be worth considerably less. EcoATM prices are competitive with other cellphone buy back options and we'll take a lot of phones that other buyback services won't including older or damaged phones," said Kuder. "While the machine can't negotiate prices with a customer, the customer can always decline the offer and keep their phone. In any event, whether we can make a cash offer or not, we'll always offer to help the customer recycle their phone in an environmentally responsible manner."

And there's no haggling allowed. If a customer runs into a problem while using the EcoATM, the customer can call a support number, but don't look to negotiate an extra $5 in the deal, he said.

"With so many old phones just sitting in around in drawers, we're glad that EcoATM can help Chicago residents find an easy and environmentally responsible way to recycle their phones and put a few dollars back in their pocket in the process," Kuder said.

Surfing:Jewel-Osco, which has its offices in Itasca, sent its customers an email this week, saying it will launch a redesigned JewelOsco.com on Monday with a store locator makeover and new features. And those who have signed up to receive emails will begin receiving the new local weekly ad starting Tuesday. In addition, a new Jewel-Osco mobile app called Jewel-Osco Mkt, will launch. If you've already downloaded the Jewel-Osco mobile app you'll receive an update to the app on your phone. It will come soon to the iTunes Store and Google Play. A Jewel-Osco spokeswoman did not immediately respond for comment.

• Follow Anna Marie Kukec on LinkedIn and Facebook and as AMKukec on Twitter. Write to her at akukec@dailyherald.com.

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