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It doesn’t take much research to find complaints about the Amazon Trade-In program, but I just had a great experience selling my Motorola Droid Razr Maxx back to Amazon. Here’s my Amazon Trade-In review.

Droid Razr Maxx and original box

My Razr Maxx and its box. I kept the original box, all the accessories, and every piece of user documentation that came with the phone. You need to ship all that to Amazon to get better trade-in compensation.

In May 2012, I bought a Droid Razr Maxx for $149.99 when I signed up for a two-year contract with Verizon through Amazon. I also bought an OtterBox Commuter case and screen protector for the phone, and the phone never went into the wild—much less into my pocket—without being protected.

Flash forward to June 2014, and I’ve got smartphone upgrade fever. My Razr Maxx was still serving me well, but I was tired of the substandard camera (my only complaint about the phone). Amazon was offering the Droid Maxx for just $49.99 as an upgrade with a renewed contract, so I reupped for another two years and got the Droid Maxx.

So, what should I do with my Razr Maxx? I considered selling it on eBay, but dealing with questions from buyers, the PayPal fees, and the shipping fees wasn’t appealing; used Razr Maxx phones were selling for around $130–$150 at the time (and that’s before all the fees). That’s when I decided to check out Amazon Trade-In. They were offering a $114.60 Amazon gift certificate for a phone in “Good” condition, and $127.30 for “Like New.” Amazon would also pay for the shipping through a prepaid label I would print at home. A lot less hassle than selling on eBay, I thought, for around the same amount of money.

Razr Maxx with barcodes on back

The barcodes were still on the back of my Droid Razr Maxx when I submitted it to the Amazon Trade-In program.

My Razr Maxx was in immaculate condition; in fact, the label was still on the back of phone when I pulled it out of the Otterbox case. I also had the original box, all the paperwork, the charger, and the cable.

I felt my phone would certainly rate as Good. During the online trade-in process, I indicated the phone was in Good condition and—this is very important—specified that if Amazon thought that my valuation was too high, they should return the phone to me at their expense. Otherwise, Amazon would just downgrade the condition and credit me a significantly lower amount (which was under $40 at the time for phones in Acceptable condition). Many of the complaints I’ve read about the trade-in program were from people who sent in items without specifying they should be returned if Amazon downgraded their quality.

Even though my phone was in excellent condition, I didn’t want Amazon to downgrade my phone’s condition if I specified Like New and they disagreed. They would send the phone back to me, and I would be right back where I started—owning an additional phone I did not need. Besides, the difference in the credits Amazon was offering for Good vs. Like New wasn’t even $13—to me, not an amount worth the gamble of downgraded condition.

I did a factory reset on the phone after backing up photos and other files, and then I removed the SIM card. (Amazon will destroy SIM cards still inside phones submitted to the trade-in program.) I then packaged up the phone in its original box, wrapped it well in bubblewrap, and sealed it in a box on which I affixed the prepaid label. I dropped off the package the next day at a UPS Store.

Three days later, I received an email from Amazon indicating they had processed my phone, upgraded the condition to Like New, and added the $127.30 credit to my Amazon account. YES!

The upgrade was a pleasant surprise; I think Amazon showed a lot of honesty by doing that. My experience overall was an easy, pleasant one.

So, if you’re like me and take care of your stuff—and hoard all the boxes for your electronics—consider trading in your used items to Amazon. I can’t guarantee you the same results I got, but if you specify that Amazon return any items with downgraded condition, I don’t think you have much to lose.

Before you ship off your items, I recommend:

  • Comparing the going price for your item on eBay and other sites. Factor in additional costs such as PayPal transactions and shipping fees. If Amazon isn’t offering a compelling price, sell elsewhere.
  • Ensuring you have the original box, product documentation, and accessories such as cables and chargers. You have no chance of a Like New rating without those things.
  • Double- and triple-checking you specified that Amazon return the item if Amazon downgrades the condition—particularly when there are big differentials in the amounts of credit offered for each condition tier.
  • Taking many photos of your item as proof of the item’s condition. What if the item is returned as damaged because of mishandling during the inspection process? I have no evidence that has ever happened, but I have read other accounts claiming inspectors at Amazon damaged items during the evaluation process. Better safe than sorry, I say.
  • Packing your item well (use bubblewrap or whatever else). Consider sealing your item in a plastic bag to protect against moisture from rain, humidity, or whatever else Mother Nature has in store as your item travels to the processing center.

Good luck, and happy trading!