Dumping a Surface? eBay averages double the return of a buyback vendor

Loyal Surface owners complained last week that Microsoft doesn't take trade-ins, but online auctions put more cash in pocket than any buyback deal

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On Monday, buyback firms Gazelle and NextWorth quoted $117 and $187 for a 32GB Surface RT, respectively, and $370 and $338 for a 128GB Surface Pro.

eBay's average selling price of $285 for the 32GB Surface RT was 144% and 52% higher than the Gazelle and NextWorth quotes, respectively. The auction website's average sales price of $741 for a 128GB Surface Pro was 100% and 119% higher than Gazelle and NextWorth, respectively.

Gazelle will pay an additional $37 for a Surface RT or Surface Pro that comes with a Touch- or Type Cover. Many, although not all, of the eBay listings also include a keyboard cover, but eBay didn't provide separate averages for those with and without. Comparing Gazelle's higher quotes with eBay's averages, however, still gives the latter a large edge when a cover is in the mix: 85% more for a Surface RT, 82% higher than Gazelle's quote for a Surface Pro.

Naturally, there are downsides to selling on eBay, Craigslist or another open seller-to-buyer market, as several Reddit AMA participants pointed out.

"[The advantage of a buyback or trade-in program] is [that it's] a sure price versus an unsure price," said "johnlennin" on Reddit. "Even if it's not a ton of money, the usefulness of a trade in program is it fits into a budget. Craigslist/eBay are fickle and take a lot of time (especially Craigslist)."

Another commenter agreed, and illustrated the consumer thinking that re-commerce vendors like Gazelle and NextWorth rely on. "I'd rather go right to the Microsoft Store knowing what I am getting and not going through the hassle of finding the right price for my [Surface] Pro," wrote "maiettag."

But even with the price advantages of a sell-it-yourself strategy, eBay said it hadn't seen a measurable increase in the number of Surface tablets up at auction.

"The average number of listings for the Microsoft Surface [Pro] and Microsoft Surface RT on eBay have remained consistent over the past month," said a company spokeswoman. "eBay has not seen any significant increase in the number of listings for these products during that time period."

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at  @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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