Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will be rolling out an iPhone trade-in program at its retail stores in September that will let customers walk in and trade up their old phone for a new one, and some Apple Stores are already testing the program with customers, according to TechCrunch.
Under the program, which Apple hasn't confirmed, a customer can bring a working, non-liquid-damaged iPhone into an Apple retail store. The phone will be evaluated by an associate using the iPhone equivalent of a used-car dealer's Blue Book, along with additional questioning of the customer, to determine a trade-in value for the phone. Typical value for a 16GB iPhone 4S is reportedly around $120-$200, while a 16GB iPhone 5 in good condition could be worth $250.
The trade-in value is then added to a gift card that can only be used for the purchase of a new phone. However, if somehow there's still value left on the gift card after the new phone purchase, the customer can keep the gift card with the leftover value.
In the current pilot program, there's also a mobile-carrier check involved to determine whether the customer is eligible for an upgrade, or whether the customer has to pay an early termination fee to change carriers. Those factors could result in a positive balance on the gift card for the customer after getting a new device.
Apple already has a mail-in recycling program that handles a wide variety of its products, but that service isn't offered in-store. However, if a customer brings in a trade-in phone that has no trade-in value, that can be handled as a simple recycle.
The convoluted process really does make it sound like an automobile trade-in, but that's probably unavoidable given the ways carriers tie customers to contracts. That means Apple is wise to test the program in a few stores to iron the kinks out before offering it in all stores. But if the retailer can get things running smoothly by Sept. 10, when the next iPhone is expected to be announced, it could hold on to a sizable chunk of sales that would otherwise go to its carrier partners.
Apple Hires Levi's Retail Exec, But He Won't Run Retail
Apple Store Associates Sue Over Unpaid Time For Searches
Everybody Loves Apple (But They Like Target And Kohl's Too)