How I upgraded my iPhone and made $100

radio shack the shack logoI know, this is going to sound like one of those stealth underground tricks or, worse, a come-on to some sort of buyers club, but it’s true: in the last fortnight I got tired of running out of space on my 16GB iPhone 4, upgraded it to a 32GB model, and actually made $100 in the process.
Here’s how it happened…
A week ago I was having dinner with my pal Klaus at the California Pizza Kitchen in Broomfield and when we were done I asked if he’d like to tag along to Radio Shack since I’d been hearing that they were offering $50 discounts on iPhones and I wanted to price out an upgrade. “sure!” he said, so we braved The Mall in mid-December to go into The Shack, as they now prefer to be known.
As with any cellphone upgrade, the key question was whether I was “eligible” for an upgrade. Without that eligibility, cellphones are ridiculously expensive and a 32GB iPhone 4 would run about $699 or even more. Way more than I’d pay for an extra 16GB of space. But why not ask?
The store manager was on hand and she punched in my cellphone number and said I wasn’t eligible for an upgrade, but that – to her surprise – there were notes on my account that I was eligible for an “early upgrade” with an $18 AT&T transaction fee added.
We priced out the 32GB iPhone 4 and as we did she said “check it out, there are only 92 left in the entire region” (which encompasses Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, etc). The phone priced at $450 with the $50 ‘Shack discount, plus that $18 fee. Do I want it?
Since they had a trade-in deal where they’d buy iPhone 3gs units for $175 or thereabouts, I figured I’d ask about the price of a pristine iPhone 4 trade-in. $350, after she did a bit of research: no-one had tried to sell back an iPhone 4 as of yet.
iphone 4 with box$450 for the new phone minus $350 for the trade-in? I could do that. Yeah, running out of space was worth $100 to me. Klaus said “Do it!”, I said “Let’s do it!” and she punched something else in on the computer to reserve my phone
“Just in time. There are now only 8 left in the region!”
When we completed the transaction, however, somehow AT&T priced my new phone differently and the final cost, including tax and, presumably, the $18 fee, was actually $398.00. Meaning that the upgrade, if I were to sell my 16GB iPhone 4 to Radio Shack, would cost me $48. Yeah, that’s a good deal.
They didn’t have phones on hand, so the 32GB iPhone 4 was going to be shipped to me. In fact, I received it three days later, quite painless.
The Radio Shack in the Flatiron Crossings Mall was also out of printer ink — they were waiting on a new print drum from corporate, unable to just buy one at an office supply store because of the unique printers they have, but that’s another story I suppose — so I walked out with zero paperwork, just trust and optimism.
Next morning, I went to Boulder Open Coffee Club [FB] and in the midst of a room of 60 tech/geek types announced I had a contract-free iPhone 4 for sale, asking $500. My friend Alan spun around and said “I’ll buy that off you!” and we had a deal, though we needed to wait for the new phone to arrive.
When it did, I popped into the AT&T store for initial activation (though I suspect I could have done so myself) wherein they popped out and swapped SIM cards. I walked next door to Peet’s, did the fastest music download onto an iPhone ever (3000+ songs), and had the new 32GB iPhone 4 up and running with all my favorite apps, music and photos within the hour.
By the end of the day Alan was the proud owner of his new iPhone 4, destined to be unlocked and used on T-Mobile once the hacker community figures out how to do that with iOS 4.2, and I even had my favorite iFrogz case on the new phone.
Net cost: $500 sale price on the old phone – $398.00 for the new phone = $102.00 profit!
A tidy sum for understanding how the system works, getting a bit lucky on the upgrade pricing on the computer and having a friend who was looking for an unlocked iPhone upgrade of his own.
Thanks, Klaus, Alan, Radio Shack and AT&T!

9 comments on “How I upgraded my iPhone and made $100

  1. Sounds to me like your friend Allen got the raw end of that deal. To me, your profit ultimately came from him.
    If it were me, I’d sell it on Craig’s list or Ebay for what the market would bear. But for a friend, I would have said listen, instead of me walking away with 100$ in my pocket, I’ll drop the price for you buddy by 50$ and we’re both happy. Then Allen could write a blog about the experience too.
    A quick search of Craig’s list in Denver I see one asking $450. So now he has a used overpriced Iphone that *may* fail before long and his friend is blogging about how happy he is.
    But that’s just me.

  2. Interesting conclusions you draw, Rob. Seems to me that my friend could have offered me a different amount if he was concerned about market value. You presume a certain lack of individual responsibility for their actions that surprises me.
    For the record, I did my own spot of research and found that $600 was a not unreasonable asking price for a pristine 16GB iPhone 4, and even pushed out a “for sale” note both on Facebook and on Twitter the night before the Open Coffee Club meeting. The $500 was a significant drop both in the interest of expediency and in offering my local community a better deal on the phone.

  3. All very valid points Dave. And it depends how close a friend it is buying as well. ie. Friend vs aquaintence. Also, deals are a picture in time sort of thing and next week someone will sell for 300$ 🙂
    I’m a deal fanatic and to a fault try to share any deals I find with everyone around me (I guess not unlike what your blog posting is doing). Heck I probably would have taken the guy that went to the mall with me out to lunch after a $100 score.
    You did very well on this deal..and likely your friend did as well for that moment in time.

  4. Well- glad I waited a while to see this post and the comments.
    I am the guy that bought this fine new looking phone… and a few points for friends who do lite biz with friends…
    1) I was on the fence about getting an iPhone 4 and that exact day was my cut off for getting one on Craigs List – or living 6 months with my 3g phone
    2) price was fair in my view as I had looked before online and saw several asking over $650.
    3) I know who I am buying this from… peace of mind
    4) I know who I am buying this phone from… excitement on learning how to get $10,000 more productivity and value next year from it – due to his casual comments and suggestions – – and outright coaching…. *a real friend gains from the friendship not from the deal.
    5) I JUST TODAY found out I have a long dormant att account – that QUALIFIES for a REFURBISHED 4g 32gb for 199 with a new 2 year lock-in – that I can cancel for $375 the next day… hmm $574 for a 32gb…
    Hmm.
    6) while i await the tmobile access – I have a new idea – I pay $95 a month to Qwest for 2 land lines – that I can kill 1 of if I have 2 lines of mobile – hmm – that saves $75 a month – –
    I will not bore you with the other serendipity that is a result of saying yes fast to a good offer.
    I may sell this 16gb NEARLY NEW 4g iPhone – and get the new 43gb too… and KEEP my 3g as my office line. well well well.
    anybody want to buy a 4g 16 gb for $502.
    anybody want to by my 3g less than 1 month old – Apple exchanged mine when the screen chip froze at Thanksgiving. White 3g less than a month old: $300. but for you – my friend…. make an offer!
    Alan@FastIdeas.Biz
    this is a great conversation.

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