Gazelle, one of the longest-used smartphone buyers in the United States, has announced the end of its most important swap program, which allows phone owners to send in phones and other electronic devices in exchange for cash.
The news, revealed in an email Gazelle sent to some customers on Wednesday and shared The Verge, means that potential Gazelle customers must receive a quote and start the purchasing process by January 31, 2021 (which gives 30 days to send by phone) if they want to take advantage of the program. The service will be officially closed on February 1, while any active replacements will be respected, the company says.
This is not the end of Gazelle̵
Gazelle gives no reason for the decision, but there are a few major trends in the US mobile business that point to a general decline in the benefits of exchanging cash. First, many more people now than in previous years rent their smartphones instead of buying them directly, a broad shift from the days when American carriers offered phones with reduced prices in exchange for fixed two-year contracts.
Now it’s pretty easy to pay a modest monthly fee for a phone through a program like AT&T Next Up or Apple’s iPhone upgrade program, with the option to swap the device for a new one after a certain amount of time. Unless you decide to pay off your rented phone early, you can not turn around and sell it to Gazelle – and you will not necessarily do so, as it does not make much financial sense.
In addition, Gazelle’s early business on iPhone replacements when they sold your phone to get the latest Apple product was a popular early adoption strategy. Apple now has a robust own swap program (in addition to the leasing program) that gives you the same result.