Anyone use Phobio for trade-in before? Nightmare experience.

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by handsome pete, Sep 19, 2017.

  1. handsome pete macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    I figured this would be the best place for this question so I'm hoping someone can chime in with advice.

    I recently decided to upgrade from a 2015 11" MacBook to a new MacBook Pro 13". In the past I've traded in or sold devices through Gazelle, Swappa, eBay, Craigslist, and even somewhat recently made a sale through the Marketplace forum here.

    Even though those transactions went smoothly, this time around I was just looking for quick and convenient trade-in, knowing that I wouldn't get as much of a return had I sold it directly. I originally looked at Gazelle, but then saw that Phobio, through their Apple Renew program would offer a better deal. Based on that alone I chose that option, figuring they were a reliable service based on their partnership with Apple.

    So I received the shipping materials from them, restored my MacBook to factory conditions, then dropped off at my local FedEx location. I received an email from them a few days later notifying me they received it and they would commence inspections. What I wasn't prepared for was them notifying me a few days later that the offer had been amended because the device was received as damaged.

    The damage described to me wasn't physical in nature, but that when booting up the machine, you see the "folder with a question mark in it" error screen. They claim to have tried to get the operating system to load but with no success. From what I know, this error screen indicates either a corrupt OS installation, a damaged hard drive, or damaged/disconnected cables to the hard drive (someone feel free to correct this info if you understand this better).

    I can rule the first problem out since I did the re-install and checked it myself before shipping. The last screen I saw before powering down and boxing up was the welcome screen asking you to "choose your language."

    That leads me to believe this is a hardware issue with the drive itself, and the Phobio reps have told me it's a hardware issue. I've asked them repeatedly if there's any possible way that damage could have occurred through shipping since I sent them a working computer and they received a non-working one. The only response I keep getting is that the inspections team has no reason to believe that there was damage caused during shipping. But they will not divulge any additional information on how they came to that conclusion.

    My only options according to them are to take their amended offer ($235 down from $440) or have them ship it back to me. I certainly don't want to take their new offer, but I also don't want to get back a damaged computer that I now will be responsible for getting repaired. They're essentially telling me I'm SOL. If they could simply provide a plausible explanation as to how this could have happened, I'd be more than satisfied. However the impression that I get from dealing with their customer service is that I'm lying about having sent them a working computer in the first place. The fact that they won't offer any more detail than their standard boilerplate answers is becoming infuriating.

    The money is honestly trivial at this point, but I feel like I'm being screwed here. If it was just some run of the mill trade-in service I might just cut my losses, but this is the company that Apple has chosen to partner with for their trade-in program. I know it's purely anecdotal, but I have a stellar track record with using other services and providing accurate information. To simply be brushed off by this company without a fair explanation feels a bit insulting.

    Has anyone else dealt with this company before? Am I out of line? Does anyone have any suggestions?
  2. handsome pete thread starter macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    Well I realize no one has replied to this, but just wanted to update the situation. I just spent the last 1.5 hours or so trying to get answers on the phone. Of course a lot of that time was spent on hold waiting for a representative. Unfortunately lower level CS rep Derek had to hear my ire first. He gave me the same generic response that I've hear a handful of times now, which is obviously not his fault as he's privy to limited information that could help. I was able to eventually get him to transfer me to a manager (all of whom were apparently too busy to talk to me upon my first request). After another bit on hold I spoke to manager Aaron who again essentially repeated the exact words that have been sent to me multiple times now, with no additional information regarding the questions I asked.

    It was nice of Aaron, upon his introduction, to go over the laurels of their company. They deal with tens of thousands of laptops regularly and he had worked Apple support for many years. After speaking with him for a few minutes it seemed like he might finally offer some sort of information of value, but then the phone went silent. Wondering what had happened, I checked my phone which still showed a running call timer, so I hung out on the line for a few minutes to see if he'd return. Alas, he didn't.

    So after trogging through the automated voice line again, I was eventually reunited with my pal Derek. He explained to me that their internet and phone lines unexpectedly went down while I was talking to Aaron. Then , the awkward silence. I knew Aaron wasn't coming back. So completely beaten down at that point, Derek offered me the same terms as I have been offered since they received my laptop. Take the reduced offer, or take your computer back (now in need of repair). Then he wished me a good day. It had been up until about an hour and a half ago.

    Aaron did leave me a voicemail on my phone, despite the phone seemingly not ringing as it sat in front of me on my desk. Apparently there was only about :33 left in our original conversation as that is all it took up to conclude his business with me.

    So, thank you all for allowing me to vent. But seriously, should I just cut my losses at this point? Anyone have any suggestions of where I could go with this? I know it seems stupid to put so much effort into not a whole lot of money, but I've just never witnessed the complete lack of accountability when it comes to one's customers before.

    The situation seems pretty simple to me. I sent them a computer in condition A, and they received it in condition B. They claim that there are no signs of physical damage (without any explanation of what those signs would be). I've certainly seen phones, tablets, laptops, and other fragile hardware take a dive without any clear visible damage. However some sort of issue during shipping is the only plausible explanation to me. Otherwise, the only other explanation is that I lied on my original equipment assessment. Granted, I waste far too much time on the internet asd it is, but I wouldn't ramble on incessantly or spend hours on emails and phone calls to just try and scam a couple hundred dollars off of some company.

    Before we got cut off, Aaron did sort of try to explain that maybe there was an underlying issue with the hardware that wouldn't be immediately obvious to a user, and that it coincidentally popped up when I sent them the computer. But wouldn't that fall under the very definition of "damaged during shipping" even if it doesn't fulfill the traditional idea of a box being tossed around during transit? The fact remains that I sent a working computer and they received a broken one. Of course I wouldn't be happy if they filed a shipping damage claim which was ultimately denied by the shipping agent. But at least they would have put forth the effort, which would be a whole lot better than the complete unwillingness to even entertain my suggestion.

    So basically where it stands now is that if I don't accept their offer by the end of day tomorrow, then they will just ship the computer back to me. I was hoping to get an extension on that deadline so I had a bit more time to see if had any additional recourse, figuring that once the computer is out of their hands they are completely absolved of any responsibility.

    So, one last call for advice. Should I just let it go? Any other options here? Hell, I'd appreciate a simple conciliatory beer at this point.
  3. velocityg4 macrumors 68040


    Dec 19, 2004
    Just take the computer back and try to reinstall OS X. If it works afterward sell it through Craigslist, Letgo, &c. If not sell it as is for parts only on eBay with the flashing question mark pointed out.

    They can't tell you if it was damaged during shipping. They would have no way of knowing that. Nor is it their responsibility to figure out the cause. All they know is they received a unit which does not boot and will have to be repaired or torndown for parts.

    Any protestations that it worked before does not matter. They can't know that as fact. Nor is it relevant. They probably get 50 people a day claiming their device worked great when they sent it.

    The only responsibility they have is to send it back to you, if you don't accept the revised offer. Then you can file a claim with FedEx (you insured it right). Use the original offer for your claim on damages. Then spend time arguing with them.
  4. handsome pete thread starter macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    Well yeah, that's the likely endgame in all of this. But does it not strike you as ****** business practice for a company to absolve itself of any responsibility when the device becomes broken during transit in using their service?

    That's precisely my point. They are in fact telling me that it's their determination that no damage occurred during shipping. I'm asking them how they can come to such a conclusion.

    I agree. As I've said all along this comes down to my word against theirs. I realize they don't know me and have no idea if I'm lying or not, and I'm aware they likely get other similar claims which may be valid or not. But they're advertising a service where a customer trusts their process where a device will get to them in the condition that it left their hands. **** happens sometimes. Their response to that is just a simple, "well it's not our fault so you're SOL."

    And here lies the biggest obstacle in all of this. I don't know if I'm able to file a claim on my end. The way the service works is they provide a prepaid shipping label and packaging to send it. So the shipping is done through their account. It says on their website that the shipping is insured, but it seems as if any claims would have to be filed on their end since they're the actual FedEx customer. I'm going to follow up with FedEx to see if I can do this on my end. However, if I'm unable to, Phobio has made it clear they won't even look into the matter on their end because "it doesn't look like it was damaged to them."

    I do appreciate your reply. I really only started this thread to see if anyone has used their service and what experiences they may have had. Oh, and to vent a little too.

    I did try to find some company review information when googling, and find it odd that the only thing about this company that shows up tends to be articles from around the time they announced the trade-in partnership with Apple.
  5. kevhh1311 macrumors newbie

    Mar 29, 2018
    --- Post Merged, Mar 29, 2018 ---
    Have you considered local buyback services like sellmymacNYC? They literally meet you in person, run a quick diagnostic check, pay you cash and go.
  6. handsome pete thread starter macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    I'm guessing your reply was actually for me since I was the one with the original issue.

    To sum up how things turned out, I declined the offer from Phobio and received my computer back. I fixed the problem on my own by just doing a clean OS install. I then found a buyer on craigslist, for more than the original Phobio offer (which I expected).

    So it all worked out, but I still maintain my stance of Phobio having ****** customer service, if not downright shady business practices. Before resolving the issue, I had found other users in other online forums that had similar issues, and there was a Reddit thread specifically about this kind of issue.

    My conclusion is one of two things is happening...

    1. Their diagnostic testing procedure is flawed, resulting in wiping devices and leaving them in a state where they don't want to proceed with the transaction.

    2. They use a bit of deception in an attempt to increase profit. For example, they take a handful of devices submitted, claim it was received not as described and send a reduced offer amount. Normally a customer doesn't want to deal with the hassle of having it shipped back, fixing the "problem" and then trying to sell again. So they just take the reduced offer, and Phobio pockets more than they would have originally. My guess is there is a smaller percentage of customers like me that actually go through with them sending it back, so it's worth the risk.

    I hate getting all conspiratorial, but after seeing similar issues with other users I'm still leaning towards option #2. Because in every case the user sends a working device (to the best of my knowledge) and is then told it is received in a non-working condition. And it's always software/OS related, never hardware or physical damage.

    But to sum up the situation in a few words... Just don't use services like this.
  7. DoubleFlyaway macrumors 6502a


    Nov 16, 2017
    I've sold them a couple of old broken phones, and it was painless. In fact, with one they gave me more money than I had agreed to. They bumped it up a condition level compared to what I had said.
  8. handsome pete thread starter macrumors 68000

    Aug 15, 2008
    I’m fully aware I may be off base about the company, however there’s a pattern to their negative feedback online. Either they’re ripping people off in certain areas, or their “industry leading” diagnostics are ********.

    I’m glad it worked out for you though.
  9. DoubleFlyaway macrumors 6502a


    Nov 16, 2017
    Oh I'm totally wrong. It was Gazelle. I do think my MBP was Phobio because they offered a lot more. It was uneventful.
  10. cqg macrumors newbie

    May 27, 2018
    --- Post Merged, May 27, 2018 ---
    MISLEADING AND CONFUSING, MAKES YOU SUSPICIOUS. Was offered $105 by Phobio for 2011 MBA. It worked but ran High Sierra pretty slowly (thanks, Apple) and I just wanted to keep it out of the landfill, really. Sent it in on their stated deadline, and got a "you missed the deadline" email. Followed by a "we got it" email, followed by, "revised quote = $0 because of a scratch and screen imperfections." They attached pictures; the scratch might have been there when I had it, but there were no screen issues. But, I don't want it back, I just want it recycled responsibly. Not sure it's worth the Craigslist hassle and reshipping. So I vow never to use Phobio again but hit "accept." THEN I get another email saying both that I have accepted the revised $0 offer and that if I don't accept they will mail it back. WHAT? Are there any humans paying attention there? Of course, no one at Live Chat.
    If they had said at the start, we will pay for pristine devices, and for unpristine ones, we pay shipping, give you a $15 Apple gift card, and recycle all possible parts," I would have said awesome. As it is, I am annoyed, tempted to file complaints with Apple, the FTC, and the BBB, and am seriously considering going back to PCs. Really, Apple? This is a stupid way to tarnish your brand.
  11. vmolina9 macrumors newbie

    Jun 20, 2018

    We sent our Macb

    We recently sent our MacBook Pro out for trade in through Phobio. The computer was in perfect condition physically and we went to the Apple store to have someone wipe it to make sure it was done properly. We shipped it in the box that apple sent to us. The quote we got from Apple was $255. We got an email from Phobio with pictures telling us they would give us $50 for the computer as it was damaged. The pictures showed that the frame of the computer was radically bent in two separate locations. WE refused the offer for $50 and are waiting for the computer to be returned to us. Either it was damaged in transit which we find hard to believe, Phobio showed us pictures of some other computer or they damaged it themselves for some sort of scam process. We lack any confidence in this Phobio company and don't recommend it. We are also considering not buying an apple product due to this particular experience. Its time to branch out to a PC.

    We recommend taking pictures of your computer before you send it anywhere .. hindsight!
  12. cjmcd macrumors newbie


    --- Post Merged, Aug 15, 2018 at 11:32 AM ---
    Phobio #Apple #GiveBack #unfair My college student daughter took her mac to the apple store genius bar to get repaired. Genius bar said after inspecting mac she would get $320 on a trade in for a new mac. Sent mac to phobio, they said only $105 for trade in because the screen was damaged
  13. jaybar, Aug 15, 2018 at 1:50 PM
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2018 at 8:19 AM

    jaybar macrumors 6502a


    Dec 11, 2008
    I traded in my iMac through Phobio. They were great. Excellent customer service. My only criticism concerns their vitual gift card redemption. The instructions/constraints are not clear and I had to contact their support again after receiving their gift card email. They were beyond reproach and I recommend them highly.

    There is always a risk when using mail in trade-in. I have read many tales of woe regarding downgraded or withdrawn offers from many companies. If you don’t want the risk, don’t use mail in trade in. Even in person interactions such as CL are not without risk. Again I had a great experience with Phobio.

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