Is Amazon's trade-in program a scam?

wlow3

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 9, 2008
210
31
I've traded in a couple of iPads and at least one iPhone in the past and never had an issue. This time I got an email back saying my current trade in, an iPhone 5s, is "unacceptable" and that they are returning it to me. A week has gone by and the only thing they have done is contact UPS about the item and got it a tracking number (it has yet to ship). I contacted Amazon via email to find out why it was unacceptable and to ask when I would get it back.

They replied, "According to the information provided by the facility processing your submission, the specific reason your item didn't meet the trade-in conditions was screen is lifting from body."

I was shocked. The phone was never out of a case. It was almost like new. I had all the original packaging, and I even took photos of it before I shipped it. I shipped it surrounded tightly by bubble wrap and crumpled magazine pages.

They also included this line: "Items that are materially damaged or that are different from the items on the trade-in-list are not eligible for return to you, and may be disposed of by the merchant instead. All other items not accepted by the merchant will be returned to you approximately 14 days after receipt."

That means they could claim something is damaged and then keep it if they wanted?

The iPhone screen was definitely NOT "lifting from the body." What an odd phrase - like it's peeling away? I don't even know what that means or how that would occur (would the glue fail?). Would it even turn on? I'm paranoid that they swapped iPhones with a damaged one. I still have its last backup, but I didn't write down any hardware identification numbers. Would that be in one of the backup files? My only other thought is either they damaged it or they are rejecting the submission because the prices for the 5s will plunge after the iPhone SE is released and they know they can get them for much less in two weeks.

If it is damaged, it occurred after it left my hands. Do I have any recourse? How can I make sure the iPhone I get back is mine? (I had AT&T unlocked it, turned off Find my iPhone, removed it from iCloud and also as a device in iTunes and erased its contents and took out the SIM card before I shipped it.) I'm sure I have a purchase record if that has some kind of hardware ID number.

Any advice? What would you do to make sure everything is on the up and up? If this is fraud, would it be provable?
 

HEK

macrumors 68040
Sep 24, 2013
3,454
5,959
US Eastern time zone
When you deal with companies like Amazon, eBay, even carriers, chances are they use third party companies to handle the transactions. Everything these days is farmed out. So chances are higher that when you mail something in, it gets lost, damaged, confused with someone else's product, etc.

Remember, in order to offer the named company the cheapest handling, the third party company is going to cut corners, hire the cheapest labor, pay the least, have the lowest benefits. You really expect some underpaid, overworked employee to care about the product you ship in?

Unless it's not possible your best bet is always to make these transactions live, preferably with the company that makes the product, in person at their store. Once an item leaves your hands, anything can and will happen. All the advertising and marketing hype mean nothing. It always boils down to the individuals doing the receiving, data entry, and handling.

Hopefully you at least get your phone back. Might be yours, might be some other phone.
 

wlow3

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 9, 2008
210
31
I just had a crazy thought. I could not stop thinking about the oddness of the phrase the "screen is lifting from body." Before I shipped it, I actually took the time to reattach the original clear plastic screen protectors (the things Apple itself puts on to keep the dust out). Could this be what someone saw as the "screen is lifting from body"? They thought the screen protector was the screen? Man, I will really have a sense of the IQ of the people who do the checking if this turns out to be true.
 

maxsix

Suspended
Jun 28, 2015
3,100
3,729
Western Hemisphere
I've been quite satisfied with the experiences I've had on three separate trade in transactions with Amazon. They were fast efficient and the compensation given to me was exactly what I expected.

On the high side actually, each came in at between 8% to 16% greater than a few others like Gazelle which I've also used. Overall I plan to continuing using Amazon in the future.
 

Gjwilly

macrumors 68030
May 1, 2011
2,882
526
SF Bay Area
The iPhone screen was definitely NOT "lifting from the body." What an odd phrase - like it's peeling away? I don't even know what that means or how that would occur (would the glue fail?). Would it even turn on?
A damaged or swollen battery will cause screen lifting. It pushes the screen right out of the body. Being a 5S it seems a little early to have a battery failure but it's certainly possible
Not sure how a shipper could cause that, if that's even what it truly was -- maybe extreme temperature fluctuations during transport.
Or it could have just happened spontaneously due to its age.
Some light swelling would only lift the screen slightly but that would certainly be enough to get it rejected.
 
Last edited:

iThingsGurl

macrumors 6502a
Dec 3, 2014
589
463
Canada
Apple invoice does have part number as well as device serial number, validating your ownership of the device. I can think of a couple of possibilities: Your device was either confused with someone else's, or your device was damaged in transit. If its the latter, I'm not sure if there's much you can do about it.

Did you try to contact Amazon? Barring their Trade-in service (which may very well be outsourced), they do have a higher rate of customer satisfaction. I see they are reachable by phone, chat and email. Try by visiting this page.

P.S.: I wish people were a little less condescending and rather addressed OP's problems.
 

Cergman

macrumors 6502a
Jan 1, 2013
852
303
my tesla
FWIW, I had Apple complain about a similar issue when I shipped a 5s in for repair. It was in great condition (minus some screen issues which was the reason for the repair), but when Apple got it, they sent pictures of the screen coming unglued from the phone. It was packaged exactly via Apple's instructions, but I figure it could have gotten heated up and separated while in transit. Luckily they made things right, and I'm sure Amazon will too.
 

lordofthereef

macrumors G5
Nov 29, 2011
12,904
3,476
Boston, MA
The clause that you're worried about is likely in there in case an item is sent in such disrepair that it is either in feasible or unsafe to send it back to you.

I very highly doubt that a company as large as amazon is trying to make its money by stealing phones being traded in to them.

As is always a good practice, take pictures of your device, keep records of serial numbers, and perhaps even go as far as to have ups pack your device for you (so that it cannot be claimed it was poorly packaged).

I had an issue with phones I sent back to t-mobile being lost for a few months. It all worked itself out but I was worried. I did have ups pack things for me and kept record of everything I had, though thankfully I didn't have to go that route. After escalating the matter three times they magically showed up.
 

iThingsGurl

macrumors 6502a
Dec 3, 2014
589
463
Canada
The clause that you're worried about is likely in there in case an item is sent in such disrepair that it is either in feasible or unsafe to send it back to you.
lordofthereef is correct. A quick glance at Amazon's Rejected Items Terms and Conditions terms "Damaged" items as follows:
Amazon.com said:
"Damaged" items are items that match the exact version displayed in the Trade-In store but are not in any acceptable condition.
And "Downgraded" items as follows:
Amazon.com said:
"Downgraded" items are items that are graded in a lower acceptable condition than what was specified during the submission.

While items are marked 'at their sole discretion', I believe your item fits the "Downgraded" scenario better.
 

Caromsoft

macrumors regular
Jun 8, 2012
137
23
I recently had two 5's, (not 5S) replaced for swollen batteries. In the case of my phone it literally happened in the course of a day. One day it was fine, the next it was lifted enough for me to feel it at the home button. When I checked the other 5 its screen was slightly lifted as well. It could have happened while it was in transit.
 

Newtons Apple

Suspended
Mar 12, 2014
22,759
15,220
Jacksonville, Florida
I just had a crazy thought. I could not stop thinking about the oddness of the phrase the "screen is lifting from body." Before I shipped it, I actually took the time to reattach the original clear plastic screen protectors (the things Apple itself puts on to keep the dust out). Could this be what someone saw as the "screen is lifting from body"? They thought the screen protector was the screen? Man, I will really have a sense of the IQ of the people who do the checking if this turns out to be true.
YOU should have removed any 3rd party accessories from your phone prior to shipping.
 

mattopotamus

macrumors G5
Jun 12, 2012
13,665
4,069
I'll never trade anything other than books. A few years ago I tried to trade in a flawless blu-ray player. It was $80 in trade in value. A couple of days after shipping I got an email saying it was rejected. Sure enough UPS damaged it in transit to Amazon.

I know I should have taken pictures, etc. but I'll just stick to craigslist
 

GeekyGrannie

macrumors member
May 15, 2015
83
55
I had a very similar experience with my 5S. I submitted it as "like new" for $233.19. After waiting a long time for a response, I inquired about its status. Very shortly after that I received notice that it had been rejected as it was "lightly scratched". I also noticed at that time that the price they were currently offering for a trade-in like mine was "$159.17". When I finally got it back, I looked a very long time before I finally found several tiny scratches. I believe to this day that they were not there when I shipped the phone -- I am a very light user -- but of course I have no proof. I traded the phone in through Apple's program and received a $200 gift certificate for it. No more Amazon trade-ins for me!
 

wlow3

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 9, 2008
210
31
Well, I just got the phone back. At first I was looking for something dramatic. I ran my finger nail along the seam of the iPhone and I could not feel any separation. But on very close inspection I saw what they were describing: the glass is a bit raised by the power button (by the same tiny width the glass normally is from the metal sides - so at that corner it is twice the height - and it depresses). This is something I would have never noticed - and never did notice - under normal use, especially with it in a case.

Now I have to change my headline to my original post. No scam here. I'm not sure how this is categorically different than, say, what they would accept at the lowest price (blemished but still serviceable) but I guess it is.

Does anyone know what this (oh-so-slightly) raised glass signifies? If it's a swollen battery, would it rise there and could one press it down? Is it safe to pass on to a family member? Would Apple accept it? I'm just curious what my options are now.
 

Caromsoft

macrumors regular
Jun 8, 2012
137
23
It is my understanding that the swollen battery could be a fire risk. As I said before I had 2 phones with swollen batteries. Rather than replace the batteries Apple replaced the phones for $79 each.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
10,939
14,624
Central U.S.
I would be slightly worried. I know for a fact that sometimes they mix up stuff between boxes. How do I know? Because once they rejected my pristine iPhone 5 that had always been in a case and it came back with a 30-pin adapter instead of a lightning connector. I had waited until the last day in the window to ship because I locked in the rate before the iPhone 6 was announced. After that they only offered me $100 less for the same condition. Anyway, this was in late 2014 and I didn't even have any 30-pin stuff by that point aside from my original iPhone and original iPad which has all of their accessories in their respective boxes.

For my iPhone 6 Plus I went with Gazelle and had a great experience with them. For my iPhone 6s I'm doing the iPhone Upgrade Program. Hopefully it goes smoothly as I just discovered today that I somehow have somewhat deep scuffs on front glass—not over the display but on the top and bottom bezels. My phone slid off my lap last weekend onto my patio but it fell face up? And it's weird that I didn't notice it until now so IDK what happened. I think Apple only refuses it if it's cracked?
 

wlow3

macrumors regular
Original poster
Sep 9, 2008
210
31
Ok, this might be a dumb question, but currently that iPhone 5s is completely erased with find my iPhone off.

If I take it into Apple to diagnose the raised screen for a swollen battery, should I restore it first and turn on Find my iPhone and iCloud?
 

Applejuiced

macrumors Westmere
Apr 16, 2008
40,672
6,532
At the iPhone hacks section.
Ok, this might be a dumb question, but currently that iPhone 5s is completely erased with find my iPhone off.

If I take it into Apple to diagnose the raised screen for a swollen battery, should I restore it first and turn on Find my iPhone and iCloud?
No, don't turn on find my iPhone.
Bring it the way it is.
If they replace the phone they will ask you to remove find my iPhone.
 

inboxer

macrumors regular
Sep 5, 2013
114
3
I've used Amazon trade-in in the past and they wouldn't accept some of my items either. They were WAY too slow and it took FOREVER to get my "rejected" items back. I typically use buybackworld or gazelle to sell my apple gear now, just choosing the one that offers me the highest price. I'll be selling my iPad Air 2 and iPhone 6s to buybackworld when the time comes to upgrade.
 

mrt209

macrumors 6502
Nov 21, 2010
415
33
USA/Germany
I've had good experiences with the Amazon trade-in program... have traded in 1 iPad and 2 iPhones without issue. I just actually traded in a iPhone 4s 64gb unlocked for $380 :) Got the money within 4 days of sending the phone in.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.