Walmart has introduced an online program called "Gadgets to Gift Cards" that lets customers trade-in their old electronic devices — in working or sometimes non-working condition — for a gift card.
First introduced in an early August press release announcing its back-to-school deals, Walmart said Gadgets to Gift Cards is one of the only trade-in programs at retail.
"Customers can visit www.walmart.com/gadgetstogiftcards for an offer on their used gadgets — like $225 for an iPhone 4S 64GB, $175 for a Samsung Galaxy SIII 16GB, or $250 for an iPad 3 in working condition," Walmart stated in a release. "If they accept, customers will receive an instant e-card redeemable at any of Walmart's 4,000 stores in the U.S. or online at Walmart.com."
Walmart accepts smartphones, video games and game consoles, MP3 players, tablets, e-readers, computers, cameras and GPS devices. Selecting the device to trade-in, as well as its condition, leads to an instant appraisal quote. The gift card can be used on any item.
The site refunds some items even if they're not in working condition. A fourth generation Apple iPhone (16GB) with AT&T as the wireless carrier earns a refund of $205 if it's working, and $75.00 if it's not working. A fourth generation Apple iPod Touch with 64GB storage capacity earns a refund of $85.00 if it's working, but has no value if it's not working.
Users have to pass a credit check first before they utilize the program. After they agree to the refund, they'll have 10 days to send their device to Walmart, with a free shipping label to boot.
GameStop and other video game stores have long accepted trades on older games for years, helping provide an incentive for those looking to upgrade to newer games. GameStop also resells those games to gamers looking to save money.
Walmart didn't indicate whether it planned to resell the devices it receives through Gadgets to Gift Cards. But with eBay, Craigslist and other websites being the primary way to gain value from older yet still usable electronic devices, many tech bloggers felt the program was positioned similarly to Gameboy's in helping encourage consumers to upgrade to newer devices. Many felt the program was timed to the expected release of the next iPhone on September 10.
Last week, Walmart said weakness in its entertainment sales, attributed to a lack of innovative product, at least partly led to its second-quarter shortfall.
What's the likelihood that electronics trade-in exchanges will be common across retail over the next several years?