Broken cellphone? Phone companies, charities will still accept your “gift”

Q: I have an inexpensive, near-new Nokia phone that got the SIM card holder damaged and I want to get rid of it, free. How do I donate it to get it fixed and distributed? —John Mortensen, Aurora

Tech+ What? Nokia still makes phones? Ahhh yes. Microsoft sold off its Nokia assets to newbie Finland-based HMD Global last year and HMD relaunched Nokia phones, including the classic push-button candy bar phone.

Nokia does offer repair services for its phones running Android software, but that probably will cost you. There are also repair shops, like uBreakiFix, which has a plethora of stores in the Denver area (find shops at ubreakifix.com/locations) and will take a look for free to see if it’s repairable. I made a quick call to customer service for John and uBreakiFix’s support staff said if the SIM card is just jammed, the store may fix it for free. But if further work is necessary, prices start at $49.99. If you don’t want to go there, the store will also recycle the phone for free.

If you’re looking for something in return, you may have luck with either trading in the phone for an upgrade, or just getting back cold hard cash. EcoATM kiosks, which are found at some area King Soopers and Walmart’s, analyzes the phone in the store and pays you immediately. Gazelle.com pays cash for old phones, or you can buy one from its site.

Trade-in site Decluttr.com pays more for devices in good condition; even an iPhone 6 in “faulty” condition can score the owner $63.60, according the site. But make sure you read the FAQ’s, which do mention that some items are rejected “due to damage.”

As for a broken SIM holder? Decluttr’s chief marketing officer Liam Howley responded with this: “At Decluttr, this isn’t classed as faulty and we would pay the customer the full value of the phone, as replacing a broken SIM card holder is part of the refurbishment process at the company.”

Howley said that while Decluttr does accept faulty-condition phones, the device is checked by the company’s quality team and in some cases, it may be devalued if additional faults are found.

“If the item is revalued, the customer will have the option to accept the price or have the item sent back to them for free,” he said.

There are also the typical retailers offering the service. Best Buy doesn’t charge for old mobile phones for recycling, but it’s limited to three per household. Staples office stores also will either accept your phone for recycling (for free) or give you money for it. Check out its donation program at dpo.st/staplesrecycling and its trade-in program at tradein.staples.com.

Several places will accept cellphones and electronic device donations that benefit a charity:

Cell Phones for Soldiers, at cellphonesforsoldiers.com. The organization is known for providing free talk time to soldiers and it doesn’t discriminate! It accepts broken or cracked phones. Find a drop off location at the organization’s site. AT&T supports the same military program. On its trade-in site, at tradein.att.com, people can check the trade-in value of their phone and either get AT&T credit or choose to donate it to Cell Phones for Soldiers. Sprint accepts all old smartphones and devices at its stores and donates them to low-income students through the 1Million Project. The charity also accepts cash via 1millionproject.org. Verizon accepts no-longer used phones, batteries, chargers and accessories in any condition as part of its HopeLine project that benefits victims of domestic violence. Drop the phone off at the HopeLine bin inside Verizon stores. More details at verizon.com/hopeline. And fa-la-la, T-Mobile is running its own charitable holiday special. Between now and Dec. 31, the company is accepting old phones and tablets at all T-Mobile stores. The company will also match the value of the device (after costs) and donate everything to Feeding America and Team Rubicon. At minimum, T-Mobile said it will donate $1 million, split evenly between the two charities Lastly, check with your favorite charity because they may accept old phones and other devices that they will either put to good use or recycle.

Don’t forget, if you’re donating a cellphone, tablet, computer or other device that may have some private data on it, wipe that drive. Some tips are in these old Tech+ Q&As, which can be found at dpo.st/mailbag: Wiping smartphones, fighting malware and Sprint’s new mobile security service or When recycling a computer, wipe the hard drive with tools that do more than just delete sensitive files.

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