Thursday, October 18, 2012

Phone Booth

photo.JPGLast week at University Mall, the dilapidated shopping center that is the temporary home of the Chapel Hill Library, I encountered this machine, offering to "turn mobile phones into cash." The skeptic in me, along with our tendency to try to use as little processing power as possible in the decision making process, instantly dismissed it as a scam. Its identification as a cuddly "eco ATM" (save the earth and make money while you do it!) didn't help either, skewing too close to the "whole grain goodness of Lucky Charms" sort of claim, in my view.

But then I later came across this article in the Economist Technology blog. The article suggested that there was a viable market for used phones, as well as for some of the metals they contain, and that this was a cool business idea. We talked about it at the breakfast table this morning, and the OG authorized me to take her oft maligned old phone (a Samsung that, as she put it "couldn't do anything except make calls and send texts.")

I arrived at the mall this morning and self consciously snapped the photo above. After scanning my driver's license, the machine opened up and I placed the phone inside. The machine correctly identified the make and model , and printed a bar code sticker for me to attach. It then offered me the princely sum of $1. Not the riches we'd hoped for, but still better than nothing, and a clear victory for Mother Earth nonetheless.

I accepted the offer, and the machine opened up again, and requested that I attach a proffered cable to the phone.

Sadly, like so many early versions of gee-whiz technology, it didn't work as advertised.  I could not get the cable to attach to the phone. The machine canceled the transaction after a minute had gone by, and, after unsuccessfully going through the entire process a second time, I gave up.

So I'm a dollar poorer, but at least now, when I drop the phone in the "donation" box at Whole Foods, I'll know that I'm not missing the opportunity for an easy payday.

No comments:

Post a Comment