Customers claim Apple partner Phobio is stiffing them on trade-in values

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in General Discussion
Apple trade-in partner Phobio is allegedly giving lower-than-expected trade-in values to customers because of device defects that apparently only they can see.

Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider
Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider


Phobio is a Georgia-based company that offers white label trade-in services to other companies, including Apple. However, an investigation by The Verge suggests that the company appears to have a questionable online reputation.

Several Apple trade-in customers that Phobio slashed the trade-in value of their Macs because of a display that has "3 or more white spots." Those customers said they did not notice the white spots themselves before sending their devices in, and said Phobio failed to provide any evidence that the defect existed.

The Verge reportedly inspected one of the supposedly defective devices and was unable to find any white spots on the display or other signs of damage. Although the publication personally heard from a handful of customers, it adds that there are "scores of other instances" of similar situations online. In addition to Mac trade-in values, there are also complaints about iPhones, iPads, and other devices.

In a statement, Phobio declined to directly comment on the story but said that it aims to give "full and fair value" to customers for their trade-ins.

"We carefully assess each device sent to us, and only change the initial quote if the device we receive or its condition differs from what was initially indicated by the customer. We document our findings at every step of the way with photos that are shared with the customers," the company said.

Phobio does allow customers to refuse revised trade-in offers and will ship the device back to them free of charge.

Although The Verge's sample size is small, there do appear to be a number of complaints about Phobio spread across the internet. The Better Business Bureau is also advising consumers that Phobio has "a pattern of complaints" against it. The company has a 3.1 rating on TrustPilot, and there does appear to be an uptick in complaints in recent months.

Apple ">switched to Phobio as a primary trade-in partner back in 2017 after dropping PowerOn. AppleInsider has attempted to get more details out of Phobio regarding its assessment policies for just over two years, with no success.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    entropysentropys Posts: 2,892member
    A classic case of false savings through outsourcing.  The bean counters never factor in the risk of reputations damage.
    argonautbaconstangFileMakerFellerelijahgdavgreg
  • Reply 2 of 12
    Have done a couple of test wrt trade in value for Apple products, and I get around 2-3 X more selling through other channels. Doesn't make sense at all to trade in. Also checked out a couple of sweatshops selling "refurbished" or traded Apple products. Not worth it at all. 

    Face to face + receipts.
    darkvader
  • Reply 3 of 12
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,173member
    Most of the time I use Ebay for best trade-in value, but honestly it's a PITA. Especially when it was still using PayPal for a second set of fees. Apple trade-ins are significantly simpler. I traded in a two-year old iPhone X for $400, coulda got more on Ebay but damn it was so simple. But for my Watches and iPads especially, I still use Ebay.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 12
    XedXed Posts: 836member
    I've used Phobio via Apple many times over the last year with great success… until the last time. For some reason a flawless iPad Air was deemed worthless. Their pictures showed severe damage to the exterior housing. I had it shipped back after taking screenshots of the images (they don't let you see those images again after you agree to have it shipped back) so I could verify the images they showed me online matched up with the serial number on the box. It all matched. My best guess is a shipping issue or an employee issue since it doesn't profit Phobio to ship and return perfect good products to customers on their dime instead of reselling them.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 12
    GabyGaby Posts: 165member
    02 in the UK which is one of the largest telecoms and part of Telefonica once tried to stiff me like this. Unfortunately for them they played with the wrong person and I informed them that I had recorded and photographed the device, it’s serial number and the entire process of packaging it for shipment and told them that they were bare faced liars. I was supposed to get a very high trade in for effectively a device in mint condition and they alleged it was in very bad condition with dents and scratches and it was in the fourth category which was the lowest. I sent them photos, and not only did they immediately change their tune and give me the full amount, but they gave me I think £150 compensation. I reported them to trading standards, plastered my story and photos everywhere to inform others and made an official complaint with them personally. As if these greedy pigs don’t make enough through honest means. 
    elijahgdavgregwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 12
    Original quote on a 2014 mac powerbook pro was sufficient.  Working condition and some screen issues (apple defect issue).  Once book was shipped Phobio lowballed the tradein.  I mean really lowballed it.  I had no need to have it around so instead of them shipping it back to me I kept the money.  Will never do business with them again.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 12
    ibillibill Posts: 399member
    I had a similar experience back in January with an iPhone trade-in, got a reduced offer from the original estimate. They cited screen pixel damage which was not evident when I had the phone, and also that the stated storage was not correct. I am skeptical of that claim as well, but really had no way to challenge it. The overall value wasn't enough to mess with, but I will not use Phobio ever again, particularly after seeing this article.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 12
    davgregdavgreg Posts: 807member
    I have never had such an issue with an Apple trade in but think the prices they offer on iPad Pros is kind of low.

    Given the surge in demand for such devices in the last year I expect a higher quote this time. A friend has already said she will pay over the trade in quote, so we will see.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 12
    I was stiffed on a trade-in for an original iMac 5K - they originally offered $540 but shipped me a return box which didn't really fit the iMac form factor.

    I eventually got it into the box, but Phobio claims that the pristine screen which the iMac had before shipping was damaged, lowering my offer to $130.

    Because of the fit of the box I remain convinced that it was the poorly fitting box which damaged the screen, and getting the iMac back would do no good as that 5K screen is *very* expensive to replace.

    Apple should just stop using Phobio - they do a terrible job and I would never use them again.

    I just sold my 2019 16" MacBook Pro (core-i9, 32 GB RAM, Radeon Pro 5500M,  2 TB SSD) but went through BuyBacktronics rather than Phobio. Wanted to get the Intel MBP sold before things went to trash when the 16" Apple Silicon replacement was announced.

    I'm retaining a couple of Intel Macs - a loaded 2017 iMac 5K used by the family (not really worth getting rid of) and an equally loaded 2020 iMac 5K (core-i9 3.6 ghz, 128 GB RAM, Radeon Pro 5700 XT 16 GB, 4 TB SSD, 10 gb ethernet) because it's still boot camp capable and handles my workflows just fine - looking forward to playing Mass Effect Legendary Edition next month with 4K assets and controller support when it's released on May 14th.
    edited April 28
  • Reply 10 of 12
    darkvaderdarkvader Posts: 492member
    DO NOT TRADE IN YOUR IPHONE.

    It's the absolute least environmentally responsible thing you can do short of tossing it in the trash, Apple DOES NOT refurbish or resell traded in phones, they're shredded because Apple doesn't want a used market.

    Sell your phone on ebay.  Sell it to a person.  Donate it to charity.  But DO NOT TRADE IT IN TO APPLE OR ANY APPLE "PARTNER".


  • Reply 11 of 12
    darkvader said:
    DO NOT TRADE IN YOUR IPHONE.

    It's the absolute least environmentally responsible thing you can do short of tossing it in the trash, Apple DOES NOT refurbish or resell traded in phones, they're shredded because Apple doesn't want a used market.

    Sell your phone on ebay.  Sell it to a person.  Donate it to charity.  But DO NOT TRADE IT IN TO APPLE OR ANY APPLE "PARTNER".


    Any sources for your claim?
  • Reply 12 of 12
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,115administrator
    darkvader said:
    DO NOT TRADE IN YOUR IPHONE.

    It's the absolute least environmentally responsible thing you can do short of tossing it in the trash, Apple DOES NOT refurbish or resell traded in phones, they're shredded because Apple doesn't want a used market.

    Sell your phone on ebay.  Sell it to a person.  Donate it to charity.  But DO NOT TRADE IT IN TO APPLE OR ANY APPLE "PARTNER".


    Your claims about Apple refurbished are wrong.

    Apple DOES refurbish phones, and they sell them on Apple.com as refurbs, or send them back to the Service supply chain for whole-device replacements. Some are further taken apart, and individual non-consumable parts may end up back in the Service supply chain as well.

    Some are fed to the recycling machines, yes. The vast majority are not.
    edited May 17 muthuk_vanalingam
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