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Trade-ins take the financial sting out of upgrading your tech, especially if you’re someone who always wants the latest and greatest devices. You can trade-in your old smartphone, tablet, laptop, you name it, and take a small (or large) portion off the bill for your new purchase. (Or, in some cases, forgo paying for the new device at all.)

Of course, the entire deal hinges on the condition of the device you’re trading in. Most buyers assume your phone or laptop will have accumulated some minor wear and tear in use, even with cases, screen protectors, and protective sleeves. But what they usually look for is that the device is fully functional and free from major cosmetic damage. The worse the device’s condition, the lower your trade-in quote is going to be.

But let’s say your device is in great condition. You take the trade-in survey, and confirm to the buyer that your, say, iPhone, looks and operates as it should. You package it up, send it off, wait until the buyer receives it, only to find an email claiming the device you sent in didn’t match the conditions you said it was in. There could be dents, scratches, a broken display, perhaps buttons don’t work, or the phone doesn’t turn on at all. As such, they reduce the amount of money they’ll offer you for the phone, as the original quote was contingent on the device you described in the survey. You could appeal, of course, but you don’t have the device yourself, so you can’t prove it was in good condition when you sent it off.

Take photos and video of your devices before trading them in

Some good documentation can potentially save your trade-ins, and get you the money you believe you deserve. Before packing up your device to ship off to the buyer, take photos or video of it from different angles, so you can prove it is free from any major cosmetic issues or damage. It’s not a bad idea, either, to record the device in operation: Wake it up and unlock it, for example, to show that a buyer would have no problem using the device as it is now.

It’s not a bad idea to show that the charger works, too. Plug your phone or laptop into power, and demonstrate how it begins charging. If you really want to be thorough, you could capture the device’s serial number in the video, too, just so there’s no doubt that it’s the device you traded in or sold.

This is something I’ve done with my trade-ins in the past, just in case something happens to the device in-transit. Again, you have no control over what happens with your phone, tablet, laptop, what have you when it leaves your possession, but if you have proof of its condition before it gets in the box, you have the upper hand against issues down the line.

What prompted this piece was this since-removed post on r/samsung. The poster recommended that Galaxy users take photos and videos of their Samsung phones before trading them in. There are some helpful anecdotes in that thread, too: One user, for example, was told their smartphone had a cracked display upon arrival. The user asked for an email to contact, so they could send pictures and video to prove the display was fine when they mailed it out. Thankfully, the claim was dropped following the proof.

While tech is the focus here, this really is good practice for just about any device you want to trade-in or sell, from devices, to equipment, to antiques. You don’t want a buyer claiming the camera lens you sold them has a crack through it, or the commemorative glass you sent out is shattered. Add an extra minute or two to the packing process by documenting your trade-ins. It’s great insurance should you need it.

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