Exchange Rate: Used Computers Retain Some Value As Trade-In Items

By Charles Kelly

With a name like Computer Exchange, we have had our share of interesting exchanges over the years. When we opened in October 1995, a good used computer was $2,500 and I specifically remember selling an open box Packard Bell 486 DX systems with a CD rom for as much as $2,799.

Back then, we did a lot of trading. Once, a guy offered me a running car for a motherboard and CPU. Brand new, this setup was probably close to $500 retail, but after looking at the car, I politely declined the offer. It was a Chevy Chevette that ran well, but had no reverse gear. We settled on him trading in his current motherboard and CPU towards the new ones.

Later, as we got into building servers with a lot of storage, one of our good customers ordered two servers and opened some sort of business that worked well for a few months, but then failed. He ended up owing us about $1,000 after trading them back in. I don’t recall all the details except that he was the owner of a 7-foot-long Millennium Falcon, one of 500 that had been raffled off at Toys ‘R Us. He had won the raffle and, being a collector of hard-to-find things, I made a deal.

The Falcon hung in our showroom until the last remodel and is awaiting refurbishment atop our incoming tech shelf. It will need new lights and a rebuild of the warp drive. (We also need a ceiling expert to build us a tray in our drop ceiling so that no one will bump their heads. We are seriously open to trades on that as I simply do not have the time or energy to do it myself.)

We still do take trade ins, especially on good, quality laptops or MacBooks. We even take trade ins on desktop rigs if they are something high-end, built in the last 36 months. The reality is that most of the thousands of desktops that come through the store each year end up as a recycle item. Even a really high-end computer that is five years old is still a 5-year-old computer.

Today, a used computer may actually have a negative value as the price of metal has fallen so far that it costs us more than a system is worth to recycle it. We still offer free recycling to homes and businesses and will continue to do so as long as we are in the computer business. In some cases, if you have a business that has changed hands or is closing and the machines are nearly new, especially business-class computers, we may want to make a bid on them.

Most people don’t realize that 80 percent of what we sell now are brand-new, custom-built computers and new laptops. We usually take your old computer on trade and offer a courtesy trade value equivalent to the price of a data transfer. So, you bring in your old computer, purchase a new one and we do the data migration in trade for the old computer.

Sometimes we will use some of those parts in our rebuilding process to produce a wide variety of quality refurbished machines, which are very popular items for companies or individuals who want a machine with Windows 7 as an operating system.

We also create machines that are offered to local charities that service the homeless veterans of our area. One of the first things a person needs after shelter and food is access to a personal computer and we have provided many computers to people in need, again with an emphasis on veterans. Coming from a military family as I do, it is a passion of mine and something that I hope to always be able to provide to our community. We have many honorable charities in the area, but the local Augusta Warrior Project is one that has done very good work in the Augusta area.

We also do significant amounts of trade with several sign printing companies and also with all of our advertising partners.

So, while the computer in your garage may not get you a big discount on a new computer, it will guarantee at least a data migration and perhaps it will end up helping a homeless veteran get back on his or her feet. Keep ‘em coming and we will keep processing them in a proper, ecological way – and a few selected units will end up in the hands of those less fortunate.

Charles Kelly is President of Computer Exchange, with four locations in the CSRA: South Augusta, North Augusta, Martinez and Grovetown. Computer Exchange specializes in computer solutions for home and business. For answers to your computer questions, email him at

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