You can sell just about anything on eBay… but did you know that you can sell broken things, too? And actually make quite a bit of money? It’s a bit counterintuitive, but if you know what you’re doing, your broken electronics or other items could be worth a lot to someone.
And not only is it a good way to make some money, but it’s good for the environment too, as you’ll create less electronic waste. And you might be helping someone save money by buying used electronics. It’s good all around! (And, interestingly, the first thing sold on eBay was a broken laser pointer.)
People Buy Broken Things on eBay
It might seem strange that people would want to buy non-functional items, but there are a few really good reasons why they might want to do so.
For example, some people just love taking stuff apart. It’s fun to see what’s on the inside of the things you use every day, and if someone is trying to get rid of one that doesn’t work, it’s a perfect candidate for disassembly.
Others might be interested in fixing or refurbishing your items to either use or resell. If the buyer thinks they know what might be wrong with an item and they’re confident they can fix it, they’ll get to spend some time tinkering and make a profit on it.
This is also true with items that go bad — if a specific model of router often just needs one port replaced, for example, a buyer can be confident that they know what to do.
Finally, some people might be trying to take advantage of warranties, recalls, or deceiving a manufacturer into sending them a new version of your broken item. This is less common, but it does happen. There isn’t really a way for you to tell if a buyer is trying to do this, so it’s not something you should worry about.
For these reasons, people buy a seemingly infinite variety of broken things on eBay. High-end smartphones are some of the most popular items, and electronics in general seem to sell very well, but household items, jewelry, bike frames, luggage, and even parts of cars get auctioned off.
Do Some Research First
As with selling anything successfully on eBay, you’re going to be more successful if you do a little bit of research ahead of time. Is there a market for what you’re selling? Are people buying the broken clothes iron, coffeemaker, laptop, speakers, or phone that you’re selling?
Hit Advanced next to the search bar and check the Sold listings box.
I’m trying to sell a coffeemaker that’s not working, so I entered “broken coffeemaker” into the search field just to see if anyone’s buying. The results page is full of items that are for sale with a condition of “For parts or not working”:
Some of them have sold for decent amounts of money, too, so things are looking good. You’d be surprised at how many different broken things are being sold on eBay at any given time. Run through a few different searches of sold listings and see what you can find!
Be Very Clear in Your Listing
The more information you can share about the defects in your item, the better. Does it turn on? Is it missing parts? Did you do something that caused the breakage? How old is it? Has it undergone more than average wear? All of these details will help potential buyers determine whether or not your item is worth bidding on.
As an example, here’s what I wrote in the Condition field for my coffeemaker:
The heater isn’t turning on, and no water is moving through. It still turns on fine, so I think the fix could be simple, I’m just not willing to take it apart and fix it myself! Carafe is fine.
And then the full description:
This is a 12-cup programmable coffeemaker from Mr. Coffee. It’s a fantastic coffeemaker, but it stopped working recently, and I just don’t want to fix it. The heater isn’t turning on, and water isn’t moving through. I cleaned the tank, but that didn’t help. I think a fuse may be blown somewhere in the base, and I think it would be an easy fix for someone with even basic electronic skills. The coffeemaker made one pot a day, on average, for about six months.
Be sure to mention if there are parts or pieces that are working well, as someone might just be looking for a replacement part.
In addition to being clear about what’s broken, you need to be upfront about the fact that your item is broken. You’ll need to select “For parts or not working” as the condition when you post the item, but you should also write “For parts or repair” or an equivalent phrase in the title.
And make sure that your description is very clear that it’s not working. An unhappy eBay buyer is no fun to deal with.
Also, make sure that your picture shows the break, if possible, and don’t under any circumstances use a stock photo. If you’re selling something that’s new, a manufacturer photo might work, but if it’s used, and especially if it’s not working, you’ll need to take your own photo.
Think About Your Return Policy
With new or used-but-in-good-condition items, offering a return policy is probably a good idea, as it increases buyer confidence. If you’re selling something that’s broken, though, you may want to sell it as-is and not allow returns. This prevents someone from winning the auction, checking to see if they can repair the item, and if they can’t, returning it.
eBay lets you set the return policy on your item when you post it, and you may want to put “AS-IS” somewhere in the description or title, just to be totally clear that you won’t take a return on the item. You could offer a return policy if you think it will increase the value of your item, but be aware that an unscrupulous buyer might return it and put you back where you started.
Returns are often part of eBay scams, too, so keep that in mind when you’re setting your return policy.
Sell Accessories & Parts Separately
If you’re selling something that comes with accessories or you can easily disassemble your item, you may want to consider selling everything separately (or keeping some of the parts), especially if you have things like video game system controllers, charging cables, replaceable parts, or anything else that people might be looking for on their own.
Many of these items hold their value, and there’s still a good chance that you’ll be able to sell the broken part as well. It takes more work, but this could net you quite a bit more money! Again, do your research to see if this is a viable strategy for your item.
It’s an Unexpected Gold Mine
Selling something that’s broken feels a little weird at first, but once you realize just how good of a market there is for it, you might be looking around your house for more broken things! With a little bit of effort ahead of time, you can actually make some good money selling your non- or semi-functional things.
Have you sold broken items on eBay? What did you sell? What did you get for it? What other tips do you have for making the most of selling your broken stuff? Share your experiences and tips below!