Friday, September 13, 2013

Get Your Electronics Ready! ecoATM is Coming to Lenox Square

ecoATM is coming to Buckhead.

San Diego-based ecoATM is bringing their automated consumer electronics buyback system to Buckhead's Lenox Square.  The ATM size machines accept consumer electronics like phones, tablets and mp3 players in exchange for cash, on the spot.

The company started in 2009 with its first unit in the Nebraska Furniture Mart.  Today the company has over 600 locations in over 40 states and has recycled over 1 millions devices.

Current Atlanta area ecoATMs include Plaza Fiesta, Northlake Mall, Gwinnett Place Mall, Perimeter Mall, Cumberland Mall and North Point Mall.  According to the company's website, there are a total of 26 ecoATMs in Georgia.  In many cases though, such as at Northlake Mall, Cumberland Mall, Gwinnett Place, Sugarloaf Mills and Stonecrest Mall, among others, the company operates two ecoATMs per property.  In these cases, the two units are most often in different areas of the mall to reach the greatest number of potential customers.

The company announces new ecoATM locations on its blog weekly, usually between a dozen and two dozen are announced. Last month included the addition of a unit in Peachtree Center downtown and secondary units in Southlake Mall, Gwinnett Place  and Augusta Mall.

In July, Outerwall Inc (formerly known as Coinstar) purchased the company for $350 million, less the value of the 23% stake Outerwall already holds in ecoATM.

Unlike ecoATM, when Outerwall's  multiple Coinstar or Redbox units exist in the same business, they are most often found side by side or in the same immediate area.

The machines do require a fingerprint and drivers license from the would be seller and are reportedly video monitored by an off-premise security team to deter fraudulent transactions.   

Some cities however blame the machines for increases in consumer electronics theft.   Baltimore in particular, is moving forward with legislation that would ban the units from operating in their city. The Baltimore City Council is close to approving an all-out ban on the ecoATM within the city.

I'm unaware of any such measures or proposals in Atlanta, but that's not to the say the company has not had its fair share of issues in the Peach state.  In February, Underground Atlanta ended their lease with the company and at least two instances of stolen phones ending up in ecoATM units were reported at Greenbriar Mall.

It's worth noting that Apple itself has gotten in on the phone recycling game by offering credit towards the purchase of a new iPhone when a consumer supplies trades in a used iPhone.  Just as with ecoATM, the phone's condition and age affect its value and from what I understand, you are  not given a cash option, just a trade in credit towards a new device.

Do you think Lenox Square adding the ecoATM is a good idea?
Do you prefer the convenience of the ecoATM to services like Gazelle where you'd likely get more, but have to do more to complete the transaction?
Were you impressed enough by the new Apple iPhone to trade up?

Please share your thoughts below.

1 comment:

Tim Windsor said...

Based on the experience in Baltimore, I’d have to say that these machines are not only used by thieves, they actually create the incentive to become a thief.

Recently, in my former city, there was a series of brazen phone thefts in one of the leafier northern reaches of Baltimore. Day after day, some kids would steal a car, drive to the better neighborhood, stick up joggers and walkers for their phones then keep driving, over the city line, to the mall which had one of these ecoATMs to dump their new loot for cash.

If you map them out, these robberies were pretty much in a straight line to the machine.

I’m not normally one to blame crime on “the march of progress,” but I think the causation here is pretty clear. ecoATM is a menace.,0,6915502.story