Cashing in on old gadgets

We think a lot about getting new gadgets, but not so much about getting rid of old ones. The result: old cell phones, defunct laser printers and Pentium III computers gathering dust.

A couple companies want to help us clear out those old gadgets, while feeding our upgrade habit, helping the environment and making a buck for themselves.

Instead of being hit up for an extended warranty next time you buy a gadget, you may find yourself hearing a pitch from TechForward Inc., a Los Angeles-based company selling a "guaranteed" buyback plan for electronics.

For a fee paid when you buy a device -- $9 for an iPod, for instance -- you get the right to sell it to TechForward at a predetermined price that depends on how long you keep it. If you sell an iPod after a year, for example, you would get $40; after another year, $20.

In the financial world, this is known as a "put option" -- the opportunity to sell a certain number of shares at a certain price at a certain date in exchange for an upfront fee. But Jade Van Doren, TechForward's chief executive, said his inspiration came from traveling in Asia, where gadget worship is even more pronounced and some consumers buy new cell phones every few months.

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