Ebay Shuts Down Instant Sale Service For Cash Trade-Ins On Phones And Other Gadgets

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Ebay, the online marketplace that recently added a redesign reminiscent of Pinterest to enhance a personalized experience for its users, is paring down in other areas. Among them, the site has discontinued its Instant Sale service, a program for users to quickly trade in used consumer electronics for cash, with the electronics then resold by eBay working with a third party. Instant Sale, eBay noted in February, had racked up some 4 million offers since being rolled out commercially in the U.S. in 2011.

It looks like Instant Sale is a direct casualty of eBay’s forays into other ways of presenting its products.

“Based on the results of recent eBay selling pilots, as well as our development of more simplified and personalized selling experiences, we have discontinued the eBay Instant Sale trade-in program in North America, and continue to focus on developing new, simplified and streamlined mobile and online selling experiences,” a spokesperson wrote to TechCrunch in an emailed statement. “We are also continuing to work with our partner CExchange to explore additional selling options and programs to offer customers the best value and selling experiences.”

Now, the main landing page for eBay’s Instant Sale service now redirects to eBay’s homepage, and the links for Instant Sale on pages to sell gadgets now all also redirect back to the homepage, too.

Ebay’s partner in the service, AllTechWholesale, tells us that eBay discontinued the service on February 28. “At this time the program has been discontinued but that may change in the future,” the company wrote in an email. “We were only informed that the last day for the instant sale page would be 2/28/13,” it wrote in answer to a question about when the change took place, and why.

We still trying to determine if the program has also been discontinued in Germany, the other market where eBay had activated the service.

Instant Sale first launched as a pilot in October 2010 as a way for users to trade in their electronics quickly for cash without waiting until they get sold.

“eBay Instant Sale was conceived by a team of eBay employees in early 2010 who debuted the idea – then called ‘Resell, Reuse, Recycle’ – at eBay’s Innovation Expo,” the company wrote in a page describing the service. The idea was then incubated within eBay itself, and after the debut of its pilot was fully launched as one of the company’s “flagship programs” within its electronics vertical. Instant Sale competitors include Glyde, Gazelle, NextWorth and BuyBackWorld.

All told, the program had seen some 4 million offers on consumer electronics devices. Instant Sale also served as a kind of barometer for consumer interest in new products — for example tracking anticipation of a new model of the iPad based on how many people were selling existing iPads.

Whether those discounted offers were affecting pricing for eBay’s bigger service selling new devices, or whether 4 million was not a big enough business to continue running it is unclear.

In any case, eBay never took on the whole business itself, choosing instead to work with AllTechWholesale. “Throughout the Instant Sale pages, whenever we use the term “we” or “us”, we mean eBay and/or AllTechWholesale,” eBay wrote in its About page for Instant Sale. AllTechWholeSale continues to do business on the site.

That About page is now directing to eBay’s homepage, but you can see a cached copy here, and we’ve pasted the contents below, too.

“About eBay Instant Sale
“eBay Instant Sale is a different way to get cash for your used electronics on eBay. With Instant Sale, you can get an immediate cash offer in three easy steps – and less than 60 seconds.

“In the case of Instant Sale, eBay is working with AllTechWholesale, a Top-Rated eBay Seller with an excellent track record of customer satisfaction and service is buying your device. You can see their feedback score as a seller on eBay on their eBay store page. Throughout the Instant Sale pages, whenever we use the term “we” or “us”, we mean eBay and/or AllTechWholesale.

“eBay Instant Sale was conceived by a team of eBay employees in early 2010 who debuted the idea – then called “Resell, Reuse, Recycle” – at eBay’s Innovation Expo. After generating lots of buzz and excitement around the company, the idea was incubated in eBay’s sustainability team, where it was taken from concept to pilot in just over six months. In October 2010, eBay Instant Sale was launched to the public as a pilot test; and in February 2011, the program was re-launched as one of the flagship programs within the eBay electronics vertical.

“To date, the program has generated more than four million offers for devices that range from smartphones to iPads to laptop computers, and has established itself as one of the most competitive electronics trade-in destinations on the web.”