Buy back or give back,
but don’t toss
■ Buyback programs
■ Revised FICO
By David Horowitz
CLOSETS AND LANDFILLS are overflowing with
old gizmos and gadgets as electronics companies
convince consumers to upgrade to bigger, faster
Recycler Tech Turn Inc. estimates that 600 million to 800 million personal computers are sitting
unused in the United States. They contain substantial amounts of lead, among other toxic metals.
Just 12. 5 percent of U.S. electronics waste is
offered for recycling each year, according to the
Environmental Protection Agency, and much of
that is actually dumped rather than recycled.
Some companies have jumped into action to
help recycle their own products. Apple Inc., Dell
Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. all run their own
recycling programs, which allow customers to ship
them their old equipment. Sony Corp. accepts discarded electronics at some waste management
Note: Costco’s Trade-in & Recyle Program, in
coordination with GreenSight, allows members to
recyle computers, LCD monitors, digital cameras,
camcorders, game systems and MP3 players free—and
in some cases receive a Costco Cash card for any estimated trade-in value. Go to
costco.com, click on
“Electronics,” then on “Trade-in & Recycle.”—Ed.
I HAVE BEEN ripped off for
more than $9,000 by an
invention company. I paid
$685 to see if my product
could be developed. After
they assured me that the
market was ripe, I paid
another $8,600 to develop
the prototype. Two years
later, I’ve nothing to show.
They promised to send me
a 70 percent refund last
June, which never arrived.
I can’t get a live person on
the phone, and they won’t
respond to my letters.
Buyback gadget deals
As another option, a number of retailers are promoting guaranteed buyback plans for electronics.
With these buyback programs, for example, a customer buying a new device can prepay for the convenience of “selling” back the item when it’s time
to upgrade. The buyback will be offered in cash or
store credit, depending upon the retail store and
The downside is that the buyback isn’t very generous, and it diminishes the longer you keep the new
item. However, for gizmos that lose market value
quickly, the program offers the convenience of free
packaging and shipping. And for environmentally
conscious buyers, anything to get the item out of
closets and landfills and into a recycling program
makes good sense.
The FICO score is used by about 90 percent of
America’s 100 largest banks and lending institutions. That score can be the key to a borrower receiving either favorable or “fatal” loan rates, as well
as rates for credit, insurance and cell-phone plans.
Even employment opportunities and utility services
can be affected.
As before, the scores will range from 300
to 850, with higher numbers indicating a better
credit rating. The scores will be based on the same
histories, including the le vel of credit
indebtedness, payment histories,
number of recent credit openings
and the type of credit used.
However, “FICO 08” will do a
better job of separating the good
risks from the bad risks, particularly for subprime borrowers, those with thin,
or newer, credit files
and consumers who
are actively seeking new
credit. The new system
should help lenders reduce default rates
on credit by between
5 and 15 percent by
more accurately identifying risky borrowers.
The new FICO
scores will be finalized
in the next few months,
though some lenders
may take extra time to
test the system. C
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate.
His “Fight Back!” commentaries are heard daily on
the Jones Radio Network. For stations and times,
check the radio page at
© 2008 FIGH T BACK! INC. ALL RIGH TS RESERVED.
Sadly, many “invention companies” use unscrupulous
sales tactics and practices.
And because inventions
are speculative, I doubt your
contract offered any kind
An Internet search
revealed a number of
complaints about this
been targeted by the
United States Patent
gov) and the Fed-
eral Trade Commis-
for the same unscrupu-
lous tactics they used
against you. We suggest
that you contact both of
these government agen-
cies to file a formal com-
plaint against the company.
In hindsight, research-
ing whether this company
was the target of consumer
complaints before you
signed up for their program
could have protected your
FICO 2008 “Fights Back!”
The innovator of the popular FICO credit score,
used by most lenders to evaluate a consumer’s cred-itworthiness, has developed a new formula for calculating credit scores. Fair Isaac Corporation says the
new scoring model will be more effective at predicting the chance of a borrower defaulting on a loan.
Do you have a question for David?
Just log on to
www.fightback.com and “Ask David.” He will personally respond
to your problem if you follow the instructions printed on his Web site. (Costco
members receive a rebate off the normal fee.) Questions and answers of the
greatest interest to Costco members will be used in this column with the
permission of the contributor and will be posted on