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Canadian households have $6B worth of dead cellphones lying around

That's about 60 million idle phones.
The survey shows the need to improve the mobile phone trade-in process for Canadian consumers.

Most people have a drawer that is filled with miscellaneous items, old chargers, and sometimes a mobile device that you no longer use. According to a new MCE Systems survey, Canadians have roughly 60 million idle phones laying around the house, resulting in up to $6 billion of untapped money.

According to Robert Hackl, president of MCE Systems, the survey’s aim was to understand how satisfied consumers were with mobile phone trade-in services and look at ways to optimize this experience. 

“I just want to make sure that the problems we solve consumers care about and operators care about,” he said. 

Conducted in April 2022, it utilizes a sample of 2,800 Canadians who either have experience trading in an old phone or have never used the service before. 

Results showed that 83 per cent of Canadian consumers don’t believe their mobile carriers offer the best prices for mobile trade-in. In addition, 57 per cent of Canadian consumers have never traded in a mobile device. 

Hackl says there are three reasons why Canadians may not choose to trade in their old phones: friction with their operator such a painful ordeal to trade in the phone or a long process, uncertainty over price, and a lack of trust. 

The survey says 29 per cent of Canadian consumers reported that they received a different price quote after their device was inspected. 

“If you have for every trading transaction, eight per cent of the people switching the carrier, that's not good enough, right? So that's the trust piece around the carrier,” Hackl said. 

For those who do regularly trade in their mobile device, the main motivator to do so was to get an upgrade. The second most popular motivator was to get more money or lower costs on the next mobile device. 

“The one thing we underestimate is that while the one consumer saves on their phone which they trade in, the more phones that are traded in, the more they can be reused,” Hackl said. 

Among the motivators of trading in a phone, 17 per cent cited ecological reasons. According to Hackl, if one million devices are traded in, it saves 48 tons of CO2 emissions. 

The hope is that the survey will shed light on the need to create a better system for Canadians to trade in their phones, adds Hackl. Results show that 36 per cent of consumers who started the trade-in process online and then went to a retail store, had to restart the process as the systems were not connected. Thirty-three per cent also noted that the process takes longer than 30 minutes.

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