I have been given the great fortune to talk to the people behind Swappa, and this is the information I was able to gain from them.

Swappa is a great site for the selling and buying of used devices. In an interview with Ben, the founder and coder of Swappa, Ben tells us about what he set out to achieve with Swappa and about safety.

You can read the full Q&A below, but for those a little pressed for time, here is a condensed version.

Swappa was made in order to make selling and buying used devices safer, easier and more enjoyable. Swappa also does it best to make sure that all of the devices sold on its site are fully functional by way of IMEI checks and requiring photos of the device with the screen powered on.

While there will always be risk with buying a used mobile device, your best interests is in the minds of all the Swappa staff. They always do their best to make sure that ever device bought or sold on Swappa are ready to go and be used on whatever carrier you bought the device for.


Why was Swappa created? / What is the main goal of Swappa?

Swappa was created with the goal of making the buying and selling of pre-owned mobile devices safe, easy, and enjoyable.

When Swappa started the only real options were eBay and Craigslist. Neither of these options qualified as safe, easy, or enjoyable. Blacklisted and otherwise junk devices are / were common and not screened on either service. Finding exactly what you’re looking for on either service is a headache. Fees are ridiculous on eBay and there is no protections or safety for buyers with Craigslist.



What are the advantages of using Swappa?

Swappa has grown popular for buying and selling used devices for several reasons. Simplicity is one reason. The site is easy to use for both buying and selling.

Buyers love our pre-sale and post-sale safety measures to try to ensure you don’t get burned with blacklisted or otherwise junk devices. Sellers love that we don’t have listing or seller fees (only a small, flat fee paid by buyers on successful sales).

Another one of our primary advantages is that we are a human-powered site. Device listings are all reviewed and must be approved for sale by a human and we provide helpful support. All of our staff consists of device junkies / experts working to keep the site safe and free of junk.



What risks are involved when selling or buying a used phone?

There are actually several risk with buying and selling mobile devices, and Swappa aims to mitigate these risks as much as possible.

One risk is buying a device that is blacklisted as lost or stolen, or otherwise not eligible for activation. Swappa is the only market (that we know of) that requires sellers to provide device ESNs (serial numbers) that we check to try to ensure the are ready for a new buyer.

We also have a strict “no junk devices” policy where we don’t allow the sale of potentially problem devices, including those that are blacklisted, broken, or busted. Only fully functional devices are allowed in our primary marketplace, while devices with water damage or cracked glass are not.



How should a potential buyer protect oneself against fraud?

Swappa tries to do as much of the work possible to protect buyers from fraud. This starts before a buyer even sees a device for sale as we pre-screen listings for approval.



If I were selling a phone, what actions should I take to insure that no personal data can be collected off of my old phone?

There are several guides available online that cover this in detail. Some of the steps include factory resetting your device, removing your SIM card, removing your SD card, removing the phone from your carrier account, etc.



Why should people use Swappa rather than any other service available?

People should use Swappa if they value their time, money, and mobile devices. We try to reduce the risks of buying and selling and keep the whole experience pleasant. We keep fees low and transparent. And we moderate the site to keep out the junk (that includes junk devices and unscrupulous users).


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