SAN DIEGO - Holiday shoppers are using a service from a San Diego-based company to get some quick cash as they shop.
"We've paid out millions of dollars in customers and have hundreds and thousands of customers at this point," said ecoATM CEO Tom Tullie.
ecoATM has 300 machines across the country that can turn an iPod, tablet or phone into money. There are 70 kiosks in California, including 13 in the San Diego region.
Tullie gave a demonstration on how consumers can turn old gadgets into cash at the Westfield North County Mall kiosk.
Consumers touch the kiosk screen and select the gadget they want to unload. For this example, Tullie used a Galaxzy S3.
To prove the customer is 18 and older, and the phone isn't stolen, the machine took a picture of his license.
Next a label was printed with a serial number that the consumer puts on the device. The gadget went into the machine, a door closed, and multiple cameras and mirrors took pictures of the phone and digitized the information.
The machine figured out this phone was a Galaxzy S3, and then listed the possible prices. The machine offered to pay $142 for the Galaxz S3 if it was in perfect condition, and $7 if the phone was in poor shape.
Once the machine knew about the gadget, a cable came out of the machine and Tullie plugged the phone into the cable.
The phones memory, serial number and screen condition were checked, and then the ecoATM offered a price on the screen. Since the phone was in perfect condition, the offer was for $142.
Tullie pressed a few more buttons, and the machine then dispensed the cash and kept the phone.
Tullie said 25 percent of the phones are smelted down for the gold, platinum and palladium, and up to 75 percent of the phones are refurbished.
"We'll pay for anyone phone, even if it's from 1990 or smashed and doesn't work anymore," said Tullie.
Tullie believes ecoATM kiosks trump online methods of selling iPods, tablets and phones because the consumer doesn't have send anything in the mail and people walk away with cash after just a few minutes.
Go to ecoATM.com for a list of locations.