How a Computer Repair Shop Makes Money on Used Electronics

As many areas enforce a law that prohibits the discard of electronics due to the mixture of using potentially hazardous materials and precious metals, many computer repair locations will offer a recycling service. While these services may seem perfectly legitimate on the surface, some of them make quite a bit of money due to the fact that throwing out these materials could net a fine for the perpetrator. Because the average person doesn’t know better, computer repair shops are in prime position to take advantage of the situation. How do these establishments clean up on trashed electronics?

1. Fees – Many computer repairs shops will offer to recycle your unwanted, broken and used electronics for a fee. Although this fee is usually nominal, laws of your area may prompt you to pay them in order to get rid of something that is just taking up room. Some of these fees can be as high as $25 or more to allow you to drop off a broken down computer system or television set. Now that you are rid of what you believed to be junk and have paid the $25 fee, what becomes of the item? Are computer repair shops exempt from the laws that prevent you from throwing a broken monitor in the dumpster? No.

2. The Recycling Process – Inside any electronics device is a cornucopia of recyclable materials. In a computer system, it is common to see various amounts of precious metals and recyclables that can net quite a bit of money if sold in bulk. These electronics are broken down to the basic parts and recycled to proper locations. In reality, the only part of a computer system that doesn’t have potential to pay dividends is the plastic it may contain. Otherwise, all of these can be recycled for money:

  • Metal cases
  • Hard drives, motherboards, RAM, CD ROMs and any other component with a PCB
  • Aluminum and copper heat sinks
  • Processors

By stripping these components out of a computer, the repair shop can then recycle them to proper locations in order to make additional money. In essence, you just paid the shop to make more money.

3. Offset of Labor – Some computer repair shops will claim that the fee is to offset the man-hours it takes in order to strip a device. However, something is wrong with the technician if it takes them longer than 10 minutes to strip a computer. Once these parts are torn out, they are literally thrown into a box and shipped out. This process takes another five minutes. With the fees you paid and the time it takes to strip a computer, you just paid the repair shop $100 per hour. Since I used to work in one of these establishments, I know how long it takes. However, the shop I worked at didn’t require a fee for recycling people’s broken electronics.

4. The Payout – There are many companies that anyone can find on the Internet that will pay for various electronic components. These payouts will vary according to the weight of the box and its contents. In Golden, Colorado, there is a company that has a detailed list of what it will pay for recycling each component. Since computer repair shops can accumulate a great amount of unwanted devices, this payout can become quite profitable over time.
While it may seem like a service for the public, computer repair shops that offer to take your broken goods for a fee can make a decent amount of money from stripping those components. If you have the inclination to do this yourself, realize that in order to make any real money from the experience you have to ship the materials in bulk. Otherwise, it would be akin to walking into an aluminum recycling plant with a single pop can.

Ken Myers is the founder of & has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn’t try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.