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PC Advisor Investigation: don't believe trade-in hype

'Allo John, gotta new P4? Here's 160 quid, take yerself down the West End

Gateway this week launched its Pentium P4 range of high-performance business PCs, the GP8 series. It also relaunched its Your Ware scheme, which is supposed to help buyers afford new Gateway PCs. Part of the deal is the offer to buy back any Gateway PC two or more years old, and your P4 in two years time. This is similar to the way cars are sold. But, like motors, this isn't the best deal you could get.

PC Advisor decided to find out exactly how much a Gateway PC would be worth on buy-back. It turns out if you traded in a Pentium II 400MHz PC, similar to the model shown in PC Advisor’s August 1998 issue, originally costing around £2000, you'd get £160. That’s 80 percent depreciation over two years.

A GP8 will cost you around £1,650 with VAT. In two years time, Gateway could be buying that back at £330, at today's pound value. By shopping around, you might be better off selling your old PC privately and avoid being sucked into a deal with a big manufacturer that appears to be offering you a tidy sum for your old machine.

There are hundreds of independent computer trade-in shops that offer deals on used PCs. Computer Exchange, a London-based software and hardware reseller, offered £210 for a similar Gateway 400MHz Pentium II.

“We will offer about £210 for a basic model," said Colin Walker, sales supervisor for Computer Exchange. "Extras such as graphics cards will add extra value,” he added. “We then go on to sell them for around £340.”

Selling privately may be another option. Loot on-line (www.loot.com) has a large range of used PCs for sale, where similar aged 400MHz Pentium II PCs are selling for around £200. Of course, any money back is better than nothing, but shopping around can pay real dividends.

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