By Alix Norman
Count it, go on. Run a mental tally of the technology you own that no longer works. Laptops, desktops, mobile phones… Unless you’ve been trapped in an Eighties time warp, you’re bound to have at least three just lying around the house, wasting space and preying on your conscience. Personally, I’m the less-than-proud owner of four now-defunct cell phones, two elderly laptops and a bulky PC that’s stealing valuable space from my shoe collection. Of course, what I should have done is recycle. But now I’ve met George Georgallos, I’ve got a better idea in mind. And it’s going to make me some money…
The founder of Facebook page ‘Not Working CY’, George knows exactly what to do with anything that’s, well, not working. Whether you need your tech repaired and returned, or sold on for hard cash, George’ll fix it. A self-taught whizz kid, he’s been restoring everything electronic ever since he can remember (frappe-riddled keyboards are all in a day’s work; broken screens a doddle), and is now turning his skills to making a profit. Because the second-hand tech market, claims this bright young entrepreneur, is growing. Rapidly.
I ask if this has to do with the crisis. And George responds with a nod and a characteristically well-considered response: “I love my country, I really do, but we have a culture that desires the new, the labelled. That, however, is changing – along with the economic climate. People who used to hang on to their old mobiles, their computers, will now sell them more readily. And those who don’t have the money for a new smartphone, for example, are happy to buy an older, reconditioned piece for half the price they would otherwise pay.”
It’s a thrifty solution to which George himself now ascribes. “Five years ago, I don’t think I would have considered buying something previously owned,” he admits. “But I’ve realised that you can get a second-hand device that works just as well for half the cost of something new.” And this holds particularly true for electronics, he says, describing his methods.
“The first thing I do is try to figure out what’s wrong,” he explains, likening the process to a doctor running diagnostic tests. “Most commonly, it’s the motherboard or the screen, but there are, literally, a million things that could be broken.” Although part of his business relates to repairing and returning broken technology, most revolves around the buying and selling of unwanted tech. And this can, at times, be a hazardous enterprise: “I don’t have the time to test every computer or phone before buying it,” he says. “That comes later, once we’ve agreed a sale. What I actually do when someone contacts me is say ‘Okay, you have these things, and I will take them for this amount of money’.” And that, he says, is where the risk comes in.
“In the past,” he admits, “there have been times I lost money. It’s rare, but it does happen.” But for the most part, George is able to give his clients an honest appraisal and an excellent price for their broken tech. “Having a useless laptop sitting around your house for three years is pointless,” he says. “And buying new parts is not always cost-effective. Thus selling it on can be a good way for people to earn some money.”
So what would happen, I ask, indicating my laptop, if I wanted to sell? What would I get for it, and where would it go? George takes a brief look at the device, and is able to give me an assessment in seconds. “It’s two years old,” he states. “It originally cost you about €600, and it looks in fairly good order. Your mousepad doesn’t work – probably a compatibility issue because you’re using Windows 8 – but the processer, graphics card and battery life are all fine. I’d be able to sell it for around €300,” he says, as I sit open-mouthed at his spot-on assessment. “So I would give you between €200 and €250.”
It’s not much of a profit for George himself, I realise, tempted to take the deal and hang the interview: not only will he have to recondition the entire computer, he’ll also run extensive wiping programmes on my hard drive, and then have to wait around for the right buyer. Though in some cases, he adds, he does sell things on for their parts: “Two broken laptops often equal one good one,” he explains with a laugh. “There might be someone in Europe who has the other half; eBay is very useful for finding out who has what, and putting it all together – it’s like a community of people all working away to make one perfect computer!”
Obviously, this all takes a great deal of time, so it’s staggering to learn that Not Working CY isn’t George’s first line of work. Currently in the fourth year of his Quantity Surveying BSc, this diligent young man is also completing his practice in the engineering and estimating department of a local construction company. “But,” he adds, “I can’t afford to put all my eggs in one basket. And so running Not Working CY is, although a hobby, a field with a potential future.
“I’ve been doing this for less than a year, yet the market is escalating rapidly,” he concludes. “At the moment, my generation has to take advantage of any opportunity they can find, and for me, that’s Not Working CY. Not only does it give me a real sense of achievement, it’s also a useful service.” Extremely useful, one imagines. Because, if you’re anything like me, you’ve got enough old tech hanging around to keep Not Working CY busy for years. Your computer may not be working anymore, but it can still be earning! I mean, who doesn’t want a bit more cupboard space for all those shoes they’re going to buy with that extra cash?
Not Working CY
A Facebook page dedicated to the purchase of broken or unused electronic devices, with an emphasis on laptops, desktops, computer parts (graphics cards, motherboards, etc) and smartphones. For more information, visit the Facebook page, email [email protected] or call George Georgallos on 96 310678