Civic News
Municipal government / Technology

After $30K in lobbying, City Council approves cellphone-buyback machines

A city legislator had previously proposed a ban on the kiosks, fearing it would cause an increase in cellphone thefts.

City Council changed its mind on cellphone-buyback machines after six months and roughly $30,000 in lobbying efforts from cellphone kiosk company ecoATM.

Last fall, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown proposed a bill banning the kiosks, which let you exchange phones, tablets and MP3 players for cash, to prevent an uptick in cell phone thefts. The bill stalled in committee and never passed.

Just last week, Council “worked out a reasonable compromise,” Brown told the Daily News, that allows the kiosks but only with Council’s sign-off on every kiosk location. That compromise comes after ecoATM, the San Diego company that has two kiosks at area malls (one in Philadelphia at the mall formerly known as Franklin Mills and the other just outside city limits in Wyncote), spent $30,311 lobbying City Council on the matter, according to city lobbying data. The lobbying expenditures have yet to be reported by Philadelphia media outlets.

lobbying

Despite the victory, a spokeswoman for ecoATM says the company has no current plans for expanding in Philadelphia.

ecoATM is a venture-backed company that was acquired for $350 million in July 2013 by Outerwall, the publicly-traded business that owns kiosk companies like Coinstar and Redbox.

Companies: Philadelphia City Council

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