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Customers flood eBay with now-worthless Orby TV boxes

(Image: Orby TV / Graphic: The Desk)

Less than a week after satellite television company Orby TV announced it was shutting down, customers of the now-defunct service are trying to recoup their investment by selling their worthless equipment online.

The Desk spotted dozens of eBay, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace listings for Orby TV receivers, dishes and other gear, with sellers often not disclosing to prospective buyers that the devices cannot be activated.

In some cases, sellers are listing Orby TV receivers for as much as $300, more than triple what a new receiver cost when Orby TV was still in business.

Orby TV’s business model may be partially to blame for the sudden surge in third-party device sales: The satellite company required customers to purchase its set-top boxes — which cost $100 a pop or $200 with an integrated DVR — in order to subscribe to its low-cost service, which started at $40 a month.

Orby TV stopped activating new customer accounts in mid-February as the company started to wind down its business. Some customers who purchased boxes before last month now appear to be attempting to recoup their initial investment: Online, third-party listings for new and used Orby TV hardware has increased dramatically in the two days since the company announced its closure, according to an analysis by The Desk.

Many of those listings are on eBay, and nearly all listings reviewed by The Desk on Wednesday said the seller of the items did not accept returns. Though eBay has a “money-back guarantee” policy, it typically only applies if a shipped item is substantially different from its listing, not if the item doesn’t work as described.

A spokesperson for eBay has not yet returned a request for clarification on the website’s policies regarding defunct and obsolete electronics.

Like most electronics, Orby TV’s set-top boxes are filled with materials that can be re-used in other hardware if it’s properly recycled. Staples offers free recycling of cable and satellite set-top boxes and other electronics at many of its retail stores.