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Advantages and Disadvantages of Buying Used and Refurbished Items Online
I managed to live quite well, thank you, with a middle-class salary surrounded by many top-quality items that I bought second-hand online. For the purposes of this article, we define used as anything that has been opened from its original packaging, including refurbished items. The advantage of buying things used is that unless there is an obvious cosmetic flaw, no one will know you bought things used unless you tell them. This article discusses the pros and cons of buying used items online.
As a general rule, I won’t buy anything used unless: 1. The item isn’t readily available new or 2. It saves me relatively a lot of money – the exception for me is CDs and books that are either hard to find or just save me the trouble of looking for them in a store. I will only buy a used item if the seller has good reviews from a reliable online site or if the seller is an established, well-known business like Best Buy, Amazon, or an Amazon associate store. Whenever possible, I try to use PayPal rather than credit cards to pay as it’s an added source of protection if I have any issues with the product or the sale.
I will not buy anything second hand online unless the condition is described as very good or better – just imagine most people describe things better than they are or the item is sold using the words “Sold As Is” which means the buyer cannot return the item once they receive it. Buyer beware! To me, that’s a sure sign that the product is a “lemon” or potential lemon or that the seller is someone I don’t want to do business with. I also won’t buy anything from a buyer if the price is ridiculously low, because that signals to me that something is wrong. There are no free lunches – just drop the idea of buying the item and forget about it immediately without losing any sleep. Yeah, once in a while you hear about someone hitting the ground running and buying a Picasso or something at a garage sale for $25, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be you or me! Definitely don’t buy anything used from someone in another country for over $50 or just asking for trouble because there’s a good chance the item will be damaged in shipping – have fun get your money back, or you just get burned and really have no recourse against anyone outside of the United States.
As a general rule, I wouldn’t buy limited life items like DVD players, DVD recorders, anything that really uses lasers when they wear out, TVs unless the price does be so low that you can afford to break it the next day and throw it away. , for example. I wouldn’t buy anything either, it’s my personal taste and bias, been worn by someone, slept in by someone, partially swallowed by someone like a 1 gallon jar of protein.
What I buy used, once the above “right conditions” are in place, are: 1. Stereo equipment such as high quality CD players (lasers seem to last much longer on those this!), inexpensive computers, CDs, books, furniture, lamps, photos and prints, sports equipment, bicycles and scooters, and hard-to-find items. Most of these items you can resell either in their original condition or for parts. Keep in mind for computers (laptops), you should demand that the seller restore the computer to its original state and remove anything added unless you want them to leave it on and that the seller is responsible for cleaning the computer of any viruses, spyware and adware. I also wouldn’t spend more than $375 including shipping unless you bought it with some kind of warranty and had the option to extend the warranty.
My record on buying used goods following these rules has been excellent. I only received one item that appeared damaged inside during shipping and got my money back immediately from the eBay seller who had great feedback. I bought a $1500 laptop for $700 refurbished with a one year warranty from a major well known computer retailer and there was a problem with the hard drive and they immediately replaced it with another that I had never had a problem with. In fact, the only time I got burned was when I was stupid enough 5 years ago to buy a laptop from someone I didn’t know on Craig’s List who lived in out of state. I learned my lesson then – don’t buy anything secondhand from someone you don’t know on a website that isn’t responsible if you get scammed by someone who does advertising. To be fair to Craig’s List, I believe they warn people about getting scammed etc, and I had only myself to blame for what happened.
Ultimately, you can save a lot of money buying second-hand things online, but you need to know what you’re doing carefully before you buy anything. Use the tips I’ve listed as a rough starter guide.
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