Online shopping has been largely popular in recent years. A big reason for its success is the convenience of buying things and finding good deals from the comfort of your home.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, being able to shop for nearly anything—groceries, essentials, clothes, and even electronics and gadgets—minus the risk of infection from being in public spaces made it an even better and safer solution for consumers.
In addition, with the rise of remote work and online classes in response to the pandemic, the demand for laptops and other smart devices has also risen. While buying them brand new through online retailers is possible, the costs can still be too high. Instead, purchasing secondhand gadgets has become a more feasible option.
A common misconception of secondhand gadgets is that they are all scams waiting to happen. Horror stories of purchasing gadgets that turn out to be nothing but expensive pieces of plastic and metal are all too common. However, this isn’t the majority experience.
When done right, buying secondhand gadgets can have many benefits, the biggest of which is owning devices at a fraction of their original retail price. It also prevents working gadgets from becoming electronic waste, making it a more sustainable option than buying brand-new items.
The best way to avoid scams online is to know where to buy secondhand gadgets safely and the red flags to look out for.
First, being familiar with the product’s specifications helps you set your expectations for what it can and cannot do. Second, when you check reviews before buying online, you get a better grasp of how the gadget works in real life versus the promised specifications. Third, you may end up finding better alternatives.
Once you come across an online secondhand listing for your chosen gadget, the information you learned from your research can help verify the claims the seller is making. If the seller seems to be overestimating the capabilities of the product—especially given that gadgets will experience wear over time—then the listing may be too good to be true.
The easiest way to reduce your risk of being scammed is to buy from a trusted seller. Do your research on the seller: their specialization in gadgets, customer reviews of their transactions, the security of their website, and how they authenticate their listings. Make sure to read their policies on returns and exchanges and keep them in mind.
Buying secondhand gadgets online means committing to a purchase without physically seeing the item or being able to test it. Legitimate listings should have the description of the item, its current condition, included accessories or attachments, and actual photos. If the listing details are not enough to verify it, message the seller and ask for as many details as possible.
Ask about the nature of repairs done on the gadget, who conducted the repair (either a third party or the manufacturer), any valid warranties and documentation to prove its legitimacy, additional photos of the item (especially if there are claims of visible flaws and damages). These details can help you judge if the gadget is in good condition and if the listing is a good deal.
Once you’ve purchased the secondhand gadget, it is critical to observe the 15-minute testing rule. While it can be exciting to find a deal that checks all of your boxes, testing and examining the item for 15 minutes can help you avoid any hidden or undisclosed defects.
Test out the included accessories and attachments, like headphones, charging cables, and so on. Are the connections secure or too loose to be effective? If the gadget is battery-operated, check if the battery and battery slot are in good condition.
If there are too many hidden defects or deal-breaking flaws, immediately contact the seller. Depending on the return policies or previous agreement, you may be able to return the item and get your money back.
Buying secondhand gadgets can be a great way to save money while getting the device you need. The key to making a successful purchase is to arm yourself with knowledge—on both the product and the seller. By remaining objective and detail-oriented, you’ll be able to weed out bad deals and find the hidden gems.