When I make a purchase, I always consider the option of buying something refurbished or used. My current Samsung camera was bought refurbished on Woot at an approximate 40% savings versus buying new (as was my stolen Panasonic camera). Our 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan was one year old and had 30,000 miles when we bought it from Enterprise Car Sales, but we saved thousands of dollars over buying it new. (My husband says the minute you drive a new vehicle off the lot it depreciates by thousands.) My dad bought a used HP Analyzer on Ebay when he started up his business a few years ago, saving over $1000.
My kids know that if they want some new music to listen to their best bet is to have me swap for it (on Swap or SwapaCD) or buy it used on Amazon/Half/Ebay. I’ve even told family to buy used items as presents for my kids knowing the purchaser will get a better deal.
There are risks with buying used items. Refurbished items may not perform as well as new or last as long. Sellers may mis-represent the condition of a used item. So you need to assess the risks against the potential savings.
Things to consider when buying used items:
- How much will you save? If you’re only going to save 5%, then it might be worth it to buy brand new. On the other hand, if you can save 50%, used is definitely worth considering. (You also need to take into account the cost of item.)
- Who is the seller? Is it someone you can trust? My son buys used CDs at FYE who guarantees them or your money back. If you’re buying on Ebay or Amazon, you can read seller ratings to see if buyers have had issues in the past.
- How much do you know about the item being sold? Are there pictures or detailed descriptions that give you confidence the item is in the described condition? Can you inspect an item before making the purchase? Is there a way for the seller to offer proof the item is still functioning? Are there maintenance records for the car you’re buying on Craigslist? If the seller does not offer details, ask questions.
- What’s your recourse if the item does not live up to your expectations? Will the seller accept returns? Amazon and PayPal stand behind items bought through their sites. Manufacturers may give you a window in which to return refurbished items purchased from them.
Taking these factors into consideration, will give you more comfort that you’re making the right decision. Still, there are no guarantees and even after assessing the risks, you might have a bad experience. But there’s nothing to say you won’t end up with a lemon, even when buying new. Buying used has saved me thousands of dollars, so I’ll always consider it.