buying second hand stuff online


Buying 2nd hand stuff makes sense for one reason – it’s cheap. In 2010, not many people can afford to blow money on new things or if they can, they’ll try not to. That’s just the mentality of the modern day buyer…

Do your homework

Lets say you want a new printer… do you buy that 2nd hand? No, unless you’re a fool. The vast majority of printers will be cheaper to buy new and you’ll get full cartridges / toner with them. Even a free 2nd hand printer might turn out to be more expensive than a new printer.

So rule #1 in buying 2nd hand stuff is to know the value of what it is you want to buy. Ask yourself two questions;

  • What does it cost to buy new?
  • What’s the average selling price for it 2nd hand?

The mac mini i want costs about €800 brand new. The one i’d settle for 2nd hand sells for around €300. The 2nd hand version is older and less powerful, but it will leave my wallet €500 heavier. And i’d prefer to have that €500 rather than have an extra bit of computing power – because i don’t need it. If i was developing games or something maybe i would.

Know your sources

In Ireland, there are three main marketplaces where you’ll find 2nd hand stuff for sale;

Ebay needs no introduction. is a spinoff from, so it’s a fairly large buy and sell community. Plenty of tech stuff for sale. has become a household name over the past year and it’s a very simple (i feel too simple) marketplace. I find it frustrating to use due to the lack of search options and awkward navigation but i can put up with that if i’m getting a bargain.

Spy on sellers

If i buy something online from a ‘stranger’, i probably know more about that person than they’d like me to. Never just blindly buy things from sellers, even if they have great feedback or they come recommended.

Always check the buyers history. Analyse photos. Google their username. If you suspect something is too good to be true, ask the buyer some bullshit question just to get a response and fish for things like their nationality, location etc… to see if matches up with what they have on a profile.

Basically, put together a profile on the person you’re dealing with… military style. Buying stuff 2nd hand is risky. No comeback, no warranty, no customer support. If you buy something and it arrives in a million pieces, tough. I’d write it off and wouldn’t expect anything back, even though i’d try.

And that’s the hard line you have to take with yourself. If stuff goes wrong, blame yourself. Get scammed, and that’s your own fault. Most of the time. You’ve failed to prepare and failed to spot trouble which is probably very easy to spot if you just put the work in initially.

Sellers are like bets. A million to one shot might come good… i.e. an iphone being sold on ebay for 1c coming from china from a seller with zero feedback, might be legit. Chances are, it’s not.

On the flip side, a nailed on winner i.e. a seller with a 100% feedback rating with millions of positive review from people all over the world might happen to disappoint. You can never sure, but you can reduce the risk of disappointment by doing research on the seller.

Leave a Reply