Should I Buy a Pre-Owned Laptop? What are the Risks?

New electronics can be expensive, so if you’re looking for a deal you may be considering buying a pre-owned device. This can be a great way to get the laptop you want at a much lower cost. While there are some risks associated with purchasing a used device, you can protect yourself by purchasing from a reputable source, clearing the laptop when you buy it, and taking other precautions. 

Why buy a pre-owned laptop?

  • Cost: Used devices will be cheaper than their brand-new counterparts! It’s not uncommon to find a fully functional device that comes out to a fraction of the cost of the original laptop. 
  • Environmental impact: Buying used electronics is a great way to help support the environment. Used electronics are presenting a huge issue for our landfills, with 53.6 million metric tons of electronic waste being produced just in 2020. This waste goes straight into landfills, where it can leach into the groundwater, pollute the earth, and contaminate the air. Buying a used device means that product won’t go into the landfill. Then, when you’re done with it, be sure to recycle your device! 
  • Longer use: You might think that buying a brand-new device is the best way to get long-term use from your laptop. However, buying pre-owned can help change your mindset around technology. If you’re always upgrading to the latest and greatest devices, you’ll likely feel that your laptop is outdated after only a few years! Instead, try getting familiar with using a pre-owned device. This can help you to learn how much power, storage, and speed you actually need from your laptop. It might be a lot less than you think! 

What’s the difference between used and refurbished laptops?

When searching for a pre-owned laptop, you’ll likely see some devices that are labled as ‘used’ and others that are labeled as ‘refurbished’. There are significant differences between these two types of devices! 

Used generally means that the device was purchased by a person who now wants to re-sell it for whatever reason. You’ll often find used devices being sold by their previous owners on sites such as eBay, Mercari, Craigslist, and others. Refurbished devices have been serviced by a professional and restored to good condition. Refurbished laptops are sold by companies such as Dell, Best Buy, and Amazon. 

A used device probably hasn’t been thoroughly checked for any issues, whereas a refurbished device has been fully serviced. Often, a refurbished laptop will come with a warranty. Used laptops typically won’t since they’re being sold by a private entity rather than a company. Depending on your needs, either option can be utilized. 

Risks to look out for when buying a pre-owned laptop

When you’re buying a pre-owned laptop, you won’t have the same experience as walking into a store and choosing the one you want. When buying any used item, you likely will need to look through multiple listings, ensure you get a fair price-tag, safeguard yourself against getting a defective product, and protect yourself from any unsafe activity. However, by following a few steps and taking some precautions, you’ll be able to buy a pre-owned laptop that does everything you need it to! 

1. Paying too much

When purchasing a pre-owned laptop, it’s important to make sure you’re actually getting a good deal. Compare the item to its list price when new, and to other used devices of the same model you can find for sale from other sellers. If you want to add extra storage, upgrade hardware, or make other changes to the pre-owned laptop, factor those into your final price. Researching prices helps you make sure you’re making an informed purchase, and that you’re actually getting the deal you want!

2. Recieving a laptop that’s in worse condition than you though 

Buying from a reputable source can help avoid any issues with your purchase! If you’re buying a pre-owned device online, it’s a good idea to look at both the item listing and the seller’s information. Buying through a regulated site such as Amazon can help protect you. Check if the seller you’re considering has other positive reviews from people who have purchased for them. Look at the images of the listing. If there are only stock images, rather than photos of the specific laptop being sold, you may want to steer clear of that particular laptop. It’s a positive sign when a seller has lots of images and includes photos of any imperfections (such as scratches or cracks) on the device. Another red flag to keep an eye out for is if a used laptop is being sold for an extremely low price. While you’re looking for a deal, if it’s unbelievable low it may be a scam. 

 3. Not having your purchase protected

Pre-owned laptops usually don’t have the same sort of guarantees in place that brand new items have. Even when you’re getting a great deal on a pre-owned laptop, it’s still an expensive purchase! Protecting your investment to make sure you get your money’s worth is a good idea. Sites such as eBay and Amazon have buyers’ protections in place. Their policies make sure that if your laptop arrives in worse condition than had been communicated, it’s not the laptop you wanted, or any other big problems arise, you can return the item at the seller’s expense. 

If you choose to buy through another site such as Craigslist or on Facebook Marketplace, you’ll likely be buying directly from another individual. In this case, it’s a good idea to test out the laptop in person before handing over your hard-earned money! 

4. Getting a faulty make and model. 

Research the make and model you’re considering. Some laptop models have a known history of breaking down or have experienced product recalls. Occasionally a bad design aspect will cause issues for consumers. Or there might be a faulty piece of hardware that was included in the final product. If that’s the case for the model you’re considering buying, you might want to rethink that purchase! A quick internet search will turn up that information. It’s possible that the units you’re purchasing has been refurbished since the recall, but it’s worth checking into if you see any history of past issues. 

5. Accepting the device, then finding out later it has issues

As soon as you receive the laptop, check that everything is working properly, and that it matches the description you were given by the seller. Perform these checks to make 

  • Make sure the device can successfully connect to WiFi.
  • Check the laptop body for any scratches, dents, or cracks. External damage can help clue you in to any internal issues as well. 
  • Turn the laptop on in order to check the screen, looking for flickering, dead pixels, discoloration, and brightness. These all can point to issues with the display.
  • Test the keyboard, making sure the keys all work and the mouse functions properly.
  • Make sure all the available ports function properly, including the HDMI, CD tray, SD card slot, headphone plug in, and any others.
  • Test the webcam and speakers to make sure they function properly.
  • Check the battery life by running a few applications at once on the laptop and see how long the battery lasts. You can also check the battery health in your laptops control panel.

6. Buying a laptop with malware or virus

It’s possible that malware or viruses exist on the pre-owned laptop you purchased, even if the seller gave it a cursory wipe. These can cause issues with your laptop, and you’ll want to make sure you get rid of them when you first receive your device. It’s usually a good idea to run antivirus software as soon as you receive your new laptop.

Choosing a pre-owned laptop is a great decision. Then, when you’re ready to sell your old device, keep the sustainable choices going! Sell your old laptop to Gizmogo, and not only will you get cash for your device, you’ll also be keeping your used technology out of the landfills.

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