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October 19, 2021

Buying a laptop – new or used – can be a complicated process, especially when sold on sites like eBay. Sure, it is an excellent source for buying cheap products, but unfortunately, there are plenty of scams as well. If things go as planned, you can end up saving a couple of hundred dollars or even more on laptops. 

Identifying the right item can be difficult. There are specific strategies you would want to follow to avoid falling into pitfalls. So, we have compiled this article to help you navigate the process of identifying and buying proper-condition laptops on eBay.

Know the monetary value of what you want 

Knowing the initial release price and the used price is important when buying laptops on eBay. You may often find sellers listing products with a higher price than what was originally set by the manufacturer.  

Sites like CamelCamelCamel come in handy for tracking the price changes over time. You can track products from Amazon by keyword, manufacturer, or directly using Amazon URL. Price will differ depending on the laptop’s specification. For instance, the base model MacBook Air with 256GB SSD will cost $999, whereas the 512GB of the same laptop is $1,249. Processor type, clock speed, display type, etc., are also the key factors affecting the price. So, be specific with the laptop configuration.

Properly specify the search criteria 

eBay makes it very convenient to filter through products and find the exact item you need. However, sellers can use any words for the product title, making it difficult to find the desired laptop on a single query. You may end up eliminating valid options. So, here’s how you can use the search function effectively. 

  • Start by entering two to three keywords. For instance, enter “Dell XPS 13” in the search field. You can check the results to see if you got the desired laptop. If not, continue adding more keywords like “Intel i5-1135G7 256GB SSD”, which will further streamline the results. 
  • On the left side of the search, there is a section for filtering through the results. You can narrow the search even more by modifying criteria such as price, type, color, processor, storage, operating system, product condition, and much more. 
  • eBay lets users remove specific results by simply adding the “-” sign in front of it. For example, adding “-parts” after the “Dell XPS 13” will eliminate results showing spare parts for Dell XPS 13. By using this process, you can hide results for other things as well.

Seller rating and product feedback 

Product images aren’t a good indicator of product quality. Sellers would often put out good photos or use stock photos, which won’t help to identify the laptop’s quality. It is also true you can purchase a product with bad images but would end up being better than expected. 

To properly understand the product authenticity, check the seller’s feedback rating. Sellers with a 98% rating or higher are the ones most likely selling high-quality products. Clicking on the seller’s username will show full details and ratings on each item sold. From there, check items with negative feedback and then decide whether you should buy from that seller or not. Sometimes sellers get low ratings for something that isn’t their fault, such as packaging getting ruined during shipping. 

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Shipping charges 

The shipping cost can add up a good sum of money to your overall cost. Electronic products like laptops need a good amount of wrapping to ensure they won’t get damaged during transport. So, depending on the item, the shipping cost will vary. Sometimes, the actual laptop cost will be low, but the seller will charge high money for the shipping. So, make sure to account for the delivery charges.  

Buying new vs. used 

The benefits of a new laptop are obvious – you get a laptop with a full manufacturer warranty, unused battery, no worn-out parts, and more. Many manufacturers even offer limited repair services, either free or through an inexpensive addon. However, buying new can be pretty expensive, especially when you want a high-end laptop for processor-intensive tasks.

In contrast, eBay used laptops are more economical from a budget perspective. Buying a used laptop gives you access to specifications that you wouldn’t get in a budget alternative. Such as, laptops with the latest-gen Core i7 with 1TB SSD will easily be sold at over $2,000, which, when purchasing used, depending on the condition, can save you approx. $500 to $1,000.

However, used laptops are prone to commonly known issues such as reduced battery capacity, increased sensitivity to temperatures changes, worn-out parts, etc. Depending on how old the device is, regular maintenance might be required to prolong its lifespan. The first step after purchasing a used laptop is to replace the battery. If the laptop is too old, replacing the RAM and storage unit is also recommended. Also, make sure to clean the internals, especially the fans, to keep the device functioning well and to avoid overheating. Doing all these can add up costs, so keep it in mind while buying a used laptop. 

Certified refurbished 

eBay offers a huge inventory of certified-refurbished items

eBay offers a huge inventory of certified-refurbished items. If you aren’t willing to take risks, buying a refurbished laptop will be ideal. You may save a bit less, but these products come with a 2-year warranty and a better return policy.  

Although refurbished laptops are used, these devices function just like new. Typically, in a refurbished laptop, the battery and other components that are prone to damage are replaced with new ones. These laptops are thoroughly checked and tested, which ensures these will not break or cause issues in actual use. So, considering the budget, purchasing a certified refurbished laptop might be a better alternative than new or used laptops. 

Warranty, return policy, money back 

If the device is new and sealed, it should be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. Devices with at least a 1-year warranty used for a few months should also have some official warranty period left. So, if you are buying from a third-party provider or an individual seller on eBay, make sure to ask for the warranty documents. 

Further, make sure to learn about the seller’s return policy carefully. They may accept returns under certain circumstances and for a short period of time or may not accept returns at all. Also, some sellers might charge for restocking.  

Sellers have five options when listing an item on eBay regarding the moneyback policy. One of them is “No returns accepted.” Meaning, you can’t ask for any refunds after purchasing the product. So, be sure to check for the money-back policy for the particular laptop you want to buy. 

Frequently asked questions 

Is it safe to buy a computer on eBay?

Buying computers on eBay is absolutely safe if you aren’t purchasing from an untrusted seller. Follow the steps we have mentioned above to get ideas on buying items from eBay.

How do I know if an eBay seller is legit? 

Checking the profile of the seller is a good indicator to see if they are legit or not. Their profile includes both positive and negative feedback on products they have sold in the past. Go through them and decide if you should buy from the seller.

What happens if I get scammed on eBay? 

If the buyer receives a product that is broken, damaged, faulty, or didn’t arrive, then eBay will offer the buyer a refund, even if the seller doesn’t have any refund policy.