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April 5, 2021

If you’re looking for a laptop computer, eBay is a great place to find deals. Don’t rush to click “Buy It Now,” however. Here are five things you need to know before making the purchase.

New or used?

A brand-new laptop has plenty of advantages: good speed, full factory warranty, plenty of memory. A used machine, however, can provide the same performance at a lower price. Look for a laptop that has been refurbished, which means the memory has been wiped and the operating system freshly installed. This won’t make it new again, but “like new” can be just as good.

Know your Seller

eBay is not just for individual sellers anymore. Today’s sellers also include small business owners, e-retailers like Newegg.com, and brick-and-mortar stores like Best Buy. No matter who the seller is, it behooves you to check out their page. You want to buy from a seller that is well-established, and has solid experience in selling computers and electronics. Ratings aren’t necessarily everything, but it’s a good idea to browse through the buyer feedback. Pay particular attention to how they score in the “item as described” category. A higher score means you can rely on them to deliver their items as promised, and that’s who you want to do business with.

Item description

The item description should offer all the details you need to know about the machine. Make sure the specs meet or exceed what you’re looking for in a computer. Pay close attention to the little details: Is a battery and power adaptor included? Does it come with install CDs, hard-copy manuals or other documentation? What software is loaded? Is the operating system installed? The latter won’t be the case with a refurbished machine, but it’s something to if you buy a used computer.


A warranty is your protection in case your laptop doesn’t work. A new, unsealed machine should be covered under its manufacturer warranty, of course. Many refurbishers also offer warranties on their electronics. Read the fine print carefully and make sure you understand the specifics: covered items and exceptions, terms, and length of warranty.

Return Policy

Don’t forget to review the seller’s return policies. They may only allow returns for a very brief period, only in specific circumstances, or they may not accept them at all. Some sellers charge a restocking fee. Choose a seller whose terms are reasonable and acceptable to you, in case you must return your purchase.