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Nobody Likes Getting Ripped Off... Tips for Buying Used Items Online

Updated on September 1, 2011
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Buy Online for Cheap

Many people are wary of purchasing products online that are used or made by no-name brands. They have good reason to be, too. The common phrase that “you get what you pay for” is almost always true. Still, buying the best name-brand, highest model, brand new is simply not always possible for most people. The internet does allow us to find good products at very favorable prices.


eBay is a common place to buy used or cheap items online. The major upside of this website is its popularity; there are so many auctions and items available at any given time. There is almost any item you can think of, and many competing sellers trying to offer the best deals on the same goods. In general, the more common an item is and the older an item is, the cheaper they can be obtained.


If no photos are shown, or the provided photos are blurry or distant, ask for better photos. You can privately contact an eBay seller easily and most respond within a day. You can ask any question you may have about the item. Most eBay users are trying to maintain a reputation and offer good service.


One useful method I have used when bidding on auctions is to type in every type of combinations of keywords that could possibly relate to the item you want to purchase. Sometimes a seller poorly titles their auction, and if you employ this tactic, you may be one of few people to type in the necessary, odd search phrases to find it.


eBay sellers almost always list their location. It is ideal if a seller is relatively close to you because this reduces shipping costs and the transit time. You can receive items in as little as 1-2 days by ordering from a bordering state (and it costs nothing extra).


Online forums can be fantastic places to purchase used goods. Forums are discussion boards for various topics. Within most forums are Classified sections where members post items for sale or items that they want to buy. A high-traffic, popular forum that relates to the item you are looking to buy may have exactly what you are looking for. Here you can buy either privately from random people or from reputable vendors.


This cannot be reiterated enough- get good photos before you buy a used item! If the item is brand new, this does not apply. Every cell phone has a camera these days- there is no reason that a seller can't send you a few good photos.

Items are routinely advertised as being in better condition than they actually are. A seller will not go out of their way to point out scratches, dents, etc. Get photos!


Do not immediately offer what the seller is asking; it never hurts to offer a seller a low price for an item. You do not want to be ridiculous and offer $50 for a $200 item. However, if you make a reasonable offer like $150, the seller tends to meet half way and agree on, say, $175. The more rare and desirable an item is, the higher your offer should be because any extent of low-balling will be ignored.


Again, buy locally even if the item is being shipped in order to save money and transit time. It is also easier to get ripped off by someone on the other side of the country.


I would not bother unless it is on eBay. It is not worth the shipping costs, delays, and much greater risk of the sale being a scam.

Good luck!


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      ann 5 years ago

      good advice. Thanks