Second hand PC component buying tips
Buying second hand is great if you do your homework
South Africa has a thriving second hand PC components market where older components find new homes on a regular basis.
However, as with any second hand market, there are always con-artists and crooks looking to make a quick buck off of you, as well as those who don’t really care once the goods have left their possession. Here are some tips to protect yourself when buying goods online.
Is the seller legitimate?
The most important aspect of buying online; is the seller a fly-by-night, or will you get the goods they’re advertising? The easiest way is to buy from local communities where the seller is a well-known member. Do a bit of digging, message the better known/respected members of the community asking about anyone you intend on buying from, and see how the seller’s previous deals have gone down.
If you’re buying from a classified site that doesn’t have a regular forum community, try to get as many details of the situation as possible and always be wary. Is the seller willing to meet up and have you test out the components before hand? Does the seller have good communication skills? Is the seller vague about details, yet reassuring?
Buying from sellers you can meet up with is always preferred, though be sure to do this in a public place you’re familiar with. If the seller is in another city, do you have a friend who can go meet up with them for you? If not, do you really need this deal?
If you can’t meetup with the seller beforehand, request as much information as possible. Pictures of the goods are great, but make sure they’re real. Ask for a piece of paper with details including the seller’s name, contact details and the date to appear alongside the goods being sold.
As always, if the deal is too good to be true it often is. Rather walk away from a good deal and miss out saving a few hundred Rand, than be scammed out of a large amount of money.
Condition of the items and warranty information
Second hand items are used, and how they were used impacts how good the deal is in a big way. When you inspect the items either in real life or through images, be sure to pay attention to how clean they are. Are there any obvious visual flaws like dents or scuff marks? Does the item come in its original packaging? If not, how will the seller package it up for you for shipping or transport?
As for warranty information, try to find out as many details as possible. Does the seller have the receipt? If not, how will the warranty be verified (serial numbers, etc)? Who holds the warranty? Can they confirm the warranty still applies to the product? Can the warranty be transferred by the original buyer to another party? Who honours the warranty locally? Do they have a branch located close by? The product may as well not come with a warranty if you can’t redeem it, so make sure everything adds up.
With the above being said, buying a product that has no warranty remaining is riskier; however some products continue to function perfectly well years after the cover runs out. Don’t be scared to negotiate on price if there is no warranty, but prepare yourself for the possibility that the product may fail tomorrow, and you have no recourse available.
Get what you pay for
When buying second hand goods, make sure you get what you pay for. Speak to the seller beforehand and find out what is included in the price. If you’re buying a motherboard, does it come with the backplate for PC cases? What about the bundled cables or the extras that were sold with the new product.
When it comes to a CPU cooler, are all the brackets included? Did it include mounting brackets for multiple platforms? Did it come with fans? Are they included?
If anything has been replaced on the product, find out why. Were the original cooling fans in the case stripped out and replaced with new silent ones? Are these new fans included? Does the seller still have the original fans?
Why parts were replaced can also tell a lot about the life the component lived. Were the side panels of the case replaced? Was it because they were full of dents or scratched? This may show that the previous owner didn’t care much for the case, something that impacts on the second hand value.
Buying second hand components can save you money and give you access to gear that might not be available in stores any more; after all one man’s trash can be another man’s upgrade. Just be sure that you don’t throw money away at a scammer, or an apathetic seller who doesn’t care about your experiences after money has changed hands.