Although consumers today may feel pressured to buy the latest goods and buy brand-new for quality, the internet has enabled the second-hand market to thrive. Buying used items can not only help you save money but also reduce the demand for further production; thus, it’s both cost-effective and sustainable for the consumer. Yet the saying ‘caveat emptor’ definitely applies when buying second-hand. Here’s how you can make it work.
Seize the real opportunities
When you buy anything second-hand, there’s always going to be a bit of cost reduction involved. However, not every discount is going to be worthwhile, and, sometimes, the potential savings might be outweighed by hidden drawbacks.
Buying an automobile with a couple of years on it from a used car dealer will offer not only significant cost reduction but also a real opportunity to pay cash and avoid being on the hook for monthly payments later on. In contrast, buying used software CDs can come with all sorts of potential pitfalls. You might find out that the copy is pirated and unable to register for updates or developer support, or it could come bundled with malware.
Know what sorts of purchases are generally sensible to buy brand new or second-hand, and you’ll be able to exercise your efforts judiciously in bargain hunting.
Expand your options
No matter the item you’re looking to buy, there’s a good chance you can find a seller online—and that goes for used items as well. In this age of accessibility and information, doing more research online can expand your options at a fraction of the effort it would take to visit a handful of stores at their physical locations.
Sites like eBay and Craigslist are often the first place where people will look for bargains, but ideally, they would just be the starting point of your search. Once you have a good baseline when it comes to value, try to search for more specialized sites. Online resellers of designer items and luxury goods, for example, are more likely to offer quality and variety within that specific niche. This way, you can find not only the item you want but also the seller that provides the best service and convenient method of fulfillment.
Spot the deal-breakers
Doing research online should provide you with the opportunity to identify potential defects and flaws, which could ruin the quality or functionality of your purchase. Nothing beats a physical inspection, of course, so if a seller offers the option for a meet-up, this could be the best solution for your peace of mind. However, you also need to know what sort of deal-breakers to look for—some of which can immediately be spotted from images posted in the online listing.
When buying used camera lenses online, for instance, you should be on the lookout for excessive wear and tear on the body, or scratches and fungus on the lens itself. Not only do these scratches indicate poor overall handling of the item by the previous owner/s, but they can also immediately affect the quality of your pictures.
Buying used goods will let you practice being penny-wise. But considering these practices, you can also avoid becoming pound-foolish and making costly, disappointing purchases in today’s wide-open second-hand market.