Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Buying Used

I’ve not had much success with buying products used. This has been true of items with costs having 4, 3 and 2 digits.

4 digits

More than 10 years ago I bought a used car. One local lot had a Web site, and when I discovered the ability to sort their inventory by mileage, one car came up that had 26k miles, probably recently off lease at the time. It also listed the car as having cruise control which I thought was important considering the number of road trips.

I took them up on their offer of coffee when I entered which was my first mistake. My second was a short test drive. Those are inherently short anyway, I suppose. Either way, cruise control is not something typically needed on a short drive, so I never checked for it. Turns out their Web site was wrong. The car doesn’t have cruise control.

3 digits

Within just the last couple years, Microsoft came out with a Surface Go line of products. Only 4 months into the products existence on the market, someone was ready to sell it on Craigslist. I did my best to check it out. I’m not much of a pen user for electronics, but that was part of the deal. I should have opened a blank canvas and run the pen around the entire screen. Turns out, an entire strip of the touch/pen screen is not responsive. It’s less than a cm thick, but it can be annoying at times, especially when I didn’t realize, and sometimes still don’t realize, why it’s not responding to me.

2 digits

Tonight I bought an HD Radio on Craigslist. It was only $10, but I can already tell it was a waste of money because it doesn’t meet my objective of being able to pick up an HD station I was aiming to be able to get.


Buying things new is not just for people of means. If you’re disciplined about spending and saving, it can strategically be available for patient people of lesser means as well. Newer is simply better.

The other thing you get when you buy new is the accountability from the seller for the product to work. That doesn’t exist with Craigslist. There, the seller usually deletes the listing very soon after it sells, and the means of contacting them disappears with it. I have a mobile number used to call and text for the meeting, but neither I nor they signed up for a lot of accountability after the transaction. It’s a very as-is kind of selling platform.

For the buyer, as-is is really as-unknown. There’s a lot you simply can’t tell just buy looking at something. What makes it so futile is how soon the faults in something can become apparent immediately after first use. Only after I had the product in hand did I think to look up the model number online for the owners manual that would give more information on how a product should work, accessories it should have, etc.

Some of these limits are also baked into the nature of anonymous transactions like Craigslist facilitates. You don’t know the seller, and the seller doesn’t know the buyer. There’s an inherent level of mistrust to begin. To mitigate this, Craigslist recommences meeting in neutral public places. Well, you can’t always thoroughly test a product or see how it works in a neutral public place.

Tonight I spent $10 on a radio and got a blog post out of it instead. I should have stayed home and written about other topics I have saved.

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