Shopping For Used Items? Consider These Tips To Avoid Being Hoodwinked

Blog | September 29th, 2020

We have all heard the horror stories of buying used items. Buying used always has some risks that come along with the upside of saving money. So how do you avoid those risky situations entirely? Avoid becoming another fallen victim to buying used items and really not getting what you paid for!  

From cars to electronics to clothes, we have things you should look out for when shopping for used items. So here are some tips to avoid the horror stories altogether and how to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck!

Shopping for Used Cars

Cars are one of the most common items people tend to purchase used.

So many people just go and believe everything that is posted on that Craigslist ad about the like-new car for sale, only to complete the purchase and find out from a mechanic the next day that the car is in fact not “like new.” So you just end up putting more money into something you thought you got a deal on!

First thing is first; do your research. 

Visit Kelley Blue Book to look up the make and model of the car you’re looking for. Their website is super user-friendly and they will tell you the honest price range of what the used car that you are looking for is currently going for. That way you can take the pricing you find on there and know while looking at ad postings if the seller is pricing the used car they are selling at a fair price. Then you will be more prepared to negotiate when the time comes. 

One of the best ways to find out the history of the used car you are looking into buying is from a Carfax report. You can ask the seller if they have a Carfax report for you to look at to corroborate their ad. Most motivated sellers have this available! If they do not have the report available you can purchase it for $39.99. You can search by the VIN number or license plate and state that the car is registered in.

The Carfax report checks for: 
  • Major accident
  • Mileage rollback
  • Multiple owners
  • Structural damage
  • Vehicle Service History

Click here to see everything the Carfax report checks for!

This report will give you peace of mind before making a commitment to the purchase of your used car. You will be able to compare the report to the ad that the owner has listed and asked all the questions based on your report!

Inspection time!

Make sure the vehicle is actually in good condition as stated. If you aren’t car savvy, try to bring a mechanic with you since they know exactly what to look for or even a friend that knows more about cars than you! 

What to look for:
  • Body condition of the car: scratches, dents, paint chips, cracks in windows or rust
  • Tires: Check tread wear on all tires and compare to the odometer
  • Lights: Confirm all are working-blinkers, headlights, tail-lights
  • Interior: Seat ware (any stains or odors), make sure all seats are in working condition, sound system, pedals, all controls, trunk space

Check out this article from Consumer Reports for a more detailed inspection list!

Buying Electronics

When buying electronics, again it’s important to research. Check the pricing of what the item is going for on different websites. If you are buying the item from a website, such as eBay, you can look at the seller’s reviews to make sure they have been reliable and have good reviews.

What to look for:
  • Research the model: whether it is a laptop, phone, camera, gaming console, etc.
  • Headphones connect to phone or device: charging cables, if it opens, make sure it opens fully.
  • Look for signs of damage: dents, scratches, cracks, water damage.
  • Check the ports: test with your SIM card if it is a phone. Plug them in, turn them on, bring your own charging cable if you have one.

If you are buying a smartphone, always make sure it’s unlocked. You would not want to walk away with a smartphone that doesn’t work with your cell phone carrier! 

Buying Other Used Items

Poshmark and ThredUP are two websites that are well known for shopping for used clothes, handbags, shoes, accessories, and more! Buying second hand is not appealing for some, but both websites offer returns if the items you purchase are not in the condition you expected!

With Poshmark, they have protected payments, so if you are not satisfied with your item you will get your money back, they offer expedited shipping and free authentication on luxury items! Click here for more on how to shop used items on Poshmark!

ThredUP offers a variety of women’s and kid’s items, an easy-to-navigate the website, a 14-day return policy and you are able to filter through the many items they offer. Click here for more info on shopping at ThredUP! 

With buying these items online, make sure to check if they are final sale and read the return policy before clicking the purchase button!

Where to Browse for Used Items

Buyer tip: Make sure to check the seller’s reviews and ratings before committing to the purchase on websites like Amazon, Offer Up, and eBay!

We suggest when meeting up with anyone to buy used items; always choose a public place, try to meet during the day and try to bring a friend along with you for safety and a second opinion!

Related: Six Life-Changing Hacks All Amazon Prime Members Need to Know