Once upon a time, my grandfather taught me how to use an abacus because "this will really help you to count things when you grow up." Luckily, nowadays there is so much technology available to not only help us count things, but also to watch watch movies on the go, listen to music, track where on earth you are, and much much more.
However, this also means that there are a lot of choices to be made when buying technology. One of these choices is where to buy your latest gadget from - and this is where this guide can help. I've found that eBay is actually a great place to buy electronics from, and in this checklist of sorts I have put together 10.1 things to keep in mind when making your next electronics purchase online.
Why would you buy on eBay?
Firstly, let's have a look at 5 good reasons why you would buy on eBay rather than at a department store or specialist retailer.
Same brand at less than retail. Many great branded products can be found on the site for 30-40% less than retail, if not more. While this may be because the retailer has lower operating costs, you are buying direct from a wholesaler, or you are buying from an importer, this isn't really that important. All you need to know is that you are saving money by buying on eBay. For example, the Canon Powershot A520 is selling on the site for between $270 - $320 while in retailers for $450+.
Generic non-branded items. If having a particular brand isn't that important to you, then there are also many generic items for sale that are much more affordable. Some good examples can be found in the MP3 Players category.
New release technology. Sometimes you can find the latest stuff on our site weeks or months earlier than in any 'real-world' store. If you just gotta be the first to have it, you've come to the right place. Remember when the PSP was first released in Australia? Japanese versions were here several months ahead of time.
Versions not available in Australia. If for whatever reason, you need something that is of a different format or version to the standard in Australia, it is very difficult to find this in retailers. Maybe you need a NTSC format Region 1 DVD player - you have a better chance of finding it here.
Warranties. Many new buyers are wary of buying online because they think what happens if it doesn't work properly. In many cases (not all), warranties are provided by the manufacturer such as Sony, Kodak, Nokia, etc and would be honoured by their Australian offices even if bought online. Please note that this varies greatly and may require a tax invoice confirming purchase, which many eBay sellers provide.
What should I look out for? The other 5.1 tips...
And now, the other 5 and a bit hints on some potential pitfalls of buying electronics on this site. Of course, the "standard" precautions such as checking seller feedback and so on are taken for granted (see the eBay Security Centre for more info).
6. Check the condition. Particularly applicable to computers, be careful to check whether a particular item is brand new, used, or refurbished. For example, refurbished laptops are often great value because they have been checked and tested, but will unlikely perform as well as a brand new unit.
7. Anything else? Check what else you would need for something to work. Often a retail store will cross-sell you on everything you may possibly need, but sometimes on eBay you only get the essentials. This is especially true when buying overseas models, such as needing Australian GPS maps installed onto a new GPS system.
8. Shipping Costs. Don't forget to factor in shipping costs. This is especially true for electronics because you will often want the insured option, and sometimes sellers are shipping from overseas.
9. Warranties. I mentioned this in both sections because there is such a wide range of differences here. Make sure to check if warranties are applicable in Australia, how long for, and who is standing behind it (eg the manufacturer or distributor).
10. Overseas models. Sometimes you can get great deals because you are buying an overseas model. That's fine, but don't be surprised if what you have isn't exactly the same as your friend's, or if the instruction manuals are in Spanish!
10.1 My mistake. A lesson learnt from the very first time I bought on eBay - make sure you check the compatibility with Australian systems. Something worth hundreds of dollars isn't really worth that much if it doesn't work with the Australian electricity standard...
And that's it. I hope this helped, and good luck!