Successfully Buying a Laptop on eBay

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eBay is a fantastic place to buy both new and used computers. Often prices on eBay are better than those at online shops and brick-and-mortar stores, so it makes sense that many people would look to eBay for their laptop purchasing needs.

There are several things to look out for though when purchasing an expensive item like a laptop computer over eBay. First things to check include:
  • Sellers Feedback – read through at least a few of his recent feedbacks. Have a look at whether he has ever sold anything before, and if he has (and they are recent) see what he sold.
  • Previous sales - That way you know whether you are dealing with somebody who knows what they are doing when it comes to selling something like a computer on eBay. That doesn’t mean that you don’t buy from them if they never sold something before, or never sold something expensive like a laptop. All sellers had to start somewhere!!
When reading through the auction, make sure you read through it thoroughly. Don’t skip bits which may contain important information about the purchase. Also read through any terms and conditions the seller may have listed. They may have information in regards to warranty, their DOA (dead on arrival) policy, and possible pickup options.

Check the specifications of the laptop, and make sure they will be suitable for you. For example, somebody who wants to do high-end gaming on their laptop won’t want a Celeron processor. The seller may also offer options for upgrading certain components, like the HDD and RAM, for an additional fee. If the laptop only comes with 256MB of RAM and Windows XP, the $50 option to upgrade to 512MB RAM is a good idea.

Also check to see if it comes with any software, and if it comes with an operating system. If it doesn’t, you will have to purchase your own (if you don’t already own one), which will add to the cost of the purchase. Again, the seller may give the buyer to option to add an operating system to their purchase at an additional fee. If you aren’t quite sure how to install the operating system yourself, check to see if the seller will install it for you.

Last thing to check is the postage cost. Some sellers charge exuberant prices for postage, in an effort to recoup some of their auction costs. Make sure you account for the postage costs, plus any insurance costs that are required. If the seller offers the option of insurance, it is a good idea to take it as that little bit extra can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars if the post offices gets it wrong or damages the parcel. Always get registered post at the very least.

Once you have made your choice and either won the bid or clicked the “Buy Now” button, you have to pay for it. Bank Deposit and PayPal are good options, as they both will show that you paid the seller should something go wrong. PayPal is excellent in this regard, as it offers various buyer protection schemes, that will help you in the event that the transaction doesn’t go as planned. PayPal also has the benefit of being instant, so the seller can send out your new purchase quicker.

Once you have received your laptop, check over the package to make sure that all of the cables, CD, and other extras that were stated in the auction are included. Also make sure that everything is in the specified condition, and that items that were declared as working do indeed work as expected. If something is missing or damaged email the seller about it immediately so that he/she can rectify the situation.

Once all of the items are accounted for and working, confirm that they laptop is the same specifications as those listed in the auction. Some things to check are:
  • CPU speed (typically available in the BIOS, or can be found using a free utility called CPUz)
  • RAM - if the laptop used a graphics card with shared memory, it is likely that 16-128MB (depending on how much the graphics card reserves) may not show up. To be absolutely certain unscrew the RAM cover and have a look at the labels on the RAM to see what size they are.
  • HDD size and speed
  • Optical Drive type – makes sure that you get the right one. For example getting a CDRW/DVD Combo drive (burns CDs and plays DVDs) as apposed to a DVD Burner (plays and burns CD/DVDs).
  • Screen Resolution – many laptops these days are available in different resolutions like 1024x768 or 1400x1050, while having the same size screen. Many 15” and 15.4” Wide laptops can come in different resolutions.
  • Dead Pixels – small dots on the screen that don’t change colour when they are supposed to. They will likely show up as either a red, blue or green static dot on the screen. If the seller didn’t mention in the auction that their was a dead pixel on the display, you should contact them about it.
If you do find that anything isn’t as described, contact the seller about it in order to find a solution. In the event that they are unhelpful, you can lodge a complaint with eBay through the Help buttons located at the top of every eBay page.

When you are happy with the outcome of your purchase, leave the seller some positive feedback, and they will likely do the same for you.
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