What does Untested really mean?

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This guide is written to assist those looking at buying computer components and who are confronted by large numbers of auctions where the goods on offer are “untested.”

There are three classes of seller who use the term “untested” in relation to computer goods.

The first type of seller uses Ebay as a means of disposing of computer or electronic gear he or she picks up in the course of some other business venture.  For example they buy items daily at the auction houses and on-sell through eBay , or perhaps they troll through corporate garbage cans or they may run a business that performs upgrades or the like, any of which can generate a large quantity of “stuff” that is simply not worth their while to test in any meaningful sense
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The second type of seller no longer has necessary gear to test the item. For example the seller is selling a Slot 1 motherboard and no longer has memory or a CPU to suit it.

The third and last type of seller knows full well the item is nonfunctional but is hoping to suck someone in on the lure of a “bargain”. For example I have a motherboard that has failed due to leaking capacitors; if I advertise it as “dead motherboard, probably due to leaking capacitors” nobody is going to bid more than a few cents for it. On the other hand, if I say it is “untested,” like as not some poor sucker will take a punt and pay me more than it is worth for it. After they receive it they will write to me saying “it’s obvious its stuffed, the caps are leaking all over the place” to which I reply, with my hand on my heart, “please read the item description”.

Clearly of the 3 classes of seller the first 2 are legitimate and the last is nothing more than a scammer.

So how to protect yourself?

Simply put, you must “qualify” your seller. Do they sell a large number of items and is their feedback mostly positive? Does the seller provide a reason why they can’t test the item?

If the answer to the questions above is “yes”, then the seller is probably on the level.

If not, the seller may well be on the scam seeking to defray the cost of their failed equipment by lightening your wallet a little. eBay provide an “ask the seller a question” service – use it.

Above all, remember that if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.



Tony Smith
25 June 2006

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