So you want that shiny new piece of tech. Only problem is, you can’t afford it. You can’t afford a new one, that is. But buying on the used market can offer significant discounts, if you know how to do it right. In this article, I’ll share 5 strategies that I’ve used to get massive price reductions on used technology.
Buy From Real People (Not Stores)
There are three main benefits to doing this. First, there’s no middleman. If you buy used gear from a store, it means they bought it from someone who sold it to them. So they bought it, increased the price, and sold it to you. It’s better if you can simply buy it from the original person who sold it and skip the middleman. Second, buying from real people means you can haggle the price down (see point #2). And my third reason to buy from a real person is that people tend to sell for lower prices than stores. I’ve seen generous people price their used technology well below what it’s worth. Perhaps this is because they need to get rid of it quickly, or just don’t know the market price. Of course, you have to be ready for this and be the first person to claim it.
So how do you buy tech from real people? My top two places to do it are Craigslist and online forums. It depends on what you’re looking for, but you can find deals on craigslist for certain tech toys. They don’t come often, so you have to look frequently and be ready to jump on one if you see it. I was able to find a camera lens for $50 on craigslist when the market price for a new one was over $100.
Online forums are another good place to find used tech for cheap. There are probably forums about whatever tech you want – for example, Apple forums. Many forums have a buy and sell section for users who want to buy or sell their tech. The trick is to find an active one – one that gets multiple posts per hour. Find the most active one you can, and look through it. Search for the product you want. You probably won’t find it yet, but you’ve found a great place to keep checking. If the product is popular in its niche, it’ll probably turn up sooner or later. I’ve gotten great deals on forums in the past – now, I buy almost all of my photography gear this way. It’s saved me hundreds, maybe thousands, of dollars.
Once you’ve found what you want, you have to make sure it’s the right price. If the seller already has a really low price, or if he says “price is firm,” then don’t bother trying to talk him down. Chances are if he says price is firm, then it’s a good deal already. Make sure you do research and know what the market price is on used items. If you see something with an average price, make an offer. You should have a feel for what a fair price is – but remember, we’re not trying to get a fair price, we’re trying to get a good deal. So offer below what you think you can get. Let’s say the street used price is $500 and you think you could get it for $450. Offer $400 or $425, then see what he comes back with. If that’s too aggressive an offer, say “something closer to $425.” I’ve found those to be good words when trying to bring the price down without sounding like a troll. Then when the seller replies, try to get your $450 deal that you wanted in the first place. It’s all about planning and strategy.
Note: if the seller has already priced the item well below market value, so that it’s a really good deal, don’t try to talk him down. You’ll come across as greedy and the seller probably doesn’t want to reduce the price any more.
Buy a Slightly Older Model
Check to see if there’s a previous version of the item you want. Then compare it to the latest, and see if it’s worth the price difference. Often you can get similar technology for much lower prices just because they’re a few years old. You definitely pay more for the latest model. For example, say you want an iPad. Instead of getting the latest model, could you consider the one before it? It’s pretty similar, with a few tradeoffs, but probably cheaper. Are the features of the latest iPad worth the extra price? It’s up to you to consider and make the decision based on what you’re looking for.
When you’re looking on forums, craigslist, or wherever else, you must be patient. Good deals don’t come up every day – and when they do, they probably won’t be the exact thing you’re looking for. Learn to be patient but check often. Of course, it all depends on how common the product you want is – if you’re looking for an awesome deal on some obscure tech that nobody sells, you probably won’t find it. That’s why I said to find an active forum where products like you want are exchanged frequently. This way you can afford to be picky; if you don’t like the price on one item, just wait for the next one to come up.
One tip for checking forums: if you can search for your item, or somehow refine the listings to show only things you might be interested in, do that. Then once you have the perfect refinement settings, bookmark the page. Now you only have to click one button, instead of wading through dozens of non-relevant listings.
Check Out Refurbished Deals
This is my last suggestion for you, and it’s a good one. Often you can find refurbished products at massive discounts, sometimes just as cheap as on the used market. A good example of this is the Apple Refurbished store on Apple’s website. There are some great deals on Apple products here. Some retail stores and websites sell refurbished products too, so check there as well as the manufacturer’s store.
The awesome thing about buying refurbished is that the items are like new. In fact, they are, for all intents and purposes, brand new. Refurbished means the item was returned, possibly damaged – or maybe the owner just didn’t like it. Whatever the cause, it’s returned to the factory, where they look it over carefully, fix anything that needs to be fixed, and test it to make sure it works perfectly. Then they sell it at a discount. Some people say that buying refurbished products actually better than buying new: whereas the new ones simply roll off the assembly line, refurbished ones are painstakingly checked and verified working.
One final tip: be smart, and remember that if it’s too good to be true, it is. There are a lot of scammers out there so be careful. Pay securely using regular paypal (non-gift) or some other secure system. If you’re on a forum, ask for previous feedback from other buyers, or an eBay profile. If you use common sense you should be fine.
In summary, if you’re willing to buy used gear, get ready for massive discounts. You’ll have to research prices, find places to buy, and check them often; but it does pay off. Also don’t forget to look for refurbished deals too. If you look hard enough, you can find some great deals on just about any common tech toy.