We are continuing our series on scams we often see with a broad category: electronics. There are many reasons why buying a second-hand electronic from an unreputable source is a bad idea and we are going to tell you all of those reasons!
It may not be functional
Electronics typically require some testing to know if they work. When you buy a video game system, cell phone, TV, or other electronic, you want to know every feature it offers is functional. If you make a purchase like this from an individual, you have no way to recoup your money from that person if the item does not work. This is also the case for many used goods shops. It's best to purchase from a shop with either a good reputation or a warranty policy (a shop with both, like us, is ideal). If you insist on buying an electronic from an individual, set up a way to test it before you buy it.
It may be financed
More and more electronics can be financed. This means the person who has the device, whether it be a cell phone, computer, video game system, tablet, etc, makes monthly payments on the item. When an item is financed, the person does not actually own it yet and therefore, the business they are renting it from can turn it off at any time.
So what is the scam here? A person can go and finance a $1,000 cell phone with as little as $0 down. They then sell the phone to you for $800. They do not make the next payment and the phone you spent $800 on is now a brick.
We recommend never buying a used phone from an individual. It is very hard to tell if a device is financed, specifically phones. A device could be financed through the cell phone carrier, a rental agency such as Rent-a-center, or belong to a company the person works for. Checking for each of these types of financing isn't always possible and makes it easy to accidently purchase a financed device.
The "retail" may be inflated
This is an actual scam happening in CNY often. Similar to the gold scam (read about it here) an individual will have a sound system or speaker set in their trunk. They may say they need the money to feed their family or for gas, but either way, they come across as being in a desperate situation. The electronics will be made by a brand you have never heard of before and have a ridiculously high retail value on them. Sometimes the sticker on the box will say a retail as high as $1,099 or $999.
The problem is the electronic is not worth this amount of money and a comparable device from a brand that you know (such as Sony, LG, Bose, etc.) would be a fraction of the price of the device the scammer has. The scammer then uses this fake retail to convince you spending a couple hundred on the device is a good deal. They may even suggest you try and resell them! Don't fall for it!!
How to Avoid these Scams
Buying used electronics is a great way to save money, help our environment, and keep money in your local economy. We do not want to discourage anyone from purchasing secondhand electronics. We want to ensure you make informed purchases and the items you work are worth what you paid!
Supporting local businesses like ours let's you do just that. There are a variety of secondhand shops in every city though. So if you aren't local to CNY, or you're visiting somewhere else, google some secondhand shops with good reputations (see their reviews) and check them out!