iThings Considered

Buying a Mac on eBay

Tips & Tricks for Buying a Mac on eBay and Getting the Best Deal

Jake Sargent - 2001.04.24

Buying a used Mac through a retailer has long been the preferred choice for those who want the unique features of the Macintosh platform without spending the big bucks that quality computers usually go for. However, in the past few years, a new place has emerged for buying used computers, electronics, and other goods: eBay. This auction site has new iMacs are going for the same price as used ones bought from a retailer - and used iMacs going for the worth of your beaten up computer chair.

eBay has great prices as it is, but there are a few tips and tricks that can help keep your wallet stuffed and assure that you don't buy a lemon.

Last Minute Bidding

It is a useless strategy to bid a few days before an auction ends. What this does is show the people you are competing with that you are in - and a constant price war begins (exactly what the seller wants). iMacFor example, lets say you and one other person are bidding on a new Indigo iMac. The other person makes the first bid, you acknowledge it and wait until the last few minutes of the auction to make your move. The person you are bidding against thinks she is the only one going for that auction item, and you'll get the best price at the end because you don't have to go through the constant cycle of outbidding each other. Also, try not to use eBay's maximum bid function until the last few hours of the auction; it could save you a lot of money.

Do Research on the Seller

eBay and similar online auction sites have a feature which lets a buyer do a bit of research on the person who is auctioning an item. It is always a good idea to check up on the seller and make sure that he or she has a good reputation. Since you have to pay before the seller sends you the item that you won, they can easily cheat you.

Contact the Seller, Check Shipping and Handling

It is a smart move to contact the seller before bidding on an auction item. Ask any questions that you may have about the auction and clarify any misleading wording in the item description. Also make sure that the seller accepts the way you are planning to pay for the item, so you don't get in a disagreement later on. When reading about the auction, double check the shipping and handling cost, and if it's not listed, contact the seller and ask for an approximated rate. Some shipping costs can be outrageous, and you'll want to be sure to include that in how much you are planning to spend. Getting certified shipping is also a smart idea.

Pictures Are Good

I may be stating the obvious here, but buying a Mac (or anything) off of an auction site without seeing a picture of it is like jumping in a fire and expecting not to burn. Pictures are essential to online auction life, because there may be a scratch on the computer that the seller has neglected to mention in the item description, or something of similar importance (who wants a splotched iBook?).

Whether you are bidding on the latest Mac, a RAM upgrade, a Zip drive, or a lamp, good luck! Follow the tips above, and you'll be able to beat out those who have been playing the auction game for years. I'd like to know of the great deals that you've gotten on eBay, so drop me an email if you're lucky to get something for an outrageously low price. Happy bidding!

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