If you are someone who is looking for a good laptop but you don’t want to spend the money on getting one from online or from a local electronics store, you’ll find that your thoughts inevitably go to Craigslist. There are some great deals out there, but you’ll find that there are some awful ones as well. Throw in the people who expect to get as much as they initially paid for the machine when it was new, and you have to do some serious sifting. The truth is that while you can get a good computer off of Craigslist, there are a few things to keep in mind.
What Do You Need the Computer to Do?
Craigslist laptop sales are good for some things and not others. For example, are you looking for a desktop replacement high-end gaming machine? These laptops tend to be the top of the line when it comes to graphics rendering, and it is unlikely that you will find a great one just on Craigslist. Deals do happen, but it is far more likely that you will find a machine that allows you to surf the Internet, to word process and to email your friends and family.
Research Each Machine
The specifications of each machine may or may not be listed on the Craigslist ad. Even if they are, do a quick search on the laptop’s make and model before you move forward. You’ll find that people do lie on Craigslist ads, and you’ll also find that they may simply be misunderstood. Whenever you come across an ad that sounds too good to be true, this may be something that you need research more thoroughly.
Establish How Much You Want to Pay for a Used Laptop
Remember that a used computer will not have a warranty on it, and on top of that, it likely already has several years of use on it. This means that you might expect to pay ¾ to half or even less of an established price. Some people are very adamant about the kind of money that they expect to get for a given computer, and you may want to skip these people. On the other hand, be prepared to negotiate for a better deal. This does not mean that you need to be a master haggler or anything like that! Just present a price that is what you want to pay, and if they do not agree, let it go.
Account for Software
In many cases, a certain laptop will come with software that adds to the computer’s value (such as the operating system). Think about what you might like to have, whether it comes in the form of games or other types of functionality. Some software is going to help you get more use out of your machine, and if it does, it deserves a price boot.
Try the Machine There
Do not accept something without trying to work with it at first. It might be a little awkward to boot up a computer in someone else’s house, but you want to make sure that it will actually turn out without a problem. Figure out how smoothly the computer works, and whether you hear any sounds that are suspicious. Any banging or loud whirring can be a sign that the laptop is not fit for duty. Similarly, pay attention to any overheating you can feel or a fan that simply does not turn off. Power the machine up, try it out, and then power it down. Try the laptop without a hard connection to ensure that the battery works.
Talk With the Seller
Does the seller treat you with respect and do they seem honest? If the seller is trying to make the deal quickly or if he or she is trying to hurry you, skip it entirely. A seller who tells you that you are in competition with other people for the computer is one that is trying to hurry you, so give it a pass. Ask them about why they are selling, and how long they have had the machine.
Take a moment to consider what your options are going to be when you are looking for an inexpensive laptop. While buying a laptop off of Craigslist does carry a certain amount of risk, it might work out very well for you.
Article written by Jet Russell. Jet does outreach for a computer liquidation company and enjoys writing on technology when the time permits.