What to Look for In a 2nd Hand Appliance

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spending the “rainy day” fund should be a fun and frivolous experience, but for far too many savers it’s a real wet blanket. When the washing machine or freezer decides to give out it can deplete any piggybank savings pretty quickly. A new appliance is expensive, and the cost of a repair may just not be worth it. Of course, not everyone in the market for appliances is looking to replace an old unit. Some people need to furnish new apartments or houses on a budget, while others may be preparing for an extra addition to the family (whether a new infant, returning adult child, or senior parent). No matter why, with economic times making buying new appliances a bigger stretch than ever, many people are searching exclusively for used, or second hand appliances. With multiple sources to search through such as the internet, newspaper classifieds, second hand shops and even garage sales, the second hand appliance of any buyer’s dreams is out there. It’s just a matter of knowing how to find it. Knowing what to look for can help weed out the appliance duds from the appliance studs.

While it may seem overly obvious, the number one thing people forget to look for in a second hand appliance is that it works, and works properly. A good deal on an appliance that needs to be firmly kicked to get it going is not, at the end of the day, a good deal at all. Whether purchasing from a second hand shop or an internet auction site, have the seller plug the appliance in, and when reasonable, demonstrate that it’s in good working order. Don’t be afraid to ask for lots of background information about the item, either. Ask for the make, model, and year of purchase. Find out what it was used for, and by whom. Ask why it is being sold, and how the price was decided upon. Before buying, always check with the website or Better Business Bureau for information about the seller’s reliability. Research the product as well, looking up information about the average life of the product, the most common problems, and the expected value. Compare the quoted price to what others are charging to see whether the quoted price makes sense. This will help the buyer to know the right questions to ask, and give plenty of opportunity for any and all red flags to be raised.

Of course, a full manufacturer’s warranty still active on the product would be ideal. However, looking for this as a required feature of a second hand appliance can result in long and troublesome product searches. Whenever possible, however, ask about some kind of return period or guarantee. If the store, website or ad specifically states the item is in ‘as is’ condition, it can be skipped by all but the most handy repair people out there shopping around. If the seller has assured the buyer the item is in good working condition, then it should be in such a state, and the seller should have no trouble providing some measure of security in writing. Keep in mind, all that being said, that such peace of mind will be reflected on the price tag. The very best deals and steals may require a bit more risk taking!

Finally, look for signs of hidden costs in second hand appliances. While not everyone will have a personal mechanic to take along when viewing second hand appliances, it’s not a bad idea to avoid going solo. The extra person can often catch small details that the viewer doesn’t. An extra pair of eyes and ears will detect any signs of trouble. Anything from a foul odor, to a strange stain, to a wobbly hinge here or there should be avoided if it decreases the overall appeal of the appliance. Buying a ‘fixer upper’ is not for the faint of heart, so only consider appliances that could be used as is for as long as their price point would deem necessary. Sometimes an appliance only has to do its job for a year or two, so consider the specific needs before shopping around. Another hidden cost may be transportation. Paying a full moving outfit can run up to 100 extra dollars depending on the size of the appliance and the distance it must be transported. Consider these extras before plunking down hard earned dollars on a second hand appliance!

About the Author: Jason Andrews is the Managing Director of leading online appliance parts supplier, Mr Appliance.

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