Smartphone, computer, console… What reflexes should you have when buying second-hand?


Buying second-hand is an act of ecological significance, since it avoids the manufacture of a new device; but also an economical solution. Devices sold over the Internet by individuals often cost less than their refurbished counterparts: on a smartphone, for example, the savings can range from 5% to 20%. But turning to the opportunity can be riskier than buying a refurbished device from a recognized dealer, who undertakes to verify the correct functioning of the product and provides a legal warranty. We are exposed, in fact, to real risks of breakdowns and fraud. Here’s how to minimize them.

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Before buying, do not forget to check the identity card of the seller.

It is better to avoid remote purchases: they do not allow you to check the correct functioning of the device before payment and attract scammers of all kinds. In the event of a problem, you are never sure to see the color of your money again. Therefore, favor local purchases: second-hand sales sites often make it possible to limit searches to one city, which makes it possible to collect the device in person. If you can, make an appointment with the seller. This will allow you to know where to ring if the device breaks down the day after purchase.

Remember to check the seller’s identity card as well as collect proof of purchase. Before the appointment, take a screenshot of the product as it is presented on the used sales site. At the time of the transaction, complete with him a document certifying the sale, obligatory if the transaction exceeds 1,500 euros.

If you come across a cautious salesperson, he will probably demand cash, and may even ask you to withdraw the amount from the ATM in front of him, in order to avoid counterfeit bills. This is a very respectable request: it is the best way to rule out scams.

The first gesture will undoubtedly be that of turning on your computer, or its screen, to see if it is working well.

At a minimum, check the correct functioning of the device by turning it on, and in the case of a living room console, by plugging it into a screen. If all the tokens of confidence appear to you to be met, you may choose to leave it at that. But if you have doubts about the credibility of your interlocutor, especially if the price is surprisingly attractive, it is better to check several key points. Announce your intention to the seller before the meeting: this will scare away some dishonest people.

Remember to check the presence of cables, accessories and the original instructions

The checks are the same for many devices: the power cable should be in good condition and plug into the device firmly, the most useful connectors should be in working order, such as the physical buttons on the device . Remember to check the presence of cables, accessories and the original instructions.

If the device you want exists in several models, check the product number to verify that the one we are offering is the right one. If the device has a battery, check the age of the battery, for example by checking the original invoice. A three-year-old battery, if used every day, has already started to decline.

Depending on the device, make some specific checks: for a console, check the state of the controllers; for a computer, the correct operation of the keyboard keys. In the case of a smartphone, slide your SIM card into it to check that your operator is compatible, then check parts that often break down. The speaker must work, and the screen must be original: if it has been replaced by a poor quality spare, it will be less readable in the sun, and its colors will probably turn blue or green.

If you want to go further, read the serial number of the mobile, the IMEI, by dialing the code * # 06 # on the telephone keypad. Copy this number and enter it on the website to verify that the mobile is not on the blacklists of operators, which refer to lost and stolen mobiles. This site also makes it possible to verify that the smartphone is compatible with French 4G antennas, which is not always the case. Indeed, some well-known brand smartphones exist in several models, some of which are intended for Asia or the United States, countries where the antennas operate on other frequencies.

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  • What are the remedies in the event of a problem?

If the seller refuses to reimburse you for any problems, be aware that it will be difficult to enforce the law.

What if, in the weeks following the transaction, you notice a problem with the product purchased? You can try to contact the seller: if they are honest, they may refund you. It will be difficult to play the law if he refuses.

In principle, this protects buyers, in particular by Articles 1604 and 1641 of the Civil Code, but “It is up to the buyer to provide proof that he did not know the problem at the time of purchase, which is not always easy to demonstrate legally”, according to lawyer Marie Germain. For a purchase of a few hundred euros, it would be expensive to initiate legal proceedings with the help of a lawyer. One can, on the other hand, attempt a free legal conciliation.

There is a fallback solution if the product is relatively new: the warranty. If you have the original owner’s invoice, you will be able to play it, even if it is not in your name.

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Smartphone, computer, console… What reflexes should you have when buying second-hand?