Is it Safe to Buy Used?

Yes, pretty much. You can definitely find horror stories about used sales gone wrong, but eBay (and most used outlets) offer safety measures that protect the consumer from fraud.

I often buy equipment shortly after it’s released, in which case my only option is to buy new. However, anytime I buy equipment that’s been on the market for more than six months, I buy used if I can. On modern equipment, buying used is an easy way to save 10-15% on lenses and 20-30% on bodies.

I’ve never had a problem, and I’ve bought about a dozen camera bodies and lenses on eBay. Here are some tips:

  • Know what you’re buying. You typically can return equipment that isn’t as described, but you often can’t arbitrarily return equipment because you changed your mind, like you might be able to when buying from Amazon or an electronics store. Be sure to read the description of the item for sale.
  • Buy from reputable sellers. If a seller has more than 100 sales on eBay, and mostly positive feedback, they’re serious and honest. You can almost certainly trust them. I generally don’t buy from sellers with fewer than 10 sales or with recent negative feedback.
  • Check the return policy. Many sellers offer returns within 14 days of purchase. If it isn’t what you wanted, you can return it and just pay the shipping back to the seller.
  • Pay with PayPal. PayPal offers important guarantees if something about the deal goes bad. You should read the complete agreement, but basically, PayPal has you covered if someone tries to scam you. Don’t pay with Western Union, or a check, or by any other means.

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