Craigslist is one of the web’s oldest websites for ordinary people looking to buy from or sell to one another.
It’s been around since 1995. While its services have changed to some extent over the years, it’s always been an open, (usually) free place to post and to respond to classified ads and listings. Unsurprisingly, this makes it a great place to buy and sell stuff. It’s highly likely that you, yourself, have bought or sold something on the site at some point.
Still, Craigslist is considered by some to be more than a bit shady, and perhaps with good reason. There are a few basic rules to follow, but the items people advertise rarely come with any guarantee of quality or legitimacy.
Buying some items on Craigslist can be risky, but there are some relatively safe deals to be found on the site—allowing you to save big.
1. Video Games
Used games are always a great deal because they don’t lose any value as they’re consumed or as they age. As long as they’re in good condition, there’s no reason not to buy games secondhand online.
With the exception of any nicks or scratches to the game disc, a game that’s ten years old is in the same condition as it was the day that it was released. We always recommend taking a gander at the condition of the disc or cartridge itself before forking over any money.
Not everyone on Craigslist offers fair prices for games, but you can usually find deals that are much better than what you’ll find advertised at your local Gamestop, and about on-par with what you’d find in the used section of online retailers like Amazon.
You don’t have to pay any shipping costs, however, nor do you have to wait for the game to arrive, so you’ll usually end up ahead on Craigslist.
2. Old Computers
Buying new or secondhand computers on Craigslist can be sort of intimidating, especially if you don’t know much about computers to begin with.
The price tag associated with them is always high, and if you have a problem with your purchase later, you may not be able to return the item to the store. You might be able to resolve the problem through the manufacturer’s warranty process, but this can take some time and isn’t always guaranteed.
Older PCs are often sold on Craigslist. It’s not hard to find a two- or three-year-old PC with a dual-core processor and two to four gigabytes of RAM for an absolute pittance.
If you’re willing to settle for even older hardware, it’s not hard to pick up a full system for much less than anything you’ll find new. While you can find comparably priced systems elsewhere, Craigslist tends to be advantageous because of its lack of shipping costs, particularly if you want to buy a desktop. It’s also reassuring to be able to actually see the system and at least confirm that it boots up before buying it.
3. Audio Equipment
There’s a lot of home theater equipment available on Craigslist. Buying sound gear on Craigslist is usually a much surer bet than buying video gear and displays, however.
We hesitate to recommend the purchase of items like used TVs because they can often harbor hidden problems. An older screen or monitor, for example, may begin to show its age in subtle ways—a slow power-on cycle, for example, or slight graphics errors. Six months later, the display is all but useless. How could you have ever known?
Audio equipment, however, is usually much more straightforward. Speakers have few complex electronics in them and are generally quite durable. If there’s a problem with a speaker, subwoofer, or another piece of audio equipment, you can usually detect it by listening to the playback of the equipment for a few minutes. Always make sure to try before you buy.
4. Digital Cameras
Digital cameras are a great item to buy used on Craiglist, particularly if you’re looking for a DSLR or a similarly high-end mirrorless camera. Cameras have two things going for them as a used purchase.
The first is durability; cameras are built to be used frequently and need to be tough enough to withstand the duress of work in the field. The second is passion; high-end cameras are expensive, and generally only usable by people with enough interest to learn at least some of the most important basics in photography.
There’s a decent chance that the previous owner of the camera had some love for it, and since you’re going to meet up with that owner anyway, you should be able to sniff out whether or not the camera was taken care of properly.
In addition to the cameras themselves, Craigslist is also a great place to find camera accessories for the same reasons mentioned above. A well-maintained camera lens will literally last for decades, so buying one secondhand from someone who squeaked a few years of use out of it shouldn’t detract from the value of the lens one bit.
5. Jailbroken Smartphones
Normally, we wouldn’t recommend buying smartphones on Craigslist. Smartphones are another category of item that can often come with hidden problems, and many of these problems are completely impossible for most ordinary users to reckon with on their own.
Even a tiny issue can snowball into costly repairs. In addition, used smartphones on Craigslist are usually sold with their original battery, which will probably need to be replaced eventually. Finally, new smartphones are being released at an incredible rate, so buying a used smartphone will really put you behind the curve in terms of the latest technology.
Jailbroken smartphones are different, however. They’re not immune to any of the above complaints, but jailbreaking voids your warranty anyway, so potential problems with the phone aren’t as big of an issue.
Additionally, jailbreaking is a task that not everyone will be comfortable doing. So, in a sense, you’re also receiving a service when you buy a jailbroken phone.
What’s for Sale on Craigslist?
Obviously, there are lots of things for sale on Craigslist. Finding a great deal may entail some homework, but the savvy will find plenty worth buying on this time-honored online marketplace.
You can never be 100% certain that a used item is going to be everything that this listing promised, but that’s simply the risk you take when buying used (and the reason why used items are usually much less expensive).
Online shopping is a convenient way to buy consumer items, but it’s far from risk-free.
About The Author