Guide To Buying Secondhand Items Online

Buying secondhand items can be quite a gamble sometimes, especially if you’re shopping online. Here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Designer Handbags

Hey, there’s no shame in buying pre-loved designer handbags – especially if you find a good deal on one. Sites like Reebonz and Style Tribute offer authentication guarantees and secure transaction systems, but you may have to pay extra fees for these services. On the other hand, classifieds sites like Deluxemall and Carousell have no extra fees, but you do have to be more vigilant when dealing with sellers.

Buying Tips:

  • Always contact the seller and request for more details of the item. Find out the model name/number and do a Google search to find images of the item, then compare them with the ones the seller has provided. Certain brands like Chanel have a Serial Number sticker inside the bag – ask the seller to provide you with an image of the sticker, then look it up online to see if it exists.
  • It wouldn’t hurt to Google the seller’s username and email address either, in case there are any existing forum threads on them.
  • Take note of how the seller replies to your queries – Does he/she take a long time to respond? Or does he/she seem knowledgable about the item?
  • Meet up with the seller to buy the bag, rather than dealing via postage. If you see the bag in person and think that something is amiss, don’t feel pressured into buying it just because you’re already there.
  • Deluxemall has a Hall of Shame which lists any reported scam cases, so you can do a search to see if your seller’s name comes up.
  • If you don’t want to transact in cash (for larger amounts), you can bank transfer the funds to the seller on the spot. Some sellers may not want to transact via PayPal, as they will incur transaction fees.


2. Laptops

Unless you’re a computer expert or buying from a trusted source, you should think twice about buying a secondhand laptop online. Laptops can be quite a personal thing, and it’s hard to tell the true state of the hardware when buying online. Also, you wouldn’t want to buy a laptop only to find that it’s been infected with spyware and viruses right? Unlike buying from an authorised dealer, you can’t exactly return the laptop if there’s a problem with it.

Buying Tips:

  • Ask the seller for the exact specifications of the laptop, as well as the condition of it. Also check if there are any quirks you should know about (i.e. certain keys are less responsive).
  • Negotiate with the seller to see if you can test out the laptop before purchasing. Check that all the ports and keys are working, and ask if the seller still has the original software that came with the laptop.
  • Reformat the laptop and do a virus scan (we like Avira – it’s free for Mac) before plugging in any of your hard drives/thumb drives.
  • Be wary about any weird sounds or smells emanating from the laptop. The last thing you want is your laptop blowing up and/or causing a fire right?
  • Compare the price with a new laptop – if the difference is not that much and you’re a noob at computers, you might want to reconsider buying a secondhand one.

Used Laptop(Source:

3. Smartphones

In case you haven’t already read the story of Orange brother and the lost iPhone, here are some things to consider before buying a secondhand smartphone.


  • Whether you’re buying from an authorised seller or classifieds site, always ask for a receipt to prove that you paid for it. You never know if the phone might be a stolen one, so you’ll want some concrete proof in case the original owner tracks it down.
  • Negotiate with the seller to see if you can test the phone before buying it.
  • Ask for the warranty cards and original receipt to verify that the phone is authentic. If the phone was actually a stolen one, the seller probably wouldn’t have any supporting documents for it.
  • Google the seller’s name and contact number to see if anything suspicious comes up.
  • Reformat the phone as soon as you get it, and ensure that it isn’t synced to the previous owner’s Cloud account (embarrassing selfies anyone?).
  • Check the camera function (for scratches/water damage), battery and charging ports as well.

Mobile phones background. Pile of different modern smartphones.(Source:

4. Appliances

Purchasing secondhand appliances may seem more straightforward than dealing with used smartphones or laptops, but always take the time to do your homework before buying.

Buying Tips:

  • Google the item’s model number and check for the complete list of accessories that come with it. Even if the seller states that the item is brand new, double check with him that all the listed accessories are included in the deal.
  • If the item is not sealed, ask the seller if you can test it out before buying. Keep a lookout for signs of rusting, cracks or wire damage.
  • Ask for the original receipt (if the item is listed as brand new) and any warranty cards that came with the item.

Used Appliances(Source:

5. Tickets

Buying tickets through resellers is actually tricker than you think – ticket vendors like SISTIC and Sports Hub Tix state in their Terms and Conditions that they have the right to void any resold tickets. So yeah, that means there’s a chance that those Taylor Swift tickets you bought on Carousell might get voided.

SISTIC has a strict policy on the resale of tickets (even at the same price), while SportsHub only accepts tickets purchased through their official sources. National Day Parade organisers have also revised their rules as of last year, barring resellers from balloting in the future.

Buying Tips:

  • Be wary of sellers who ask for payment in advance and/or collection on the day of the event. Some sellers may be courting multiple buyers for one ticket, so they might leave you in the lurch at the last minute. Always ask for cash upon exchange of tickets.
  • Call SISTIC and provide the transaction number printed on the ticket (usually at the top right corner), as they will be able to check who the ticket belongs to. Once you get the details, you can cross check them with the seller’s information.

SISTIC Tickets(Source:

6. Health Supplements

Unless you’re purchasing from trusted sites like iHerb, be wary of health supplements bought from classifieds sites. I mean, if you’re going to be ingesting that stuff, you can never be too careful right? (If you’re still not convinced, please Google ‘fake Viagra side effects’ kthx.)

Buying Tips:

  • Make sure that the supplements are tested and approved by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) in Singapore.
  • Check the production and expiry dates of the product, and ensure that the seal is still intact.
  • If you find that the pills look dodgy or dusty, please do not ingest them OK? Because, yuck.
  • Always buy from trusted sites. It’s your health yo, don’t play around.

Health Supplements(Source: Flickr/Health Gauge)

7. Batteries

Authentic batteries for laptops and smartphones can be quite pricey, so secondhand ones might seem like an attractive option. However, batteries sold by unauthorised sources may not last as long, or may even damage your device. And spoiler alert: your device’s warranty policy probably doesn’t cover damage caused by dodgy batteries.

Buying Tips:

  • Check the model number of the battery and ensure that it’s compatible with your device. Just because it fits, doesn’t mean it’ll work (or not explode in yo face #justsayin).
  • If you find that the battery dies quickly even with minimal use, it might be because it has a ‘Memory Effect’ aka Voltage Depression. There’s nothing you can really do to fix it, but you can complain to the seller for giving you a dud.
  • If you’re buying from a third party seller, always ask for the original receipt and warranty cards.

Laptop Battery(Source:

Still want more? Check out these other articles:

Carousell Hacks You Need To Know

Where To Sell Or Donate Items In Singapore

Best Places To Sell Your Stuff Online

Best Shopping & Style Apps (You Need On Your Smartphone)

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