Buying Used vs. Buying New

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What Savvy Shoppers Should Know


These days, you might be hard-pressed to find second-hand items on the bidorbuy marketplace. Brand-new seem to be the norm, whether you look at the supply side (offers by sellers) or the demand side (purchases by buyers).

Still, sometimes it makes sense to them what you want: used, second-hand, pre-owned, pre-loved, gently worn, etc. items. Firstly, because buying second-hand is easier on your budget, and secondly, because you’ll be dong the environment a favour.

Read on to find out which products are perfectly fine to buy second-hand, and which ones should be bought new. Do note: we are not talking here about objects that are intrinsically second-hand, like antiques or various collectibles (coins, stamps, militaria, and so on). We are talking about everyday items of mass consumption.

Safe to Buy Used

  • Cars. No raised eyebrows, now. As you surely know, the value of your new car depreciates the moment you drive it off a dealer's lot. True, when you go second-hand you have to forego the brand-new leather experience (and much more), but on the up side you are less likely to agonise over every little scratch a careless parking neighbour leaves on your car’s body. Just make sure to have a mechanic check the car before you buy it.
  • Furniture. Some people turn their noses up at the thought of a second-hand upholstered couch or armchair, but a professional clean-up before the items are brought inside should suffice (then you can re-upholster them, if the colour or pattern offends you). When buying wooden furniture, better go for hardwoods such as oak or maple and avoid pieces that show signs of damage caused by water, split wood or wood worm. Wrought iron or aluminium second-hand furniture is generally an excellent buy.
  • Computers. Going for a second-hand computer is a reasonably safe option. And if you know a little about computers, it is easy to replace any part that might not work up to your standards. Laptops and tablets are a trickier animal. Some people say that a used last year’s model is a good buy, mobile devices are more likely to be dropped and knocked around.
  • Recorded digital content. If you are willing to wait a few months, you can buy second-hand music CDs, movies, and video games for the fraction of the original price. (Just check that the manufacturer did not put a one-user only limit on the video games.)
  • Books. Providing the previous owner took decent care of them, they will be just as good as new, and much cheaper.
  • Hand tools. With proper maintenance, well-made tools with few or no moving parts like hammers, wrenches, shovels or hoes can last decades. You’ve no reason to go for new if you can get used.
  • Jewellery. It’s as good as new, and so much cheaper. However, do your research well and be sure that you are buying “the real thing” before parting with your money.
  • Clothing. Yes, vintage can be cool. Pre-owned clothes are relatively easy to clean and could be the only way for many of us to lay our hands on designer labels.

Better Buy New

  • Most electronics. TV sets, DVD players, vacuum cleaners and other electronic devices can be more costly to repair than to buy new.
  • Helmets. Anything associated with safety should be strictly brand-new. Baby cribs, baby car seats and car tires fall into this category too.
  • Shoes. While it’s fine to go vintage where a jacket or a dress is concerned, second-hand shoes are a no-go area. Footwear moulds to the wearer’s foot, and someone else’s mould is certain to make you miserable.
  • Mattresses. The yuck factor should be enough to deter you from buying used mattresses. Just think of the unknown odours and stains (not to mention creepy-crawlies)! The same yuck factor simply forbids buying and wearing used lingerie, bathing costumes, or wet suits.
  • Software. Most software manufacturers put a limit on the number of times you can reload software, so you may be able to load it only once... or not at all.


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