3 things to do before purchasing pre-owned items online

Everyone loves online shopping and while most will usually buy new items from reliable stores and sites, others may not care that items they buy are brand new. After all, who needs a brand new textbook valued at $100 bucks when you can get the same edition book at a lower cost from someone who has just graduated?

But with scammers getting cleverer each day, every student needs to ensure that his or her personal information and funds are kept safe when they’re shopping for goods online. So if you’re hopping for pre-owned items of any kind, whether its textbooks, technology or clothing through popular sites such as eBay or Gumtree (which is a bit like Australia’s own version of Craigslist over in America), here are three things you have to do before purchasing anything you find online!

Communication with the seller

Before you decide to buy anything, no matter how reasonable or good it may look, make sure you talk to the seller first. Persist with questions about the product you’re purchasing if necessary.

These can be questions that include, but aren’t limited to, any damage to the product, the estimated time it would take to ship or how the seller came into possession of the item (if, for example, the item is extremely rare and hard to find).

Review the reviews

Go through the reviews of that seller or market and make sure that people are leaving positive feedback. And when we mean positive feedback we mean something more than just “Great seller, fast delivery, A+”.

If there is any specific feedback that looks like it has been properly written out and thought about, there’s a good likelihood that the experience was valued and the seller did what they could to meet their needs. Generally with sites like eBay, for example, sellers will also have scores to let the public know that they are a good and trustworthy person to buy from.


Poor photography can be a sneaky way for sellers to mask the fact that the product may be damaged or hide things that make it clear the product you’re purchasing may be perhaps be illegitimate. On the other hand, sellers with photos that have been taken from somewhere on internet and do not show the actual product in question, regardless of whether its new or old, may also be deceptive.

As a general rule of thumb, we recommend avoiding these sellers but if you would like to know more about something, simply ask the seller to send you newer photos from different angles so that you can properly inspect before you buy.

This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via meld@meldmagazine.com.au.

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