Buying a used computer on Gumtree? Please be cautious.

We recently had a used computer that come in for inspection that was purchased from Gumtree. They had just bought it and they were wondering what it would take to get it working since it was not switching on. This computer was a very recent computer, only a couple of years old. When we got it on our technical bench we were shocked at how much was actually wrong with this computer. The power supply was failing due to overheating. The computer had no RAM memory in it (someone had removed it all). The hard drive was in particularly bad condition with a substantial number of surface problems. Then, to top it all off, the motherboard was faulty with bad voltage regulation. In short, the only thing that didn’t need repair on this computer was the case, the DVD burner and the stickers.

Used computer in this type of condition aren’t worth buying for any amount of money. Seeing a very new computer for sale on Gumtree, especially at a cheap price, should set off every warning bell. Remember the rule, its buyer beware on Gumtree. Any assurances are of no use if they don’t answer the phone or the door.

A used computer could save you money — Here’s how to buy the right one

  1. Please be cautious. If you’re not certain ask the seller if they would be willing to allow you to get it checked out and then bring it in to us for an inspection. We’ll be able to help you determine if the value is there or not.
  2. Generally, aim for a computer that is not more than 4 years old or newer. A computer that’s more than 4 years old is likely to be too slow, too worn, and too obsolete to make a good used purchase, no matter how much money you can save. When computers grow more than a few years old, several problems start to accumulate. First, years of dust have built up in the components and fan system, which threatens future maintenance troubles.
  3. Find the right source and do your research. Many online sellers offer used PCs or refurbished computers that are actually used computers in a thin disguise. You can take a look at these sellers to see what is available and compare prices, but don’t be too quick to make up your mind.
  4. Testing PCs. If you are buying from an online store, you may not be able to test out a computer before you buy. But when possible, Insist on seeing the computer powered up and in operation for a minimum of 30 minutes, take a little testing kit with you that includes cables to the ports you need, a disc for the drive, a flash drive and anything else you may need. Play around with the computer to make sure that everything is in working order and there’s no hidden surprises waiting to spring at you.
  5. If you don’t know a lot about computers, take along a knowledgeable friend who can help you determine the quality and an accurate value of the system. It’s a good idea to take a friend along anyway, especially if you have never met the seller before.
  6. If you’re not certain ask the seller if they would be willing to allow you to get it checked out and then bring it in to us for an inspection. We’ll be able to help you determine if the value is there or not.
  7. Advice: Remember you are buying used laptop. No matter how much refurbishing the seller does to the computer, it’s NOT new. If you keep that in mind, you’ll end up buying a new computer that should serve your computing needs for years to come.

Do you have a Gumtree or OLX computer experience to share? Share your stories with us in the comments below.

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