Well, it’s not brand new, but it’s the next best thing. I’ve been looking to buy a new computer for quite some time now. Money was an issue, and the cheapest way to get a high performance machine is to buy the essential components one at a time and assemble it yourself. Which is no problem for me, I find it kind of fun. Some guys restore, repair, and tune cars… I’m the same with a computer. But, a couple of weeks ago I found an incredible deal on eBay. A Lenovo dealer in Chicago had a Lenovo K-Series (330b) they were selling for more than $200 below retail price, just because someone bought it and then returned it. The dealer refurbished the computer to like-new condition and put it on eBay.
It met every specification I had for the performance I wanted. The few areas where it is lacking are small cheap upgrades that I can do anytime (if you must know, cooling system and power supply.) And the price was even better than I had been able to project, had I bought all the components separately and assembled it myself.
All of which left me wondering… “What’s the catch?”
It was not a deal in the “too good to be true” category, but it wasn’t too far away from that. It had an already installed, legal, copy of Windows 7 (not that I’ve ever pirated Microsoft products.) They threw in some free anti-malware software and a few months of free coverage. It’s McAfee and I’ll keep it until the free trial wears off. Then I’ll switch to Kaspersky, the malware protection I prefer. The computer is powered by an Intel quad-core i5 and the K-series is a gaming performance build, this one came with 8 G of RAM and a 1 G Radeon HD 6450 GPU. I prefer to mix Intel chipsets with Nvidia GPU’s, but there’s really nothing wrong with ATI’s Radeon.
If that last bit made any sense to you; then you have a pretty good idea of how good of a deal I wound up getting. If not, well I’ll sum it up…
It’s pretty durn fast.
But I was worried. I checked the seller’s feedback on eBay and they had thousands of sales with very few (less than 10) instances of bad feedback from buyers. I double checked the item description to make very sure there weren’t any obvious drawbacks to the machine. I paid via a secure method that at no time let any 3rd party access my payment information.
Even so, even I get a little nervous making such a big purchase online without being able to actually SEE what I’m buying. But being a Lenovo dealer, the seller was able to offer me a return policy if it didn’t work, and a 1 year manufacturer warrantee. So I was pretty sure I was in good shape. And 3 days later (CHI to ICT in 3 days… way to go Fed Ex,) I was setting up my computer. And it was exactly the computer I expected and had bid on. And it is awesome.
So yes, you can have a really good experience buying higher priced items online. There are just a few steps you need to follow.
1. Check the seller’s credentials. If going thru a selling service like eBay check the seller’s feedback to make sure they don’t make a habit of defrauding buyers. If you are buying from an online store or manufacturer’s website, search for consumer reviews of service and check them out with the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org.
2. Pay with a secured payment option. Money order is still a pretty safe payment option. And even though I’m not a big fan, 3rd party payment center PayPal has a good track record with payment security. At the very least make sure any website you enter information into has the “https” secure protocol in the URL. That’s "https" as opposed to "http."
3. You get what you pay for. If no one would ever sell you the _____ for $____ that they are selling it for, double check the item description and item’s condition. Don’t be fooled by the small print “item not working/for parts only.” And, yes you will usually find better deals on Craigslist than you would on eBay. But you get better consumer protection from eBay. This all falls under the cardinal rule of online interaction “if it’s too good to be true, it’s a scam.”
But occasionally you can do pretty well. Good Luck.