Caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of buying things second hand. Sometimes this works out really well…like the designer clothes I pick up at Goodwill and the barely used snow blower I picked up from a friend moving to California. But sometimes things don’t work out as well as I’d like. And with second hand purchases, there really isn’t a lot of recourse. If you buy something new and it doesn’t work, it might have a warranty. Or you may be able to return it to the place where you bought it. But it doesn’t always work that way when you’re dealing with thrift stores, Craigslist and eBay.
I learned this the hard way a few weeks ago. Just before Christmas I was in the market for a Fitbit Flex fitness tracker. But I didn’t want to pay the $99 retail price. So to eBay I went. I got what I thought was a great deal. For about $60 I got what was billed as a lightly used Fitbit Flex, complete with the computer dongle, a wristband, and a charger. I got it and everything was great. I used it without issue for a couple of weeks and left positive feedback for the seller. And that’s when things started going badly. One day I couldn’t get the Fitbit to sync with the Fitbit app. I did a little research and learned that the answer was to reset the Fitbit using a special reset button on the charger. And that’s when I learned that the charger that came with the Fitbit was not the original manufacturer’s model. It was a cheap knockoff that didn’t have the reset button. So I went to Amazon and ordered a replacement charger. But before it was even delivered the Fitbit stopped working altogether. My $60 was gone. My Fitbit was dead.
Since the Fitbit was actually helping me with my New Year’s fitness and weight loss resolution, I bit the bullet and headed to my local big box electronics store and handed over $99 for a new replacement. So the Fitbit I resisted paying $99 for ended up costing me $159. And even the accessories that came with the second hand version aren’t particularly useful. The charger is fine for charging, but not for a reset. The dongle may or may not function…I’ve never used it since I prefer to sync with my smartphone. And the wristband also turned out to be a cheap knockoff that I don’t like near as much as the manufacturer’s version. All in all….I pretty much flushed that money down the toilet. But I learned an important lesson about purchasing electronics second hand. I likely won’t do that again without making sure I have an option to return.
Second hand purchases work out for me more often than not (along with the Fitbit only a Craigslist kegerator and an eBay smartphone stand out as “lessons learned”). And I have no intention of giving up my second hand shopping habit. But I’ll likely think twice before dealing in used electronics again. Caveat emptor.