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Tips for buying a used computer

By DAVE GUSSOW

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 8, 2001


When old is new
For buyers, used computers offer a way to get a good system inexpensively. But for sellers, a computer's value can be much lower than expected.
Buyers can shop for used computers everywhere from retail stores to online auctions.

Web sites selling used computers include the Used Computer Mall (www.usedcomputer.com); Excess Quality New and Used Computers (www.qnuc.com); and, for Apple computers, Datatech Remarketing (www.datatech-rmkt.com).

In addition, major PC companies such as Dell and Gateway offer refurbished models. These generally are returned units that the companies test before reselling, usually at a discount of 5 percent to 15 percent.

Here are tips from experts for those considering a used computer:

  • Test drive: Ask if you can use the machine before the purchase to check it out yourself.
  • Support: What happens if you have a question? Who can you call? When is help available?
  • Warranty: Is there one? How long is it in effect? What does it cover?
  • Brand: A computer made by a well-known manufacturer might be easier to have repaired than a generic clone.
  • Software: Does the installed software come with licenses and other documentation? If not, it may not be legal.

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