Author Topic: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?  (Read 7585 times)

zug

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What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« on: January 29, 2013, 12:57:36 PM »
I'm involved in a discussion on reddit in /r/frugal where I suggested that a person with a $300 budget get a used laptop off of craigslist rather than buy a new chromebook or similar crappy computer. I got a response that smacks of the same attitude that people use when they try to justify a new car purchase - a huge wall of rationalizing everything that COULD possibly go wrong, ignoring the fact that most of these things won't go wrong most of the time, and even if they do and you have to buy a second computer you're still financially better off.

I know there's no convincing some people, but a lot of you are far more accomplished face-punchers than I - how would you tackle this style of argument?

http://www.reddit.com/r/Frugal/comments/17ft89/what_is_the_most_inexpensive_laptop_i_can/c85p6zu?context=5
« Last Edit: January 29, 2013, 01:02:50 PM by zug »

bo_knows

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2013, 01:13:12 PM »
While that poster has a lot of irrational fears, I do sympathize slightly with the idea that buying a new laptop over a used is better (not a chromebook).

$300 is a tough budgetary mark for such a purchase, as I think that $400 would be an awesome entry-level laptop (even $350ish on sale).  The actual use of the laptop is the key factor here. Using it to search the web, and that's it? You can buy a 5yr old laptop and potentially be satisfied.  The issue here is that technology is changing so fast, that old laptop hardware sometimes can't keep up. 

Also, you can't discount things like energy savings.  The recent i5 chips suck a lot less power, so if you're going to be away from plugs for very long, that's something to consider.

Buying something with as much technology as a laptop, used, is never a simple answer when you're trying to figure out the utility per $ spent.

Paul der Krake

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2013, 01:21:19 PM »
I don't know dude, he has a lot of argumented points. Just from the OS perspective, running a computer with someone else's OS without doing a clean reinstall? *shivers*

If you run a Linux flavor or another free Unix it's not a big deal obviously, but I have a feeling most people who buy laptops like this will either get a cracked version of Windows or keep the previous owner's version.

Honestly, cheap laptops are already sooooo cheap. you can pick up something for $350 from Walmart, on sale from $500. Take good care of it, make it last 3-4 years without breaking a sweat. I would only consider buying a used machine in two scenarios: a non-Mustachian coworker upgrading early who I know for a fact has taken very good care of it, or a refurbished item from the manufacturer. Refurbished items go through an extensive review process and they knock off 10-20% of the retail price, depending on the manufacturer. For a brand like Apple who never runs sales, that's something to consider.

NumberJohnny5

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2013, 02:13:17 PM »
We bought refurbished Dell laptops a year and two months ago.  Here's my wife's:

Dell 1121
Intel I3-330UM 1.2GHz dual-core
2GB RAM (bought another 2GB for $12.75)
250GB Hard drive (going out, waiting on good deals on ssd to replace)
11.6" WLED screen

Cost:  $288.37

Other than the hard drive issues (running a full chkdsk overnight to find new bad sectors keeps it going for another few weeks/months), it's working fine.  Wife did all her graduate coursework on it (so many "adobes" and "firefoxes" opened that it was literally crying from the strain, oh and of course MS Office too).  Main use now is recipes and Netflix.  It's more than sufficient.  If we weren't in Australia and would have to deal with returning the drive to the US, the drive would have been covered under warranty (but would then fail again...this laptop receives quite a few shocks which would kill any non-ssd drive).

And this was over a year ago.  I'm sure you could find a better laptop for the same price.  Refurbished yes, but by the manufacturer.  You shouldn't find any leftover customer data, or grimy fingerprints anywhere.  Heck, some of the laptops were never actually used (they're orders that were cancelled/sent back).

destron

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2013, 02:25:10 PM »
I saw that thread. I find that, quite often, I don't see eye to eye with /r/frugal. They really aren't very frugal. A lot of the time it seems like they are cutting expenses in area A so they can spend more in area B. It is definitely a different mentality from MMM.

I find that your average /r/frugal user enjoys a face-punch as much as a random stranger on the train.

Re: Electricity use -- laptops use almost no electricity and you shouldn't worry about it. Desktop PC's use 10x as much so an efficient desktop is important.

bo_knows

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2013, 02:29:51 PM »
I saw that thread. I find that, quite often, I don't see eye to eye with /r/frugal. They really aren't very frugal. A lot of the time it seems like they are cutting expenses in area A so they can spend more in area B. It is definitely a different mentality from MMM.

I find that your average /r/frugal user enjoys a face-punch as much as a random stranger on the train.

Re: Electricity use -- laptops use almost no electricity and you shouldn't worry about it. Desktop PC's use 10x as much so an efficient desktop is important.

I didn't mean to imply that the cost of energy was the important factor, more that you'll get more battery life per charge from the newer chips.

destron

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2013, 03:03:51 PM »
I didn't mean to imply that the cost of energy was the important factor, more that you'll get more battery life per charge from the newer chips.

Oh yes, absolutely. I misinterpreted that. I find that most budget laptops don't hold a charge very well after the first 1-2 years anyway, though. I think that is one pretty big issue with buying a used laptop.

tooqk4u22

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2013, 03:14:59 PM »
Gotta be honest - I wouldn't by a used computer, for a myriad of reasons but the most important one is it falls under the penny wise, pound foolish syndrom.  I mean really, buying a used computer at best will save you a couple hundred dollars - one thing goes wrong then it the financial savings will be lost and the intangible headaches/frustrations factor will be too much. 

You buy a $5000 car and even if a lot of shit breaks and needs to be repaired you still won't come close to the cost of a new car.

Khao

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2013, 03:38:00 PM »
In my opinion, a new or used chromebook would be the best cheap laptop ever. I have a high-end gaming laptop worth about $1500 at purchase and a $300 used chromebook I bought (first generation) and I use the chromebook for everything except games (which I don't play as often as before since I've had the chromebook). Chromebooks are incredible, they weight next to nothing, last 8+ hrs on the battery and are super-quick since the OS is only chrome with a light linux back-end.

jdoolin

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2013, 06:06:03 PM »
I'm typing this on a 5-ish year old Dell Latitude.  I bought it from a local repair shop for $150.  I upgraded the processor (to a core 2 duo) and memory to 4 GB of memory, all for less than $100.

I'm using it to run 5 different operating systems (primary system is Linux, secondary is Windows 8 and I've got 3 others).  I'm a computer instructor at a local community college and I'm using it for quite a bit.  Everything from demonstrating many partitions on a single disk, analyzing network traffic, playing lots of videos, virtualization, Android development, other software development, some light image editing... I have yet to find anything that really stresses it out.

Personally, I'd never buy a new laptop again.  I figure I'll always be able to score units like the one I'm using now.  In fact, I'll use this one until it dies.

strider3700

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2013, 11:25:19 PM »
Refurbs kick ass.  I saw an article about it not long ago but the reasoning is pretty simple.   When the item came back in defective it cost the company money. They then had to figure out what was wrong with it and decide if it made sense to fix it and sell at a discount or just eat the entire cost of the item. That step cost them money.  If they decide they can make a profit instead of a loss they fix the device and resell it.  Here's the important point though - If it comes back and still broken they are certain to lose money  so part of the fixing it involves testing the crap out of it in many cases better then a brand new device would have been tested.     So the failure rates on refurbs tend to be really low compared to on the same brand new devices.

Basically you get better then brand new reliability wise at a lower price then brand new and the only issues may be minor cosmetic blemishes like little scratches that you're going to put on the device when you use it anyway.   

Now when it comes to used but not factory refurbed computers I wouldn't pay anywhere near the cost of a low end new device. Band new decent laptops are $400-$500 refurb takes that down to $300-$400 usually.     There isn't a used laptop out there worth $200 to me unless it comes with a brand new battery and all of the disks to allow a complete wipe and reinstall and then at that price it would need to be as good as a refurb if not it's not worth my time to do the wipe/reinstall.     

I work on a lot of hardware and had a contract to scrap a few hundred 4 year old machines that weren't awful but weren't worth the time to rebuild.   We offered them to charities and they wouldn't touch them either. Nothing over 2 years old and that was free with me wiping the HD and them reinstalling the OS which we'd provide keys for. 

(100% of the above is windows/linux pc's.  Mac hardware is weird demanding insane prices and stay high in value to some people.  I don't touch it so I'm not sure why the used/refurb market is that way for them)

gooki

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2013, 11:52:42 PM »
For what the user wanted to do the new Chromebook is perfectly acceptable.... And is a road I nearly went down, but due to some work requirements I chose to buy a used x86 pc, and threw windows 8 on it for an extra $20.

I happily buy used, but I know what I,m doing. I.e. place no value on the hdd as it's the first thing to fail, avoid models with knowin issues, pay under market rate so if its not what you want, you can on sell for virtually no loss.

KingCoin

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2013, 11:35:42 AM »
Gotta be honest - I wouldn't by a used computer, for a myriad of reasons but the most important one is it falls under the penny wise, pound foolish syndrom.

Yeah, laptops are one thing I'm not enthused about buying used. They tend not to age gracefully. The problems associated with faulty hardware and software can suck up hours upon hours of time. Figuring out why you're getting the blue screen of death, formatting drives, doing system reinstalls, buying/installing new components. We've all been there and it's no way to spend your Saturday afternoon.

You can pick up a brand new rig like this for $288. 1-year warranty, no fuss:
http://www.walmart.com/ip/HP-15.6-2000-2b49WM-Laptop-PC-with-AMD-E-300-Accelerated-Processor-and-Windows-8/21666192

I don't doubt that if you do a ton of searching, you can score a deal, I just think the additional time and risk isn't worth the generally meager rewards.

grantmeaname

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2013, 12:06:10 PM »
Quote
We've all been there and it's no way to spend your Saturday afternoon.
Nonsense, I think it's great fun! I don't have to do tech support for a living, and if I did I might be less enthusiastic, but I love computer surgery and software tinkering. It's just like car surgery, but really freaking easy, not requiring of specialized tools except jewelers' screwdrivers, and much faster. If you don't like tinkering with computers and trawling CL, that's understandable, but it's got a great return on your time for what you get -- I scored $1300 worth of better computer and craigslist profit on three trades that probably took 8 hours put together.  (No tow truck required, at that.)

KingCoin

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2013, 12:30:46 PM »
Nonsense, I think it's great fun! I don't have to do tech support for a living, and if I did I might be less enthusiastic, but I love computer surgery and software tinkering.

OK, I'll "grant" you that. I recently replaced a keyboard on a laptop and it felt kind of badass to do a $10 repair that would have cost me $100 for 15 minutes of work.  Swapping in an upgraded RAM card? No big deal. But when the computer is stuck on some sort of crash cycle, and I'm left trying do create a boot disk in DOS (and trying to transport my brain back to 1992 when I actually knew all the commands) to get to a stable place to run a format/system reinstall, you can have that all day. Even when things go smoothly, a full reinstall can take hours. Just something worth factoring in when comparing used to new.

A lot of the determination is going to come down to how computer savvy you are. I think that for the average non-tech-savvy user, it's not worth it.

strider3700

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2013, 03:37:30 PM »
But when the computer is stuck on some sort of crash cycle, and I'm left trying do create a boot disk in DOS (and trying to transport my brain back to 1992 when I actually knew all the commands) to get to a stable place to run a format/system reinstall, you can have that all day.

http://www.hiren.info/pages/bootcd
Hiren's boot cd.  drop it in, boot from CD.  MiniXP loads and runs with full access to what has to be hundreds of the important utilities to do almost anything to a machine.   So much better then dos boot disks.   If it won't load hiren  it's garbage anyways  smash the disk with a hammer and call it a day.

The Money Monk

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2013, 09:32:55 AM »
I am a huge proponent of buying things used vs new (I own a thrift store!) but there are a few exceptions. And for me, laptops are one of those exceptions. I would tell him to have a garage sale or something to raise a little more money, and then he could get a decent new computer for 450 or so.


If somebody has a lot of computer experience, and can give it a good quality appraisal and do any necessary reformatting etc, then maybe used is ok.

the fixer

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #17 on: February 02, 2013, 01:06:14 PM »
i think the best way to realize the value of buying used is to try to sell one's stuff. When I first started doing this, I was shocked to see how difficult it was and how I got a lot less from it than I originally thought. Even things which were truly in good-as-new condition were worth less than half what I had paid for them. And some items, like a window shade my mom gave me, I still have because no one wants them. It's certainly not impossible and you get better at selling over time, but that experience makes the depreciation real. If I can't get good money as a seller of this stuff, it means that if I'm a buyer on the other side I can score great deals.

Besides, when you buy used it's easier to sell it later, because you have a better idea of what price to set (it's closer to the amount you paid).

MrSaturday

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Re: What do you do when others say used products are inferior?
« Reply #18 on: February 04, 2013, 11:37:27 AM »
I've been really happy with my used Thinkpads.  Sure, they're going to be slower than a brand new $300 machine, but a low-end new laptop will often suffer hardware failure long before obsolescence while my 10 year old T40 is still useful.