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Second to none?

Buying used products can lead to big savings. But you also need to be more cautious.

A downturn is, perhaps, the best time to buy second-hand goods. “Economic slowdown has made people conscious of their buying habits,” says Rahul Kate, executive,, aWebsite for trading used goods. But even in normal times, buying pre-owned products makes perfect financial sense—a six-month-old refrigerator comes with all the guarantees, but at only 70-75% of the price of a new one. You can buy second-hand goods from small dealers and Websites such as But you need to be very careful while picking up such products. Here’s what you should keep in mind while shopping for pre-owned household appliances and gadgets.

Average discount for 1-year-old phone: 65%
BrandMarket price of new phone (Rs)Price of 1-year-old used phone (Rs)
NOKIA 53108,0003,400-3,500
SAMSUNG E8-408,0002,200-2,400
MOTOROLA E810,0004,500-4,800


Every 10 seconds, almost 25 new mobile phones are sold across the country, while on an average, a user changes a cell phone every eight months. What happens to the old ones? They get sold for a song. A four-monthold phone in a good condition costs about 75% of the price of a new one. Older ones cost even less.

Before you buy...

1. Match the IMEI code on the phone and the receipt. If different, the phone may have been stolen or its main board replaced.

2. Insist on the original receipt to know when it was bought and the remaining warranty period.

3. Check the keypad. It should be able to withstand multiple jabs without slowing.

Average discount for 1-2-year-old TV: 60%
Model and sizeMarket price of new set (Rs)Price of 1-2-yearold used TV
21” FLAT TV7,000-12,0003,000-4,500
29” FLAT TV12,000-19,0004,000-6,000
26” LCD TV22,000-30,00010,000-15,000


As television users upgrade to plasma and LCD, thousands of flat TVs have flooded the second-hand market. You can get a one-year-old flat TV for less than half the price of a new one, while an ordinary TV with a convex picture tube will cost even less. Though there aren’t too many plasma and LCD TVs on sale, even for these the discount is about 50%.

Before you buy...

1. Play the set on full volume; if it hums, it is very old.

2. Connect the TV to a cable source and check picture quality. Most dealers play a DVD to project good visual quality.

3. Check the plastic body for damage. A disfigured body means the set may have been dropped during transportation.

4. Open the body to check for new wiring, which shows that the set was repaired.

5. Check if the remote control is original. In very old sets, the remote is a local brand.

Average discount for 1-2-yr-old machine: 65%
Model (5 kg)Market price of new machine (Rs)Price of 1-2-year-old used model (Rs)
FULLY AUTO (TOP)10,000-18,0003,500-5,000
FULLY AUTO (FRONT)16,000-40,0004,000-8,000


If your semi-automatic washing machine is taking too much of your time and energy, but you don’t want to splurge on a fully automatic one, second-hand is the way to go. A oneyear-old machine in working condition can be bought for about Rs 4,000, a discount of 70-75%. Semi-automatic machines can be bought for about half their original price. The discount is less as semi-automatic machines are in greater demand than the fully automatic ones.

Before you buy...

1. Run the machine for 20-25 minutes. If it does not run continuously, the motor may need to be changed.

2. Check the drum for white-coloured deposits due to the use of hard water. Hard water clogs the pipes and damages machines.

3. Check the heater. It takes about 30 minutes to heat the water. If it takes longer, the device may need to be repaired.

Average discount for 1-yr-old computer: 60%
BrandMarket price of new machine (Rs)Price of 1-year-old used machine
TOSHIBA SATELLITE32,00012,000-12,800
DELL INSPIRON35,00013,500-14,000
HCL NOTEBOOK27,00010,000-10,800


After mobile phones, computers are the hottest selling second-hand products. And they come dirt cheap. You can get a one-year-old computer at roughly half the price of a new one. If a new PC is priced at Rs 20,000, a year-old machine with a similar configuration will come for only Rs 10,000. A three-fouryear-old machine is 80% cheaper. But don’t go for very old computers just because they cost less. “They may not have the features required to run the latest software,” says Pramod Kumar, a Delhi-based dealer.

Before you buy...

1. Scan the hard disk to check faulty sectors.

2. Check for abnormal sounds, which indicate the CPU fan may be damaged. If it is, the processor too may be faulty.

3. Get copies of all driver disks and manuals. Nearly 30% of PC buyers have to re-format their hard disks within a year.

4. Press ‘pause’ on the keyboard when the specification screen comes up. You can then verify the RAM, cache, processor, etc

5. Try different resolutions and colour settings on the monitor.

Average discount for 1-2-year-old AC: 70%
Model and sizeMarket price of new AC (Rs)Price of 1-2-year-old used AC (Rs)
WINDOW AC 1 T12,000-17,0004,000-6,000
WINDOW AC 1.5 T16,000-22,0004,000-8,000
SPLIT AC 1.5 T22,000-35,0008,000-12,000


The price of an air conditioner drops dramatically with time because of the short life span of the product. An AC works for about six-eight years before it is junked. This also means that one should not buy a very old AC. However, don’t go by age alone. The condition of the machine could vary significantly depending on the usage. You could get a two-year-old AC in a very good condition or you could get a one-year-old junk.

Before you buy...

1. Check if the compressor is sealed or has been replaced/ repaired. If it has been repaired, it may not be very efficient.

2. Look at the star rating. This is important because old ACs consume a lot of power.

3. Inspect the copper pipes for signs of corrosion. Ensure that there are no joints and signs of welding on the pipes.

Average discount for 1-2-year-old fridge: 70%
Model and sizeMarket price of new fridge (Rs)Price of 1-2-year-old used fridge
UNDER 200 L8,000-12,0002,000-3,000
200-350 L (FF)12,000-20,0003,000-6,000
OVER 350 L (FF)20,000-40,0005,000-9,000


Here again, the condition of the fridge could vary depending on how well it was maintained. It is difficult to find a high-end model in the second-hand market, but there is a lot of choice in the low- and mid-price ranges. Avoid buying very old refrigerators because they are not very energy-efficient.

Before you buy...

1. Check how old it is. Models older than 10 years use more energy.

2. Ensure that the compressor is sealed. A welded one means it has been repaired.

3. Inspect the drip pan and condenser coils for damage.

4. Check if the fridge was used with a voltage stabiliser. Fluctuations damage the compressor.

Published on: Jun 01, 2009, 10:10 PM IST
Posted by: AtMigration, Jun 01, 2009, 10:10 PM IST