Buying Used Dell Laptops_ PC's and Servers on eBay - How to

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					by: John Gall

Two years ago I needed a way to refresh more PC's and Laptops at my company without
spending more. New Dell laptops were great but expensive and over the years we had
accumulated many Latitude C series parts. The C series ran from the CPX C600 C610 C400 and
C640 models before their new D line of Latitude laptops were released. The docks, drives and
many other parts are usable in any of these models so we decided to take advantage of this and
purchase used Dell laptops. eBay was where we sourced these. Over the years I've learned some
valuable things about buying these expensive items. Here are some tips and some
recommendations of sellers I've found to be very reliable.

Know what you are buying.

Don't just go by the model and specs of the machine. I'm seeing two types of units out there.
Those that are complete PC's sold as used units. Also refurbished units that have no serial
number on the bottom or in the bios. These units can be had at very good prices and so far I've
found them all to be in great condition. The problem is that without the serial you can't even get
tech support from Dell and obviously there isn't a warranty. If you don't mind this from the right
seller these are great. For my use at my company it just isn't worth the appearance of a model
with no serial number. I'm passing on these for now.

Always pay using Pay Pal or some other service that lets you use a credit card.

Even when you use a credit card on Paypal your covered by the dispute and charge back
protection provided by your credit card company. I've had two instances where the seller did not
ship my laptop and I had to dispute the charge with my credit card company. In both cases I
received a credit back from my company and had no trouble from Paypal. Before disputing open
a formal case with Paypal as they require that before you do a charge back. I'm not sure what the
consequences would be but better to appear as if you are trying to use their system.

Buying regularly? Try to form a relationship with a couple reputable sellers.

After doing business with a handful of sellers I trust I now completely bypass eBay. The sellers
love the money they save on fees and I can often have them hunt down mint condition Latitude
laptops. Some will even customize the laptop to your specs.

Check the sellers feedback.

Look to see that the seller regularly sells Dell equipment. This tells you two things. One that they
are a reputable seller and have a history of people who bought the exact same item and were
happy. The other thing is that if you see positive feedback regarding non-similar equipment you
can assume that they will have no spare parts or service ability. If you see many sales of similar
Dell equipment you can be sure that if you have a problem and notify them right away they will
probably be able to fix your laptop.

Ask about warranty or warranty transfer assistance.
If you are lucky the unit you purchase will come with some warranty left from Dell. However
Dell will not transfer the warranty into your name unless you have the original owners name and
address. If you can find a seller willing to provide this you just struck gold! Note, this is not
common at all. You can still get Dell to service an in warranty unit but they won't transfer the
ownership to your name.

Buying Servers? Look for Dell refurbished units with a warranty.

I don't know how it works but there are many resellers of Dell Servers that are new or
refurbished from Dell. These come with the Dell warranty and are transferable. When the server
arrives its in the original Dell box still sealed up. The price can't be beat and I've never had a
problem. My suspicion is that for those with the right connections, Dell will sell you volumes of
over production and refurbished units far below pricing you'd see in their Dell Outlet site. is a great vendor for this type of buy.

This article was posted on May 13, 2004

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