I am considering the local purchase of a Macbook Pro on Craiglist. Some of the circumstances around the sale are making me skeptical. I would appreciate your thoughts and advice.
Before getting started, let me first say that I am aware of the common Craigslist scams involving shipping internationally, over-payment for an item, etc. This situation doesn't have elements of that. Also, I have bought and sold on Craigslist many, many times before, mostly computer-related items, so I am familiar with that process.
Background: I am currently located in "Town A" of a Western US state. A few days ago I was browsing Town A's Craigslist site and came across a Macbook Pro listing in the Computers category. The listing stated that the Macbook Pro was purchased 2-3 months ago, includes all the manuals and software discs, but is missing the box. The seller claims the Macbook Pro is in perfect condition, no scratches, marks, or stains. Seller is located in "Town B" and provides a contact name and phone number, as well as 3 pictures of the Macbook Pro. The seller's asking price is $800. No other details are provided in the listing.
Looking at the pictures, it's obvious that this is a new/newer Macbook Pro and does indeed appear to be in great shape.
I emailed the seller with a list of questions, listed below. His answers are in brackets:
1) Are you the original owner? [I am the original owner, my brother bought it online for me brand new.]
2) What model (screen size, release date, etc.) of Macbook Pro is this? [I'm not sure of screen size but its a big screen.]
3) Was it purchased locally or online? [I'm not sure if he (the brother) ordered it from the apple store or where he got it.]
4) Do you have AppleCare (extended warranty) coverage for this? [It doesn't have any warranty's on it.]
5) Have you had any hardware issues with it since owning it? [I have never had a problem with it all, it runs like the day I got it.]
6) How come you're selling this after only owning it for a few months? [I just enrolled for school in "Town C", and bought another. So I need the money elsewhere.]
Since the seller did not seem to know the model or provide any hardware specs, I followed up with a request for the Macbook Pro's serial number. The seller provided the serial number and I looked it up on Apple's Technical Specifications
site and discovered it was a Macbook Pro (17-inch, Mid-2010), the most current model.
I also checked the warranty status of the Macbook Pro using Apple's service and support lookup tool and it showed that the laptop is registered, has telephone technical support until 8/26/10, and has repair and service coverage until 5/27/11.
I have scheduled a day and time to meet with the seller at a public location in Town B in the coming days. Although the emails and seller appear legit, I still have some healthy skepticism about the sale for these reasons:
1) Obviously, the asking price of $800. This laptop retails on Apple's site for $2,299, and most comparable 17" Macbook Pros that I've seen on Craigslist (in other areas) are going for at the very minimum twice as much. I have attempted to rationalize this price by conjecturing that a) the seller is not aware of the value of the laptop (given the small town, less-informed nature of the area), b) the seller was not the purchaser (his brother was, according to what I was told) so he's looking to make some quick money for school on an item he does not need/use/have investment in, c) the laptop is stolen, or d) there's something seriously wrong with the laptop that isn't apparent given the information I have from the seller.
2) The seller listed the Macbook Pro is Town A (my town) and not in his own town, Town B, which has its own Craigslist site. It should be noted that Town A is quite a bit larger (by +40k people) than Town B, so maybe the seller was hoping for greater exposure. I have not found the item listed on any other Craigslist sites in the state.
I'm torn because the price is so good (yes, possibly too good to be true, and we all know the lesson in that) but given this area (and the lack of computer/technical savvy of most of its people) it would not be totally out of the question for a person here not to know what they're selling or the value of it, and if legit, it would be a tremendous value purchase on an item I would like to own. I am, however, not so naive to think that scams and stolen property deals can't be consummated in this area.
As I see it, my options are to meet the seller, cancel the meeting with the seller, or go to the meeting but not immediately identify myself to see if the seller shows and to scope out the seller and the laptop.
How would you approach this situation?
Thanks for your help.