Selling an unreliable computer.
April 10, 2005 7:44 PM   Subscribe

My current laptop has become unstable and I've been forced to ditch it suddenly to get a new one. It functions, but I don't trust it. What are the ethics of reselling it?

I've had it for 2 years and the model has some notorious issues with overheating (Pentium 4). I've had the harddrive and the logic board replaced in separate incidents while it was under warrenty. Now it's out of warrenty and it's been crashing. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to worry me. I'm taking some important exams next month and planning to travel abroad for a year after that. So I've decided to ditch it and get a Mac. It's still a good machine and, if the harddrive fails again, it'll be a <$300 fix.

Were it not for my situation, I'd hang onto it and wait to see what happens. But as it is, I'm getting rid of possessions and could use the cash. So, what am I obliged to do before I sell this computer? Send it in to the manufacturer for a complete overhaul? Advertise it with full disclosure?
posted by felix betachat to Computers & Internet (11 answers total)
Even if you didn't advertise with full disclosure (which you should), I can't imagine you'd get a whole lot of money for a two year old laptop.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:04 PM on April 10, 2005 [1 favorite]

I'd go with full disclosure. You won't feel icky about yourself afterwards, and if you give enough good information someone out there is likely to know exactly what's wrong and how to fix it or at least what's worth cannibalizing from it. You aren't likely to get as much money if you go the caveat emptor approach, of course, but maybe you believe in karma?

PS: without wanting to derail the thread, I'd be interested in hearing your motivations for getting rid of possessions and how far you're taking it. I've recently had an ascetic impulse hit me, and I'm not sure what to do about it.
posted by kimota at 8:09 PM on April 10, 2005

How about selling your laptop 'as is'? Some people buy laptops for parts only, so there are no moral qualms attached to 'as is' selling.
posted by seawallrunner at 8:27 PM on April 10, 2005

Yeah, I had this iBook that I dropped a microphone on, stained with tandoori sauce, and just completely messed up. I got a good deal after advertising the grimy thing on eBay with very frank disclosure. You'd be surprised who wants a beat up old laptop, and you will not go to hell if you are honest and don't call it "practically untouched."
posted by inksyndicate at 8:44 PM on April 10, 2005

TPS: The same model is selling on ebay for $700. If I had to get it fixed ahead of time, it hardly seems worth it. But I'm wondering if full disclosure, a no return disclaimer and a reserve of $500 is justifiable.

kimota: I'm selling my furniture and getting rid of all but the most essential clothing. My library and papers are going into storage; whatever I can't fit in 2 suitcases is getting sold. It feels liberating, actually.
posted by felix betachat at 8:44 PM on April 10, 2005

Full disclosure.

Look at ebay. There's lots of people selling broken things (and disclosing this fact).

Besides, many geeks (like me) love buying broken stuff just to try and fix it/hack it/turn it into an automatic something do-er :)
posted by zerokey at 8:46 PM on April 10, 2005

Geez. I might have a Toshiba Satellite 1110 for y'all, then. The lower third of the display went kablooey this morning.

Although I am considering just de-heading it and using it as a desktop machine; I've got a monitor for it.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:51 PM on April 10, 2005

FFF - that baby is a media centre waiting to happen!
posted by coriolisdave at 9:02 PM on April 10, 2005

The ethics are, would you feel cheated if you bought it, knowing only what what was advertised about it?
posted by orthogonality at 10:49 PM on April 10, 2005

Agreed, just tell people up front what's wrong with it. There's always someone out there who's busted their screen and would buy it for a decent piece of change (or, more likely, someone who makes some money fixing those laptops and needs yours for a part).
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:41 AM on April 11, 2005

Been thinking that, too, coriolis. Stuff one of those new 120Gb laptop drives in it and go to town. Only problem I have is that the display would be via TV, which sucks for resolution.

Although I suppose I could build a new case for the screen and gracefully block the third of the LCD from view...
posted by five fresh fish at 9:16 AM on April 11, 2005

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