Buying a used iPad and not getting ripped off - help!
May 17, 2014 2:00 PM   Subscribe

I want to buy a used iPad - third or fourth generation, and avoid Apple's high refurbished prices. What should I know? Where and how should I look? How to avoid eBay scams?

My beloved iPad 2 was stolen a few months ago when I was robbed. Now I am ready to replace it. I want to get a 3rd or 4th gen iPad, not a mini. What do I need to know to avoid getting ripped off? I plan to look on Craigslist and eBay. Craigslist is appealing because I can check it out before deciding. But what do I need to know? What should I look for to be sure everything is as it seems? Other tips? Craigslist always seems slightly shady to me.

Alternatively, is eBay a better idea? I've never bought expensive electronics on eBay (or much of anything.) What do i need to know? What are common scams? How do I know the item is what it says it is? Specifically, what are the identifying features of the 3rd or 4th gen iPad I should look for? I don't know how to tell different models apart.

Please give me your general and specific eBay advice.

Alternative ideas on where to buy a used/refurbished iPad are also appreciated. I am mostly looking for a good price. And of course a reliable iPad in good condition! I've always bought new from Apple before, so any advice is appreciated. Thanks guys.
posted by catatethebird to Shopping (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I bought a used iPad 2 awhile back from this guy, who seems to have a steady stock:


I have no affiliation with the vendor, but it was a problem-free transaction and he even offered to swap it with an iPad 3 when he had a price drop just after I completed a "Buy It Now" transaction. I ended up just being lazy and keeping the iPad 2 and it's been going strong for quite some time.
posted by aydeejones at 3:21 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also, in my experience the white iPads seem to be more commonly-available used and/or command a lower price. You don't notice the difference once you put it into a case...
posted by aydeejones at 3:23 PM on May 17, 2014

Over the years, I have purchased an iPad, multiple laptops, and printers on eBay, all with zero problems. My strategy:

1) Only purchase from sellers with a lot of feedback (preferably in the 1000s and higher). Someone who is selling a lot of expensive items but has only, say, five feedback is...suspect.
2) If feedback is less than 100%, read through any negatives very carefully, taking into account the seller's response, if any, and when they were received.
3) Make sure that the seller has a generous returns policy.
4) Read through the description super-duper-ultra carefully.
5) I avoid international sellers with 0 feedback like the proverbial plague. That yells "scam" to me.
6) Look for a seller who includes photos of the actual item in the listing.
7) I've also purchased from private sellers instead of dealers. When I've done that, I've also looked for lots of photos of the item, especially of any flaws identified in the listing.
8) I've noticed some sellers trying to be sneaky about an item being "for parts" only.
9) If the seller only has the merchandiser's boilerplate, instead of his/her own write-up, I tend to be wary (especially if the item is refurbished or used).
10) Absurdly low buy-it-now prices are a red flag (although auctions beginning at .99 are not).
posted by thomas j wise at 3:34 PM on May 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

I bought a refurb iPad from Mac of All Trades last year and have been completely happy with it.
posted by dogrose at 6:17 PM on May 17, 2014

I bought a "used" iPad 1 from Amazon warehouse. When it arrived it appeared to be brand new and still works well.
posted by amapolaroja at 9:27 PM on May 17, 2014

Specifically, what are the identifying features of the 3rd or 4th gen iPad I should look for? I don't know how to tell different models apart.

Once you can physically examine the iPad, you can check the model numbers on the back; that link also has the physical features of each of them. You can search for serial numbers (also on the back) here. Sellers usually list the serial/model/order numbers or should be able to provide them on request. But, photos and numbers can easily be faked in the listing, so the only guarantee before buying that the item is legit is to buy from a reputable seller (good advice above).
posted by bluefly at 7:53 AM on May 18, 2014

Check out
posted by sexyrobot at 9:26 AM on May 18, 2014

thomas j wise's comments are spot on. I would try avoiding Craigslist, there's no feedback system in place to check if sellers are trustworthy, so you would need to be extra diligent and cautious. I've bought my current MacBook and iPad, as well as various electronics, from eBay without issue.
posted by curagea at 10:38 AM on May 19, 2014

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