Buying a 6-month-old MacBook Pro from craigslist. What do I look for?
December 22, 2017 8:36 AM   Subscribe

I've set up a craiglist buy/sell meeting for later this afternoon. The computer for sale is the exact configuration I was planning to buy at the Apple Store, where a new one costs $500 more than he's asking (plus tax which is over $100). What do I want to ask/check/test before I hand over my cash? Specs and questions inside.

Specs:

MacBook Pro: 13-inch, 2017, Four Thunderbolt 3 ports
Processor: 3.1GHz Intel Core i5
Memory: 16GB 2133 MHz LPDDR3
Storage: 512GB SSD
Graphics: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 650 1536 MB
macOS Sierra Version 10.12.6

Includes power adapter and USB adapter
Memory "wiped clean"

The computer was bought in July of this year. When I asked why he was selling a computer he'd only just bought, he said he's decided he'd rather have a Dell XP 15", so he's offloading this one. But this is at a $500+ loss for a six-month-old computer! What should I be looking for to make sure this isn't a scheme to get most of his cash back on a lemon, and I'm stuck with a shit computer and no recourse?

Please help me make a checklist. This is all I've got at the moment.

- It doesn't have AppleCare. Can I still buy that for this computer?

- How can I test that the memory is truly wiped clean?

- What should I bring to the meeting? I'm going to bring a portable external drive to test that the USB adapter and the four Thunderbolt ports are functioning properly. Is there anything else I should bring for testing purposes?

- I've never worked with a TouchBar before; how do I make sure it functions as it should?

- How do we let Apple know that the computer has switched owners, and should work under my Apple ID, rather than his? How do I change it so his fingerprint can no longer activate, and mine can?

Finally -- is my peace of mind worth another $500 plus tax? I'ver never bought anything so expensive (and important) anywhere but a store before.
posted by tzikeh to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
you can check if a device is eligible for apple care on apple's site (https://checkcoverage.apple.com/) using the serial number. if they won't give you the serial number, it's possibly stolen.
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 8:52 AM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


There have been a lot of problems with the keyboards on this model. Make sure you test every key.

I don't think it's your concern whether the storage is wiped clean or not. The seller should be concerned about that, because it would be his stuff you'd potentially have access to if it wasn't.
posted by primethyme at 8:55 AM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


You can buy AppleCare up to a year after the purchase date... I've seen people recommend that you ask the seller for the original receipt just to confirm that date (but also to confirm that the computer isn't stolen...)

The Apple ID should be as simple as setting up an account under your name and id. Make sure it's an admin account so you can make changes to the system. Personally, I'd totally wipe the thing and start over when you get it home. Here's a guide.

Like you, I'd be a bit worried about a $500 discount on a computer the seller could sell on Swappa or something for a couple of hundred more. Macs depreciate very slowly. Make sure you meet in a safe place, like the lobby of your bank.
posted by Huck500 at 8:58 AM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


There's a chance it's stolen. Get a photo ID, get a car license plate, etc. Get the serial number before hand and check with the police.
posted by theora55 at 8:59 AM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I have the serial number. He posted a screencap of the About menu with all the deets from above, including the serial number. I didn't post it here because I wasn't sure that was a good idea.

I tested it at the site and they trembled before her fury recommends. Here's a snapshot of what was returned on query.

Those multiple end-dates seem a little weird -- isn't everything either 90 days or 1 year?
posted by tzikeh at 9:11 AM on December 22, 2017


Ask him to provide the original purchase receipt showing the serial number.
posted by essexjan at 9:14 AM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Those multiple end-dates seem a little weird -- isn't everything either 90 days or 1 year?

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your question, but it seems like the original purchase date is 9/27/2017 - 12/27/2017 is 90 days after and 9/27/2018 is one year after. The warranty period is going to be relative to the original purchase date, not to today's date.
posted by mskyle at 9:22 AM on December 22, 2017


My husband got a similar deal for a very similar machine on Craigslist. He got an even deeper discount than you’re getting for a machine that had never even been used and was only a month old. And he had all the purchase info/receipt for it.

Just anecdata to say yes, this is possible.

When I bought my last MacBook from Craigslist we met in a starbucks so I could connect to WiFi and make sure everything worked as intended. I also had a friend within five minutes who knew where I was and who would have come right there if she didn’t hear from me within a set period of time.
posted by guster4lovers at 9:26 AM on December 22, 2017


This is actually how I bought a lot of our machines for a downtown theater. Sometimes people just want to upgrade and know they can't get full retail value for their machine and craigslist is fast. The biggest problems I had with these was folks not wiping their accounts and then me needing to follow up with them re: administrator passwords to be able to do it myself.
posted by edbles at 9:35 AM on December 22, 2017


You could run Apple Diagnostics to check for hardware problems, though beware that it takes a while to run (maybe half an hour?). Also I’ve seen it report problems even when everything seems to be working fine, so it could report a problem that the seller didn’t know about!
posted by actionstations at 9:44 AM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


primethyme: There have been a lot of problems with the keyboards on this model. Make sure you test every key.

How would I go about doing that? Just open pages and start typing?

mskyle: Maybe I'm misunderstanding your question, but it seems like the original purchase date is 9/27/2017

His ad says he bought it in July. Maybe he means it was manufactured in July?

guster4lovers: we met in a starbucks so I could connect to WiFi and make sure everything worked as intended. I also had a friend within five minutes

Way ahead of you - meeting at a Starbucks about half a mile away that's next to a Chase branch office. :) I just need a list of what I should be looking at/for.
posted by tzikeh at 9:45 AM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


As to your touchbar question, the main thing is that it has different functions for each app. So open a few and make sure the functions change and then touch a few of the buttons. That’s really the whole touchbar experience.

As to the keyboard, my experience is that it’s not super comfortable to type for long periods of time. If I were you, I’d bring a short passage to copy out so you get the experience of the key action. And that way you can test all the keys as well.
posted by guster4lovers at 10:56 AM on December 22, 2017


Regarding the yellow exclamation mark on your checkcoverage screenshot, Apple has changed AppleCare recently. AppleCare+ coverage for the MBP may purchased within 60 days after the original purchase date but after that, the MBP is not edible for it. Regular AppleCare can be added a year* after the original purchase but you have to call into Apple Support to do so.

The primary difference between AppleCare and AppleCare+ coverage is the later covers two incidents of accidental damage.

*However, given that Apple could abandon sales of regular AppleCare w/o warning, waiting until the last minute is no longer a good idea.
posted by jamaro at 11:43 AM on December 22, 2017


His ad says he bought it in July. Maybe he means it was manufactured in July

I would not purchase an Apple product that Apple says was purchased months after the seller claimed he had purchased it.

Generally the reason people would get the month of their "purchase" this wrong on something expensive that's only a few months old is going to be because they never purchased it in the first place -- such as if they stole it from the legitimate purchaser, who might not have the opportunity to report it yet.
posted by yohko at 1:16 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]



His ad says he bought it in July. Maybe he means it was manufactured in July

I would not purchase an Apple product that Apple says was purchased months after the seller claimed he had purchased it.


In addition to this, all that matters is when Apple says it was purchased. I once bought a Macbook Pro from BestBuy open box. The clock started ticking from the date of the original purchase, so my window in which to purchase AppleCare was shorter than I expected.
posted by 4ster at 1:51 PM on December 22, 2017


Welp, once I emailed him about the weirdness of the July-or-September thing, and asking for proof of purchase, he stopped replying to my emails. he's a no-show at Starbucks.

Aaaaaaaaand his Craigslist post is gone. He'd only posted it last night.

Now I feel bad -- I literally helped him to lie better by pointing out his July claim didn't fit the dates that come up for that serial number.

Rats. Rats all around.
posted by tzikeh at 2:12 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


You could post on craigslist about this and include the serial number, so if anyone googles that serial number they would find out. Or I guess you could add the serial number here in a comment, but you might not want laptop thief dude to know your username.

I don't know if you can report this to Apple, but you can probably report to your local police that someone tried to sell you a laptop with this serial number and the other info you have on the person.
posted by yohko at 4:12 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Honestly I just sold some Apple laptops on Craigslist and I wouldn't jump through any more hoops than giving you the serial number and screenshots of the system info either. Craigslist is a hassle and the whole point is a quick cash sale, first person with cash in hand gets the laptop (if you need all the documentation, go to the Apple Store).

As far as what to look for, in the extended system details you can check the battery health - obviously look for errors here, but you can use the number of cycles to gauge how heavily it was used by the previous owner. Check status of drive in Disk Utility, you could run the diagnostic if you wanted. Check for dead pixels - switch to black full screen, white full screen, see if you see anything. I would look up the known issues, keyboard already mentioned was the thing I tested for when I bought new ones recently.

Also not that great of a deal honestly, these were just on sale for less, and if you order from a non-Apple resaler (ie B&H if you're not in NY state) you don't pay sales tax.

Next time ask him to meet in the police department parking lot. My local one has a spot designated for Craigslist transactions. Weeds out the scammers real quick. Doesn't really sound like a scammer to me though.
posted by bradbane at 5:25 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


MacBook Pros are favorites of thieves; my local Craigslist always has several that reek of being stolen. If you're getting something new enough to have a warranty, you'll need the original receipt to transfer the Applecare, so stick with people willing to provide it unless you're comfortable getting a hot laptop.
posted by Candleman at 6:04 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, the best way to buy a discount mac is to go through good refurbishers with a good history. All of the below have been around for ages and do a good job AFAIK.

mac of all trades
powermax
other world computing

https://www.macofalltrades.com/
https://www.powermax.com/used/used-macs/
https://eshop.macsales.com/shop/Apple_Systems/Used/Macs_and_Tablets
posted by lalochezia at 5:02 AM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


I would report to the police. Someone may have reported it stolen, and may have had their serial #. Bummer.
posted by theora55 at 3:35 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


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