Where can you get used electronics at great prices? Sounds like the tagline of every flea market. However, as with most secondhand merchandise, you have to be shrewd about what you buy and for how much. Plus, at a flea market, there's the added possibility of running into some major scams, so you need to know what to watch for. Secondhand electronics are always a hit-and-miss deal, but with these helpful shopping hints, you might hit more than you'll miss.
Watch out for signs of scams! At flea markets, there are special techniques vendors use to disguise the fact that they're selling garbage. If you notice tape all over a device, it probably means they're holding all the broken parts on -- even if the price and some information is written all over the tape, it's just a disguise. Also, watch out for items considered rare that the vendor won't let you examine; if he or she keeps it behind glass, it may not be suitable to purchase.
Test equipment whenever possible. Not all vendors will have access to an outlet for testing purposes, but those who do should allow you to test items. Some, obviously, are more difficult to test than others, such as VCRs and game system that require a TV to function. Handheld electronics, the sort that only run on batteries, may be tough to test, too, but if you bring along a pair of rechargeable batteries in various sizes, you can stifle the vendor's protests.
Ask about a return policy. Most flea market stalls do not allow for returns at all, and electronics in particular. However, it doesn't hurt to ask the vendor if he or she has a return policy that would allow you to bring it back after a certain amount of time, should it prove broken. Because most secondhand merchandise is sold as-is, you may be out of luck in this department, but you also might encounter a vendor who is determined to convince you that the electronics you're interested in really do work.
Only buy rare used electronics at flea markets. That means things like outdated video game systems, retired handheld devices, and stuff you're going to take apart for scraps. Why not buy more recent or practical things at flea markets? Because if you're going to purchase a refurbished computer, say, it's better to do so from someone who has an established reputation for turning out good products. Flea markets just don't have that reputation!
Secondhand merchandise is everywhere in your neighborhood! Check out GarageSaleCow.com and look up some sales right near you.