Buying anything secondhand brings with it some risks and rewards -- missing pieces vs. great deals and more. When buying electronics from a garage sale, there are obviously some signs you can look for to check if the bargain you seem to be getting is really such a good deal. You should definitely pay attention to whether or not all the pieces of an electronic buy are there, particularly the ones listed in this article (as they can be very important to whether or not the device is a good long-term buy).
If the device has a remote, make sure the host can find it for you. It's all too easy to go home with your brand new used TV, only to find that you have to walk up to it every time you want to change the channel or the volume. While you may be able to get a universal remote to replace a missing original, that will cost you additional money that you could have spent on getting a nicer model in the first place! If you do get the remote, get rid of any old batteries, as they may decay from age and ruin the remote.
It's important to turn on your secondhand electronics (unless you're just buying them for parts, of course), right? That makes the cords very important. If you're buying a device that's of a respectable old age, this is particularly key to getting it to work, since some cord types have changed and you might not have a replacement in that box in your garage. Since cords don't generally go missing, you'll probably find them all wrapped up at the back of the device, but check just to be sure.
With more intricate devices, having a manual handy can save you a lot of grief and burned parts. Sometimes, the host will simply have forgotten that he or she has the manual, since most device owners don't keep the manuals with the item itself. If you don't see it taped to the device, go ahead and ask politely. The host will probably smack their forehead and be able to fetch it for you!
Similarly, if the item you're buying is fairly new, you may want to have the warranty in case something goes terribly wrong. Granted, some warranties will be no good without the original UPC, and a lot of device owners don't turn in the warranties in time, but you may be able to at least call for technical support using the information on the warranty.
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