Would you buy a second-hand appliance?

by , Home Product Researcher Energy & Home 1 February 2013
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My old washing machine recently decided to shuffle off this mortal coil. And rather than sitting in a growing pile of dirty laundry, I went out to replace it. Should I buy a new or second-hand machine?

Washing machine drum

This rather inconvenient turn of events naturally led to mounting panic as my pile of unwashed laundry was already both formidable and still gathering size.

In the end, because my old Hoover washer had thoughtfully stopped working during the January sales, I was able to get a decent deal on a Bosch. I was soon back to my washing routine, without too much disruption.

And though I got a fairly good deal on my washing machine, at no point did I stop and think to investigate the current refurbished/second-hand market. Perhaps I might have found a superior model for a smaller, or similar, amount of money?

Paying for peace of mind?

Still, although I only thought of a second-hand washing machine in hindsight, I am still glad I bought a brand spanking new model that came with a two-year guarantee. For me, it’s all about peace of mind, as I know a good washer from a reliable brand reduces the risk of breakdowns.

But even if a second-hand or reconditioned washing machine was supplied with a warranty, I’d still not place as much trust in this compared to an off-the-shelf model. Perhaps that’s just me?

There’s also the issue of cost. These days you can replace your washing machine for under £400 with a fairly decent model, including some Best Buy washing machines (most Which? members said they’d be happy to pay around the £370 mark) so the amount of money you might save by going second hand is getting smaller compared to what it was in the past.

However, when I replaced my TV years ago – I had absolutely no qualms about buying a Samsung that had been used as a display model on the shop floor. I got a decent amount of money off the original price and, I’m pleased to report, it’s still working today.

What would you buy second hand?

When I really think about it, there are appliances I’d happily buy second hand or refurbished – fridges, TVs and tumble dryers, while others I would have to buy brand new such as washing machines and dishwashers. I’ll reveal why this is in the comments…

My question is, what appliances would you buy second hand and which must be brand new? Do you have any conditions that must be met when purchasing different appliances?

Would you buy a second-hand appliance?

Maybe, it really depends on the type of appliance (51%, 213 Votes)

No, I have to buy new appliances every time (35%, 146 Votes)

Yes, I’m happy buying second-hand appliances (14%, 56 Votes)

Total Voters: 418

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19 comments

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Em

I think if you want some sensible answer to this Convo / Poll you will need to be much clearer about what you mean by “second-hand”?

Obviously not brand new and boxed, but an ex-demo TV off the retailer’s shop is not what I would call second-hand. And you are very unlikely to see a washing machine that has actually been turned on in store.

So ex-display, “B”-grade, refurbished or warranty repair, exchanged, but all sold by a retailer with the benefit of a warranty.

Then there are pre-owned, used appliances bought from a dealer or repairer.

Finally, private sales.

And it’s not just about the state of the appliance, but to do with the rights that come with each type of sale, as I’m sure you know. So what, exactly, do you mean by second-hand?

Thanks for your comment Em – it’s a very good point.

By second hand, I’m talking about buying machines bought direct from e-Bay, Gumtree, a private ad or even informally from a friend – basically wherever a retailer or manufacturer is not involved, and thus no warranty.

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Em

Thanks for clarifying Adrian, and to answer your question; no, I would never buy an electrical appliance (or a car for that matter) second hand from someone I did not know and trust.

I may be in the fortunate position of being able to afford new but, in the long run, I don’t think it is worth it. A washing machine has a limited lifetime. If I buy it new, I know exactly how it has been treated, how old it is and how long it should last. I can therefore make an informed decision about whether it is worth repairing when something goes wrong.

If I bought, say, a second hand washing machine for £200 and it went wrong after a year, what do I do? Pay for the parts to fix it (which might be 50% of what I paid for it) or assume that is bad luck and ditch it?

I treat my cats (cats? I mean cars) the same way. Buy new and run them for 10 years plus. I know they are safe, and haven’t been crashed. Depreciation in the first year isn’t an issue, because I don’t sell the car until it is scrap.

This is very timely, Adrian. I’m in the market for a new dishwasher, I say new, but I’d be happy to take a punt on a second hand model if it was from a reliable brand at a very attractive price. Re-conditioned would be my preference, but I would consider buying privately from Ebay or Gumtree.

Every product I’ve seen so far has been pick-up only, and that’s putting me off – when you factor in your time and the hassle of getting something bulky (and unboxed) from A to B, second hand seems a bit less attractive.

If a second hand seller could deliver, I’d be much more inclined to buy.

Matt

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Em

I you have ever serviced a dishwasher and seen the grease and gunge that collects around the seals it might put you off buying second hand. For the same reason, the idea of a used fridge or washing machine is a turn-off for me. An appliance that heats, less so.

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John

Hi There

I have a simple rule on this issue.
If gas or water is involved, it’s got to be new.

Anything else I’ll check out the 2nd hand market, but even then I only use one of the local, well established dealers who offer fully cleaned and refurbished units, often with a short (maybe 3 months) warranty.

P.S.
Could there be an insurance issue here.
i.e. Switch on the washing machine. Go out to dinner. Come back to find the kitchen and living flooded out.
Put in insurance claim, turned down, because you put in “defective equipment”.

John

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wavechange

Washing machines sometimes go on fire. If left unattended there could be a lot more than a flood to worry about.

To expand on comments above – fridges and tumble dryers are something I would happily buy second hand or refurbished.

Refurbished from a manufacturer with a warranty would be the better solution, but if I came across a really tempting deal on a fridge or tumble dryer being sold locally by a private seller, I would be tempted to go round and inspect it. I’ve bought a fridge from a private seller before (friend of a friend) and it worked out very well – perhaps I’m now too trusting, but would certainly consider it again in the future.

I know from our reliability survey that tumble dryers are generally very good – filters of course need regular de-fluffing (ideally after every cycle) and condenser models need their heat exchanger run under a tap every month or so to help remove fluff – but as long as these components are present and in visible working order, and I’d heard the dryer running to make sure it’s not making any worrying noises, then I’d take the risk for the right price.

As I revealed above I have bought an ex-display TV – and would be happy to buy another ex-display model or a refurbished one.

But as for washing machines – I would prefer to buy new. When a washing machine beaks, for me it’s a case of replacing it as soon as possible, and buying new also means I can get the appliance delivered, installed correctly and the old one carted away with minimum fuss. While dishwashers are not vital, I would still prefer the convenience (and peace of mind knowing my dodgy DIY) of a professional installation. And should something go wrong, I have the warranty to fall back on.

But that’s me – what about the rest of you?

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Em

Again, I would hesitate over tumble driers, unless you know what you are doing and how to check them internally. I had a Creda tumble dryer catch fire (bought new) after a few years of use.

A build-up of lint around the bi-metalic thermostat, plus some arcing and sparking as it was nearly worn out, caused the the lint to start smouldering and could have potentially caused a serious fire.

Having bought it new, I feel my insurance would have covered a catastrophe. But if I’d bought it as a second-hand disaster-waiting-to-happen the week before?

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david

it must depend on what sort of appliance, surely and the circumstances. ex demo from a shop is pretty much ‘as new’ whereas ‘manufacturer refurbished’ suggested a product was faulty and has been repaired which is not terribly attractive as often [say with laptops] there’s only £50 or £75 off what the new price would be if you search around on the internet rather than buying from the manufacturer anyway.
for electrical goods sold privately or fro 2nd hand shops you should always want to know the seller’s reputation because of course the risk is that the sale is due to some malfunction or other, especially goods like dvd players which have moving mechanical parts, or laptops which people sell because of faulty keyboards etc.
Equally some things are well worth buying 2nd hand if you first research what a good product/model is, know what it costs new and then look at buying from somebody with a good record on ebay. for example buying a good pair of hifi speakers, and amplifier and a cd player is much much cheaper that way and providing you know how to buy the right cables, this is a lot cheaper than buying equivalents new. the same is true for slr camera equipment. I would also sell things second hand such as washing machines to a friend or somebody you know, and for white goods like fridges they can be demonstrated working before being taken away.
some eletrical goods such as small appliaces like kettles or toasters are so cheap even for some best buys or near best buys that buying 2nd hand seems a false economy unless you are willing to take home and find the occasional item that doesnt work or is faulty.
lastly…. dont buy ‘cheap’ ’2nd hand’ batteries, and remember…if the price seems too good to be true then it probably is

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Phil

I bought a second hand fridge in 1977/8 and it’s still going strong but I’m not sure I’d want to buy a second hand washing machine. Some are dodgy enough as it is.

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Chris

I have a washing machine which is in its 3rd home and about to go into its 4th. It’s a Bosch and came from my sister to me and is going on to my step daughter. With care in moving it is still functioning well so is it used or second hand yet?

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Phil

Well you know it’s history and it’s provenance as they say which makes a difference. You can be sure it hasn’t been the subject of some botched repair or renovation that might’ve left it in a dangerous condition.

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Dead Eye Dicky

Depends what I need so I list my preferences below:-
Cooker: Only from soeone I know and trust paying only slightly more than scrap value – £20.
Fridge: Only from someone I know and trust. Must be perfect. Price depending on age.
Tumbler: Did this once from an ad in local paper. Never again!
Washing Mc: In hard water area so all local stuff is full of limescale after a couple of years. I’m a good DIYer so buy new and mend it when it breaks.
Vacuum Clnr: Buy a recon Dyson from a local market. (about £50).
Dish Washer: I might buy a Bosh if the previous owner was getting rid of it because they found they hardly ever used it and less than 5 years old. Pay up to £75.
TV: Buy a new Best Buy (Panasonic) and keep it until the technology moves on and it can’t provide it.
Computer: Buy new to your own specification from a specialist.

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carole noble

These are austere times, so why not buy second hand. I have over the years bought many electrical items second hand, and to be fair I haven’t had any problems. There is a fine line I know when you talk about WHERE our goods come from but as long as you are assured that they have been Pat tested, and I say this because if you buy second hand from say The British Heart Foundation then you have a guarantee, and also you are supporting a worthwhile cause, and getting a bargain, a win win for me. I get quite cross when people look down their nose at folks who cannot afford to buy new and there are those who do still. It is considered a frugal move to check out what can be saved on any item these days, and lets face it if you come into the “Posh” bracket why would you be needing the likes of “Which” anyway, you can afford whatever needs replacing. I think that we need to concentrate more on what buying second hand really means. A) We are saving money B) We are helping the environment C) We can support charitable causes (e.g. British Heart) As long as safety isn’t compromised in any way then why shouldn’t we… ?

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John

Well said Carole. .. Agree 100%.
On the other side of the coin (so to speak) if you are replacing or upgrading from an appliance which is still working satisfactorily, please don’t just take it down the city dump. Call one of your local charity shops and offer to donate. The will come and collect it.

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wavechange

I prefer to buy new and keep appliances for a long time, trying to fix them if there is a problem.

The only secondhand appliance I have bought was a chest freezer to go in the garage. It did not seem worth buying a brand new one. A neighbour found an advert for a nearly new freezer being sold locally with the offer of free delivery. The owner had the receipt and gave a good reason for the sale, so I bought it. It’s still working after 30 years.

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Alan

It’s always a gamble.

I bought a used original dyson which we had for the best part of a decade before we lost it in a fire. Bought a second one which worked perfectly for years before the motor burned out and it became irrepairable.

But yes, if it has been refurbished and the price is right then it’s a gamble worth taking in my opinion

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Diana

After my brother split from his wife he needed white goods for his unfurnished flat. Recommendations from Housing Association and CAB for a charity who supply white goods .mainly for people receiving benefits and tax/pension credits. The cooker lasted for less than 3 months, the fridge/freezer for less than 12 months (bags of food had to ‘binned’) and the washer though not working properly is just hanging on in there. £340 wasted – NEVER AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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