eBay – Buyer Be Aware

eBay – Buyer Be Aware

IOFlood.com’s Best Tips for Buying used hardware on eBay!

ebay screenshot zoomed in
  1. If it looks too good to be true, it is! Know what you’re looking for and what it’s worth.
  2. Read listings carefully. Make sure the listing reflects the product.
  3. Understand exactly what is included in the sale.
  4. Know where the item is located and what shipping charges will be.
  5. Check the Sellers Return Policies!
  6. Check the Seller Feedback. Don’t just look at the number, read the reviews.
  7. Never accept offers from Sellers outside of eBay!
  8. Never pay by wire transfer/bitcoin/western union.
  9. Keep all communication through the eBay messaging system.
  10. Keep track of your shipments and test your hardware ASAP!

For those of you that follow our monthly Server Parts Pricing Report, you may be aware that those reports use eBay as a source of information.  It’s no secret that large companies liquidate high performance servers well before their end of life.  We take advantage of these liquidation sales to offer our customers servers with outstanding performance-per-dollar.  

There are plenty of deals to be found in the used hardware market, but unfortunately, there are plenty of scams as well and telling the difference can be difficult. Along the way we’ve learned some ways to make sure you get good working hardware to go along with the low prices you can find on eBay, so, we’ve put together this guide to help you navigate the sometimes muddy waters of buying second hand server hardware on eBay.  

Many people are intimidated and may feel hesitant about the idea of buying from ebay or aren’t sure which sellers or listings they can trust, but if your budget is tight and you want the best bang for buck, buying used hardware is definitely the way to go.   Although nothing is 100% guaranteed, these tips and recommendations will give you the best chance of a successful buying experience.  

  1. If it looks too good to be true, it is!  Know what you’re looking for and what it’s worth.

Don’t rush in blindly and buy the first thing that may seem like a good deal.  If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is!  It’s always a good idea to know what you’re wanting to buy as well as what it’s worth and what you’re willing to pay.  Be mindful of outside factors that can influence the price of the hardware you’re looking at.  A good example of this is the recent crypto craze that saw second hand hardware prices skyrocket.

If you want to get an idea of how hardware prices have been trending, you can check out our past server pricing reports here:  IOFLOOD.com Server Parts Pricing Reports

  1. Read listings carefully.  Make sure the listing reflects the product.

With some products, like RAM and CPU’s, it is especially important to make sure that you read the listing thoroughly before committing to a purchase.  If you’re looking for 32gb sticks of ram, make sure the listing is for a singular 32gb stick and not 4x 8gb sticks.  Another common gotcha is with CPU’s where ‘Engineering Sample’ or ‘Qualification Sample’ CPU’s are being sold with listings that make them sound like the real thing.  Read the listing carefully.  Make sure the picture matches the title or description.  Make sure the description matches the title.  Avoid listings that mention more than one model number which are not identical parts.  Avoid listings that have no images or where you can’t be sure exactly what you’re getting from the pictures because model numbers and/or accessories are not visible.  

You can read more about the Intel ‘Engineering Sample’ CPU’s here:  Information about Intel Engineering Sample Processors

  1. Understand exactly what is included in the sale.

When you’re looking at second hand hardware, make sure you know exactly what is included in the sale.  If you’re buying a server chassis, make sure all the necessary accessories are included, like drive caddies, server rails or rack ears.  These parts can be expensive and difficult to source after the fact, and may mean that your bargain server really isn’t that much of a bargain at all.  

  1. Know where the item is located and what shipping charges will be.

Make sure you check the ‘Shipping’ section for the listing.  This is going to give you a lot of important information, including but not limited to, the item location, where the seller is willing to ship to, and the cost of shipping.  Many vendors incorporate shipping costs into the item prices, especially with ‘Buy It Now’ listings.  Remember, things like item location will impact the time it takes to ship and the carrier choices.  International shipping may also incur additional fees for items that are imported and international shipping may not always track well which could lead to increased risk of items going missing in the post.

  1. Check the Sellers Return Policies!  

Always buy from a seller with a good return policy!  A seller that does not accept returns may leave you high and dry if the item you have purchased is damaged, doesn’t arrive or isn’t what it was meant to be.  This could leave you out of pocket quite a bit of money.  

  1. Check the Seller Feedback.  

Seller Feedback is an important tool when it comes to making a buying decision.  The seller’s feedback is found right under their name.  Feedback is broken down into two parts.  The actual number itself, and the positivity percentage.  The higher the number, the more transactions the seller has had on eBay.  The higher the positive feedback, the more people satisfied with their transactions.  A seller with 987 transactions and a 100% positive feedback score is more likely to leave you with a positive transaction than a seller with 9870 transactions and a 50% positive feedback score.  Additionally, if you click on the Feedback number, it takes you into the seller’s feedback profile where you can read everything written by previous buyers.

  1. Never accept offers from Sellers outside of eBay! 

Sometimes sellers will offer to sell you something you’re interested in cheaper if you take the sale outside of eBay.  This saves them from having to pay the fees, and the thought of saving money is probably tempting, that’s why you’re buying second hand in the first place, right?  Taking the transaction outside of eBay is not only a direct violation of eBay’s buying and selling policies, but it also leaves you at risk of being the victim of fraud and takes away your ability to use the eBay Money Back Guarantee Policy. 
Offering to buy or sell outside of eBay policy
eBay Money Back Guarantee policy

  1. Never pay by wire transfer/bitcoin/western union.

Absolutely the safest way to pay for any eBay transaction is definitely going to be Paypal or Credit Card, which both offer protection in case something goes wrong during the sale.  Wire Transfer, Bitcoin, Western Union and ‘Giftcard’ payments offer no buyer protection in case of fraudulent transactions and should be considered red flags to avoid at all costs.  

  1. Keep all communication through the eBay messaging system.

Keeping all communication within the eBay messaging system means that eBay has a record of everything that has been said between both parties.  Emails, text messages or phone calls can leave a buyer in a situation where they have been promised something that isn’t followed through on, and in most cases leaves you with no evidence to support your claim.  Keeping communication within the eBay messaging center is for your own protection in case something goes wrong.  

  1. Keep track of your shipments and test your hardware ASAP!

Last, but certainly not least, make sure to keep track of what is on order, and when it arrives, test it right away. Utilizing tracking numbers so you know when you’re expecting packages to arrive means you are less likely to ‘miss’ a delivery or have something go missing, but it also means you can be ready to test your hardware ASAP.  This is especially important.  In most instances, sellers have a 30 day refund policy so you need to make sure you’ve tested your purchases and ensured that they have all necessary parts and are fully functioning as expected before this time frame is up in case you need to initiate a return.   

If you purchase a lot of stuff, a great way to handle this is using a simple spreadsheet.  You can record your purchases, tracking numbers and arrival dates.  You can also record when the purchases were tested.  Color coding can make it easy to see what’s what at a glance.

Bonus tip!

Always use “desktop mode” for eBay, even when on a phone. The mobile app hides a lot of information that can be very necessary to decide if the listing is good. The mobile app also downscales images where they are blurry which can make it very difficult to read part numbers, etc from the pictures.


So there you have it!  With these simple tips, you can navigate through the world of second hand server hardware with confidence, knowing that you’re more likely to have a positive experience and be satisfied with your purchases.  

Happy Shopping!