4 Ways To Avoid Loss And Fraud When Buying Used Camera Gear Online


Many prospective buyers approach the used camera gear market with a great degree of trepidation, especially when it comes to purchasing online. This anxiety is understandable — no one wants to get scammed or waste their money.

There are, however, a few key points to remember that can keep you safe and help you get the best bang for your buck when buying used camera equipment online.

Know What You Want And What You’re Getting

You have to know what you want so that you can be more confident in what you’re getting.

Whether you’re looking for a used but excellent condition item or a well-used item that has a few nicks and scuffs or an item that is in need of repair (perhaps so it can be salvaged for parts), it’s a must that you read the item description thoroughly.

Only consider making a purchase when the stated item condition is in line with your standards.

Vitaly Vlasov

Pay Securely

Only buy from a site that uses a trusted payment processor like PayPal, Stripe or Braintree. You can also search reviews to see what others have to say about a particular seller’s handling of payments (and their overall reputation). Trustpilot, Yelp and Facebook can help you accomplish this task.

Negative Space at Pexels

Check The Return Policy

Any seller worth dealing with will have a liberal return policy. Read it and re-read before buying anything. Once you have bought and received your item, test it thoroughly. Make sure that it not only matches the description in terms of cosmetic condition but also check that everything functions properly and that any accessories that were listed as included are actually included.

Be sure to do all your testing within the timeframe of the seller’s return policy — if there’s anything you’re not happy with, you can return it and get your money back.

Returns are less of a concern when dealing with a company (KEH, MPB, B&H, etc.) rather than an individual seller, such as someone selling on eBay. If an individual gives you a hard time about returning something, you will have to go through eBay/PayPal to get the problem resolved.


Offset Your Costs

The best way to offset the cost of buying new-to-you gear is by trading in your old stuff. There are a number of used camera sites that accept trade-ins. All you have to do is fill out a form detailing what you’re trading in and provide some specifics about its condition.

The company will give you a quote. If you’re happy with it, they’ll take your old gear off your hands, usually at their expense.

While making a trade is a convenient way of offsetting your costs, selling your old gear outright is usually more beneficial as you are likely to receive greater value for your items than you would by trading them in.

Alexander Mils

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re alleviating a case of gear acquisition syndrome, switching brands, upgrading items you’ve outgrown or replacing something you lost, there are numerous online dealers who have what you need.

No one can deny that the internet has made buying and selling fast and convenient, but there are potential risks. When dealing with such high-value items as photography gear you surely want to minimize the risks of loss and fraud. The advice presented here will help you to that end.

Safe and happy online gear hunting to all!

Further Reading

About Author

Jason Little is a photographer, author and stock shooter. You can see Jason’s photography on his Website or his Instagram feed.

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