Buying second hand continues to be very popular in Bermuda, it has many advantages. However, buyers of used goods must be careful to avoid potential problems, especially when buying secondhand big ticket items like appliances and cars. 

As the second hand market continues to grow we at Consumer Affairs get calls from consumers regarding purchases gone wrong. 

Common issues include, cars that broke down soon after being purchased, appliances that break down, goods not received after money has been paid in advance or goods not performing as described.

Consumers must be very careful when buying used goods – here are three key things to consider.

First, let the buyer beware! When buying used goods, the Consumer ¬Protection Act 1999 and the Sale of Goods Act (as amended) 2002 have limited application to buying goods privately. Buyers should protect themselves by fully inspecting the item and ensuring that it is as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for its purpose.

Second, research and inspect before you buy.  Find out how old the item is and how often it was used. 

Ask if it is still under warranty. If the product is electrical, plug it in to make sure it works. 

For mechanical or technical products, take someone with you who knows about the item, or make the sale conditional.  

In the case of a car, it is a good idea to ask for a day to have it checked by a mechanic so as to decide if it will cost more to have it licensed than it is worth. Research what the item costs new to determine if what you are paying is fair and reasonable.

Third, ask for a receipt which shows what you have bought with the date, name, address and telephone number of the seller, and any conditions of sale; because buying secondhand is a private sale, you can actually write your own contract with terms and conditions of sale that both you and the seller must sign and date.

Finally, be careful who you trust. Even if you know the person you are buying from cross your t’s and dot your i’s very carefully.  

Do your due diligences before you buy any product second hand. 

The Consumer Affairs website has a whole section on purchasing secondhand goods with detailed information on buying used cars, bikes, children’s products and appliances, please go to www.ca.gov.bm.

Honey Adams Bell is the education officer for Consumer Affairs.