High-quality household appliances do not have to be expensive. With a bit of luck, buyers will find bargains on the Internet. There are numerous platforms on which private individuals and dealers offer used washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators and other useful household helpers.
For example, many people are familiar with Ebay, Ebay classified ads or the neighborhood platform nebenan.de. Local sales pages in social networks are just as widespread, as are advertisements by private individuals in daily and weekly newspapers.
Anyone who uses such platforms should pay attention to who is selling the goods and with whom the buyer is concluding a contract - with a commercial dealer or a private individual. That makes a big difference, different consumer rights apply in each case.
"When buying online from a commercial dealer, there is a 14-day right of withdrawal," explains Iwona Husemann from the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center. During this period, customers can return the goods without giving a reason.
"But if you buy from a private seller, you don't have this right. Private sellers can completely exclude consumer rights such as the right of withdrawal and warranty,” warns Husemann. Then you cannot return the goods if they have defects.
While on eBay, for example, both dealers and private individuals offer goods. On Ebay classifieds, it's more like advertisements that mainly come from different regions - like a virtual flea market, where mostly private sellers and buyers act.
It can definitely be worthwhile to buy a used household appliance on the Internet. "Here you can possibly get a super economical model in the best energy efficiency class and top equipment for little money," explains Claudia Oberascher, project manager of the Initiative Hausgeräte.
Anyone who buys goods from private individuals within a city or region via platforms has a great advantage: the buyer can pick up the things personally - and take a closer look at them.
This is particularly important for used devices, explains Husemann. Before someone finally accepts products, he or she should check their functionality.
From the outside, buyers often do not see the devices in which condition they are. "But there are some indications that suggest how intensively they were used and how they were cared for," explains Oberascher.
A black, dirty drawer for the detergent indicates a lack of hygiene. An unpleasant odor can be a sign that someone has operated the machine improperly or neglected it for a long time.
Oberascher recommends asking the seller directly how the devices have been used so far. Was the washing machine or dishwasher owned by one person and ran once a week, or did a large family use the appliance several times a day?
As in a shop, the model year, energy label and equipment are also decisive when buying household appliances online. "To get additional information, you can check the manufacturers' websites to see whether the model is still in the range and download the operating instructions," advises Oberascher. For example, the equipment can be compared with current devices.
Buyers should be suspicious if sellers withhold important information, warns Michael Littger, Managing Director of Verein Deutschlandsicher online. "This may be an indication of attempted fraud."
There are certain standards for sales ads that vendors generally adhere to. This includes age information and information about the condition of the product. Damage and defects must be reported by the seller.
Good, meaningful photos are also customary. "If the information in an ad can't be found or can only be found insufficiently, something can be fishy," warns Littger. "You also have to be careful when the seller puts pressure on you." According to the motto: Better buy it now, tomorrow the product will cost twice as much.
Even if bargains are possible when buying a used product online, buyers should not strike blindly. “It is best to enter the product into a price comparison calculator beforehand. This is how you find out whether the asking price is reasonable,” says Husemann. Especially very low prices can indicate dubious providers.
Another important point is the delivery of the goods. While reputable sellers usually have no problem with this, fraudsters try to avoid personal contact. "No wonder: You don't have anything to hand over, you just want the money," explains Littger.
In order to protect buyers from fraud attempts, a purchase on account makes sense. Some merchant platforms also offer the "Secure Payment" function. The amount paid no longer goes directly from the buyer to the seller, but is instead held in trust for up to two weeks.
Only after the buyer confirms receipt of his goods does the seller receive his money. If the goods are not shipped, the buyer gets the purchase price back via the escrow service.
"That's a good service, especially for higher-priced items," explains Littger. "It not only gives the buyer security, but also time to check the functionality of the product in peace."
This article was first published in May 2021.