Ask about the item, talk and hear the story about what you are buying and why the person you buy it from is selling the item. For example – if you are buying a used iPhone from someone, why are they really selling it? Because they got the newest version of the smartphone or was it because its stolen?
Do some investigation, if it’s a Chesterfield sofa or maybe an iPhone, maybe the seller have other items for sale, similar or the same type as you are bidding on or trying to buy. Be sure to check if he might be selling stolen goods – which is illegal in most countries worldwide. It can be pretty telling if the seller for example having 32 iPad Air2 for sale, all brand new – but he is a private person.
It will be a pretty good idea to get the persons email address as well as his phone number so you can SMS or call him (after thinking about it). Also obtain his address information so you can meet him in his house or in a public place like for example a pub.
When you go to get the new item – say an iPhone or another smartphone, it would be pretty intelligent to inform your friends or family that you go to FantasyStreet 32, Liverpool to meet Johnny Doe buying this iPhone 6 Plus or Samsung Galaxy phone – and give them all the contact information.
It is best if it is a friend with lots of buying used goods experience. He or she will be an extra hand and will help you being calm and relaxed while you might be a bit scared or afraid to meet a stranger.
It can be a bit overwhelming to ask a stranger that you want to see the item in use before buying the item, which is again a good reason to bring a friend, as he/she might be the expert in what you are buying. For example a computer nerd for a Macbook Pro – And another benefit is that it is easier to walk away from someone when you bring a friend to cover your back and can make you feel a bit more relaxed.
When a seller tries to sell iPhone 6 or similar for £380, you might be able to offer him £350 and get away with it. One tip is – if you bring a friend – that you pull out £320 and shows him the money, telling the seller that he can have these money right now, and if not you have to go get more money some place – and think a bit more about it. Seller might then say he wants at least £360 for the smartphone, and you then ask your friend if he has some money. Your friend finds £30 and hands it to you… and the smartphone most likely is yours, and you just paid £350 for the phone and saved almost 10 %.
If the seller gives you a bad feeling, tries to sell you other stuff too or simply seems to be either a drug addict, criminal or a homeless, do not buy from the seller ever. Always trust your instincts.
Seller has to prove that he has the ownership of the item, if he can hand you the receipt from a known chain of shops on the item (not a copy), it should be okay. If it is a very expensive item, take a photo of the sellers ID papers – ie. a drivers licence or passport.
If it has an serial number, it would or could be a wise move to call the police or investigate in other ways if this item WAS stolen anyway, a receipt can be faked, as can other things like passport and driver licenses. Another thing, make sure that your item is insured by your insurance company – as the seller now also knows the identity of an owner of an expensive item.
Unless it is a unique item that you can only get far from home, make sure to buy the item so the seller doesn’t have to mail or ship it in some way – as the seller might just send you an item that’s not what was shown on pictures or in the quality you expected. The iPhone might have a cracked screen or an iPad Air might have connectivity issues going online. When buying from private persons in most cases means that you can’t return the item and get your money back – or complain to anyone that it doesn’t work.