Many buyers think of  'Open Box' items simply as returned items that a customer found defective in some way. Although, this may actually be the case in some listings, the majority of sellers that list 'Open Box' are reputable dealers that present a real bargain. The reason sellers can offer this great deal is due to them being able to locate and acquire items at a fraction of the retail price. In many cases, the items being sold are of equal quality as items advertised as new, but with deep discounts.

How many times have you been inside a retail store and located an item you wished to buy but wanted to see the actual contents? OK, you do not have to fess up, but this is quite common. However; once you locate the item, you open it to inspect what is inside. After you inspect the item, you place the contents back inside the package, place the item back on the shelf and purchase one that has not been opened.

Retailers hate this because it is so difficult to sell the item once it has been opened. Most potential buyers (except the one that opened it) think the item has been placed on the shelf because someone either found it defective, or the item was a demo and therefore handled and used for marketing. Although neither is true, who would buy a taped up item when a pristine one could be purchased instead? So, the retailer disposes of these items in discount bins. If the items are not purchased by discounting them, they are sold in auctions or through liquidators. These auctions and liquidations are where the 'Open Box' eBay seller plays.

Although there are disreputable dealers out there, the eBay system soon weeds them out. It is fairly easy to spot them. Here are some guidelines you can follow:

  • Pay attention to their feedback. (As always).

  • Read the feedback received. Spot potential flaws.

  • Does the seller advertise that it is ‘Open Box’? (Honesty is key)

  • Does the seller indicate the item was tested?

  • Do the pictures show that they are repackaged? (This is good because it usually means the item was inspected)

  • Compare the price to the new items. Is it a deal?

  • How fast does the seller answer questions?

  • After asking questions, does the seller seem evasive?

  • When asking questions, does the seller have good follow-up?

  • If it feels a risk, it is best to pass.

‘Open Box’ items offer the best deals on eBay, but they may also present the most risk. That risk can be minimized with a little common sense and good buying practices.