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On Trying To Sell A Laptop

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My now ten year old 2012 MacBook Air got replaced last year with a new M1 MacBook. As the M1 chip set was still new and didn’t support a lot of dev tools yet, I had to revert to using the old laptop now and then. After a few months, most of the bumps on the road had been cleared out, and everything got backed up and moved to the new machine.

Since then, it has been used sparingly—sometimes as a backup internet browser. Last month, I decided to finally get rid of it. How does one sell second hand electronics? Through eBay, of course! Well, not really. As I was trying to create a new “for sale” product page, eBay kept on spitting errors at me with regards to the price. After more than an hour of trying (!!), I finally found an obscure page explaining that most accounts can’t sell articles for more than €10 per month.

Wait, what? My eBay account is ancient, and it has hundreds of A+++ style feedback records. I would have to “request a higher selling limit” or something similar. I was completely fine with having to share a small cut with eBay, but this is just ridiculous. I was forced to start the bidding at less than €10. That would mean that if I wanted to hit €100, I’d have to rely on sheer luck. Perhaps only one bidder would show up and get lucky. I eventually published it, but retracted the item after an hour. This didn’t feel right.

Option number two. In Belgium, ( in English, a watered down version of the local “Craigslist”) is a prolific—and dangerous, we’ll get to that—alternative to selling goods on the second hand market. It’s free, heavily marketed, and basically a digital chaotic market place. On eBay, if you encounter any trouble, policies and support is there to guarantee you’ll get your money back (I relied on that once or twice). On 2dehands, you’re basically screwed. I’ve been ripped off there once.

So why go back and sell there? Because it’s quick and I wanted to get rid of the laptop. And because my favorite option, eBay, refused to work as I envisioned it.

The 2dehands marketplace is a cesspool. It’s really, really sad. A selection of some ridiculous situations.

One. A day after I published the article, I got private messages wanting to buy it by undercutting the price. I kindly answer them, “please place a bid on the article page, I do not accept bids via messages”. Five minutes later, the person ups the offer—through a message. (Messages cannot be seen by other potential buyers, meaning there’s no “official” bid at all)

Two. I receive messages like:

Hello (username), is this still for sale?

Two minutes later, the same person:


Two minutes later. TWO. I should add that the 2dehands site comes with an app that pushes those messages to your smartphone. Of course, I do not have that installed and only check in on the site now and then—whenever I want to. It’s obvious that everyone is used to instant reactions. If you don’t immediately answer something, you lost the buyer.

Three. Retracted offers are rampant. After a day or six, I attempt to contact the highest bidder, say “congrats, let’s settle this” (etc), and the answer is… a retracted offer. I then contact the runner up—no response. This is getting on my nerves…

Four. After agreeing on a deal, exchanging the address and time, the evening before, I receive:

Hi is the deal still going through?

Of course, I didn’t immediately read that. One hour later:

Hi sorry I bought another one.

Cool. It seems that committing to a buy isn’t worth anything on 2dehands. Again, I did not see the message, and was waiting for the buyer the morning after on the agreed time. Thanks so much, non-committal 2dehands users. The problem is that this isn’t exceptional: it’s common. I’ve never had something like this ever on eBay. Not once. Furthermore, on average, the friendliness level of messages I receive on average on the 2dehands platform is very poor compared to the civilized exchanges I’ve had on eBay.

Sixth. After several bad experiences with potential buyers, I don’t want to exchange my address anymore, so I revert to shipping only—for a reasonable amount of €6. Another interested person bids. I say “sure, deal, but shipping only”. “Why”? I explain myself. “No way, I don’t pay anything before shipment!”. Okay, sure, no deal then. It’s not like everything on eBay doesn’t work like that. This is a clear signal that 2dehands sellers should not be trusted.

The problem is, they would be (mostly) right. I’ve been ripped off exactly like that, and the staff of 2dehands, nor the local police, did anything to help. They didn’t even bother to track the IP of the seller. And yet, 2dehands has the guts to advertise on local commercial television channels as a “secure” way to buy and sell goods.

Selling an old laptop—I was aiming for a hundred EUR, wow!—gave me much more stress than the financial value I expected to get out of it. I reckon the Dutch alternative,, will likely be an equally awful experience. I decided to just give away the laptop instead.

Perhaps that €10 eBay option wasn’t so bad after all…

tags icon second hand markets

I'm Wouter Groeneveld, a Brain Baker, and I love the smell of freshly baked thoughts (and bread) in the morning. I sometimes convince others to bake their brain (and bread) too.

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