Alternatives to eBay When Buying Low-end Macs

- 2006.10.05

Tuesday's Empowered column, eBay No Longer Your Best Source for Low-end Macs, resulted in quite a bit of email - some of it agreeing with my conclusion, and some suggesting other sources for low-end Macs.

You're Right about eBay

Matthew Wright writes:

I sold my G4 iBook recently for 800 bucks on eBay and can't for the life of me figure out why the buyer didn't just buy a newer, faster refurb one (with a warranty) for the same price on the Apple online Store. People are strange.


In the last minutes of an auction, people can lose their minds. I sometimes wonder if they know something about the item that I don't, but I'm sure it's nearly always just bidding fever.


Try Craigslist and University Surplus

Wilfred Nelson writes:

I/we now use Craigslist and the local UW [University of Washington] Surplus Store. You have to get in line early at the surplus store, but you can get a G4 "Sawtooth" or better for $40 without a hard drive. Some buyer will take the entire stock of 7 or 8 towers, and I believe they are eBaying them. Financial data on eBay indicates that their auction business is in a slow decline, and they are expanding into other areas. I do find that flashed video cards for Mac's to be a good buy compared to retail prices.

Wil Nelson
Mill Creek, WA

I still use eBay for older peripherals and upgrades, if I can't get them at the local PC repair shop. This is one area where you can even get brand new items for much less than retail.


My Bargain Lombard

Travis Patocka writes:

Hardy, sorry to bother you, but I just wanted to say that it can take quite a while to find a good bargain on eBay with regards to a PowerBook G3 - but they are out there. I was able to find a near mint Lombard G3/333 with CD-ROM, 192 MB RAM, perfect monitor, OS X 10.1 installed, and 30 day guarantee for only $150 delivered.

For an educator such as myself, I know that you can get a better deal if you spend a bit more, but that is not always an option. This system works great for what I need. This isn't a high-end system by any stretch, but it works fine for word processing and basic Net surfing. Also, the battery holds a charge for over three hours!

The point is to not give up on eBay - you made some valid points about warranty and shipping issues - but if you look around you just might find a diamond in the rough.

About four weeks ago there was a mint, loaded Pismo G3/400 with DVD and CD burner (aftermarket, I think) that someone was selling for only $175! The guy didn't research his resale but guaranteed the system after I emailed him - and sure enough, that sucker sold in about one hour. I have always found eBay a good place to find some great deals, but like you said, there are many great options.

Thanks for the informative article!


I saw that Buy-it-now Pismo very early in my research and thought that I could do better buying parts 'Books. Clearly, I had a lesson to learn. If I recall correctly, all it needed was a battery. You're right - it was by far the best deal I saw. Still, I'm very happy with the deal I got on the G3 iBook.


For Canadians, Look at Apple's Refurbs

Terry McCune writes:

Excellent article, Hardy!

Up here in Canada, we have little choice about where to buy Macs, and used Apple equipment is usually snapped up at ridiculous prices. When I tried to order Apple stuff from Small Dog, they told me that their contract with Apple forbids them from selling any Apple products, new or used, across the border. So much for free trade.

UPS and FedEx have "broker" fees that can sometimes add a lot to a small order. So what's a Canuck to do?

Luckily, Apple Canada has seen fit to open a "refurbished" section of their online store, and it is providing good deals in recently-issued items, especially iPods.

For good prices on older stuff, you have to be trolling in the major urban areas to get half decent bargains.

Keep up the good articles!


Thanks Terry! I recently sent a beige G3 to Ontario from upstate New York for the cost of shipping - about US$42 through our Postal Service. Even at that, it was too much to have to pay to get a G3 desktop. I know that freight costs are a major hinderance to Canadian buyers. I'm glad you found some partial work-arounds.


Your Article on eBay

David K Evans wrote:

I read this article with some amusement, having discovered the same thing last month. I got my brother interested in Apple, and he bought a little 600 MHz iBook for just below $300 and ended up giving it to his daughter for college. Then I got the email from lower end computing and sent him the link to get his replacement. He said he'd "quit wasting his time on eBay" now.

In the end, I suspect that this will just put downward pressure on the eBay prices, and a careful person can still walk off with a deal.

Thanks for the great read!

David Evans

I hope you're right but it's nice to see the retailers getting some good business too.


Craigslist a Good Option

Ian Foster wrote:

Good article.

Craigslist, at least here in Vancouver, BC, is very good indeed.


Thanks Ian. You're the second reader to check in with an eBay alternative for Canadian Mac users. We can add the Craigslist to Apple Canada's "refurbished" section of their online store, as sources.


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