Buying electronics, such as laptops, digital cameras or televisions, on Amazon can be tricky – whether you buy directly from Amazon or from a third-party seller on Amazon Marketplace. Unlike at a bricks-and-mortar retailer, you can’t physically see or touch a desired item before buying it online. You also don’t have the luxury of being able to ask a customer service representative any questions in person about the product.
The purchasing decision becomes even trickier with off-brand electronics, which don’t have the reputation and reliability that come with name brands. As such, you run the risk of purchasing sight unseen a poor-quality product with a short lifespan. It may be worth the peace of mind to buy pricey electronics from a big-box retailer, where you can ask questions and get immediate assistance if there’s a problem with the purchase.
If you decide to buy from Amazon, beware unreliable third-party sellers offering subpar off-brand products or even name-brand knockoffs, says Saundra Latham. Start by reading customer reviews, but do so with a skeptical eye. “Even if there are a ton of five-star reviews, confirm they are substantive and don’t simply say the product is great without explanation,” Latham adds. That could signal it’s a fake review.
Next, check the third-party seller’s refund/return policies, which can differ from Amazon’s. Finally, go to the seller’s merchant page and send a message with any product-related questions you may have. The response – or lack of one – can help you determine whether buying the item is a smart move.