IMG_0025Lenovo charges an insane amount for configuration upgrades on ThinkPad laptops. For that reason when I bought my T550, I chose a base model and upgraded RAM and SSD myself, which equates to a saving of at least $300. However, this self-upgrading has always bugged the purist inside me. The T550 is not designed with maintenance in mind and the base cover is a PITA to get off. I always felt that I had broken something inside the laptop when I removed the base cover to replace to components. But other than that, the T550 is a lovely device. It packs enough power and runs cool. It is a 15″ but does not weigh like one. Fantastic keyboard as always with numeric keypad. The W550s shares the same chassis and internal design with the T550. So, I decided to buy a new T550/W550s with higher factory specifications in order to get a better out-of-box experience.

At the time, Lenovo has already discontinued the T550/W550s and refreshed their 2016 lineups with T560/P50s. I could go with the T560/P50s, but Lenovo decided to remove the native VGA port that I often use this time around, and the new models are more expensive than the remaining T550/W550s stock I was able to find.

Which brings us to the subject of buying ThinkPads on eBay. I will share my experience of buying a ThinkPad W550s on eBay, but keep in mind that it may not apply to all ThinkPad sellers on eBay.

Like many others, I was skeptical. The particular model I bought is easily $1600+ when new, but the seller was asking for less than $1200, and claiming it is a brand new item. Before placing the order I sent the seller a message, just to see what he/she has to say about the condition of the item.

ask about condition

Seller responded to my query timely, and promised a brand new condition.

After I placed my order, the item was shipped fast and packed extremely well. However, perhaps not surprisingly, the laptop is anything but “brand new factory sealed … never been opened”. The seal was opened when the laptop arrived.

return request and explain

Seller explained that “That paper seal is easy to break during the shipping process.” That is just BS. Previously I have purchased four ThinkPads directly from Lenovo. Lenovo always ships their products by themselves i.e. in bare product packaging as opposed put in a dedicated shipping box. That means the seal is always exposed and theoretically subject to more wear and tear. Moreover, CTO items are built and shipped all the way from China. In none of those cases did the seal broke. This eBay seller shipped the laptop from within the US and packed it very nicely with bubble wraps in a second box. I do not believe that the seal broke during the shipping process.

That said, although the outer package was clearly opened before, the security seal on the inner plastic bag is untampered with. There is no sign of any use. All serial numbers match. The power-on time is minimal based on the SSD SMART information. Battery, power adapter and power cord all look brand new. Some on the Internet have noted that some sellers purchase a base model, upgrade it using better parts, and then sell it at a cheaper price than if you purchase directly from Lenovo, and still make a profit. That does not seem to be the case here. I decide to keep the laptop. I did open an request for return on eBay, and seller responded promptly and created a shipping label. I closed the return after deciding to keep the laptop.

So that was my $0.02 in buying ThinkPads on eBay. How was your experience shopping for laptops on eBay?