Ask LH: Are Private Sellers Obliged To Replace Faulty Second-Hand Items?

Dear Lifehacker, I purchased an imported Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 from a coworker who decided to upgrade. I was very happy with it, but it died suddenly within six months of the initial purchase. Lenovo don't seem to offer warranty service on this model in Australia, and the chance of repair seems slim. Is my coworker obliged to provide some kind of refund? Thanks, Paperweight Polisher

Dear PP,

In short, no. Australia's consumer protection laws do not extend to goods bought from one-off sales by private sellers. This includes co-workers peddling second-hand tech.

As explained in the government's fact sheet on shopping rights: "The seller has no obligation to refund, replace or repair the item you bought from them (for example, at a garage sale or through a classifieds ad)."

With that said, it can't hurt to approach your colleague and politely explain the situation to him. If he wants to maintain a harmonious workplace, it's in his best interests to help out.

If the device is still under warranty, Lenovo should be willing to provide assistance even if it was purchased outside of Australia. To keep things simple, maybe get your co-worker to make the claim on your behalf. (Assuming he has the paperwork.)

Failing that, your co-worker might have some other solution up his sleeve. Perhaps he has a tech-savvy friend who owes him a favour, or another old laptop lying around? You won't know until you ask.

Whatever happens, do try to keep things civil with your co-worker. Wasting a few hundred bucks on a faulty product is frustrating, but working in a hostile office is infinitely worse. As the adage goes — buyer beware!

Cheers Lifehacker

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    Pretty standard ALH article here: either "Can I make someone else deal with my problems?" or "Do I have to take responsibility for my actions?".
    Six months is certainly long enough that a private seller would have no idea that there's an issue with the item in question (or, long enough so that the problem doesn't even exist). Of course you can't make them deal with it - this is the archetypal reason given to buy new rather than second hand. How would you even respond to someone asking that you fix the thing you sold them six months ago, especially if they're inferring that you pay for it?
    As a 17 year old, I bought a car that I later found had been submerged at one point or another and ended up having to sink almost the entire purchase price again into it. That's getting closer to a condition that a seller might be responsible for disclosing - but again, they might not even be aware of it, so what recourse could you possibly expect?

    6 months!? Come on. If it was a few weeks I would raise it but my god... how is this colleague supposed to know a second hand computer is going to crap out in 6 months time. In that time it could have been any number of things this person did to the thing. Ridiculous question.

    This shouldn't have even needed to be answered. Short answer: it's your problem to deal with and not the sellers.

    I bought a Lenovo Yoga new in the UK and the Australian outfit refused to support it. Sending it to
    OEMs are reluctant to acknowledge the portability of their portable devices and so getting international support is tricky at best. I bought an Acer laptop in the UK on the basis of its explicit international travel warranty. I sought service for it while I was in Finland but the Acer repair folks practically laughed me out of the building, tried to sting me for major costs AND nicked my power cable/transformer. I complained to the UK Acer office several times and to Acer in Taiwan, but after ten years I have yet to receive a response.

    With that said, it can’t hurt to approach your colleague and politely explain the situation to him. If he wants to maintain a harmonious workplace, it’s in his best interests to help out.

    What an awkward conversation to have with the co-worker.

    "Remember that laptop you sold me at the start of the year? Yeah it's given up the ghost. Can I have my money back?"
    "Yeah, sure no worries."

    *Call Lenovo and sort it out yourself.

    Considering most consumer laptops have a 1 year warranty, and presumably the previous owner had it for more than 6 months... you would be out of luck.

    anyways, it is 6 months later, sort it out yourself, you are a big boy or girl now... you can think for yourself.

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