Used Verizon Cell Phones - 100% ACTIVATION GUARANTEE (No BS!)
We have been selling used Verizon Wireless cell phones and other cellular items from our eBay Store since January of 2004. We also carry other brands including Sprint PCS and Cingular. This NO BS Phone Buying Guide is designed to identify key things buyers should know and watch out for when purchasing a cell phone on eBay. There is nothing worse for you as a buyer to receive a phone and realize that it isn't what you expected or wanted! Hopefully after reading this guide, you will understand what to look for in order to avoid disappointment when shopping for your next used cell phone!
Tip #1 -- Buy a cell phone for the correct carrier and technology
This may sound simple, but many customers have come to us asking why the phone we advertised for US Cellular or Sprint PCS does not work with their Verizon Wireless service! Obviously, it would be wonderful if every phone was automatically compatible with every carrier, but this isn't how it works. If you have Verizon, you need to search for phones that will be compatible for Verizon. The same principle applies to Cingular, Alltel, AT&T, Cellular One, Sprint PCS, Cricket, NTELOS, Unicel, and Midwest Wireless.
It is also important to buy a phone with the right technology for your carrier’s network. There are several main types of cellular technologies including CDMA (Verizon Wireless, Sprint, US Cellular, Alltel, Cricket, Cellular One, Midwest Wireless, NTELOS), GSM (Cingular, AT&T, T-Mobile), TDMA (certain regions of AT&T and other carriers), and iDEN (Nextel).
GSM and iDEN phones use SIM cards, the other technologies DO NOT use SIM cards.
When buying a GSM phone you can buy one that is "UNLOCKED" for use on ANY GSM carrier, or you can buy one that is labeled for your carrier. It is important to note that even though AT&T merged with Cingular, the SIM cards aren’t interchangeable unless you have an UNLOCKED phone. It is usually a little bit cheaper to buy a GSM phone that is only for use on your carrier if you do not need the features of having an UNLOCKED phone. After purchasing a GSM phone you simply insert your SIM card and it is ready to use!
Tip #2 – Determine what features are important to you in a used cell phone
Do you simply want to replace a broken phone with the exact same model you had before? If so, type in the model number and you will likely find exactly what you are looking for. However you might want to upgrade to a camera phone, a flip phone, or a phone that can be used with a Bluetooth headset. If you know what features you want, do searches for various features using eBay’s item specifics to find exactly what you want. Keep in mind that if you won’t use the camera function or built-in MP3 player on a phone, there is no reason to spend extra money on a model with those features. You would probably be just as happy with a basic flip phone.
If you want to know exact details about features of a phone, you can type the model number into Google or visit a site such as PhoneScoop to view detailed specifications and features.
Tip #3 -- Make sure the used cell phone is GPS and E911 compliant
For safety reasons, the FCC requires all phones activated after August of 2005 be GPS-enabled to allow 9-1-1 emergency operators to quickly identify the location of a cell phone caller. Some eBay sellers are still advertising phones for Verizon Wireless that CANNOT be activated due to this requirement. Some models that should NOT be purchased for Verizon Wireless due to this issue include the LG VX1, VX10, and Kyocera 7135. ALL phones sold by Cell Phone Brokers are GPS-enabled and fully E911 compliant!
Tip #4 -- Check to make sure the used cell phone's ESN is cleared for activation
A phone's ESN (electronic serial number) is a unique identifying code that allows the cell phone network to communicate with the phone. This number is printed on the back of each phone and can be seen if you remove the battery from your phone. Until a phone's ESN is registered on the network, it cannot make or receive calls. In our experience, Sprint PCS is the most fickle about activating used cell phones. For some reason, the ESN's of many used phones come up as "lost" or "stolen" in Sprint's system, even if the seller has acquired the phone legitimately. We have had customers call Sprint and been told that a phone cannot be activated, however if they take that same phone into a Sprint retail store it can be activated with no problems! Unfortunately it seems that the success of activating a used phone with Sprint can depend on the knowledge and skills of the customer service representative you deal with!!
Other carriers such as Verizon Wireless and US Cellular don't seem to have as many activation issues with used cell phones as Sprint does, however it is still important to verify the ESN with your cell phone provider before purchasing a used cell phone since no carriers will activate phones that are flagged as lost or stolen.
When shopping for a used cell phone on eBay, we recommend you only buy from sellers who display the ESN of the phones they are selling. This allows you to contact your carrier's customer service number to see if the phone can be activated on your plan and it also proves that the seller has the phone in stock and ready to ship to you immediately!
Tip #5 -- Only buy from sellers who have a money-back guarantee
When purchasing any electronic item on eBay, it is very important to buy from a seller who will provide you with a refund or replacement if the item doesn’t work as advertised. Cell phones are no exception, so look for sellers who allow you at least 7 days to determine if the product is fully functional and also guarantee the ESN is clear for activation on the specified carrier.
Tip #6 – Buy from sellers who specialize in used cell phones
Cell phones can be complex and confusing for the casual eBay buyer and seller. For this reason, we recommend buying from sellers who have a proven track record and experience in dealing with cell phones. To determine if the seller is experienced with cell phones, view all of their items and if at least 50-75% of them are related to cell phones, this seller probably has adequate experience in the category. Experienced sellers are likely to be able to offer you better buying advice, solutions to problems you may encounter, and customer service if you do have a problem with an item you purchase.
Tip #7 – Look at the seller’s eBay feedback profile
We recommend purchasing cell phones only from sellers with a feedback rating of 98.5% or higher. When selling used electronic items, a feedback rating of 99% or higher is TREMENDOUS, and anything over 98.5% is very good. The reasoning for this is that even the best sellers will have a few defective items if they are dealing with used electronics. Some buyers will post a negative remark for these sellers even if the problem was out of the seller’s control and they did everything in their power to correct it. However, this shouldn’t happen more than 1-2 times out of every 100 feedback comments. If a seller has a feedback rating of less than 98%, we recommend you AVOID that seller’s auctions entirely. They are probably not testing their phones fully before shipping them and/or they lack the resources or systems to offer efficient customer service to buyers who experience trouble with their items. In our experience, even if it looks like you will save a dollar or two by ordering from a seller with lower feedback, it rarely pays off due to the extra hassle and risk involved.
It is also important to look for patterns within feedback. If customers are consistently commenting on fast shipping, the seller probably does well in this area. Likewise, if there are consistent comments about shipping errors or poorly packaged items, the seller probably needs improvement in those areas.
Tip #8 – Read the item description and look at photos CAREFULLY
Used cell phones can vary dramatically in terms of cosmetic condition. Some used phones can look nearly brand new and others will look like they have been chewed on by a dog or small child. It is your responsibility as a buyer to make sure you read the item description carefully to get details on any cosmetic wear to the phone. It is also helpful if the seller includes an ACTUAL photo of the phone being sold. Many sellers use STOCK photos (the same photo for each phone of the same model), and while this saves time for the seller it does nothing to educate the buyer about the condition of the item. Some sellers use a scaled rating system (1-5 or 1-10) for the condition of their phones; however one person’s "2" may be another person’s "4". For this reason, we feel the most reliable measure of cosmetic condition is an ACTUAL photo of the phone, so you as a buyer can determine for yourself if it looks good enough for you to buy.
Tip #9 – Never buy a used cell phone sold "AS-IS" unless you need it for parts or repair
In our experience, if a used cell phone is being sold "AS-IS", that means that it will have some sort of problem and the seller doesn’t want to take responsibility for it. Sometimes the seller will even explain the problem clearly in the description. These listings usually go cheaper than phones with guarantees, however they are not a good deal unless you know how to repair phones or need a part from the phone (LCD screen, etc) to repair a different phone you already own. For the average buyer, we DO NOT recommend purchasing "AS-IS" items.
Tip #10 – Determine the seller’s shipping policy and efficiency
There is nothing worse than ordering an item on eBay and having to wait AN ETERNITY for it to arrive or even to leave the seller’s warehouse! For this reason, we recommend you try to find a seller that guarantees your item will ship within 24 hours of when you pay for it. Look at the seller’s feedback page to see if there are comments about fast shipping or slow shipping. If you see a pattern of comments about fast shipping you can be assured the seller will likely get the item to you as quickly as possible. However, if you see many people complaining of slow shipping or never receiving their items this is a big red flag and we would recommend avoiding that seller!
If you are in doubt about shipping speed and you need an item IMMEDIATELY or it is an emergency situation, maybe buying a used phone on eBay isn't the best option for you. Remember, it is always safer to spend a few dollars more to purchase locally rather than relying on an unknown eBay seller to get it to you in your time of need. However, if you can wait several days to receive your phone and if you want to save a lot of money, buying on eBay definitely IS the best option for you!
Hopefully you have found some useful information in this guide. If you follow these 10 tips when purchasing your next used cell phone on eBay, we guarantee you will save yourself many headaches in the process!