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19 July 2021

Should you buy a second-hand TV?

Gumtree, eBay and even direct from the manufacturer: there are numerous places to buy a second-hand or refurbished TV. We investigate if it's worth doing.
Martin Pratt
Woman buying a TV in a shop

A new TV is a significant purchase and, depending which size you buy, or how high-end it is, could easily cost up to four figures. Buying a refurbished or second-hand TV could save you money, but there are things to consider before you go down this route.

You're less likely to be able to get the very latest models, you probably won't have the same level of warranty as if you bought a new TV (or no warranty at all) and your consumer rights may be limited (scroll down for more on warranties and your rights). However, you may consider these to be sacrifices worth making if you can save a packet.

What's the difference between a second-hand TV and a refurbished TV?

Before we go any further, it's worth noting the difference between a second-hand and a refurbished set. 

  • A second-hand TV will have been used for a time before being sold – often directly by the previous owner – on an online marketplace,  such as Gumtree or eBay. 
  • A refurbished TV has likely been returned by the previous owner to the manufacturer, or a third-party repairer/reseller, as a faulty or unwanted model. Restored to its factory default and repaired, the TV is then sold on at a reduced price.

In this guide we'll look at how much money you're likely to save on a second-hand or refurbished TV, the best place to buy one, how warranties compare to new models and the best way to recycle your old TV.

Buy at the right time and you can save a bundle on a new TV – see our favourite TV deals to find a good set for a good price.

Where can you buy a refurbished TV and how much can you save?

We've picked out a handful of the refurbished TVs on sale on popular tech outlets in March 2021. Click on the links to see our full reviews of each TV. 

These specific deals probably won't hang around long, as refurbished stock depends on what TVs are returned, but this gives a flavour of how much you can save by buying a refurbished set. 

1. Amazon Outlet

Amazon sells a range of devices listed as 'renewed' that are tested by what it calls 'qualified suppliers' to make sure they work like new. Any Amazon renewed TVs have a one-year warranty.

Below, you can see how much cheaper a selection of 'renewed' TVs we checked were compared to buying new. 

The size of the saving varied, but each model we checked was cheaper to buy from Amazon Renewed.

Visit Amazon Renewed to see the latest refurbished TVs on offer. 

2. Appliances Direct

Appliances Direct has a range of refurbished and ex-display TVs. Ex-display means the TV was a display model used in showrooms, that's now available for sale. Since it has technically been used, it's available for a discount.

These models come with a one-year warranty and a grade, which tells you what physical condition the TV is in. A1, for example, means it may have some superficial scuffs or dents, but includes all the accessories and has been checked over by an engineer.

Most of the refurbished TVs from Appliances Direct were from 2019 and no longer available new, which made it difficult to compare prices.

Some sizeable discounts are available, particularly on TVs with a higher headline price. However, some of the cheaper models had little difference in price compared to buying them new, so you may prefer to pay a little more for a TV that's fresh from its box.

See the latest refurbished and ex-display TVs available from Appliances Direct. 

3. Box

Like Appliances Direct, online technology store Box grades the quality of the refurbished TVs on a scale. We also noticed additional descriptions of the TVs where applicable, such as an LG OLED that had a small chip on the screen and some warping. 

It's good to see such detailed descriptions of any issues, so buyers shouldn't be too surprised when they receive the TV. Box also says all refurbished TVs are extensively tested and undergo quality-control procedures.

The length of warranty also varies from TV to TV. We saw some with one-year warranties, while others only had three months. Most listings also mention a Dead on Arrival (DOA) policy, which is usually 14 days. If the product develops a fault in this time then Box says it will repair or replace it.  

This DOA policy is separate to the rights you have under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, which state that something bought online can be returned for a refund up to 14 days from when you receive it (whether it's faulty or not), and that includes refurbished and second-hand goods bought from a retailer. 

Box had some of the biggest discounts we saw, but the condition of the TVs varied significantly, and the warranties were often shorter, so read the details carefully before buying. 

Find out if there's a refurbished model that could tempt you on the Box website.

4. Panasonic eBay outlet

There are new and refurbished TVs on Panasonic's eBay outlet and all come with a one-year warranty.

According to Panasonic, all its refurbished products have undergone stringent assessments, tests and, if necessary, repairs. There may be some superficial damage to the TV, but this shouldn't impair its use.

The level of discount was mixed on Panasonic's refurbished sets, and some were no cheaper to buy refurbished than we could find new with a bit of shopping around, so it's worth checking the new price before you buy.

Take a look at Panasonic's range of refurbished TVs on the official Panasonic eBay outlet

Prices on all the above TVs are correct as of 11 March 2021.

Where can you buy a second-hand TV and what should you consider?

A couple buying products or services online

With genuinely second-hand TVs, rather than those that have been reset and refurbished to a certain standard, you'll often going to be buying directly from the previous owner – perhaps because they've decided to upgrade, or moved house to somewhere the TV size is no longer appropriate for.

Gumtree and eBay are the main places you'll find second-hand TVs for sale. Be careful not to confuse second-hand TVs with refurbished models, particularly on eBay. Outlets such as Panasonic's usually have a dedicated storefront within eBay, whereas second-hand TVs sold by a private seller will show up as part of a long list of search results from a range of sellers.

Your consumer rights are much more limited when buying second hand and – depending on the age of the TV – you're unlikely to benefit from any sort of warranty (see below), though the site you're buying from may offer its own protection. 

What to consider when buying from eBay

When you're buying from eBay, the seller chooses whether to offer delivery or the option to pick up in person. Regardless of the delivery/collection options available, before you hit the buy button, check all the images carefully for any signs of damage, and read the full details of the TV. 

When you buy second-hand goods directly from an individual, your consumer rights are more limited (for example they don't have to draw your attention to specific faults), and you typically won't be able to physically inspect the TV before buying. 

However, eBay does have its own buyer protection scheme; if the item isn't fit for purpose for any reason and that wasn't made clear on the eBay listing you may eligible for a refund through an eBay claim. 

What to consider when buying from Gumtree and similar sites

Buyer protection is limited on Gumtree as it doesn't have a dedicated scheme, but the site does actively weed out suspicious or illegal activity.

The nature of Gumtree means sales are face-to-face, so it's up to you to assess the quality of the TV before you pay up and take it home. You won't be eligible for any retailer warranty and, even if the TV is relatively new and still within the manufacturer's warranty period, there may be exclusions for second-hand TVs (see below). 

As with any second-hand purchase, individual sellers are not obliged to draw faults to your attention. If you're not careful, this could leave you stuck with a faulty product or one that doesn't meet your needs, so it's in your best interests to check over the TV closely before parting with your money. 

Second-hand assessment TV checklist

When inspecting a TV, if possible ask the seller to connect it up so you can turn it on and check everything is working as it should. For example, check:

  • Can you connect to the internet
  • Are any of the seller's personal details stored on the TV
  • Do all the buttons on the remote work
  • Are there any channels the TV can't access
  • Do all the HDMI and USB ports work
  • Can you see any screen damage. Look out for dead pixels, which are very small and tough to see with a cursory glance, but are impossible to ignore once spotted.
  • Does it look like the case has been opened or tampered with
  • Is the stand stable
  • Can you hear any distortion to the sound, this can indicate damaged speakers.

Even if the TV passes all these checks you should still be wary. Check the model number to see how old it is; some older sets may have limited software support and out-of-date versions of apps that no longer work.

Workers removing old TV

Your consumer rights when buying a refurbished or second hand TV

If you are buying refurbished or second-hand from a retailer, your consumer rights are no different than if you are buying new. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015; goods must be as described,  fit for purpose and of a satisfactory quality. The seller is required to tell you about any faults or problems – just remember to factor in realistic wear and tear.

If your second-hand purchase is faulty, you can claim a refund, repair or replacement from the retailer that sold it to you (exactly what you're entitled to will depend on how long since purchase the fault developed).

If you're buying online, under the Consumer Contracts Regulations you also have the right to cancel the order and receive a refund from the moment you place your order up to 14 days from the day you receive it, regardless of whether it's faulty.

If you're buying a second-hand TV from an individual, your rights are more limited. They aren't allowed to misrepresent goods (for example by saying something is new when it isn't), but they also aren't obliged to disclose any faults. And, even if they do fall foul of the misrepresentation rule, it can be tricky to get your money back in the event of a dispute – unless you've bought from a site such as eBay that has its own resolution scheme. 

For more information on your rights around buying and returning second-hand items head to our consumer rights guide on second-hand goods.

A word on warranties

All new items are sold with a manufacturer warranty, and sometimes a retailer one.

Buy a TV from Richer Sounds and you'll get a six-year retailer warranty, five years from John Lewis and five from Currys (but only on selected TVs).

A second-hand TV won't have a retailer warranty, but it could still be within the terms of the manufacturer's. This is generally one year, but could be longer depending on the manufacturer.

There's no reason why an item bought second-hand that's still less than a year old shouldn't eligible for repair under the terms of a manufacturer warranty. However, there can be numerous exclusions and provisos wrapped up in warranties. You may need to prove where it was bought from and some manufacturers may only honour the warranty if the TV was bought from an authorised seller.

Check the warranty information, usually available online, before buying a second-hand TV to see if you would be eligible for a repair or replacement should the unthinkable happen.

Recycling an old TV

One of the benefits of buying a new TV is that retailers often offer a recycling service where they take the old one away and dispose of it in a relatively environmentally friendly way; at any rate, it's likely to be better than taking it to the skip.

Electronic waste, otherwise known as E waste, is an enormous issue for the world. The toxic minerals that make up the circuitry in many electronic devices can seep into the land and groundwater, devastating it for years to come. 

Alternatively, E waste can end up in huge landfills, often in developing countries, where it's burned to release the minerals, which are then sold. This burning of E waste also releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. Long story short, it's best to recycle.

Discarded broken TV

Thankfully there are ways to recycle your old TV without the assistance of a retailer. There are electronic recycling centres across the country; recycleyourelectricals.org.uk has a handy tool where you can enter your postcode to find out where to take your TV.

Selling your old TV is also a good way of recycling it. Don't expect a huge return on your old TV if you sell it on Gumtree or eBay though, and make sure you factory reset it to wipe any personal information.