Should You Buy A New or Used Drone From eBay?

Everyone wants a bargain, and almost all of us have bought a new or used item from eBay.  But when you’re buying an expensive piece of hardware, like a drone, there are a few things you should be aware of.

It’s not difficult to find brand new DJI drones selling for less than you can buy them from DJI directly.  The question is: Should you?

New or Used

Buying a used drone on eBay aims the risk squarely at the buyer.  Without knowing the full history of the drone as far as crashes, repairs, exposure to water etc. there’s no way to truly know what you’re getting.  Caveat emptor, my friends!

However, eBay’s extremely well managed feedback system helps to transfer much of the risk back towards the seller, since no experienced eBay vendor wants the permanent smudge of negative feedback or product misrepresentation on their profile.

New drones on eBay can come from several different sources that can affect the final price and what you’re getting.

The first type of new drone seller on eBay is the ‘DJI Authorized Dealer’.  Many of these sellers operate bricks & mortar hobby stores or have an online store.  Without knowing what the cost to the dealer is exactly, many of these authorized vendors are taking a slight haircut on their profit to be able to offer the drone for less than DJI.

In one example, below, that came up first in our eBay search, the DJI Mavic Pro ‘Fly More Combo’ is offered for $1289, a $10 savings versus

What may be different in your experience with the eBay vs DJI purchase is the taxes and shipping costs.  As you can see from the check-out experience (below) at DJI’s online store, shipping is free and there is no sales tax applied at purchase. (I used a USA based buyer in this example)

DJI Online Checkout – Free shipping, No tax.

If you’re a USA based buyer and you’re purchasing a new drone from an eBay vendor who is also in the USA, then you can expect sales taxes, and shipping, relevant to your state to be applied at checkout.

Devil in the Details

It’s important to look deeper than the price and product description on eBay as well.  Buried in the fine print of the terms and conditions of each listing you’ll see the return policy of the vendor as well as any limits or fees for returns.

You can see, below, that this vendor ‘may’ charge a 20% restocking fee on returns.  Wow.

eBay listing return policy showing 20% restocking fee

The second type of new drone seller on eBay is someone who operates a website or business and is earning revenue from DJI in the form of ‘DJI Credit‘ by referring people to DJI’s website.

This ‘credit’ piles up with DJI and the referrer can use it to purchase DJI products and have it shipped to anyone, anywhere.

These vendors are more likely to offer a bigger discount to DJI’s own prices, since it is one of the few ways for them to monetize their DJI Credit.

These vendors are simply going to and making the purchase in your name, using their own credit, and instructing DJI to ship the drone directly to you.  Because you’re dealing with eBay, though, sales tax may apply in your state that wouldn’t otherwise apply with DJI directly.

I haven’t heard yet from anyone who has purchased a DJI drone in this manner, and had to deal with a return or defective product, so we can’t offer any guidance on how smoothly the return process would work.

You can also find these DJI Credit based resellers on Amazon, offering varying discounts to DJI’s own listings.

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If you deal with any vendor of a new DJI drone on eBay, you should also inquire if DJI Care can be added as part of your purchase.  Yes you can add it later with DJI, but it’s automatically attached at checkout with DJI, meaning one less thing to follow up on.

Related: What You Need to Know About DJI Care Refresh

The third eBay seller is the Used vendor.  Often these are owners who have upgraded to a new of different model, or are getting out of the hobby altogether.  In all of my eBay purchases I’ve never had a bad experience, and I would approach a drone purchase with the same expectation.

With a used eBay drone it’s important to ask good question about any scuffs or damage, has the drone ever crashed, hit an object or been dropped?  It would be smart to ask whether a service ticket has ever been opened at DJI for this drone. Are you the original owner? Are all parts of the drone original?

Some enterprising eBayers are actively buying crashed or damaged drones to harvest parts, and some are repairing these damaged drones for resale.

“Give Me An ‘R’ !”

When buying any DJI drone online, ask for the last 4 digits of the drone serial number.  If your drone’s serial number ends with ‘R’, it’s a refurbished drone from DJI’s online discount center.  These refurbished Phantom 3 and Phantom 4 drones are certified to a high standard and have undergone a professional refurbishing process that brings it up to the same high standards as brand new products.

Related: DJI Refurbished Drones: Discounted, but Worth the Risk?

If you’ve purchased a DJI drone from eBay, either new or used, let us know your experience in the comments below.

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