How to Buy or Sell a Used Standing Desk

April 17, 2021
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varidesk prodesk 60 electric standing desk review

How to Safely Buy a Used Standing Desk

Like a car, bicycle, lawn mower, or any mechanical device caution must be taken in buying a used item, and standing desks are no exception. We wish we could send out one of our standing desk experts to go give it a thorough checkout for you, but since we can’t we asked our team to come up with a checklist of things that you can check for yourself. But first, the most important consideration is actually how you will transport the desk from the seller to the buyer.

Disassembly and Re-Assembly

The main thing to keep in mind before deciding how to buy or sell a used standup desk is potential the difficulty of transporting it without breaking it. On a local purchase you may be able to simply change the height the desk to its lowest possible setting and drive it away in a sufficiently large vehicle with blankets or cardboard to protect the desk and the vehicle from damage. The most easily damaged component of an adjustable-height desk during transport is the hand controller, so you may want to remove it (usually involves taking out two screws) and take it to the bottom of the desktop.

Shipping a desk is a whole other kettle of fish. With rare exception 99% of standup desks were never designed to be disassembled, so you will have to face the challenge of figuring out how to take the desk apart by following assembly instructions in reverse. Hopefully the original packaging has been retained; otherwise prepare to overbox the heck out of it because the frame parts and desktop are heavy and easily prone to damage in transit.

Once transported you’ll have to re-assemble the desk using the same instructions, but you may have to drill new holes into the desktop if it’s of typical MDF-core or plywood-core construction as they have a tendency to degrade.

The other option is to ship the desk by freight strapped down to an appropriately sized pallet. Most people don’t have an account with a freight company or access to the correct pallet or pallet strapping equipment, so this is a difficult way to go. Easier is to hire a “blanket wrap” carrier (a.k.a. “moving company) if you can find one that’ll give you a reasonable price for shipping a single item. However, these carriers have a terrible record of damaging standing desks in their packed-to-the-gills trucks, so be sure to take out full value insurance.

ZipDesk best compact standing desk
The ZipDesk is one of only a few standing desks on the market literally designed to be taken apart, reassembled and re-shipped many times.

At the end of the day it’s exceedingly difficult to buy or sell a used standing desk if it will need to be shipped. For this reason the vast, vast majority of such sales are local. The exception is the rare standing desk, e.g. the ZipDesk, that is literally designed to be taken apart and re-assembled many times, assuming the original owner has retained the very specialized packaging that’ll make sure it’ll survive a trip through the FedEx or UPS network.

 

The Checklist

Once the transportation question has been resolved our staff experts’ advice is to follow this checklist that they’ve prepared for anyone who is looking to buy or sell a used stand-up desk:

  • Warranty. The warranties on large-ticket items like this are typically not legally transferable to a new owner, so you want to make sure that the desk is in really good condition and is going to last long enough to make the cost worthwhile. Out-of-warranty replacement parts, as with most things, could wind up costing you more than a new desk—and don’t expect free shipping. That said, if you do wind up needing replacement parts down the road it would help to have the original invoice on the desk since they typically do not have serial numbers and the easiest way for the manufacturer to determine which rev of the product you own is to look it up in their order processing system.
  • Testing stability at your standing height. The first thing anyone does when they’re checking out a new standing desk in the showroom is to take it up to full height and push it around a little—front-to-back and left-to-right—to evaluate its stability. When you do this with most desks you can expect quite a bit of “deflection” in the lifting columns, even with a new desk, so it’s best to do this at your full standing height, to see how stable the desk will be for you. If you find a lot of wobble in the desk at your standing height you can move on, it’s not going to be worth the shaky monitor experience at any price.
  • Checking for wear on key components. A lot of things go into the stability equation of a standing desk from the weight of the feet to the strength of the crossbars. You can read all about that in our primer on Why Some Standing Desks are Shakier Than Others. It’s a good idea to scan through this article before going out to inspect a used desk, to familiarize yourself with all the components that should be checked. But since we’re talking about a used desk, not a fresh one out of the box, there are a few other things to check for, as well, such as…
  • Leveling. You’ll want to flip the desk over and tighten down all the bolts and screws to make sure everything is as snug as can be. When flipping the desk back over be sure to check that both feet are level front to back, and level with each other (put on the level on the desktop for the second part), using the leveler pads on each corner. If there’s any torque in the frame it will likely manifest in a noisy transition from sitting to standing. And if the desk has been sitting that way on an unlevel floor for years then the wear and tear on the “glides” between the telescoping leg segments could be excessive. Once the glides are shot there’s no repair option, the desk will just become increasingly wobbly and squeaky with use.
  • Check the duty cycle on the motors. You’ll need to check the specs in the manual for the duty cycle specifications. For example, on all desks using a Jiecang base such as the Jarvis, UpLift, GeekDesk, or S2S, there’s a 10% duty cycle—meaning that you should be able to run the desk up and down for two minutes under maximum specified load before giving it an 18-minute rest for the motors to cool down. If you can’t get 2 minutes of continuous use out of the motors you’ll probably notice other problems during the test, such as motor whining, changes in motor “pitch,” or roughness in the telescoping movement of the legs. If you run into any of those issues you’d be wise to take a pass on this desk.
  • Check for excessive grease streaks on the inner tubes of the lifting columns. Some bases (especially those made in China) are famous for exhibiting long black streaks along the length of the inner tubes. These can collect dirt over time and gunk up the glides so you want to make sure the base has been routinely cleaned and re-lubricated, and hasn’t been living in an overly dusty environment. Every base manufacturer should have a recommended greasing compound, e.g. white lithium, for use on their linear actuators. If you can’t find it in the owner’s manual contact their support line to find out what kind of lubricant they recommend using.
  • Check the desktop for signs of delamination, deep scratches, or discoloration from sun exposure. Some wear and tear is to be expected, and desktops can be replaced easily enough—the base is usually the more expensive component that you’ll want to focus your attention on. But if there’s any exposed MDF, such as inside the grommet holes (if it has any), be sure to check that there haven’t been any spills that go absorbed into the wood fiber. Basically you’re looking to make sure the desktop is flat, not warped, and doesn’t have any exposed seams where glue may have dried out, leaving the desktop susceptible to humidity, liquid cleaners or bacterial build-up.
  • Testing with a full load. The best way to check a desk’s performance is with your own stuff on it. If you use triple 27″ monitors on a heavy duty monitor arm clamped to the back edge of the desktop, and just a light keyboard and mouse on the user edge, try to simulate that kind of weight and balance on the desk in question. It’s important to simulate the “side loading stress” on the lifting legs that you’ll be invoking on this desk before you bring it home and find out that once loaded down with all your gear it doesn’t work quite as well as when the desktop was cleared of all objects.

How to Sell Your Used Standing Desk

Getting rid of a standing desk is pretty easy—if you’re willing to let it go for free, probably to a local person or organization. But if you want to try to recapture some of your original investment in the desk it becomes a bit more challenging.

The first problem is the warranty will not transfer to a new owner, so if the desk hasn’t been maintained in excellent working condition the user would be taking a significant risk on replacement components should anything go wrong after the purchase. (See the other tab on this article for things that the well-informed buyer will likely want to test your desk for before plunking down their cash.)

You’ll also need to decide whether you want to cast a wide net and look for buyers nationally, or just in your immediate local area. You’re bound to get a better price with a national audience but you’ll need to disassemble the desk, find the proper packaging to keep all the heavy parts for from banging into each other in transit, or breaking through the box, and then pay a whopping freight bill after all that. Our advice? If you’re using a national platform like eBay limit your offering to a reasonable driving radius from your location so the customer can come pick it up.

So with that said, here’s what our standing desk experts recommend you do to try to maximize the value you can retain out of your original investment.

  • Try eBay. The good news is there are a lot of standing desks for sale on eBay. The bad news is there are a lot of standing desks for sale on eBay. So there’s a lot of competition but unless you own one of the more popular brands of standing desks there’s a good chance that yours will stand out as unique. And of course it is unique in the combination of desktop size and color. Someone out there will have the available space and decor that your desk will be a good match for, but it may take some time to find them. The real reason to check eBay first is to get an idea of where to price your desk.
  • Try Offerup or Craigslist. Both have plenty of listings as well, so it’s the same good news, bad news story, but there are generally fewer on these platforms than on eBay. Of course there are also fewer buyers on these platforms.
  • Try local-only online classifieds like NextDoor.com, selecting just your immediate surrounding neighborhood. The GOOD news here is that there are generally very few standing desks for sale, and local buyers might be more trusting because they can come look at it in person and make sure it’s in good condition before committing to purchase.
  • You can quickly spend a fair amount of pocket change getting your for-sale listings noticed on eBay, Offer-up, et al, so if you’d really rather save the hassle consider donating your standing desk to anon-profit organization, like a school, a church, or The Good Will, and at least enjoy a tax deduction for whatever amount you decide it’s worth.
  • Some standing desk makers offer a conquests bonus to get you to switch to their brand for your next standing desk, just like the car dealers do. For example, iMovR offers a $100 rebate on any of their standing desks if you or anyone else in your organization has previously purchased a standing desk from Fully, UpLift, GeekDesk, Autonomous, StandDesk, UpDesk, or any other competing brand.

Bottom line: If you’ve already tried all the easy ways to sell it, or just don’t have the time and patience to even bother listing it online, try donating it for a tax deduction. And if you’re upgrading to a higher-quality standing desk see if you can at least earn a conquest bonus. The best strategy? Do both!

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