Second-hand goods get an A+

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By Sandrine Tranchard
Tagged as ConsumersServices
Published on
Call it a new social trend or an act of anti-consumerism resistance, the trade of second-hand goods is steadily increasing. As we are going through an economic crisis, this alternative consumption pattern is driven by the need to reduce not only costs but also environmental impacts. But does this mean we should compromise quality for price?

Just because a second-hand product is cheaper does not necessarily imply that it should be less performing than a new one. We are not talking here about compromising quality but about reinventing the life cycle between seller or donator and buyer or recipient.

Common sense principles

With the assumption that second-hand goods should pose no health, safety or environmental risks beyond those risks generally permitted for new goods, and that their quality, durability, and usability should meet the expectations of a reasonable consumer who has full knowledge that the goods are in second-hand condition, ISO has just published a Technical Specification, ISO/TS 20245:2014, Cross-border trade of second-hand goods, which establishes minimum screening criteria for the cross-border trade of second-hand goods.

Many second-hand goods are sold or donated by developed countries to developing ones and cover a wide variety of product categories: from cars to spare parts, through clothes, aircrafts, mobile phones, machines, or even medical devices.

While there are national standards, laws and guidelines designed to protect consumers, until this Technical Specification was published, there were no universally applicable guidelines for second-hand goods.

Buying confidently with measurable criteria

When you buy a second-hand kettle, you are willing to accept that it may have a scratch, but not that it fails to boil water or that it explodes when using it for the first time.

Second-hand goods should meet acceptance criteria as well as quality, product information, and usage requirements. ISO/TS 20245:2014 specifies how to evaluate and classify products on a ranking based on their condition: A (very good), B (good), C (fair), D (poor).

These measurable criteria will be used by importing or exporting parties or governments for in-transit and port-of-entry screening of second-hand goods. They will help to ensure that both consumers and the environment are protected.

ISO/TS 20245:2014 can be purchased from ISO national members or from the ISO Store.

Sandrine Tranchard
Sandrine Tranchard

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