Used containers for sale: Buyer beware
With the cost of a new shipping container often double that of the exact same model just a few years old, used containers for sale have jumped in popularity, appearing all over the web from eBay and craigslist to more reputable dealers that specialize solely in the sale of used containers.
So which avenue provides the best deal?
Before getting into that, it’s important to remember that the best “deal” isn’t always the best deal. For example, it’s always a good idea to buy a container close to your current location, enabling you to drive out and see it firsthand. That’s because shipping containers endure constant abuse at the hands of forklift and crane operators. Those dents and creases may not seem like a big deal, but they can quickly open the way to rust and corrosion and even destroy the integrity of the crate itself if inflicted on the right area.
So before comparison shopping the prices, start by familiarizing yourself with the grading scale that’s been established to accurately evaluate used containers for sale. Though not official, many used dealers go by a scale that includes the following:
- New / One Trip – This rating indicates that the container was most likely manufactured in China (where most of them originate) and then shipped to the United States where it’s being sold upon arrival.
- Cargo Worthy – Though no longer considered new due to minor dents, scratches or other exterior damage, a cargo worthy container can still be certified to ship a variety of products and goods overseas. In addition, it has been inspected by a qualified surveyor and been determined to be windproof and watertight, and therefore well-equipped to handle the abuse of overseas shipping.
- Wind and Water Tight – This type of container is said to be windproof and watertight but it has not been certified as such by a qualified surveyor. It may be cargo worthy.
- As Is – The phrase itself should always raise a red flag. These containers may have extensive damage that has resulted in leaks or other structurally-compromising problems.
Where to find used containers for sale
As mentioned above, you can find used containers for sale just about everywhere. There are a number of online avenues that provide pricing and extensive photos of the container for sale. These sites include:
- eBay – The world’s No. 1 stop for practically anything, eBay has a large selection of used storage containers available.
- craigslist – The world’s biggest garage sale, you may want to be a little more leery of purchasing a storage container off craigslist as there are fewer safeguards against fraud and deceptive advertising. So unless you live in the area and can see the container for yourself, keep searching.
- containerbid.com - A site that provides auctions at scheduled times, with preview dates prior to the auction date made available after you register for a free account. This site hosts auctions for a full range of used storage containers including dry, refrigerated, flat-rack, open-top and military.
Authorized dealers – Search your local area and you may find a number of specialty dealers that provide used containers. Those with online offerings include: tsicontainers.com, midweststoragecontainers.com and independentcontainer.com. The benefits of buying through an authorized dealer include quality assurance, customization (often enabling you to add extra doors, windows, vents, shelving and partitions) and delivery, though many times you may have to pay for delivery or at least be willing to negotiate it as part of the sale price.