Should you buy a satellite receiver from a thrift store?

No, no, and no.

I’ll tell you something, I find a certain comfort in thrift stores, especially in their electronics sections. It’s something akin to visiting old friends or a school you once attended. There’s something about old typewriters, cassette players, and VCRs that just takes me back to a place where the world made sense. I’ve even been known to buy some old piece of junk just to salvage out a display or power supply. It’s also a great place to pick up the kind of cords you can’t find anymore. But it’s not, and let me say again it’s not a good place to find DIRECTV and DISH equipment.

Why? There are basically three kinds of things you’ll find at thrift stores:

Broken stuff A lot of people rely on thrift stores to do their electronic recycling. That’s not super fair since these store employees don’t have the skills to figure out if something works. So, they usually just put it on the shelf at a low price and people get what they get. So it’s fairly likely that whatever you get won’t work. I mean, why wouldn’t someone keep it as long as it works?

Obsolete stuff While all DIRECTV equipment made since 2003 and all DISH equipment made since 2006 is still compatible at some level, there have been a lot of changes over the years. Early HDTV-compatible equipment won’t work with today’s more advanced systems, and old equipment might not be compatible at all with the wiring technologies you’re using now.

Stuff that’s technically “stolen.” Both DIRECTV and DISH have operated on a lease model for close to a decade. While there are loopholes and it’s possible that you could be looking at a receiver that’s been used for testing or employee use, it’s much, much more likely that the receivers at the thrift store should have been returned to the manufacturer instead of being donated. When you get that receiver home, you’ll find that you’ve wasted your money as DIRECTV or DISH won’t activate it. That’s not a problem if you’re looking at non-receiver stuff like remotes or dish parts, but that’s the stuff that’s likely to be broken.

Seems like the bottom line here is, just don’t go shopping for satellite parts at a thrift store. It’s a bad idea.