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Some time ago, I wrote a guide on where you can find Apple devices for cheap, and a big part of this article was about the refurbished deals, which can help you save a lot of money. Apple is just one of the brands that offer this.
Perhaps you’ve heard of refurbished products before, but aren’t sure what they are. And if so, there are also probably some misconceptions that you might have about them.
This article is aimed at being an informational guide that helps to answer some of the basic questions many consumers may have about refurbished devices, along with the pros and cons of buying one.
- Refurbished products may have been returned due to defects or because the original owner didn’t like them. They are less expensive than new products, and can still last for years without any problems.
- When evaluating the purchase of a refurbished device, consider the warranty and return policies, as well as the reputation of the store or vendor.
- Official vendors such as Apple, Dell, Samsung, and Nintendo offer refurbished programs, as do online retailers such as Amazon, eBay, BackMarket, and Gazelle.
- If a device is advertised as “refurbished” with an 80% discount, it may be an indication that there are hidden issues with the product or that it’s fake.
What are refurbished products?
Refurbished products are those that have been returned to a manufacturer for some reason and got refurbished to “like new” condition.
Such an item may have been returned because it was defective, or because the original owner simply didn’t like it. Additionally, they are sometimes referred to as “renewed” or “reconditioned”.
Refurbished devices can be found in retail stores and on websites, they’re always less expensive than new products and they can still last for years without any problems. They may include appliances and electronics, but they usually fall into one of three categories:
- New parts have been installed in an old device, such as replacing a broken screen with a new one. This is the most common type of refurbished product and is generally considered to be the safest option when shopping for used items.
- A previously used product has been cleaned and tested to make sure it’s working properly. The original manufacturer might do this work themselves or outsource it to another company (often specializing in repairs).
- A third-party company buys up used items from an original manufacturer who no longer wants them or sells them at a reduced price because they’re no longer being manufactured anymore (think about all those old computers from years ago that are still sitting around in our closets!)
Things to consider before buying a refurbished item
If you’re like most people(including me), you’ve probably wondered whether refurbished products are worth the money.
After all, we all want to save as much cash as possible in a challenging economy—but at what point is it worth it to buy something that’s been used before?
There are a few factors to consider when evaluating the purchase of refurbished goods.
Is there a warranty and return policy for the product?
The company selling the item should have some sort of warranty policy in place for you to fall back on. If they don’t, then why would you trust them with your hard-earned money?
Consider how long ago the item was originally sold.
If it’s been sitting around collecting dust for years before someone decides to sell it as “new,” then there’s no way anyone will be able to tell how well-used it was before being put back on sale again.
What are the safest stores to buy refurbished items?
There are lots of places to buy reconditioned products, from the vendors’ official refurbished programs to online retailers like Amazon and local stores that sell used goods.
A brief summary of some of the greatest refurbished product programs offered by the most well-known electronics vendors can be seen below.
Online Third-Party Retailers
These stores are a good place to find the items at a typically lower price than what you would get from the vendors. It’s important to mention that Gazelle and BackMarket only sell refurbished products.
Refurbished devices work “almost” as well as new ones
There are many reasons to consider a refurbished device, but it’s important to understand that it may not be as good as brand-new. As mentioned, they have been returned to the manufacturer or retailer and got reconditioned in order to be sold again.
They’re often a better choice than buying a new one because they can be much cheaper and still work just fine.
But, you should know that refurbished devices may have some defects that make them less than ideal for certain uses. Just make sure you do some research before making your purchase so that you know exactly what kinds of issues the device has.
The following are all of the benefits of buying refurbished electronics:
- Value for Money: When you buy refurbished devices, you can save up to 50% of the retail price because these devices are rarely used and have been tested thoroughly by their manufacturers. Performance-wise, they’re in great condition with little wear and tear(most of the time). They may have been used before, but they’ve been restored to their original condition(or close to it).
- They look as good as brand new: The electronics are clean and repaired when they are reconditioned. They typically appear brand new, and unharmed. They seem to look exactly the same as a brand-new device from a visual standpoint. If done correctly, it won’t be visible when an item has been refurbished.
- Environmentally friendly: By buying refurbished products, you’re reducing the amount of electronic waste going into landfills, which is an important step in preserving the environment for future generations. In addition, they are sometimes made from parts that were previously used, which means there’s no need for new materials to be created for them.
- Availability: Refurbished products are typically easier to find. Especially for some older devices which might have been discontinued will be much easier for you to buy them as renewed.
As you can guess, there are not only positives to buying reconditioned products. The drawbacks of purchasing reconditioned devices are as follows:
- Previously used: Whether you like it or not, there’s a risk in buying any device that’s been used in the past. They could be in less than pristine condition and even have an unknown history of how the previous owner treated them.
- No original accessories: Refurbished phones are often missing accessories or parts that were originally included with them. For example, they might not include chargers or headphones, or cases.
- Less warranty: The warranty will probably last at least a full year if the original vendor repairs and resells the items. Sadly, the warranties for devices that have been repaired by a third-party retailer range from 30 to 90 days.
- Unknown battery condition: If you are considering buying a refurbished product, it’s important to know the condition of the battery. There are retailers and vendors who specify that a new battery is included in the device.
The difference between “Second-Hand” and “Open-Box” items
Some people tend to mistake “reconditioned” products for “open-box” or “second-hand” ones. However, they are not the same by any means.
Second-hand products have been used or owned by someone else. They can mostly be purchased from a third-party retailer. Sometimes these items are sold fairly cheap as they are considered “used”.
However, such devices have not been inspected or repaired by professionals so their quality is always questionable.
An open-box item has been opened and returned by a customer with the original packaging. Typically, such items have never been used at all. They’ve just been opened and returned because they weren’t quite right for their owners’ needs.
Sometimes, these items are returned because of a minor defect. They are then refurbished by their manufacturers before being sold at a discounted price online.
Beware of possible scams
Buying refurbished products is a great way to save money, but it can also be a minefield. If you’re looking to buy refurbished products online or at a local store, there are several things to look out for that may indicate the seller is trying to scam you.
Consider these 4 principles:
- The price is too good to be true: If you see a phone advertised as “refurbished” for $100 when it normally costs $600, then there is a high chance that something is wrong with the product.
- Unknown seller: The seller has no contact information or phone number listed on their page or website. If this happens, try searching for the seller’s name on Google and see if other people have complained about them on social media platforms. For physical stores, you can also look up their business license number and call the local city hall to confirm whether or not the business is legit.
- No warranty: Look at the warranty information. If there is no warranty, that’s a red flag.
- Questionable return policy: Does the seller have a generous return policy? If they don’t offer one or it’s very restrictive, then it’s probably best to find another seller who does have a better and more reliable policy.
All in all, if you’re in the market for some high-end electronics, it’s worth checking out refurbished options. You’ll likely be able to save quite a bit of money off the retail price.
Refurbished electronics can be found in a wide variety of categories, from smartphones to cameras and even video game consoles.
There is no doubt about it – if you can find the exact product that you want at a significant discount, then buying refurbished is more than worth it.