Is buying refurbished tech worth it?

There is a certain stigma that comes with the phrase refurbished item. I can tell you as a former tech support agent for Apple that there was a lot of resistance when someone was told that they would get a refurbished product when they sent it in. Some of it got downright heated. But here’s the thing, refurbished tech is not necessarily bad but you do need to pay attention to where you are getting it from.

What are refurbished items?

Think about this, you go into a big box store and there is a TV that is on sale. It is on sale because someone returned it and the box is open. Why was it returned? Was it not working? Did the person’s significant other object to it? Was it too big for the place it was supposed to go? Chances are it was working just fine and that the reason was more of the latter. You could be getting that TV for a bargain price, the steal of the year and the best part is the TV is just as good as a new one.

There are some cases where there is a slight issue with a product. A burned out pixel on a TV is annoying but it can lead to a steep reduction in the price of that TV. Kind of like bad stitching on a mattress. It can be a bit ugly but it can also make an item very cheap to buy and that could be good for a consumer that does not need perfection.

What do people think of?

Refurbished items bring an image of a beat up object that will die days after you get it. That is not quite true. What is listed above are refurbished items, the boxes are opened so they cannot be sold as new items. Refurbished items can also include items that have had damage during shipping forcing a return to the manufacturer, which forces them to sell it as a refurbished item. If you buy a display unit at a store you are essentially buying a refurbished item and then of course there are also the items that have been sent back to the manufacturer that have issues with them.

The latter is what is almost universally thought of when it comes to refurbished items. Some items just need to have a battery replaced or something small and everything else in the item is in working order. When the battery is replaced the item is essentially good-as-new. This can be said for laptops, tablets, iPods and just about every other piece of tech. The repairs are done by an authorized party or by the manufacturer itself.

In some cases the item is simply replaced and the refurbished item is put on sale. In some cases the item is repaired and returned. When these items go on sale they can be had for deep discounts, 15-30% or more in some cases. The key though is knowing where to go for them. Most reputable dealers in refurbished tech will offer a warranty with it, usually for 90 days. Apple and Best Buy are the most reputable dealers when it comes to this but there are plenty of others.

What to avoid when it comes to refurbished tech

There are some items that experts recommend not be purchased as refurbished items. Hard drives are one item since there is no way to return it to the original factory condition. The same can be said for a printer since there is no way to return it to factory conditions though if the printer is recertified by the manufacturer and includes ink or toner it might not be a bad deal.

Smartphones that have not had the battery replaced are another to stay away from. The buyer has no idea how old the battery is or how much it was used. TVs should also be avoided since the warranty included is short (but an extended warranty can usually be purchased) and not as much care is put into fixing them. It is OK to get a refurbished TV if it is from a local store so you can inspect it and can return it easily should something go wrong.

A refurbished item can be a great deal when it comes to buying a piece of tech and in most cases there is nothing wrong with doing so. The discounts that are offered can make a refurbished item well worth it. There should not be a stigma with it but should instead be embraced, just be smart about it.

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