Save by going refurbished

Originally published: 9/29/16

It is a lot easier to find refurbished products today thanks to a number of trustworthy online retailers, yet many people are still hesitant in buying refurbished for a variety of reasons. I like to compare buying refurbished to something else that people commonly buy used… cars. Just like buying used cars, the savings on refurbished products can be significant and you can walk away with something that is like-new if you buy it from the right person. And just like buying used cars, you do need to look out for lemons.

The biggest different between buying used cars and refurbished goods is that many items sold as “refurbished” are either brand new or restored to its original manufacturer condition. Yep… you read that right. You can buy something that has either never been used or like-new at a very significant discount. And luckily, you don’t have to worry about dealing with some suspicious car salesman to get an amazing deal. All you have to do is to know where to look and what to look for.

Bottom line, buying refurbished stuff doesn’t have to be difficult and stressful.

so what exactly are refurbished goods?

They can be a number of things… customer returns, overstock, open box items, manufacturer defects (many times cosmetic), floor model or demo items, or even simply for the reason that the box that it was shipped in was slightly damaged. Not the the actual box for the product with all the pretty pictures and fancy marketing terms slapped all over it… but the plain old cardboard box that it was shipped in.

If the item was never opened or used, it is typically inspected and repackaged back up. If it was returned due to a reported defect and can be easily repaired, it is restored back to the original manufacturer specs. For some items, cosmetic blemishes are also repaired, such as smartphones and other electronics, while others are not, such as power tools and outdoor equipment.

you might actually already have a refurbished product

For those of you who own some sort of insurance on your phone, such as Asurian, there’s a very good chance that you have a refurbished phone if you ever had it replaced. For any of you iPhone owners who had to replace your phone through Asurion, take a look at the back of your phone and you will see “Refurbished by Asurion” on the back below. This is the case not only smartphones, but other items too.

how much you will save

This varies greatly from brand to brand, product to product, store to store. And sometimes, the price for the same product could even change day to day. For the most part, refurbished goods appear to be no lower than 10% discount off of the same product brand new, and can sometimes even go well over 50%.

For example, we just purchased a Dell XPS 8900 computer which currently sells brand new for $699.99. We purchased this same exact computer for $454.30. When the computer arrived in mid-September, the label indicated that this computer was originally manufactured in late August 2016 and it looked it it was never even touched.

what to look for

  • Look for products that are labeled with factory or manufacturer certified
  • Are all original parts included? Compare it to another website that is selling it brand new
  • Ensure you are buying from an authorized dealer in order to void any existing manufacturer warranties
  • What is the warranty and how does it compare to the store’s warranty for new products?
  • Make sure you understand the return policy. Many retailers have different return policies for refurbished products, and some do not even allow for returns

risks and things to consider

As mentioned earlier, there are lemons out there and a number of “mom and pop” websites that intentionally or accidentally mis-label products as “refurbished”. Even among reputable retailers, be sure to really check the item out as soon as you get it. We have purchased a few refurbished products that had problems that were easily taken care of during the warranty periods. Also, our personal experience is that we have seen a slight increase in issues with refurbished products, so be prepared to deal with customer service. The customer service exceeded our expectation the few times we have had issues, each time having our problem resolved with no questions asked.

final thoughts

We are big fans of buying refurbished for certain purchases You can expect moderate savings on a day-to-day basis, but if you happen to look at the right place at the right time, you can really strike gold.

More articles and tips on buying refurbished products are on the way, so be sure to check back soon. But in the meantime, check out our two recent refurbished purchase experiences, including unboxing videos:

Refurbished Dell XPS 8900 Desktop Computer unboxing and purchase experience review

Refurbished HP Pavilion 23xw 23″ LED Monitor unboxing and purchase experience review

Until next time, keep on shopping awesome.