If buying brand new electronics is not in your budget, then it’s best to go for refurbished electronics. You’ll definitely save money, as refurbished devices cost anywhere from 10 to 50% less than the standard retail price of new ones. But, to make the most out of your investment, you’ll need to consider more than just the significant price cut.
Figuring out what you need before you go looking for your next device will help you prepare for the purchase. Spending less doesn’t mean you’ll have to sacrifice quality and functionality. With the right information and mindset, you can invest in refurbished electronics fit for your daily grind.
No need to rush when shopping for the best deals. Doing your research pays off as it ensures that what you’re getting is genuinely refurbished and not merely cleaned up, repackaged, and repriced. Make a checklist of what you need and stick with a trusted seller—retailers and manufacturers who are qualified to refurbish.
Here are some simple tips to help you protect yourself when buying refurbished electronics:
- Understand the Difference Between Refurbished and Used
Generally, used electronic devices are secondhand, pre-owned products that are resold by an individual. Refurbished electronics, on the other hand, were purchased but returned to the manufacturer for some reason—either there were defective components, or they did not meet a customer’s expectations—and cannot be resold as new items.
A refurbished device has been inspected and repaired by a trusted seller to make sure it can function well, before being sold at a discounted price. A store that sells refurbished Macs, for example, will have listings that will let you know about the condition of the item.
A rating system shows you if the refurbished product is in good, very good, or excellent condition. Since these are refurbished items, don’t expect them to be in perfect condition. By doing proper research, you’ll find some great refurbished deals that offer the best value despite not being a brand-new device.
- Check Reviews and Look for Reputable Organizations
Do your homework and read customer reviews, ratings, and history to make sure that you are purchasing from a reputable organization. Know if the seller is specific about the refurbishing process to make sure the item has been thoroughly checked.
Online reviews reveal a lot about the features of the product and the issues that its previous owner had. Compare the specifications of the refurbished product with a new one to see how it matches up. Look for the seller’s customer service contact information and addresses. A lot of positive reviews on the seller’s website are a good sign but check for feedback on other sites, as well, including press coverage and testimonials.
- Get a Good Price
Compare prices and don’t readily choose the cheapest option. Or better yet, look out for last-minute deals to save money. There is probably more risk with refurbished items that are sold at much lower costs. Know when the specific model of the device you want came out. Prices for refurbished items are mostly set by the debut of the product, and not how long those particular items were in use.
The cost for a reliable, certified pre-owned and refurbished piece of equipment is usually about 15-20% less than buying new, plus 10% per year since the original sale.
- Get a Solid Warranty
A good warranty is an absolute must when buying refurbished electronics because it is what counts in the long run. The longer the warranty period, the better. You would want to deal with retailers and manufacturers who offer a 90-day warranty on refurbished devices. If you can get a deal with manufacturers who provide a full 1-year warranty on their refurbished models, then the better.
Read the fine print and carefully assess policy details involving protection. Know how quickly the seller can fix refurbished devices returned under warranty for repair. In some cases, paying with credit cards can extend your warranty. You might also want to look into getting an extended service plan for additional protection. If the seller or retailer does offer an extended warranty, then it’s a sign of how much they value their product and services.
- Get a Good Return Policy
Make sure you know how to return your refurbished item if you’re not satisfied. Not every problem will immediately appear after you take it out of the box, so you need to use it for some time before you find defects on its hardware and performance. Your return policy should give you at least 30 days to decide whether you want to keep it.
The length of the return period varies depending on where you bought the product. Some sellers can give you as long as 60 days to return the product, most may give you 30 days, while some, like Apple, will provide you with only 14 days. Apple, however, shoulders the cost of return shipping, so it is favorable for the customer.
- Know What You’re Getting and Check Accessories
Check the specifications of the refurbished device you’re getting and if the item comes with accessories such as power cables, chargers, packaging, and the like. This way, you’ll know if you need to buy other accessories and shell out extra money. In that case, the refurbished product might be not that good of a bargain.
- Keep and Organize Records
Organize and store all documentation regarding your refurbished device so you won’t get lost in all the paperwork for when you’ll need help with your item. These include the promo page and the fine-print page. You might need the documents later if you end up discovering that your refurbished purchase does not match the product that was advertised by the seller.
Which Refurbished Devices Are Worth Buying?
Many choose to buy refurbished electronics not only because they can save more money, but also because good deals give them access to products that are as good as new. So, what kind of gadgets and appliances can be bought as refurbished, and which ones are not recommended?
Laptops and Tablets
Best buys include laptops and tablets. Make sure you work with reputable manufacturers and resellers, so you’ll be confident that the refurbished item has been thoroughly inspected and reconditioned. Plus, you’ll get reasonable terms and conditions. Apple’s refurbished MacBooks, for example, get a new battery and outer shell, plus a one-year warranty.
Video Gaming Systems
Are your kids, nephews, and nieces hooked on video games? Buying a refurbished console may be a better bet than the expensive new ones. Trusted sellers can give you a cheap yet reliable system that is thoroughly tested and is in excellent condition.
Many refurbished deals are outstanding, but there are just some electronic devices that you shouldn’t buy refurbished. Experts from CNET warn against buying refurbished TVs because they don’t get the same careful reconditioning as laptops and computers.
More than being functional, you would want your TV also to look nice. With refurbished TVs, there’s a risk that they might get damaged during shipping because of careless packing. CNET says the warranty is also too short—only 90 days. You’ll need a year of coverage to test the reliability of a TV set.
It may also be a bad idea to go for refurbished cell phones. A lot can go wrong with used cell phones, and chances are, they may never be fixed up as good as new ones. Experts at CNET say that even though there are compelling deals on refurbished smartphones, they do not guarantee that you’ll get new batteries.
If you’re looking for a printer, it’s best to wait for a good sale on a new one instead of choosing a refurbished item. More likely than not, a refurbished printer has had ink running through its guts. If you still want to take a risk, do check if the refurbished printer being offered on a good deal comes with new ink.
A refurbished hard drive is also a big no-no. CNET argues that drive prices are already low, to begin with, and you wouldn’t want to risk your data on a used unit. Plus, a used hard drive can’t really be restored to factory-new condition.
Looking for quality refurbished electronics is not as hard as it seems. You just need to invest time to figure out what you need and do your research to get the best deals. Find trusted sellers who will give you your money’s worth by ensuring that the refurbished product has been thoroughly inspected, tested, and repaired.
Do a background check on sellers and retail outlets to know if they are credible enough. They should offer a reasonable return policy and warranty, too. Getting extra protection is a plus. Following these simple steps go a long way to making sure that you are getting not only a good price but a good product, too.