If you’re looking to buy an electronic device but are on a tight budget, its refurbished equivalent can save you loads of cash. However, because of both truth and misconception, customers often choose to avoid refurbished electronic products.
Sure, getting a refurb has its risks, but what many buyers never seem to grasp is exactly what “refurbished” means. Since no uniform standards are in place to dictate when the term should be used, it is quite hard to tell the difference between a refurbished item and a used product.
“Refurb” or “used” – which is which?
An item is labeled as used or secondhand when it has been bought, used for a significant period, and then sold. But a refurbished electronic item is that which has been purchased, then either recalled by the seller or brought back to the shop by the customer.
Of course, the reason for an item’s return could be anything from a small fault to a major technical problem, but this doesn’t mean that all refurbished electronic products had real defects before. Even something as small as improper packaging can justify a return.
What is cause for alarm, however, is that neither the manufacturer nor the retailer will tell you exactly why the item was returned. If the previous buyer just had a change of mind, then you’ve just scored a practically new device at a huge bargain. On the other hand, your product might have had a major defect, which could recur in the future.
Why you should buy refurbished electronic products?
Despite the uncertainty that plagues the industry, experts always encourage budget-conscious shoppers to consider refurbished electronic devices.
Below are a few reasons to buy refurb gadgets:
Low price: The main reason customers opt for refurbished electronic products over new ones is better pricing. Regardless of why the product was returned, the manufacturer cannot resell it at anything close to the original price. You can, therefore, get the item you desire at up to half the cost you’d incur when new.
Access to older models: If you’re looking to buy an older version of a device, it might be difficult to find it new at a store. For instance, a customer that’s in the market for an iPhone 5 because newer models are too big and expensive, only has the option for a refurbished unit.
Fixed problems: If a product develops a fault and is taken back to the manufacturer, the problem has to be fixed before they can resell it. Buying a new device means you’ll be the first to use it, and while this is arguably a good thing, your new gadget might have an underlying defect that nobody identified before you purchased.
How to buy a refurbished electronic product?
A refurb can assure you great value for the money, but you should be careful while shopping to avoid unreliable products and dubious retailers.
Where to buy?
The first step to protecting yourself when shopping for refurbished electronic products is making sure you buy from legitimate and straightforward sellers. If you’re in the online market, only reach out to well-known sites.
A safe place to start is with manufacturers’ pages. Apple, for example, stocks its refurbished iPhones, iPads and Mac computers in the Apple Store, where they come bearing a certification that they’ve been thoroughly tested, along with a one-year warranty.
Alternatively, major e-commerce retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, and NewEgg sell refurb items that are inspected by certified technicians, and some also come with warranties.
What to buy?
Although you can get nearly any kind of electronic product on the refurb market, some items are better deals than others. For instance, if you’re on a tight budget, it is generally regarded as a good idea to buy a refurbished laptop, particularly from a big brand. In addition to great deals, top manufacturers often include the same guarantee and after-sale services as with new items.
On the flip side, there are also products that don’t stand up well with refurbishing. Mechanical hard drives, for example, start to wear out the moment you put them into use, and cannot be restored to like-new condition. Furthermore, because new hard drives are already relatively cheap, buying a refurb to save money makes little sense.
Measures to take
In addition to identifying the right retailer and having a suitable item in mind, it is also important to do some research.
The Internet is your go-to resource, where you can read reviews about a product, and learn its strengths and weaknesses. Critic websites and tech forums can have information about the problems faced by previous owners, which you can employ to diagnose your device when it arrives.
Moreover, some retailers re-sell refurbished gadgets without certain accessories, which were in the new product’s box. Therefore, check the seller’s listing to ensure all the extras you need are included in the package.
While not all refurbished electronic products come with warranties and return policies, you’ll be much safer with a device that is covered for the near future. Both the extent of the warranty and the length of the return period will depend on your retailer of choice.
Although refurbished electronic products can be risky, there’s no reason you shouldn’t keep them in mind. However, diving into the market head-first will likely lead to problems in the future. Instead, take the time to do your homework. Learn as much as you can about the product and choose the seller that offers the best in both price and guarantees. With some research and a little luck, going the refurb way can get you the best deal.