Electronic devices today are becoming more expensive as innovations and advancements are made. Smartphones and laptops that pack industry-leading specifications showcase costly price tags. As an owner of an old but reliable laptop, you don’t really bother looking into it, mainly because you still have something to use. 

However, when the unthinkable happens, and your device just gives up on you, you will desperately need a replacement. The problem is you don’t have enough money to buy a new one. So, what’s the solution? Buy a refurbished one.

What is refurbished, and how does it differ from used? In the reselling world, anything that has a previous owner can be branded as used. It may be worn out, well maintained, or hardly used—it does not matter. 

Meanwhile, a refurbished item is a product that has been rehashed to appear and function as good as new. Once defective parts are replaced, aesthetic issues are solved, and everything is checked, the manufacturer or retailer will sell them with the refurbished label.

Types of Refurbished Items

While we are going through the basics of refurbished electronic devices, we may as well cover the various types. 

  • Manufacturer defects – This first is composed of electronics that have factory problems which were discovered upon purchase. The buyer returns it to the retailer, and then the retailer returns it to the manufacturer, who will then make the necessary repairs. Once everything’s fixed, the retailer may sell the product as refurbished with a discounted price.
  • Shipping damage – Shipping damage varies from dents and scratches to mishandling leading to malfunctions. Similarly, these devices are sent back to the retailer, and then to the manufacturer for repairs. In case the aesthetic issues are not solved, those factors will be taken into consideration in introducing the refurbished price.
  • Open-box – As the name implies, these devices were taken out of their boxes. However, the consumer might have encountered problems trying to operate it, and due to frustration, just returned the package to the retailer. Some consumers who experience ‘buyer’s remorse’ and returned purchased products also fall in this category.
  • Used – These electronics were used for some time. Some of these may have been returned to the manufacturer in exchange for a brand-new device as part of a recycling program. Devices that were once used for model showcases may also be categorized as used.
  • Overstock – These devices are technically brand new, although their low demand in the market led them to gather dust on the shelves. Retailers and manufacturers have reduced the price to be able to sell them to budget-conscious buyers. 

Considering these factors, it is safe to say that getting a refurbished electronic device is a good idea for consumers who want to get working equipment but do not have enough money to purchase a new one. As long as what you’re getting has not been used for years, the low price you’ll pay is looking pretty good. 

Risks in Getting Refurbished Electronics

While there are benefits in choosing refurbished electronics over new devices, there are still some risks that you should be aware of. Knowing the potential will let you find the best refurbished device to meet your needs without any additional headaches. 

  • Warranties not at par with new devices 

When you’re buying a refurbished product, most of them still have guarantees for the buyers’ peace of mind. However, unlike brand new equipment that has warranties covering up to 24 months, refurbished ones only have up to 90 days maximum. Make no assumptions about warranty, however, without asking the retailer directly. 

  • For smartphones, finding one for the right carrier may be difficult 

This one is difficult for smartphones that were locked to a specific carrier. Ask the retailer or manufacturer whether the handset is an open line or not. 

  • Poorly refurbished 

Some businesses are offering refurbished electronics at meager prices. Unfortunately, some of these devices may have undisclosed functionality issues that will start to creep out as you use them. Some second-hand sellers may also replace original defective parts with substandard materials just to keep the device running. However, you will notice the difference once you use it daily.

  • The device may not look aesthetically pleasing 

Whether you like it or not, some refurbished devices won’t look the same anymore, probably due to shipping damage. Fortunately, under these circumstances, these problems are only skin-deep and do not affect functionality. 

  • Accessories might be missing 

During consumer returns or mishandling of the retailer, some pieces of accessories may go missing. While the retailer should be responsible for completing the package contents, some shady refurbishing businesses skip this task. However, some are honest enough to indicate which accessories are missing. 

  • Worse performance 

If there’s one thing that is true about electronic devices, it’s the fact that performance degrades over time, especially with the incremental upgrades in the industry every few months. Even if a device has gone through extensive processes to keep it in top shape, an outdated processor or insufficient memory will still show. 

  • May be difficult to return 

Returns for a brand-new electronic device is easy if the requirements are met. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about refurbished products. Because the primary reason for retailers is to get rid of the device while getting a few dozen dollars, accepting a return may be more difficult for them. 

While all these risks are haunting, there are ways to prevent these things from happening. It all depends on how you do your research and how well you understand what you are getting by choosing a refurbished product. 

Simple Tips When Buying Refurbished Electronics

If you are planning to get a replacement laptop, but you’re short on budget, a refurbished one can undoubtedly meet your needs. To get the best bang for your buck, here are simple tips you should remember:

Stick with the Manufacturer

You can never go wrong with refurbished products from the actual manufacturer. Apple, Samsung, Sony, and other electronics manufacturers have programs that enable consumers to buy their refurbished devices. If you stay with the manufacturer, you will be assured that they have done everything to fix issues and make part replacements before they put it on sale. 

Take note that these devices are a few generations older than the current models. If you’re okay with that, then you can proceed. 

In case you don’t want to buy from a manufacturer, the next best thing is a trusted retailer. Check everything—reviews, address, contact numbers, etc. These will ensure that you are dealing with a business that values its reputation and won’t tarnish it just to make a couple dozen dollars. In addition, make sure it should have great customer support to provide after-sales services. 

Check Warranties

Whether you are getting the refurbished product from the manufacturer or a reputable retailer, you have to check the warranty and return policies that come with it. How long will they accept requests for repairs or returns? Usually, for refurbished devices, warranties range from 30 to 90 days. 

Inspect Carefully

As much as possible, check the device personally and do not settle for pictures and reviews on the internet. You must actually see that the device is working before you make the jump. Doing this simple step can save you a lot of headaches.

Evaluate Your Needs

You need to reevaluate why you’re buying refurbished in the first place. If it’s because you have no other device to use and you are short on budget, then go ahead. However, if the price difference between the refurbished and the brand new one is not considerable, and you think you can still wait before you buy, then you can always pick the safe side and get it brand new. 

For instance, the price difference between a refurbished and brand-new printer is not that big. Besides, you can print somewhere else for the meantime while waiting for your budget. 

Do Your Research Now

These are just a few pointers to remember. Only by doing these things will you be able to ensure purchasing a quality product that will meet your needs. If you have finally decided that you really want a refurbished product, and you are willing to compromise a few points in the functionality and aesthetics departments, then you have to spend time doing research. 

Luckily, searching for quality second-hand products is easier now than ever. Gone are the days when you have to visit various electronics retailers just to get the price and product. You can do all your research in the comfort of your own home today. Once you have chosen around two or three retailers, you may give them a call or visit their physical stores to check their devices. 


Gary Everrett is a Tech Geek who is a writer by passion. Mostly he writes about topics revolving around the latest gadget and technology. On his free time, he likes to read sci-fi novels and play golf. Read more about the best deals on refurbished macs.

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