Should you buy that iPad on Craigslist, or the refurbished laptop from Apple? Here’s some advice.
Buying a refurbished tech product can be a bit like purchasing a used car. You can actually get a great deal on something amazing and pay way less than you normally would.
On the other hand, it could be the beginning of a small and torturous nightmare. We know, you don’t want to be stuck with the techie equivalent of a family sedan in Florida with a broken AC.
We are here to help. Here are the dos and don’ts of buying refurbished tech:
Yes, Do Buy:
Factory Refurbished Items
When it comes to refurbished equipment, go for factory refurbished. For laptops, PCs, printers, phones, Blu-ray players, and beyond, it can be a good bet.
When previously new equipment is returned to the store, it’s being brought back for a multitude of reasons and the good thing for bargain-hunters is that the seller isn’t legally permitted to re-sell any returned item as “new”.
This means that the tablets and laptops—that have nothing wrong with them—are being re-sold as ‘refurbished’. You could be getting the exact same thing as buying new, at a reduced price.
And if something WAS actually malfunctioning with the device, it’s been brought back to the manufacturer, tested for all kinds of problems, and fixed. It was then sent through the same testing that new products undergo before hitting the shelves or being sold online by the manufacturer. It’s pretty much as good as new or very close to it, and ready to go.
What are some precautions to take? Make sure it comes with a guarantee and/or warranty, so you’re covered.
No, Don’t Ever Buy:
According to some, buying a refurbished hard drive can be dicey. You can’t be sure whether or not it was used, if it’s a factory refurbished hard drive, and if it has been used, you can’t restore a hard drive to a factory-new condition like you can a used Blu-ray player.
That being said, many people buy used hard drives everyday and survive. It’s up to you to roll that dice.
A Refurbished Phone From A Third Party
Buying a refurbished phone can be an excellent way to pay far less than the original ticket, for a great device.
What you want to avoid though, is a situation like Rafi Letzeter’s, published on Business Insider. Letzeter bought a refurbished Samsung Galaxy S4, only to have the battery basically catch fire while the phone was recharging.
Even though it happened within the warranty period, Verizon, who was the third party reseller of the refurbished phone, refused to take it back. The company found ‘unreasonable wear and tear’ on the phone and said it was a no-go. A chip on the side, a bit of rust somewhere, it could be almost anything that stops your device from being taken back by a third party, even if your battery spontaneously combusted.
Basically, a third party re-seller doesn’t care about upholding the reputation of the company that made your phone.
If you get a refurbished phone directly from the manufacturer however, big or small, the company has a reputation for selling quality goods, and they want to maintain that. Thus, you’re going to get better service buying from the manufacturer.
One of the refurbished tech products that falls in the ‘maybe’ category is a printer. You COULD get a quality second hand printer, save some money and have no problems.
It’s very hard to refurbish a printer that’s been used, to a factory-new condition, though. If the printer in question has been sitting around unused for a while, the ink and toner could have gummed up the mechanisms inside.
Always check out what you would pay if you were to buy the item, you’re looking at, new. Sometimes the price difference on a refurbished tech item is a great deal, and sometimes it’s only $10 to $20 off the original price. If so, you may feel that it makes more sense to buy the item new.
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