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Are Refurbished Computers a Good way to Save Money?

Short answer: Yes, of course they are. Refurbished models will always be less expensive than brand new models so you’ll absolutely save money. The real thought to ponder is whether the savings is worth getting a ‘used’ machine. In most cases, refurbished computers are an excellent way to get a quality product at a discount. Buying refurbished can be a major money saver but it requires some understanding of the refurbished process and best practices.

What’s With the Stigma?
The first thing to understand is that ‘Refurbished’ is not a synonym for ‘used’ (or damaged, or faulty, etc.) Most retailers don’t take much time to explain what refurbished means and as a result people are left in the dark, free to come up with their own assumptions.
Thus, because most people don’t understand the refurbishing process, the term ‘refurbished’ gets a (slightly to extremely ignorantly) bad rep. Like many things in life knowledge is power and this is especially true when it comes to refurbished purchases. Let’s explore what exactly you’re getting yourself into with refurbished products.

What is a Refurbished Product?
Rather than used or damaged, think of refurbished as ‘reconditioned’. Refurbished products are items that have been reworked, fixed, returned, or, sometimes, even new products that were unable to be sold as “new” due to certain circumstances.
Products fall into the refurbished category because of cosmetic or exterior damages, sample units used for demonstration or showing, open boxes that have been returned for non-defective reasons, or product defects that were caused during the manufacturing process. You usually won’t know why the product you buy has is labeled refurbished, which, understandably, can be unsettling to some consumers.

Why Buy a Refurbished Product?

More Reliable Products, Yes, Really
Here’s the kicker, refurbished products actually go through more testing than ‘new’ products to ensure they are in working condition and usable enough to be sold. So although they cost less, they have undergone more testing, which means these products are likely to work not even as good, but often better than new items.

You Always Save Money
Seasoned deal seekers know this semi-secret and score massive savings on all types of products. To those that understand how to buy refurbished products, refurb listings from top manufacturers are the holy grail of product deals. Discount amounts on refurbished products vary but you’ll usually get a discount of a the very least 10 percent and in the best cases up to 30 percent off.
Score the Latest Parts

Buying refurbished is also a workaround way to get an older model with newer parts. Say a computer processor is found to be defective in refurbishing testing. Before that computer is listed for sale, the processor will be replaced and is often replaced with the latest model. In this scenario you’re likely to score 6-month old computer that has a just-released processor – all at a discounted price.

Other Perks
Going the refurbished route has some additional perks. Buying refurbished is one of the only ways to get a deal on products that are rarely discounted, such as Apple products, and have the added benefit of being environmentally friendly.

Best Practices

Only Buy Authorized Refurbished Products
Anyone can ‘refurbish’ a product which is why it’s important to buy from trusted retailers and manufacturers. The devil is in the terminology details here. ‘Factory refurbished’ usually means the product went back to the original manufacturer for reconditioning and testing. ‘Certified refurbished’ is Amazon’s wording for their seal of approval on refurbished products and are also a good choice. The exact language will vary but you’ll want to make sure you understand who reconditioned and certified the product and that that company has been authorized to do so.

It’s not a total dealbreaker, but a good refurbishment program will have some sort of (usually manufacturer) warranty on the product. They’re generally short, around 30 to 90 days but you can find premium ones that last longer, such as Apple’s program that covers a full year.

Extended Service Agreement
Another nice to have feature is the option of purchasing extended service agreements. These extend protection beyond the automatic warranty and generally show the seller stands behind their refurbishment process.

Return Policy
Even if you don’t usually check the return policy on ‘new’ products, it’s best to do a little due diligence and check out the return policy on any refurbished product you’re considering. Just because a product is refurbished, shouldn’t mean you don’t have the option to simply change your mind. Policies of two weeks and 30 days are pretty standard, although some extend up to 90 days.

Double Check Your Credit Card Protection
Another fine print detail to check is the protection your credit card provides. Despite being refurbished, some credit policies simply don’t protect products that aren’t brand new. Scan your card details and look for a refurbished clause.

Open Upon Delivery
It’s always a good idea to open items upon arrival to be sure you can resolve any issues while your product is protected but because of the grey area of rules regarding refurbished products it’s especially important to do so with refurbished products. Remember the products may have different (often newer) parts than the original version, which isn’t a cause for alarm assuming everything works as advertised.

The Bottom Line

  • Refurbished means reconditioned, not just used
  • Buying refurbished saves you money, generally between 10 to 30 percent off the original list price
  • Refurbished items are extra reliable as they have gone through extensive testing but may have non-original parts
  • Only buy refurbished from manufacturers and sellers who are trustworthy and authorized
  • Double check the fine print of your refurbished program including return and warranty information

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