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Definition of Refurbished?

by dcmorris / June 3, 2013 3:19 AM PDT

Firstly, my apologies if I am in the wrong forum. I couldn't find a fit so I am relying on "Newbies" as it has served me so well in the past.

I frequently see "refurbished" items featured on c/net's "Cheapskate" site. Where do the refurbished items come from? To what extent are they refurbished? Are they returned items that someone did not want? Some sound too good to be true and we all know the old adage about too good to be true.

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All Answers

Best Answer chosen by dcmorris

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I know a little about it from my past work with
by Steven Haninger / June 6, 2013 3:32 AM PDT

medical electronic devices but what you'd need to do is have a comparison between other categories of used equipment. There is a difference between refurbished and factory reconditioned devices. To be legally sold as reconditioned, a device must be returned to "like new" in the way of performance and life expectancy. Refurbished devices may undergo the minimum examination and repair needed to return them to service. Customer returns commonly find themselves resold as refurbished as, legally, they cannot be legally sold as new.

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Such a term cuts a wide path.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 3, 2013 3:40 AM PDT

I've seen refurbish to be as simple as windex and cleaning to full up makers that take back the boatload of machines to run it through a process of updates, reload of the OS and testing.

It really doesn't tell you much other than it was sold or possibly returned unsold from a best by or wallymart.

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Know the seller
by Willy / June 3, 2013 10:52 PM PDT

You have to rely on the vendor to provide that it did what it said they did and truly made the whatever back to provide the service or task that whatever is meant to do. Anything that is relatively new and not too aged offered as model-XYZ in the last yr. is probably a return of damaged goods from shipping or unhappy client or overstock or rentals or unpopular models. Here is the hierarchy or buying refurbs one should follow; maker->large vendor or warehouse vendor to vendors->local vendor->trusted seller->flea market...and understand the warranty if any.

Many yrs. ago before PCs, I worked for a company that offered "refurbs" and we did a total rebuild and testing then on to QC(quality control) and boxed and stored. Did that day in and day out and these all got sold at far cheaper pricing than new and the small business had access to what the big businesses or corporations had. We also supplied the "repair parts" for those same models should they be returned, like mainframes, HDs, printheads, floppy drives, tape drives and what have you. Remember this was before PCs, where pricing easily ran into the $1k-1.5m range just for the h/w alone.

tada -----Willy Happy

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Hey Dana, It's Been A While...
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / June 4, 2013 12:21 PM PDT

Good to see you back again.

As to the refurbished definition, I like the "know your seller" suggestion by Willy... Each one uses the term differently and for a "one time" purchase, it's difficult to determine which way to go.. Check the reviews for those sellers and see which one you like..

As to Cnet's "Cheapskate" site, you'll note they usually give an external website/locations where the item can be purchased.. Research the external site and ask questions there, if you can.

Hope this helps.


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Many resale categories
by mjd420nova / June 7, 2013 1:22 PM PDT

Many localities have specific rules regarding, refurbished, rebuild and reconditioned equipment. Most importantly is that anything in an open box can not be sold for msrp. In California, those items must be identified as such, in the stores, on the internet and in all advertising. I basically consider these units, whether a car stereo, A/V receiver, HDTV or an iphone, it's been broke once already. Not just used once already, but broke once (at least) and repaired. These days, it cost far more to fix the units than for the distributor to send it back to the mfgr and ask for credit. Sometime whole warehouses are stacked with these units, and get sold in lots to state and county fair vendors. Price wise, if it's just an open bow, 15% off, repaired, etc units are just over half the retail. And don't try to get any gaurantee besides the credit card provisions it's bought under. When worse comes to the forefront, call and stop the payment.

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What and Where
by Zouch / June 7, 2013 4:45 PM PDT

The earlier comment is spot on - know your seller. I've happily bought refurbs from a UK company that has a specialist department for such items. They didn't do a full recondition but they dis have a good stress test check out department. No use outside the UK, though, they don't ship internationally. I've never had a dud - the two primary computers we use at home are refurbs and both have been rock solid reliable.

The outfit in question also offered (I don't use them any more - I moved overseas) return to base warranties, typically 3 or 6 months, which is usually enough to give the equipment a real shakedown.

There are some items I won't buy refurbished, even from the original manufacturer, like disk drives, printers, scanners, etc. but pretty much anything else is fair game.

The other essential recommendation if you are going down the refurb route is to go for quality equipment, such as IBM/Lenovo Thinkpads, rather than some far east white box of dubious heritage.

Refurbs are a risk but my Thinkpads were about 15% of new retail and were 2-3 years old when I got them and np problems whatsoever

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In the Electronics Retail World...
by Flatworm / June 7, 2013 11:54 PM PDT

In the electronics retail world, "Refurbished" seems to mean "repackaged and discounted" and nothing more. If it was returned by a customer with buyer's remorse, you might get lucky and get a bargain. But if it was returned because of a malfunction, the problem is unlikely to have been corrected and you too will suffer that same malfunction. I have found this to be true of even the most reliable and honest retailers.

Of course, the clerk doesn't tell you WHY it was returned, or even know why.

I would never buy anything "refurbished" (again!).

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Definition of Refurbished?
by lenber / June 8, 2013 12:33 AM PDT

<span id="INSERTION_MARKER">So sorry about my misinterpretation since I always figured to be Puff, puff.

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The simple answer.
by The Masked Villain / June 9, 2013 10:15 AM PDT

Dear dcmorris,

The simple answer is, "It stopped working, we took it back, we fixed only what was wrong with it to get it working again, and now we want to get rid of it before it stops working again." So, yes buyer beware. I have known people who have great luck with refurbished equipment, I have known others who had nothing but trouble. I suppose it has a great deal to do with the company you are looking at. Are there products generally rated as good quality? If so, they should be safe to deal with. After all, you don't want to screw up your corporate image over some peace of crap you could have just as easily tossed out, and written off as defective inventory. On the other hand, if the company is just scrapping by, they may need every cent they can squeeze out of everything. Including a borderline part they can sell cheep, with no warranty. So do your homework. What, if any, is the warranty period on the item. Do you trust the company. If your not sure, look them up on CNET. Finally, do what you are doing now, ask questions of your fellow members in the forums. We're here to help each other.


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