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Refurbished or recertified electronics safe to buy?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / April 29, 2011 8:50 AM PDT

Refurbished or recertified electronics safe to buy?

I am wondering about refurbished or recertified products that can be found on Web sites like and many others. Sometimes they have really great deals on products, but most of the products are noted as refurbished or recertified and do not carry the same manufacturer warranty as new ones.

Does this mean that the products are taken in from the original manufacturer and rebuilt to be like new again, or are they products that have been returned for reasons other than a defect? Are they safe to buy, and safe in the sense that if the company does not want to give them a full warranty, why should we trust the product? If you have bought refurbished or recertified electronics, what has been your experience? Any advice on this is appreciated. Thanks.

-- Submitted by Dig J.

Here are some member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

Refurbished or recertified electronics safe to buy? --Submitted by: GrotonDad

Depends on the product and who did the refurb --Submitted by: Zouch

Refurbished, yes. Recertified, maybe --Submitted by: ben_myers

Depends on the brand... --Submitted by: darrenforster99 -

Refurbished Electronics --Submitted by: rcstan98

Original Equipment Manufacturer's --Submitted by Chaos-Katie

Certs refurb your mouth --Submitted by IronManCurtis

Buying refurbished --Submitted by: chaslinux1

My experience is no. --Submitted by: Zorched

Thanks to all who contributed!

If you have any additional advice, experience, or opinions to share with Dig, please click on the reply link below and submit away. Please keep this discussion civil and be courteous to each others opinions and advice. Thanks!
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(NT) All good
by stanstiles / April 29, 2011 10:40 AM PDT
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nothing but good luck with Dell
by mavfan2 / May 10, 2011 10:01 AM PDT
In reply to: All good

Every Dell I've purchased the past 6 years has been a refurb. I've bought a desktop and a laptop for my parents and I myself currently have an Alienware Aurora desktop, an Adamo and a new XPS 17" sandy bridge with 3D that just hit the Dell Outlet a few weeks ago. Prior to my current computers I had another Dell desktop 4 years ago and I also bought a Macbook Pro a couple of years ago from Apple's refurb store.

I've never had a single problem with any of these purchases. I have had problems with two laptops the past 5 years or so. A Lenovo and a white Macbook. Both were purchased new.

The really great thing about buying from the Dell Outlet is that you can get their newest items just a few weeks after release for big discounts. The XPS 17" 3D laptop I just got cost me just over $1,100 including tax because I used a 20% off coupon. The Dell Outlet twitter account regularly posts discount codes of 15-20% off any laptop or desktop. This is a new i7 sandy bridge 2720QM quad core, nvidia gt555m graphics chip, 3D & blu ray, tv tuner, backlit keyboard and 4gb ram. You try to put this configuration, or as close as you can, together new on their site and you're at $1800, before tax.

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Refurbished electronics
by CalLMeCoors / April 29, 2011 10:47 AM PDT

I purchased a refurbished Dell Laptop from Ebay in December 2009. I have not had a single problem with this product and am very happy with my purchase. My understanding is that the company I purchased it from rebuilds the products to be like new except for any cosmetic problems, which were minimal and did not affect the how the laptop operated. In addition, I purchaed a warrany through Square Trade Warranties for only $69.00 for a two year warranty. Warranties are available on new and refurbished products. Before purchasing any of these products I would recommend that you research the product to find out what kind of problems people have reported with the product and defintely look into purchasing a warranty, just in case! I have not had to use my warranty but better safe than sorry.

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Dell Computers-great. Anyone experienced with Vizio refurbs?
by cutrone / May 7, 2011 1:58 AM PDT

I buy all my computers through Dell's Outlet on their website. The equipment is always a bit cheaper though you sometimes cannot find the exact set-up that you want, in which case you can wait. These items move quickly. They all come with Dell's warranty and I always buy the extended three year on-site next day service and it has paid for itself many times over. Dell is very generous in interpreting the warranty terms and frankly have repaired some things that other companies might have classified as result of rough usage for which they may have denied warranty coverage. I have, for example, had the screen on my laptop replaced for only a minor defect, the keyboard several times, the top of the case, etc. And getting it done at my office next business day (usually) is terrific - Don't have to wait to ship, repair, return ship. The three year - next day on site coverage is not cheap but ithas proven itself to be well worth the investment. I have avoiding having to junk laptops as a result. As far as other manufacturers or products I cannot cay, though I am currently contemplating a refurbished Vizio LED in order to save about $400. We will see.

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Ethical Refurbishing
by meow65 / May 27, 2011 9:32 AM PDT

You sound very encouraging as to the way you went about being successful with your purchase. Would you mind telling me what company on ebay that you bought your Dell laptop from? It sounds like they have pride in their work and might know what 'ethics' means. Also, is Dell's outlet addy: Dell's I've loved my Dell desktop - bought it new 5 yrs ago! Thank you!

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Re: Buying a refurbished laptop - should I or should I not?
by danishwali / December 6, 2011 4:22 PM PST

I needed
a laptop for reading emails and using word at uni and thought getting a
refurbished laptop would be my cheapest option. Finally bought a refurbished
laptop from "ElectroComputerWarehouse" and the product id is
"dell_d620_laptop". And it is working very well.

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Refurbished or recertified electronics safe to buy?
by pauly1651 / April 29, 2011 10:48 AM PDT

It is a 50/50, toss of the coin issue when it comes to buying refurbished anything. Sometimes you make out OK, sometimes you don't. Personally, I stay away from them, I have had my inkjet cartridges refilled, and have bought refurbished ink cartridges before, and most were OK., but I will not buy computers, or printers etc. that have been refurbed or recertified, it's too much of a risk. Yes the lure is there, because of the savings, but I prefer to buy new. If I can't afford new, I just don't buy it.

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Warranty, warranty, warranty
by forkboy1965 / April 29, 2011 10:55 AM PDT

My impression, based upon reading and reading and reading, is that refurbished consumer electronics are products which have been returned to the manufacturer (for any variety of reason) and gone through a process by which broken or otherwise damaged parts are replaced or repaired and the unit is returned to "factory fresh" condition. I'm assuming this would also mean that any software or firmware is re-installed to the original as-sold condition.

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Apple is an easy way to go
by timhood / April 29, 2011 12:48 PM PDT

Apple products are ones that I would never have an issue buying refurbished. Apple brings the products back to as-new specs. They even replace the outer cases on products like the iPods, so you don't even have to worry about getting one with cosmetic damage.

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Refurbished Apple iPod's?
by Doh_1 / May 6, 2011 11:43 AM PDT

I've heard several stories from friends who bought the "classic" version of the iPod (with the rotating disk) refurbished when their originals failed (or were sent them by Apple to fulfill their warranty). And the results weren't good. Of course, I wouldn't recommend the classic iPod even new, since everyone that I know that's had one has had problems with them. I'm sure that there are a good number of them out there that have been fine, but I've been surprised by how many have failed.

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by d_adams / May 6, 2011 12:15 PM PDT

I would generally agree with you, but I think it's worth noting that the only Apple product I've bought refurb (white 2010 MacBook) had a bad logic board. Of course, they fixed it up, good as new, in a couple of days. Still, even Apple makes mistakes sometimes.

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I agree-there needs to be a warranty

That is what refurbished means, and if it doesn't have a warranty, it means that either (a)it was in a warehouse for a long time for an online site (i.e. Amazon, eBay, etc.), or (b) it was refurbished by someone no longer working or privately refurbished (basically unofficial refurbish), so try and buy from the manufacturer if you want refurbished. If it's discontinued, look for something with a good return policy, and make sure they have lots of good reviews, and try and buy from people who have return/fixing policies, so you can get the most for your money.

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Refurbished and Recertified are different.
by ArcTan / April 29, 2011 10:55 AM PDT

Basically refurbished items are units that have been returned to the manufacturers original "fit for sale" specifications.

Manufacturer refurbished items are usually items that have failed during the warranty period, have been repaired and are being resold by the manufacturer to recover costs, these are also sometimes referred to as factory seconds.

Recertified means the item has been tested by the manufacturer or manufacturers agent using the same specifications and test equipment that is used in the manufacture of new items.

Recertified "new" means the item did not work when it was new and has been repaired and recertified by the manufacturer or manufacturers agent.

I hope this answers you qusetion.

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As good as new
by MightyDrakeC / April 29, 2011 11:07 AM PDT

Your chances of trouble with a recertified computer is basically the same as with a "new" computer.

As others have said, you're getting an almost-new computer with any problems components replaced. Most reputable places will have some sort of warranty. And, most electronics either die in the first 90 days or last a long time, so you're going to be covered.

I put my money where my mouth is. I bought a recertified Toshiba laptop a few weeks ago. By going with recertified I was able to get a 17" within my budget. I saved about 20%.


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They are a great bargain.
by bigbear639 / May 6, 2011 1:42 PM PDT
In reply to: As good as new

Refurbed or Recertified come in a plain brown box rather than the colorful box. I have a Toshiba 17" Notebook I bought in 2001 and still working perfectly. On the other hand 2 Brand new ones same Model one for myself and another for my GF broke down shortly after the extended warranty expired, but was easily repaired by a Tech friend.

Have bought plenty of Refurbed Electronics over the years and saved Thousands of Dollars. Only twice did they fail to operate. The Seller replaced them. This includes anything from small appliances to Computers.

By the way if you use s debit or credit card to purchase anything the Bank will double and sometimes tripple the warranty at no cost to you after the original warranty expires. The I only buy new attitude is mostly snobbish and reslly does not help you save money.

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re: bank warranty?
by TraceSask / May 7, 2011 7:18 AM PDT

I always pay with my credit card, but had absolutely no idea that there was anything like this in place - Could you tell me how one goes about finding out if all credit cards honour this warranty deal - Thanks a lot Grin

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Refurbished Electronics
by hturner1949 / April 29, 2011 11:15 AM PDT

I purchased an Onkyo Receiver in 2008 from at a 65% savings over retail. It's worked flawlessly and I use it every day. I also purchased a wireless mouse for a laptop that was a dud right out of the package. But since it only cost 4 bucks it wasn't worth the hassle to return it. So like a lot of things, sometimes its a crap shoot.

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(NT) Refurbished or recertified electronics safe to buy? - New!
by jiggsup1 / April 29, 2011 11:26 AM PDT
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Refurbished, yes. Recertified, maybe
by ben_myers / April 29, 2011 11:29 AM PDT

Let me speak for what I do, which is sell some refurbished computer equipment: laptops, desktops, LCD screens and occasional printers.

When I refurbish a laptop, I replace all badly worn, broken or defective parts, clean all exposed surfaces thoroughly, make sure that dust and dirt are gone from the interior including ventilating fans and heat sinks. Often, I upgrade the laptop to more modern amounts of memory and hard drive capacity. Then I test, test, and test. The best and final test is to install the operating system, typically Windows. I also make sure that the battery has at least 50% of its original capacity. Then I sell with a 6-month warranty, more than the 30 day warranty you get from a big box mass market store when buying new.

Desktops go through the same procedures and I sell them with a one-year warranty. LCD screens and printers are tested less stringently, but carry a generous warranty.

The goal here is 100% customer satisfaction, because my reputation is on the line.

I cannot speak for what other refurbishers do, but the number of complaints or service under warranty is really small.

The term "recertified" is typically applied to hard drives, and I cannot explain what a manufacturer-recertified drive is, because I do not do what they do. However, I do run manufacturer diagnostics on any drives I sell, and then I run software to see if any sectors have become bad or have been reallocated because sectors have gone bad. If a hard drive has zero defects, I sell it. The only customer returns I have ever had have been NEW drives that died early on, usually within 30 days.

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(NT) Very useful info, thanks!
by Rima_K / April 29, 2011 12:12 PM PDT
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Rerubished Items
by Marcwolf1960 / April 29, 2011 12:32 PM PDT

One minor issue with new items is that often they have not been burned in for extended periods. Usually it is in this burnin period that a lot of components fail. So if an item is secondand and been refurbished then it will be a good indication that there are no hidden issues.

My house is filled with secondhand items and it tends to be the new items that are the ones that fail first.

Hope this helps

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Refurbished, yes. Recertified, maybe
by caddystp / May 6, 2011 12:41 PM PDT

Ben, how does one get hold of you? I am interested in your refurbs

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Ben Myers
by echo53 / May 7, 2011 12:50 PM PDT

Ben, I would also like to know how to get in touch with you. I may be interested in some of your products.

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Ben Myers
by meow65 / May 27, 2011 10:18 AM PDT
In reply to: Ben Myers

I would also be interested in how to get in touch with you. I also may be interested in some of your products.

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Refurbished, yes. Recertified, maybe
by cbeck121 / May 8, 2011 10:55 PM PDT

I, too, am interested in getting a hold of Ben.

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More Information Requested
by TomFG / May 9, 2011 5:33 AM PDT

Very interesting response. I'm interested in your web site or how to contact you.

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Ben Myers
by meow65 / May 27, 2011 10:13 AM PDT

I am also interested in your site or how to contact you, please.

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by TomFG / June 21, 2011 4:40 AM PDT

I would like to hear from Ben Myers.

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Our Laptops are Great
by marinermama / April 29, 2011 11:39 AM PDT

Usually, but research, research, research! My husband and I each bought refurbished Acer laptops from Tigerdirect last November and have had no problems at all and we use our computers heavily. If you're worried about a warranty on your purchase, Squaretrade offers good aftermarker consumer electronics warranties at a good price. I bought and later had to use one of their warranties a few years ago on a refurbished XBox 360 I got on Ebay, and we had no problems, their service worked just as advertised.

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laptop failed after 100 days.
by ej120 / May 7, 2011 1:44 PM PDT
In reply to: Our Laptops are Great

I bought a laptop for a relative overseas from Tiger Direct with their 2 year replacement warranty. By the time it got to her, a few weeks went by. She used it about 90 days when the hard drive failed. It wasn't covered. The 2 year warranty wouldn't cover the new hard drive. They sent me the original purchase price for the laptop - not the shipping, tax, etc. and they were finished with me. So, while I got the money back for the cost of the laptop, I lost all of the money for the shipping, the tax, and, of course, the cost of the warranty. What a huge waste of money! I will NEVER buy a warranty from Tiger Direct again!
On the other hand, my desktop was a refurbished and it's nearly 4 years old, and my printer, from Lexmark, is older. That one failed the first week and they sent me another one the very next day! Also, I bought a wonderful projector that worked for over 3 years until someone dropped it and it broke. Not worth the $ to fix it.

I guess you take your chances with refurbished. If you save a lot of $, it might be worth it. For 25% or less, I wouldn't do it.

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