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Refurbished gear: Good or bad?

Have you ever purchased a refurbished item? If so, did it turn out to be the great deal you expected, a total disaster, or something in between? Share your stories and read one by The Cheapskate himself.


From time to time I'll post deals on refurbished/recertified items, which are sold at a discount because they didn't meet a manufacturer's quality standards or were returned (for one reason or another) and can't be sold as new. What do you think of these deals? Have you had good luck buying refurb gear, or did you end up regretting it? I'd love to hear your stories--and so would your fellow Cheapskate readers.

I'll kick things off with one of my own. Last year, Mrs. Cheapskate needed an LCD TV with a built-in DVD player. I found a great deal on a 20-inch refurbished model. When it arrived, however, we discovered that the stand had broken clean off the base of the TV as a result of shockingly poor packaging. To the vendor's credit, they picked up the busted set and shipped a replacement with a minimum of fuss.

The replacement's packaging was equally atrocious (seriously, the TV was wrapped in a single layer of bubble wrap inside the box, nothing more), but it appeared to be intact. Most importantly, it worked.

In fact, it worked for 15 days, at which point the built-in DVD player refused to play any more DVDs (leaving my poor wife scrambling during a business presentation). And, naturally, the vendor's return policy for refurbished items expired after--you guessed it--14 days. I thought they'd cut me a break, but no, they sent me to the manufacturer for repairs (bad vendor, bad!).

Yeah, I made a few mistakes along the way (the big one: buying a TV with a built-in DVD player. Those things always break), but it's the only bad experience I've had with refurb gear. How about you? Hit the comments page and share your own tales of woe (or satisfaction).