Do You Buy Refurbished Items?

Do You Buy Refurbished Items?

Earlier this week I ran across an interesting post over at The Finance Buff. In it, TFB wondered aloud about whether the refurbished Kindle that he bought was really a refurb, or if Amazon was just using the “refurbished” moniker as an excuse to sell some units at a lower price.

In general terms, the practice of selling the same goods at different price points is known as price discrimination, or price differentiation. The thinking here is that you want to sell as many units as possible at the highest price possible.

If some people are willing to buy at one (higher) price point, you want to get the higher price. But that might limit your market. Thus, if you offer an equivalent, but superficially distinguishable item at a lower price, you’ll grab more customers while still getting that first group to pay full price.

In the case of the Kindle, these are labeled as refurbs but are otherwise indistinguishable from a new item. Same packaging, same warranty, etc. The only noticeable difference (aside from the word “Refurbished” in the product description) was a lower price. So are they really refurbs? Who knows.

But does it really matter? If you are getting an item that you can’t distinguish from new, and which carries the same warranty protection, why should you turn your back on the refurb?

Some will argue that there’s a higher likelihood of failure in a refurb, and that might be true. Then again, if these are truly refurbished items, maybe they’ve already realized their probability of failure and have been fixed. Either way, you can save a nice chunk of change by going the refurb route.

Now… I have to admit that I’ve typically avoided refurbs myself, but I’m starting to rethink my stance — especially with something like an Amazon Kindle, which is backed by a very reputable and customer friendly company and comes with a full year of warranty coverage.

What about you? Do you buy refurbs when given the chance? If so, have you ever been able to tell the difference vs. new in terms of appearance or performance?

17 Responses to “Do You Buy Refurbished Items?”

  1. Anonymous

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  2. Anonymous

    I buy refurbished when I can, from reputable vendors – Apple is great for this. I bought a MacBook Pro (17″) two years ago, and it hasn’t missed a beat. Bought a refurbished iPhone – lasted for 3 years until I bought the 4S. I am all for it.

  3. Anonymous

    As for refurbs, best to check if the new ones had problems and the replacements did too.

    The Kindle is a special case. Had one DOA screen right out of the box. ( Swapped that at the store – phew. )

    Also one that had a screen problem later – Definitely when I did my exchange – got a refurb. Buttons were softer from use. The other new one – click click difference.

    Hopefully people that buy a refurb avoided that used button feel.

  4. Anonymous

    Yes i do consider refurbished items, in fact my other laptop and iPhone are refurbs. I have been using them for more than a year now and i haven’t encounter problems yet and i hope they’d be good for as long as they possibly can. I guess it also took me luck to get the right item because i have heard a lot of people complaining about refurbished items.

  5. Anonymous

    I’ve bought a few refurbished things and have had success.

    I bought my iPad that way. A friend of mine used to work for Apple and said that anything that’s refurbished has to go through an 80-point inspection (or something like that, don’t quote me) whereas things that are new just come off the line and go in a box. Refurbs are actually less likely to have issues.

    We also bought a Dyson vacuum cleaner that way and have had no troubles with it. We’re outside of the warranty period (new or refurb) now, so at this point, it doesn’t matter.

  6. Anonymous

    I buy refurbs all the time. Here’s my line of thinking, if the item was returned and refurbished the company took a good look at the item and repaired any issues. In many ways this makes the product better than a new one that has not been through this level of quality assurance.

    I have purchased a vacuum, three laptops, TiVos, multiple Kindles for gifts, and many other items as refurbs. I have never had an issue besides a harddrive failure within the warranty period for an HP laptop. HP overnighted a replacement harddrive and all was well.

    I also always look at the Warehouse Deals section of Amazon and compare pricing there before I make a purchase. Often you can pickup an open-box item for several dollars less than a new item. Once again I’ve never had an issue, but I don’t really worry about it because Amazon has such great customer service.

  7. Anonymous

    I love refurb items! Many of my power tools (corded and cordless) are refurbished (and they typically come branded – as in, with a physical brand in the plastic casing – as such) and have never had an issue with a single one. I also buy all of our office computers (6-7 over the last decade) as refurb items and some of them are still running today as backups and none have ever had issues. Our Dyson vacuums are refurbished and I imagine that there are a few other items around the house that are refurbed. This is a great way to buy durable goods at a substantial discount.

  8. Anonymous

    Me, I’ve never had the nerve to try a refurbished (i.e., “used”) computer, tablet, or phone. On the other hand, friends who are computer gurus routinely recommend them, and you can tell from the comments here that a lot of people have good experiences with them.

    I did get a second-hand camera that had been cleaned up, at an old-line camera store here in town. It was great — an excellent buy!

  9. Anonymous

    I insisted that my husband buy a refurb ipad for me. Cost was considerably less. Apple must sell any item that has been returned as a refurb, so most of the time the iPad is brand new. It came with a complete warranty. I have had my iPad for over eight months and haven’t had a single problem.

  10. Anonymous

    I definitely take advantage of refurbished products when the price difference makes it worth while.

    For instance, I have purchased some professional level camera equipment and lenses refurbished, which saved quite a bit of money.

    As long as the camera has relatively low shutter clicks and there are no scratches on the lenses, you could never tell the difference, and it can save thousands off new camera prices.

    On the other hand, some used products like the refurbished Apple computers don’t really go for that much cheaper than brand new items, so in cases like that, I would usually just prefer to spend a little extra to get the brand-new computer.

    Most refurbished items have great warranties, so as long as it’s not something that is heavily devalued or worn out by use, I’ll go for it if the price difference is right.

  11. Anonymous

    i love the lower price of refurbs. i bought an refurb iphone 4, couldn’t tell it! i’ve had it for over a year and not a bit of trouble with it. and i bought the refurb kindle a few weeks ago. seems brand new to me. its work the discount to me!

  12. Anonymous

    It depends on the item. If it is a semi-durable mature item, I’ll go the refurb route. (ie: desktop, graphing calculator, office chair). If it’s more of a bleeding edge item or pricey item, I will more than likely go the new route. (ie: laptop, tablet, new tv)

    My rationale for this is because AmEx and Visa signature warranty doubling typically excludes refurbished items. So if I want the warranty doubled or am considering purchasing the credit card extended warranty, refurbished items are out.

  13. Anonymous

    Hate refurbs. I got a “warranty” on my cell phone, but instead of replacing with a new, they replaced with a refurb, and then charged $150 or something anyway. For that price, it’s better to get someone else’s hand-me-down

  14. Anonymous

    I have bought refurbished items a few times and have good luck, but I do my research. Case in point: The PC I’m sitting at right-now was a refurb desktop off of Costco website back in 2006, when they offered such a thing. Was good as new when it arrived, and it’s still running strong. I was able to get the best tech at the time, for the price of older technology.

    2nd example: Back in the day when a Sansa MP3 player was going for about $90-100, I bought 3 refurb’s online for about $40 each, one for each child as Christmas gifts. Again, they were good as new, but this time did have a small sticker on the back that said ‘refurb’. The kids were elated, wondering all the while how I managed a player for each kid, plus all the other gifts they got for Christmas.

    When buying Refurb, it has alot to do with the product reviews available, the seller’s warranty provided, and the price-point offered (especially for multiple quantities). If it all adds up to a good deal, for low risk, I just might go for it.

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