Reconditioned or Refurbished: What Does This Mean

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Every year, millions of computers and consumer electronics are returned to manufacturers accross the US.  Whether due to functionality, or the item was a leased item, these items still have some use and can offer a great value to eBay buyers.  However, it is important to understand what Reconditioned or Refurbished means and how it effects the items you buy.

1) Factory Reconditioned/Reconditioned

Items such as computers, printers, cell phones, and industrial equipment are often leased by companies in order to acquire the machines they need at a lower cost. This is done by replacing worn components, chassis, and testing the product fully.  Reconditioning has less to do with repair, than it does with replacing parts that commonly need to be updated. This can be done by two catagories of companies:

  • Factory Authorized - This is where either the factory itself, or a certified outsource firm reconditions these products by company standards for resale.
  • Reseller Recondition - This is where an items was been purchased from the original company and reconditioned in-house, but is not certified or trained by the original manufacturer. 

2) Factory Refurbished/Refurbished

Every year, over $100 Billion worth of products are returned to big box retailers due to either blemish, or functionality issues.  This is common with items such as computers, laptops, or other consumer electronics.  This catagory of work has less to do with replacing worn out parts, and more to do with repairing a damaged items. These returned items are often sold to outside companies who take on the responsibility to resell them after repairing them.  These company then refurbish the items by finding the problem with the item and repairing it and replacing worn parts.  This can be done one of two ways:

  • Factory Authorized/Certified Refurbishment - Some companies have technicians that are certified to repair of refurbish a product by the original manufacturer. This is most commonly found in the computer catagory.  This means the item they sell has been repaired or refurbished by someone with specific knowledge of the product from the company itself. 
  • In House Refurbishment - Some companies that resell refurbished goods have technicians that can repair these items, however are not certified.  This means that while they may have repaired the item, it also may mean that the technician does not have specific training on that product line or brand.  While this does not mean that someone who is certified is a better technician than the non-certified repairer, it does indicate the level of training involved. 

What This All Means to You as a Buyer

In short, this all means HUGE SAVINGS for you the consumer on items that will function like new.  It also mean the item may have a slightly shorter life overall.  However, here are some tips to help buyers be informed and shop carefully:

  1. Educate yourself about the product you want - The more you know about a product, the easier it is to compare new vs reconditioned pricing, as well as what to expect from a product. 
  2. Read the Entire Listing - Always look on the page and among the fine print to see if the item is "Factory Reconditioned/Factory Refurbished" as this will indicate they have been through a stringent process before being listed. 
  3. Feedback Says Alot - For items that are not Factory Reconditioned/Factory Refurbished, truly look at the sellers feedback.  While all major sellers will have some negative feedback as a matter of course, look for comments regarding customer service.  Do they answer emails, solve problems, or give excellent tech support after the sale?
  4. Look for Warranty or Guarantees -  Items refurbished or reconditioned by the factory or factory authorized center usually have some warranty attached.  Those repaired by independent facilities should offer at least a 15 day guarantee.  Often 30 days is standard, and is enough time to decide if an item will work reliably.  In addition, most errors will occur within the first 30 days if they happen at all.
  5. Consider Buying an Extended Warranty for Your Item - Sellers that subscribe to SquareTrade or BuySafe have warranties for their products available for pennies a day.  These will guarantee your product for an additional 1 to 2 years after purchase. 

Overall, buying reconditioned or refurbished products is a great opportunity for people looking to save a great deal of money on the items they want.  However, it is always best to be informed before buying.  We hope this guide has helped, and we invite you to vote on this guide if it helped you in any way.

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