Mobile Phone Repair


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While perusing Amazon or eBay, you might come across a product that’s labeled as refurbished. Apart from a cheaper price tag, the item will look more or less the same. So what gives? We delve into the details of refurbished products to find out what they are and if they can save you money.

What Does Refurbished Mean?

When a vendor or manufacturer refurbishes a laptop, it checks the item for defects and makes any necessary repairs before reselling it. If, for example, you buy an Apple refurbished laptop, you’ll receive a used computer that the manufacturer has repaired, cleaned, and inspected. That said, it’s important to read a product and vendor’s details since retailers don’t have standardized warranties or policies.

While some refurbished products have undergone major repairs and have cosmetic damage, others are like new and have never been defective. Similarly, companies will use different terms for refurbished products, from “open-box” and “refreshed” to “recertified” and “repaired.”

If you’re buying refurbished, one thing is certain: The product won’t be new.

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Man unscrewing motherboard of a laptop.Photo credit: gilaxia/istockphoto

Where Can You Buy Refurbished Products?

Most major retailers and vendors offer deals on refurbished items:

  • Swappa! is a peer-to-peer marketplace dedicated to lightly used technology. Sellers range from random individuals to professional resellers, but all listings have been verified by Swappa! staff. Sellers define their own return policies.
  • Back Market sells renewed devices, all of which have been “checked and restored by experts” and come with a one-year warranty. Consumers also have 30 days to change their minds after buying a product.

  • Amazon Renewed offers refurbished products that have been inspected and tested. To give you extra peace of mind, items also come with a 90-day guarantee.

  • eBay’s refurbished products are professionally inspected and come with at least a one-year warranty. Plus, consumers have 30 days to return an item if they’re not satisfied.

  • Best Buy sells refurbished products that have been restored by the retailer’s in-house repair center or a third-party refurbishment company. Most items come with a 90-day warranty.

  • Apple refurbishes and sells its own products, with discounts as high as 15%. All Apple refurbished items have been cleaned and inspected, and iOS devices come with a new battery and outer shell. Like new Apple products, refurbished items are backed by the company’s one-year limited warranty.

Are Refurbished Products Worth It?

Provided the retailer offers a fair return policy and warranty, buying refurbished could save you hundreds of dollars on functional, high-quality products.

Take Apple for example. On the retailer’s website, you can find a 256 GB refurbished iPhone 12 for $659, around $90 cheaper than a new model. Savings are even more significant on Back Market, where the same model sells for as low as $385 — or nearly half price.

Buying refurbished devices is also better for the environment. When you buy used or refurbished products, you’re keeping them out of landfills, which are already burdened by millions of tons worth of electronic waste.

The main issue with buying refurbished is that there’s a higher chance that you could receive a defective or damaged product, so it’s particularly important to read the return policy and warranty’s fine print.

5 Quick Tips for Buying Refurbished

  1. Shop from reputable vendors and avoid listings that seem too good to be true.
  2. Buy refurbished products directly from the manufacturer when possible.
  3. Only purchase products that come with free returns and a warranty, at least 90 days.
  4. Check to see if the product comes with accessories.
  5. Factory reset refurbished phones and other electronics to erase personal data.

The Bottom Line

As long as you don’t mind some wear and tear, frugal consumers almost always buy refurbished products. They’re cheaper, better for the environment, and some are like new. Just be sure to buy from reputable vendors that offer generous return policies and warranties.

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