The Rules on Buying Refurbished

Plenty of stores advertise great deals on previously-pricey "refurbished" tech, like laptops and digital cameras. Sure it sounds like a great deal, but what does "refurbished" really mean? Well it turns out, a refurbished device can mean different things to different manufactures and each different retailer. Sounds confusing, right? It doesn't have to be. To make sure you getting a great deal on a device in great condition, ask these questions before you swipe your card.

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It's easy to get a good deal on refurbished goods, you just have to be smart and take the right steps. Step one: Ask these questions. Step 2: ??? Step 3: Profit!

1. Are you buying straight from the manufacturer?
This is always the best idea. Buying refurbished devices from the company who makes them guarantees that they've been inspected and repaired to meet their product standards. If you're buying from a third-party retailer, at least make sure it's an authorized dealer that's allowed to sell new products made by the same company. It shows that they have a relationship with the manufacturer.

2. Is there a return or exchange policy?
It's best to buy where there is a return policy in place. Refurbished items are sometimes defective products (either from a one-off defect or a defective line of production) that have been repaired, so you'll want to protect yourself.

3. Does it have a standard warranty?
Even refurbished goods should have limited warranties—anywhere from 30 to 90 days—to protect consumers from buying "lemons." If the one you're buying doesn't, look elsewhere.

4. Is there an extended warranty available?
We've already mentioned that extended warranties are rarely worth the dough. But if the retailer or manufacturer is willing to sell one, it shows they stand by their refurbished goods. This one's a keeper!


(Images: Flickr member NoWin licensed for use under Creative Commons, Flickr member bradleypjohnson licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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Taryn is a writer, maker, and designer in Atlanta, Georgia. Living in an apartment with her husband and their Boston Terrier, Bacon, she loves to entertain and hates having a tiny kitchen.