Why Refurbished Electronics and Surplus Appliances Are A Bargain

Report by Spectrum United Investment Advisor Ammie A.

A friend was in an almost unfortunate situation recently. She got mugged on her way home, but luckily she managed to defend herself.  Unfortunately during the struggle the screen of her precious smartphone was broken (she used it to shield herself when she was about to get stabbed by her attacker, thank heavens for phones!). That’s a whole different story now, but that was the reason why we got into a talk of refurbished items. Having her phone repaired is definitely not an option because the estimates she got were ridiculously high.   She started thinking that she would be better off buying a new or refurbished phone instead.

‘Are refurbished phones even safe?’ she asked with doubt on her face.

My friend is one of the many who thinks that refurbished or items are lower in quality than the brand new ones, when in fact, that is not always the case. Recently I got a surplus Frigidaire 70 pint dehumidifier. Sure it had a small scratch on the left side and the box had seen better days, but my basement is a heck of a lot drier because of it and I saved $120. That’s $120 in just the initial savings. Now compound those savings in a conservative 5% investment over a ten year period and you get $196.82.

Now in my experience not every one of these refurbished items is as good as new. We live in a world where nothing is perfect, electronic gizmos included. Back in the day, I used to think the same way like her. Skeptical as I tend to be, I used to believe that reconditioned items are just another way of these businesses to earn money from the unknowing consumers. Having worked in an online electronics store a few years ago, I have come to learn and understand how the whole refurbishment process works. I have handled consumers who complained about the refurbished items they purchased, how they regretted buying it because it is nowhere near their expectations, how refurbished are thrash. And I would have to explain to them patiently that just because it is refurbished means it also has refurbished quality.

It is called refurbished for a reason. People tend to associate the word refurbished for used items. Used items are just that – used. The consumer purchased the item, used it for a good while, and decided to resell it.

Refurbished items, on the other hand, refers to items that were returned to the retailer or the manufacturer for reasons such as:

  • Buyer’s remorse. The customer decided they don’t want the item after all, took advantage of the return policy and got a refund.
  • Production defects. Somehow, this particular one managed to get past the quality control test without being detected.
  • Damage on the device. Scratches or dents during shipping and handling.
  • Items used for an in store demo that have now been repackaged and are being resold.


Are refurbished electronics a bargain?


For items that has production defects and damage, the manufacturer would have them fixed, have it go through quality test again, release it back to the market to have it resold at a discounted price. Note: Discounted price (sometimes at up to a 50% discount. Now who wouldn’t want that?). Items that were returned due to buyer’s remorse could still be lumped in as refurbished, or sold as opened box, with a close to refurbished price.

‘Is a refurbished phone now an option?’ I asked my friend.

‘Sure. But it has to be from a reputable store.’ She said.

Of course. No one would want to go through the emotional and mental stress thinking that you got scammed or tricked. You really need to be careful where to buy them, especially when you are planning to buy it online. We all have heard horror stories about online purchases. Do a lot of research before jumping in on a deal.  Find a retailer with a good reputation.  Another option is to join forums and ask other people who might be able to recommend a reputable seller.

If in doubt about a purchase, ask about the seller’s return policy and warranties. Yes, despite being refurbished they do offer warranties still. But since these items are already refurbished, a different warranty is in effect. In some cases, return is no longer allowed unless the item is damaged or non-functioning at all, and that the offered free repair service is for a limited time only. Limited it may be, but warranties just the same. If you are still unsure, it pays to have a friend who is knowledgeable enough about electronics to do the quality check for you instead.

In buying electronics, or any items for that matter, we always want superb quality, with the lowest price possible. The thing is though that some of those deals are hard to come by. Sometimes we see discounts on older models, where the price has already been slashed to make way for its newer counterparts. This strategy is often used with the Apple iPhone.  The newer the item, and the better the quality is – normally means the higher the price. For people who are on the lookout for ways to save money or on a tight budget, buying refurbished items are often sweet, heaven-sent deals. They allow some people to be able to buy items that are normally out of their budget.  For others they not only can save on their hard-earned money, but they are also helping the environment from additional pollution and electronic waste.

At Spectrum United Investment Advisors we are all about saving money for those investment opportunities and letting you enjoy a good life at a lower expense.  So, happy refurbished-shopping everyone!