Is Buying “Refurbished” Working Out For You?

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Last year, I was in the market for a camera. The one I had an eye on was the Nikon D3200 , but I couldn’t find a new one for less than $600, which was out of my price range. I did a ton of online research where I came across offers for secondhand cameras for around $400. Not a bad deal but I worried the camera would break within a couple of weeks, leaving me out of $400 and nothing to show for it.

I turned to Amazon and searched for a certified refurbished camera. I found the exact model I wanted for just $249. The camera was in like-new condition but with a much lower price.

What does “refurbished” mean?

Basically, it’s the same idea as buying a certified pre-owned car.  My Toyota Prius was just that when we bought it. With “refurbished” you get an item that’s been previously sold or used, then returned to the manufacturer for any number of reasons. Maybe it’s an iPhone about which a buyer had second thoughts and returned it to Apple. Or someone returned a product because the packaging was damaged, or because of minor blemishes that only affect the product’s looks.

In some cases, refurbished products have been returned because of malfunctions. When you buy a refurbished item, there’s no way of knowing what was wrong with when it was returned. It shouldn’t matter, though, since all problems with a returned item are fixed before resale. The companies can’t sell these goods as new anymore, so they re-test them at the factory to make sure they are in tip-top shape. The product is then repackaged “like new” and sold often at deeply discounted prices.

When buying refurbished products, it’s important to do some research – both on the product itself and on the seller. Here are things I look for and check whenever I buy a refurbished item:

  • Prices. Before I order a refurbished item, I check how much my savings will be.  If the difference between new and refurbished is only a few dollars, the refurbished item isn’t really a bargain.
  • Reviews. I read lots of reviews. I even watch YouTube reviews and tutorials on any particular item.
  • What’s Included. I always check the listing carefully to make sure the item comes with all the extras. For example, my camera came with a strap, battery, charger, and lens.
  • Warranty. Though most refurbished items come with a warranty, some are covered for only 30 to 90 days – and some don’t include warranty coverage unless you pay for it extra.

Also, when you see a great deal on a refurbished item, don’t wait too long. Products tend to run out of stock quickly, and once they restock, prices may go up.

Here are some of the items I’ve bought  refurbished and I still love.

Nikon D3200 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX NIKKOR Zoom Lens (Certified Refurbished)

Nikon camera: I bought it nearly one year ago on Amazon. Price: $249. The same certified refurbished camera now sells for $419. Very happy with the purchase. Great entry-level DSLR. Prior to this camera, I used my iPhone 4 to take all my blog pictures.

 

iPhone 5: I purchased the phone five months ago for $149.  (New iPhone 5 starts at $216). Works and looks like new. I’m sure by now the iPhone 5 is considered middle-aged, but it suits me just fine. I’m not someone who runs to the store the second a new iPhone gets released. I usually wait a few years.

 

 

 

Ninja blender: This blender was an awesome Christmas present my daughters surprised me with. ( New starts at $80). I use it daily. Best blender I’ve ever had. Farouk CHI Original Ionic Ceramic 1-inch Flat Iron (Refurbished)CHI original flat iron: I bought the CHI about four years ago on Overstock.com. I paid around $50 , plus received 10% off for signing up for their news letter. (New CHI starts at $90). Best flat iron I’ve ever used.

 

These are just some of the more recent refurbished items I have purchased. I don’t recall ever having issues with refurbished products.

Have you ever bought refurbished products? If so, how is it working out for you? Share your experience!

 


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4 thoughts on “Is Buying “Refurbished” Working Out For You?

  1. Hi Sabine,

    I’m sorry I’m responding to this post so long after you published it. I have been working so much that I have barely had time to see what day it is sometimes. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate all that you do on this blog and that so much of what you write about hits home. So, Happy New Year !

    Your post about buying refurbished items hit home with me since I am constantly looking for ways to save. I have had lots of experience both good and not-so-good with refurbished goods. Overall however, I have saved good money as a result of buying either refurbished, open box or discounted goods.

    I have been a loyal Big Lots shopper for years and I’ve learned what to watch out for and understand what really is a value from such stores including the local area Bargain Hunt stores. With food items I’ve found that the price may be lower at discount stores such as Big Lots, however the expiration date may be much closer to ending. Kroger will often have the same items on sale for close to the same or even lower prices with normal expiration dates. Case in point: Big Lots organic black beans $1.00 expires in several months. Kroger organic black beans .99 cents expiring in December, 2019. I have also found that some of the food items at Big Lots are dumped by the manufacturer because of factory mistakes with ingredients or flavors that didn’t sell well.

    Other items outside of foods at Big Lots have been good for me. I have bought gardening tools, household items and electronics with success.

    My experience with refurbished goods includes two printers, a computer, a camera and a Samsung tablet. I’m sure there are more but I just can’t remember them all. Both printers have had problems while the DSLR camera has been fantastic and the tablet works great. Each of these were greatly reduced in price and were a good value. Both printers were HP and the recent one I bought in September and had to return it for a replacement. That can be a nuisance when it comes to the warranty because the “refurbished warranty” is often different from the normal full price item warranty. In this case I only had a 90 day warranty from the retailer but HP actually decided to give me a replacement although I was past the 90 day retailer warranty. That’s the hook. Refurbished items often have a very limited warranty. With the first HP printer, the scanning and fax function stopped working shortly after I bought it. I didn’t bother returning it as I really only needed the printing function which worked well for six years which is a decent lifespan I suppose.

    Today I hit the jackpot at Kroger. I only needed two items but wound up buying much more. Most Kroger stores have a discount bin and the two stores near me often have very good discounted items. The trick is to not get mesmerized by things I don’t really need. However, today I wound up with a 25 oz. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil originally $11.99, reduced to $2.49. I am a pesto fan and they had Delallo 6.5 oz jars originally $6.00 on clearance priced for $1.29, so I bought five. A $4.99 bottle of balsamic vinegar was $.99 and Hodgson Mill brown rice pasta with flax was half off. I also found Nature’s Path organic cereal 50% off, Sun Maid chopped dates 75% off and Starbucks instant Italian roast half off. I like to take those on photo trips since hotel coffee is often bland. In the cereal aisle I have been watching a new organic brand which isn’t selling well. It was reduced a couple of weeks ago but today it was marked at half of the reduced price making a $4.99 item priced at $1.69. I figure that if an item is available that I use often and it is discounted by 50 percent, I’ll buy several for the future.

    So that’s my report. There’s a quiz later, LOL.
    -Paul

    1. Hi, Paul. Happy New Year to you too. Wow, thank you for taking time out of your day to comment on my little blog. I appreciate your kindness a lot. It’s comments like yours that motivate me to continue blogging. I see you’re a very smart and thrifty shopper. That’s awesome! You got some great deals at Kroger. I love their Manager Specials and Discontinued items. They are as much as 90% off. Gotta love Kroger just for that. Buying refurbished is a risk, but I’m glad you’ve been able to get some great deals and good products. You’re right, warranty can be an issue. Btw, do you ever shop at Bargain Hunt? I love their discounted Target products. Such a great bargain store. My daughter found a high quality winter coat for just $2 at Bargain Hunt. Mind blowing! Have a wonderful Sunday evening, and thank you for being a loyal and kind reader.

      1. Thanks Sabine. You really are appreciated for what you write which is an extension of your personality and desire to share your experiences. I come from a family of journalists and I understand how difficult it can be to gauge who is out there. For the longest time, we were a one-way world of readers save for the occasional letter to the editor. Today, we have a two-way ability with instant feedback. However, readers often use the feedback/reply button for complaints more than constructive comments. That’s just the nature of the beast and readers aren’t always compelled to reply, and when they do, many can’t spell or construct a lucid sentence anyway. In the radio station business the callers who request a song are not representative of what the full audience really wants to hear. Ninety-five percent of the audience never calls or gives feedback except when they are chosen to fill out a ratings survey. So, you are really loved more than you will ever know especially for the way you keep your readers continuously informed. I see so many blogs that have entries that are months or even years old. It becomes obvious that the writer started with good intentions but realized that there is real work in thinking through the subject matter and committing to providing on-going material. So you should receive the blogging gold star award for your dedication and fresh content on a continuing basis. Your posts could be valuable to people way beyond just one city too.

        Yes, I do shop occasionally at Bargain Hunt stores. They’re opening a new one just a few minutes away from me next to a Home Depot. Bargain Hunt was originally known as Essex Retailers. They mainly did eBay sales based in Nashville and it was convenient to buy from them without paying for shipping and being able to pick the item up at their warehouse near 100 Oaks Mall. I had the honor of creating a radio commercial for them several years ago which is always more fun when you already know and visit the store. I also find TJ Maxx/Marshall’s to have really good prices especially if you find clearance bargains to your liking. Happy Valentine’s Day!

        -P

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