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Give refurbished products a try

By on March 19, 2010

photo by lejoe

Buying refurbished products can help you save money; it’s really an opportunity to buy quality products at a great price. Some people shy away from buying these products because they think they are flawed. Have you ever bought a refurbished item? While it’s common to find refurbished electronics, there are many other products that can be labeled refurbished, such as tools and household appliances. Think: electric mixer, steam mop or vacuum cleaner, to name a few. One reader, Cat from Ohio, shares: “We bought a refurbished dryer a few months ago and it’s just fine. I figure if it works a year, that gives me time to save for a new one, and it was only $125 compared to $525.” Products qualify as refurbished for various reasons, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth looking into.
Here are a few qualifications that can cause a product to be labeled refurbished.

BASIC RETURN: The product packaging might have been opened, and then the customer returned it. Once returned, it will be inspected by the store. If nothing is wrong with the product, they often retape the box and reduce the price. As a consumer, you’ve seen these retaped boxes on the shelves. But in some cases, maybe the product doesn’t work. In this case, the store returns it to the manufacturer. The manufacturer will bring that product up to specification, repackage it and resell it as “factory refurbished,” and it still has a manufacturer’s warranty.

TOO MUCH INVENTORY: Sometimes a store has too many items in stock. Newer models come out, the manufacturer will have the older models pulled and shipped back, and then they pass them onto different resellers. Two examples of this are Big Lots and, which sell some refurbished products. Before shopping, be sure to check for a coupon code. Sometimes manufacturers sell these products themselves. Leigh from Alabama shares: “I bought my daughter a refurbished iPod Touch last December. It came with a one-year warranty, but I went ahead and paid extra to upgrade the warranty to three years. My daughter wore out her previous iPod, so I knew I would get my money’s worth by buying the extended warranty. Two weeks ago, the home button went out. We sent it Fed-Ex to Apple (at Apple’s expense) on a Thursday and had Fed-Ex at our door with a new one Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. Apple customer care is the best. We gave her the choice of getting a new one or a refurbished one. She chose the refurb and has been extremely happy with it.” Some retail stores will simply clearance the older models, so you can make out well in this case, too.

SHIPPING DAMAGE: Sometimes boxes get damaged during shipping. Shipping and receiving at the store level can accept the package or return it. If returned, it gets repackaged and marked refurbished. Again, the product is sold through stores or straight from the manufacturer.

ADDITIONAL LESS FAVORABLE REASONS: Some products might have cosmetic defects (scratches or dents), were leased or were used as store demos. But if they come complete with a warranty or have small cosmetic flaws that can be overlooked, it can still mean money in your pocket and a product you can enjoy.


  1. Derrick Douglass

    3/19/2010 at 12:32 am

    Frugal Village,

    Your article is informative and timely. During our tough economic climate, many are trying figure out how to “make a dollar out of fifteen cents.”

    I’ve always believed a little bit of work and planning could net big savings.

    Recently, I purchased five polar shirts at Goodwill. Most were designer brands and cost 3 bucks. Because I wear my close well, no one knows that I spent a few bucks to get a cool look.

    Additionally, I am an artist. Most of my raw materials are purchased at thrift stores or discovered in dumpsters. I love to see what I can make from “already built stuff.”

    When the economy get better, I’m going to hold onto my frugal ways.

    Derrick Douglass :: ChiefRemixOlogist

  2. Saule

    3/20/2010 at 9:39 am

    My refrigerator was bought at a discount because of cosmetic defects that are now hidden under magnets and stickies. My netbook was a refurb, has worked perfectly for a year so far, as ar the DVRs I bought when TV went digital. My refurb Dell desktop has a hard drive crash, replaced at no cost to me *under warranty, is now in year four or five.

    A refurb stick blender fell apart after a couple of months.

    Generally, my experience has been positive with refurbs.

  3. Forest

    3/21/2010 at 1:16 pm

    I have had refurbed laptops in the past with no issues at all. As for appliances I have not purchased any at refurb yet but I know plenty of people that do and generally I don’t hear ay less problems than buying new.
    .-= Forest´s last blog ..FREE DOWNLOAD -Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin =-.

  4. Carla

    4/26/2010 at 11:34 am

    My iMac and my stand mixer were both bought refurbished. I saved a few hundred dollars on each, and they carried the same warranty as new.

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