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.