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What You Need to Know Before Buying Refurbished Products

How to Buy Refurbished Products With Confidence


There are a variety of reasons products can be defined as refurbished, however the process that they go through when returned to the manufacturer should generally be the same. Manufacturers will fix whatever the problem is with a product and send it back to the retailer to sell at a reduced price.

Because of this process, shoppers can expect refurbished products to perform as good as the same product that sells as new. But how can buyers feel confident that the refurbished product that they want to buy has gone through the rigorous overhauls and inspections?

Shoppers generally will never know why a product is being sold as refurbished, unless it was never returned to the manufacturer. Retail-generated refurbished products will generally fall under "open box," "demo," or "scratch and dent" and will be labeled as such. However, once an item is sent to the manufacturer and resold to the retailers, why the original product was returned is not disclosed.

But there is other information shoppers can collect to help make smart buying decisions when purchasing refurbished products such as:

Is the retailer an authorized dealer?

Refurbished products should only be purchased from retailers that are authorized resellers/dealers. For example, if you are looking to purchase a refurbished Kenmore vacuum cleaner, Sears is a known authorized Kenmore retailer. Buying a refurbished Kenmore vacuum cleaner from Sears will give you confidence that the product has been properly inspected by Kenmore and all warranty agreements will be honored. If however, you were to buy the same product at an unauthorized dealer you really cannot be sure what you are buying.

Most manufacturers have a list authorized retailers on their websites or you can call their 1-800 numbers and speak to a consumer agent.

Can the refurbished product be returned?

Almost all of the large brick and mortar and online stores will offer return policies for all of the products that they sell, regardless of if it is refurbished or new. Most offer a limited return policy on refurbished products and sometimes an increased amount of restocking fees and usually any shipping fees to return the product will be the responsibility of the consumer.

If a retailer does not allow returns on refurbished products then there is little confidence that they stand behind the products that they sell. Shoppers will likely be able to find the same product at around the same price from retailers that allow returns.

Does the retailer offer warranties and extended warranties?

Most refurbished products come with a warranty, although many times it is labeled as a "limited warranty" because it is for a shorter duration of time, compared to the same product sold that is not refurbished. The warranty should cover parts and labor for at the very least 30 days, but preferably up to 90 days or longer. Because of the short duration of time, shoppers may want to purchase extended warranties and when buying refurbished products that option should be available.

Shoppers are often told that extended warranties are not worth the money, but with today's products which contain so many intricate parts, computerized control panels, and other elements that are subject to break or become dysfunctional, buying extended warranties is growing in popularity, especially with large ticket items.

Regardless of if a shopper actually purchases an extended warranty or not is up to them, but the fact that a retailer is offering it as an option shows that they likely stand behind the products that they sell. However, a warranty that is just full of words, but really does not cover anything, is worthless and it is extremely important for shoppers to read it in its entirety before making a purchase.


Buying refurbished products is a great way to save a lot of money on fantastic products that would cost substantially more if purchased new. Refurbished products often go through more intensive product testing and inspections than new products that are off the assembly line.

Many times dated components are replaced with newer ones that were not available at the time the product was manufactured.

What shoppers should focus on the most is where they purchase refurbished products and if the retailer stands behind the products that they sell. If they offer decent return policies and warranties on the refurbished products, then most often than not, it is a win-win situation for consumers. They can get closely inspected products at great prices.

See also: What Are Refurbished Products?

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