Digital Crave

How to save big when buying refurbished electronics

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You’re looking at that refurbished Xbox 360 on the shelf at Gamestop. They’re selling it for a lot less than an identical new model. That’s money you could spend on games or a second controller. You’re tempted. But then you look at the teenage girl behind the counter with Hello Kitty tattoos and multiple face piercings. Maybe “refurbished” means she just wipes used consoles down with Windex before selling them to you?

Nope. You’re safe. GameStop, like most reputable electronics retailers, actually refurbishes the products that are sold under that description. In an article last year on, the gaming giant’s Divisional Vice President of Refurbishment said: “We’re looking at repairing it; getting it back to that original factory condition. You’re not trying to sell it to a customer and in 30 days or 60 days they have a bad experience with it, because they'll never come back to you again.”

That attitude is echoed in the practices of reputable electronics retailers and producers all over the world. For the most part, if they say an item is refurbished it’s likely to be a good deal.

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1. What consumers think “refurbished” means
The problem starts with the word. Most consumers equate “refurbished” with “restored.” That’s not always the case. An item may be marked refurbished because someone bought it and returned it unused – meaning you’ll get an essentially brand new item for a lower price. On the other hand, an item could be marked refurbished even though it’s a faulty product with little or no warranty remaining.

2. What “refurbished” really means
An item marked “refurbished” is often a used item returned by the original buyer. According to, “Devices can be returned for a whole host of reasons and the bottom line is the consumer can't know why something was returned.” Most devices that are resold as “refurbished” are returned for one of the following reasons:

Cosmetic damage – a scratch or discoloration on the surface.
Visible defect – a minor issue such as a dead pixel or a bigger one, like a broken optical drive.
Open box – Once original packaging has been opened a device cannot be sold as new.

3. Why you should buy a refurbished device.
If you’re not a stickler for brand new, the best reason to buy a refurbished item is the price. “Customers can typically save between 10% and 30% on refurbished goods, but sometimes electronics are discounted by as much as 50%.”

There’s another, perhaps more compelling, reason – these items may be better than new.

Jerry Jackson, Managing Editor of The Technology Guide notes that beyond cost-saving, the refurbished product actually goes through a higher level of quality control. As such, brand new products may actually represent a greater risk to the consumer.

"When a product is being initially manufactured, usually at a large facility overseas, it’s largely a matter of how many units can be fabricated per day and a question of how many of these can be produced in a given shift. When it comes to a refurbished product, it’s less a matter of quantity per day and more a matter of making sure it's done right.”

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4. What you should know going in.
“Buying a product refurbished is a great way to save money on a new gadget if you’re unwilling to wait for the deeper discounts that typically don’t occur until a newer version of the item is being released into the market – such as the Samsung Galaxy S4,” said Kate Sperber, Vice President of Merchandising for

Consumers should always be armed with the right information before they shop, but this is especially true when it comes to refurbished items. Sperber said consumers should purchase gadgets from a reputable source – either directly from the manufacturer or a trusted reseller like Best Buy, Amazon, Newegg or Rakuten – and make sure the refurbished product comes with a manufacturer or retailer warranty.

“Check the return policy for refurbished products, it may differ from a retailer’s typical return policy. I recommend not purchasing a refurbished product that is marked as a final sale.”

5. Where to look for great refurbished deals features real-time refurbished gadget deals every day as a leading deals website for discounts and close-out inventory offers. As mentioned above, is an excellent source for all things gaming. Especially when it comes to used games. There are other options – such as online auction sites – but GameStop tests all their games and holds themselves accountable for all sales. states the biggest names in consumer electronics repackage refurbished products, have rigorous testing standards, and offer limited 1-year warranties. This includes Apple, Sony, and Dell. “And, in addition to its refurbished Kindle range, Amazon's Warehouse Deals are also popular for finding bargains on a wider range of returned products."

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