What You Need to Know Before Buying Refurbished

What You Need to Know Before Buying Refurbished

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The Wirecutter Deals team has done the research for you, and before we post the deal, a refurb has to meet our specific criteria:

  • Refurbished direct from the manufacturer. Manufacturers usually offer the best return policies and warranties, and many companies follow their own protocol when testing and refurbishing items. That means if you’re on the hunt for a refurbished Roomba or stand mixer, for instance, you’ll have better luck buying directly from iRobot or KitchenAid. Just keep in mind that many manufacturers have storefronts on third-party selling sites such as Ebay, Newegg, and Amazon, so you don’t always have to make the purchase from the manufacturer’s website to secure a trustworthy refurb. Our one exception is that every so often, we find a good deal on a relatively inexpensive item from a reliable seller on a non-manufacturer refurb. We’ve had the most luck with Best Buy’s Geek Squad, and we cap the price of the item at around $100. It must, however, meet our other criteria as well. (See below for more details.)
  • A 90-day warranty at minimum. If something turns out to be not quite right a month or two down the line, you’ll have a chance to get your money back on your new-to-you vacuum or blender. The only instance in which we’ll post a deal on a refurbished pick with a shorter warranty is when the item costs $30 or less.
  • Returns should be free. You shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to return something that doesn’t live up to expectations, so we avoid companies that charge a return fee or otherwise make the return process a hassle.

Though we post a lot of discounts on refurbished vacuums from Dyson, iRobot, and Eufy on the Deals page, those aren’t the only items that are offered refurbished by their manufacturers. In fact, plenty of Wirecutter picks can be bought refurbished. We’ve seen refurbished fitness trackers and GPS systems from Garmin, stand mixers from KitchenAid, laptops from Apple, Lenovo, and HP, and audio gear from Anker and Jabra. Many small kitchen appliances, including Vitamix blenders and Baratza coffee grinders, can also be bought refurbished, as can many smart-home devices.

Buying refurbished doesn’t need to be scary—in fact, if the warranty and return policy are solid, it shouldn’t feel any different from buying new. To help set your mind at ease, we’ve rounded up some important information to know before buying refurbished from some of Wirecutter’s favorite brands, including how some items are rehabilitated.

Dyson

When Dyson receives an item to refurbish (which come from both retailers and customers), it is inspected and broken down into sub-components. We spoke with a representative from Dyson’s Reliability & Engineering Team based in the US, and they said that some products are immediately disqualified if they are too old or in poor condition, while others are passed on to the refurbishment line. From there, each item is cleaned, tested, and inspected. Minor defects are repaired and necessary parts are replaced, including batteries that fail Dyson’s testing. Once the item is reassembled, it goes through final testing and inspection. Dyson itself sells its refurbs through the Dyson Outlet, as well as through its eBay storefront and at retailers like Walmart; all refurbished products come with either a six-month or a one-year warranty, depending on the item.

iRobot

According to iRobot’s site, every restored robot vacuum goes through a refurbishment process that includes a thorough inspection, rigorous testing, and cleaning before being packaged in a new box with all the essentials. Restored Roombas are sold through the Certified Restored Store, as well as through iRobot’s eBay and Woot storefronts, and they come with a 90-day warranty (though be aware that the limited warranty will be voided if your vac is used outside of North America).

Eufy

There’s not much available online about Eufy by Anker’s refurbishment process, and though the company declined to comment when we reached out, we haven’t heard or seen any significant customer service complaints about its refurbished products. Refurbished robot vacuums sold by Eufy are covered by a 90-day warranty and a 30-day return policy—but, generally speaking, Wirecutter senior staff writer Liam McCabe points out that because Eufy bots aren’t durable, you might regret the somewhat shorter warranty period. “A not-small number of reviewers of their vacs cite that they had to use the warranty right around the 12-month mark,” Liam adds. We still recommend purchasing Eufy refurbs if you’re looking to save some cash, as long as they come from retailers with good return policies and customer service. So those refurbished deals are the only ones we post.

Anker

From cables and chargers to USB hubs and noise-cancelling headphones, many Wirecutter picks are made by Anker (28, at the time of publishing). Anker’s certified pre-owned products undergo testing and cleaning to ensure that they work and look like new before they’re resold. Anker-authorized refurbished products come with a 90-day warranty.

KitchenAid

KitchenAid’s certified refurbished appliances undergo a fairly rigorous process before they’re repackaged and resold by KitchenAid direct or through one of its authorized third-party storefronts. Each appliance is thoroughly inspected, repaired, and tested by hand, and minor surface scratches and blemishes are repaired or minimized. All certified refurbished products come with a six-month limited warranty and a free 30-day return if the item arrives defective.

Vitamix

Wirecutter senior editor Marguerite Preston highly recommends buying a certified-refurbished Vitamix. “Vitamix has a great reputation for durability,” she says. Vitamix’s refurbs are run through an 18-point checklist to ensure that each appliance meets the company’s high quality standards. All Vitamix-certified reconditioned products come with a five-year warranty, which can be extended to seven years for an additional $75.

Baratza

Before reselling preowned grinders, Baratza (the manufacturer of both our top and upgrade coffee grinder picks) fixes, cleans, and replaces any necessary parts on its refurbished products. Baratza’s refurb inventory is quite limited—the company puts them up as they become available, and because they’re resold at an affordable price, they go quick. “I’d trust Baratza’s refurbs,” Marguerite says. “As a company, they’re committed to repairability—those grinders are easy to repair yourself or can be sent in for repairs, and the refurbs come with a one-year warranty.”

Apple

Apple Certified Refurbished products undergo a rigorous process to ensure that all products are up to the same functional standards as new Apple gear. According to the Apple website, refurb Apple iOS devices come with a new battery and outer shell, and any non-functioning internal parts are replaced. Most Apple refurbs come with a limited one-year warranty and up to 90 days of free technical support.

HP

As you browse HP’s website, you might see items referred to as “refurbished” in some places and “certified reconditioned” in others—according to HP, there’s no difference between the two, and the terms are used interchangeably. HP’s refurbs are fully tested, cleaned, and restored to their original condition. The company’s engineers also validate the operating system and firmware before an item is resold through the HP Business Outlet or through one of HP’s third-party site storefronts. All HP refurbs are covered by a one-year limited warranty and a 10-day return policy.

Dell

Dell’s refurbishment process involves meticulous inspections, testing, and repairs. And, according to the company, non-functioning components “undergo electromechanical repair” to bring them to Dell’s standards. Each refurbished machine also undergoes a complete data wipe. Used computers that don’t meet those standards after refurbishment are recycled. Dell’s 100-day limited warranty covers defects in materials and workmanship.

Garmin

Garmin refers to its refurbs as newly overhauled devices. Garmin says that these products “go through extensive testing to bring the devices up to the same specifications as when they were manufactured as new.” They come with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Jabra

Plenty of Wirecutter’s wired and wireless headphone recommendations are manufactured by Jabra, including the top picks in our guides to the best wireless headphones and best workout headphones. Jabra’s certified refurbished products are inspected, cleaned, and repaired to meet the company’s specifications. Though fully functional, Jabra refurbs may come with minor cosmetic imperfections. These refurbs, sold either through Jabra’s direct website or on third-party platforms like Newegg, are also backed by a 180-day warranty.

Best Buy Geek Squad

Though we don’t normally recommend buying refurbished products from a non-manufacturer, we’ve made exceptions for inexpensive items reconditioned by the Best Buy Geek Squad. According to a Best Buy rep, all Geek Squad Certified refurbished products undergo the same detailed product testing, sanitization, and cosmetic grading process. Best Buy won’t refurbish a product if it has too much cosmetic damage or if it can’t be repaired to Geek Squad standards. Most certified refurbs come with a 90-day warranty, and extended warranty protection is offered on a product-by-product basis.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The NY Times
Keyword: What You Need to Know Before Buying Refurbished

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