What Does Refurbished Mean and Does It Really Save Money?

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In an age where everything seems disposable, the term “refurbished” may have caught your eye while scouring online marketplaces or local stores. But what does refurbished mean? And does opting for a refurbished item genuinely lead to savings? Keep reading to find out.

What Does Refurbished Mean?

When a product is labeled as refurbished, it means that the item has been returned to the manufacturer or retailer for various reasons. This could be due to a minor defect, an external blemish or perhaps the original buyer simply had a change of heart.

Once back in the manufacturer’s hands, these products are meticulously tested, repaired if necessary, cleaned and reset to their original factory settings. They are then repackaged and often sold at a reduced price compared to brand-new counterparts.

Can It Save You Money?

There’s no denying that refurbished items typically come with attractive price tags. Depending on the product, brand and where you’re purchasing it from, you could see savings ranging from 10% to 50% off the original price. For instance, refurbished electronics like smartphones, laptops or tablets are often significantly cheaper and offer similar performance levels as new devices.

Quality and Performance

While the word “refurbished” might make some shoppers wary, it’s important to realize that these products undergo a meticulous inspection and certification process. Many brands provide certified refurbished items, ensuring that these goods meet the same quality standards as new products. Moreover, these items often come with warranties, offering an added layer of protection for consumers.

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Environmental Impact

Beyond the financial savings, choosing refurbished can also be seen as an eco-friendly choice. By purchasing products that have been given a second life, you’re helping reduce electronic waste and conserving the resources that would have been used to produce a new item.

Are Refurbished Items Still Good?

Refurbished items undergo rigorous testing and quality assurance to ensure they meet the original manufacturer’s standards.

Since they have been examined closely for defects and have undergone any necessary repairs, they might even have an advantage over new items that haven’t been tested as thoroughly post-production.

Reputable companies typically offer warranties on their refurbished products, giving consumers an added layer of confidence in their purchase.

Is It Better To Buy Refurbished or Used?

Refurbished and used both imply that the item has had a previous owner but there’s a clear difference in quality and reliability.

  • Used items are generally sold as-is, without any guarantee that they have been tested or repaired.
  • Refurbished items have undergone rigorous checks and restorative processes to ensure they function like new.

Given the often similar price points between the two, opting for a refurbished item can often provide better value, as you’re more assured of its condition and functionality.

Things To Consider

However, as with any purchase, it’s crucial to do your homework. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Warranty: Always check the warranty on refurbished items. It’s a good sign if a product comes with a warranty, indicating the seller’s confidence in its quality.
  2. Return policy: Understand the return policy. It’ll give you peace of mind knowing that if the product doesn’t meet your expectations, you have the option to return it.
  3. Trusted sellers: Only buy refurbished products from reputable sellers or certified programs. This ensures the product has undergone a proper refurbishing process.
  4. Read reviews: Other consumers’ experiences can provide invaluable insights. If many are voicing the same concerns, it might be worth considering another product or seller.
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Final Take

Refurbished products can indeed offer significant savings without compromising on quality. However, the key is to be an informed shopper. By doing so, you’re not only saving money but also making a sustainable choice that’s beneficial for the environment.


Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about refurbished items.
  • Does refurbished mean as good as new?
    • Yes, in many cases, "refurbished" implies that the item has been restored to a condition that is "like new." This means any defects or issues it may have had were addressed and fixed, making its functionality equivalent to a new product.
  • Does refurbished mean it was broken?
    • Not necessarily. While some refurbished products may have had defects or malfunctions that needed fixing, others might have been returned for reasons unrelated to the product's functionality, like buyer's remorse or external cosmetic blemishes. After undergoing thorough testing and, if needed, repairs, these products are then sold as refurbished.

Editor's note: This article was produced via automated technology and then fine-tuned and verified for accuracy by a member of GOBankingRates' editorial team.


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