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Buying Refurbished Electronics on eBay

You can find great deals on refurbished electronic merchandise on eBay. Unfortunately, refurbished merchandise gets an unnecessarily bad rap. Very smart people may tell you to be wary of refurbished merchandise. Great advice . . . in fact, you should be wary of all merchandise.

When you think about it, refurbished merchandise has been gone over by the manufacturer twice — new merchandise has been gone over only once! Refurbished merchandise can be a bargain, and it falls into one of these categories:

  • Canceled orders: This is merchandise in perfectly good shape. Say a customer makes a special order and then changes his or her mind, or the order is somehow mucked up (“I ordered a PC. You sent me a Mac!”). Something has to be done with the merchandise. Enter you, the savvy shopper.

  • Evaluation units: An evaluation unit is a piece of equipment that is sent to a member of the media or to a corporation for testing or review. Evaluation units must be returned to the manufacturer, and the manufacturer may decide to unload them.

  • Store returns: This is probably pretty obvious to you, right? Joe Customer buys something in a store, takes it home, and opens it, only to decide that he doesn’t really want it. By law, as soon as the box is opened, a piece of merchandise can never be sold as new again, even if the merchandise was never used.

  • Defective units: This is a piece of merchandise deemed defective by either the store or by the user and returned to the manufacturer.

  • Overstocks: When a manufacturer comes out with a new model, they may take back the older models from retailers in an effort to encourage them to stock more of the newer, faster, cooler model.

Whenever an item is returned to the manufacturer for any reason and the original box has been opened, the item (whether it’s a television, a computer, a camera, or some other technical device) must be reconditioned to the manufacturer’s original quality standards. Any non-functioning parts are replaced with functioning components and the item is repackaged. The manufacturer usually gives refurbished items a 90-day warranty.

When buying refurbished goods, be sure the original manufacturer was the one doing the reconditioning. Although some technical geeks can fix things just fine in their garage, you don’t have the same level of protection (as in, you don’t have a warranty from a reliable source) if you buy a piece of equipment that wasn’t fixed by the manufacturer.

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