For years the term refurbished was almost considered a dirty word, something that’s second rate, unwanted. It was a term that suggested the item was previously broken and hence it was being sold off cheaply because it didn’t work as was originally intended.
The confusion lies mostly with the perception that the product has been used, returned by the user because something was wrong, but being ‘sold as used’ versus ‘sold as refurbished’ is nowadays largely different, confirmed even more so by online giants like Amazon and eBay making this distinction too.
Refurbished or refurbishment, according to Collins dictionary, is the act or process of cleaning, decorating and providing new equipment or facilities. This is great and explains a large part of the process. If we take each point one at a time…
Cleaning : Of course the product will be cleaned, this is the easy one, a few minutes cleaning and polishing a product can make the world of difference. There’s a reason there are no dirty cars for sale in a car showroom.
Decorating : There’s no real analogy here for electronics, however refurbished items will often come in a plain, non-branded box, could this be seen as undecorating? Perhaps, but it presents a clean, tidy appearance, that doesn’t scream brand new, but also takes nothing away from the product in the box.
New Equipment or Accessories : This is often where a lot of the magic happens. Electronics, or computers specifically are built with a series of connected parts. The parts are usually modular and can be removed and upgraded. Yes this could cause some waste, but the exchangeable parts are often very much smaller than the overall unit footprint, but by upgrading these parts we could be adding an extra 5 years to the product’s lifespan.
Hence, the dictionary definition is largely representative of what a refurbished item means, however it misses a fundamental process that makes refurbished electronics unique. Electronics can be easily tested to ensure that they are free from all defects, specifically any defect that may have caused the item to be returned in the first place. This testing is largely binary and generally relates to an ‘OK’, ‘not OK’ result. Compare this to the likes of a refurbished armchair, which incidentally the dictionary explanation fits very well with, how do you test a chair? Yes you can sit on it, it may or may not be as comfy as it was before, the material may or may not last as long as it did before, it may or may not look the same as before. It’s quite subjective and generally involves a bit of a gamble or belief with the purchase. Electronics on the other hand, the results are so black and white, that makes testing a great tool for a successful refurb process.
Another important factor in celebrating Refurbished equipment is the certification process. To say a laptop or computer is ‘certified’ refurbished, indicates that it’s the original manufacturer that has performed the process. What this eludes to, is that only manufacturer recommended or branded parts will be used in the repair or improving of the product. This in turn gives them the ability to offer amazing guarantees or warranties. They are confident that their improvement process is worthy of a warranty, so much so some manufacturers offer up to 4 years next day on site support.
Alan Gilmour from europc commented “There have been massive strides in the refurbished market over the last 4 years and now, when budgets are tighter than ever coupled with the desire to reduce ones impact on the environment, the term refurbished should no longer be considered a worry, but instead an informed choice. With a great range of Certified refurbished laptops and desktop PCs, europc.co.uk are committed to reducing the impact that computer equipment has on the environment.”
It’s a testament to the change in opinion about refurbished equipment that more and more sites are selling refurbished items, however a warranty or guarantee can often be missed. It pays to ensure you are always comparing like for like to ensure you get not only the best deal, but the best package that suits your requirements. Look for the length of the warranty offered e.g. 3 months, 12 months, 36 months. Look for who is supporting the warranty, is it the manufacturer or the retailer? Look for the type of warranty, is it “collect & return” or “return to base” (where the warranty provider collects it from you & returns it back, after making any necessary repairs) or is it “onsite” (where the warranty provider sends an engineer to your chosen location make any necessary repairs).