Is it Safe to Buy Refurbished Electronics?

When an expensive device or other electronic appliance dies, many people assume that the only option is to replace it with something new. However, there is a lesser-known option: buying refurbished equipment. But is it safe to buy refurbished electronics? 

Many people are rightfully concerned regarding whether it’s safe to buy refurbished computers, laptops, headphones, tablets, smartphones, and other devices.

Here’s a closer look at this commonly asked question. The answer to this question is “yes” — with a catch. Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about buying refurbished equipment.

What Does Refurbished Mean?

The first step in making sure a refurbished electronic is a solid investment is to understand what the term “refurbished” means. While it is often used as a catch-all term for secondhand items that have undergone a cursory inspection, this is not what we’re talking about when we refer to a refurbished product.

True refurbishing involves much more than a quick cleaning and battery check. Rather, the true definition of a refurbishment is “a product restored to like-new condition,” according to DealNews.

In fact, in many cases refurbished equipment is new. This may include floor models, items with damaged packaging and similar defects, and products returned outside a store or manufacturer’s return window.

While different reasons may lead to refurbishment, there’s a common theme “all refurbs have been repaired and inspected to ensure they’re in like-new condition, so they should function as well as a brand-new product,” continues DealNews.

What to Look for in Refurbished Equipment

We’ve established that all refurbished equipment is not created equal. Consumer Reports advises, “The trick is making sure the product is genuinely refurbished, not simply cleaned up, repackaged, and repriced. And that requires asking some questions before you settle on a deal.”

In particular, there may be issues with online sellers who have “refurbished” products themselves with no way to measure the quality of the replacement parts and repair work.

While manufacturer-refurbished equipment offers a level of quality insurance, it may also be accompanied by higher price tags. This isn’t the only option, however.

Many companies that sell refurbished goods offer protections like warranties, money-back guarantees, and return policies. Others seek out certification from consumer protection organizations in order to demonstrate adherence to industry refurbishment standards.

The best way to protect your investment is to ask questions before handing over your credit card. (Speaking of credit cards, some also offer extended coverage on warrantied refurbished goods.)

The Benefits of Refurbished Equipment

The obvious benefit of buying refurbished equipment is cost savings. If you’re looking to get the most out of your budget, refurbished equipment may be the way to go. It’s possible to get a like-new phone or other pieces of technology at a significantly reduced price. But there are other advantages, too.

Refurbished equipment has been rigorously tested for quality. When you buy from a trusted refurbisher, you’ll not only get a like-new piece of electronics for a fraction of the price of something new, you’ll also enjoy the same confidence and peace of mind you would with new equipment.

Not only that, but many pieces of refurbished equipment also come with more generous warranties.

If you’re looking for a particular product, meanwhile, buying refurbished can also offer an inside edge. Explains Money Crashers, “Buying refurbished goods can allow you to get older models that are no longer sold in stores.”

Finally, there’s the positive environmental impact of buying refurbished equipment. According to NBC News, “Buying refurbished is one of the clearest and easiest ways you can help the environment right now.” When you buy refurbished technology, you are making a sustainable choice that both extends its life and keeps it out of a landfill.

Specific eco-friendly advantages include reducing the impact of labor and production, limiting energy consumption, minimizing toxins from contaminating soil and water, decreasing demand for parts and raw materials, and countering the negative effects of recycling.

All in all, “Remanufactured products can save up to 98 percent of CO2 emissions compared to equivalent new products, and significantly support our vision of a zero-waste stream,” according to the World Economic Forum.

Refurbished Electronics from Stream Recycling

Given all of these upsides, it’s not surprising that the vast majority of consumers who buy refurbished phones and other technology report being “highly satisfied” with their purchases. ​At Stream Recycling, we specialize in electronic recycling and refurbishment. Our experts will assess your electronic equipment’s market value and identify the channel that will deliver the highest possible return for you. Reach out to the experts from Stream Recycling to learn more about refurbished electronics and how it can benefit you and the environment.

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