Refurbished tech – a guide on where to buy | The Sun

If you're in the market for new tech and you want to save cash, there's one simple way: buy refurbished.

To find out more, read our in-depth guide on refurbished tech: we cover its advantages and disadvantages, if it's safe, and where to buy.

Maybe it's not something you've done before, or something you have misgivings about, but shopping refurbished is becoming an increasingly popular choice for consumers.

But the field of refurbished electronics can be a little intimidating to newcomers – so it's good to get to grips with the essentials before you start shopping.

We went in search of some expert opinion, and chatted to Mark Monte-Columbo, the Head of Refurb at eBay, who helped us put this guide together.

What is refurbished tech?

Refurbished tech is a term for items that have been previously sold, but were then returned to the manufacturer, before being put on the market again.

These products have rarely undergone any extensive use, or any at all, since they've been returned by shoppers within a returns period, which is usually around 30 days.

What are the differences between refurbished and pre-owned?

Refurbished goods aren't to be confused with items that are marked as 'used' or 'second-hand', which are typically sold online by the original buyers themselves.

Instead, refurbished items are sold on through official merchants and (if they're any good) have been inspected, checked and vetted for re-sale.

Is refurbished tech as good as new?

It’s worth bearing in mind that not all refurbished items are created equally. When you shop online, it's a good idea to check the listed status of each product before you buy.

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'We have four different refurbished condition grades at eBay,' explains Mark. 'These are Certified, Excellent, Very Good and Good.'

Certified items are in what's described as 'pristine condition' without any signs of use, while at the other end, Good items will show 'moderate signs of use such as small scratches or dents that do not affect functionality.'

With all four grades, items have been professionally inspected, cleaned and refurbished – and they're all covered by a minimum one-year guarantee.

What are the advantages of buying refurbished?

As Mark points out, prices will be most shoppers' priority: ‘There are obvious cost-saving benefits.'

His passion for refurbished technology stretches all the way back to 2011, when he purchased a refurbished iPhone 4.

'I didn't want to get sucked into a long contract,' he explains. 'Also, I wanted something that felt replaceable. It wasn't a problem if it broke.'

Mark makes a good point that often with brand-new, high-end electronics, we often feel like we need to keep them in pristine condition.

But items like mobiles are devices we use repeatedly in day-to-day life – buying refurbished means we can relax more if they get into any scrapes.

During a time when the cost of living has escalated, and shoppers have less cash in their wallets, the appeal of cheaper tech continues to grow.

And if you're already thinking ahead to the Black Friday sales, buying refurb is a great way to pick up Christmas gifts at a lower price.

There is also, of course, a lot of environmental benefits to buy refurbished products: an item that might otherwise end up in a landfill will remain in circulation.

What are the disadvantages of buying refurbished?

Most of the drawbacks to buying refurbished tech are skin-deep.

Like we say above, you'll sometimes encounter some cosmetic damage to refurbished goods, but this should be clearly advertised on the seller's website.

Also, sometimes you'll receive the item in packaging that isn't its original, and might come with new accessories.

How safe is buying refurbished?

Mark acknowledges there's still some reservations among consumers around buying refurbished goods: 'It's a fear of the unknown.'

Half of the resistance from consumers is psychological: we'd all rather buy something that hasn't been in somebody else's hands.

But this needs to be countered with a bit of common sense. For example, in the case of the refurbished mattresses that eBay stocks, Mark has a good point to make: 'It might sound odd. But you don't think the same time each time you stay in a hotel, do you?'

However, we would always advise that you buy refurbished products from a trusted online seller, who advertises a set of rigorous condition requirements for its items, along with clearly stated returns and warranty policies.

Where to buy refurbished tech

You'll find a wide range of online retailers have sections dedicated to refurbished items, while there are plenty of stores that exclusive stock refurbished products too.

  • eBay
  • Amazon
  • Currys
  • Backmarket 
  • Mozillion
  • OnBuy

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Like we said earlier in this guide, be cautious about buying from online retailers without clear refurbished policies.



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