10 Things To Look for When Buying Refurbished Tech

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Be bold and big discounts will follow. At least that’s what friends who can’t move for great deals will tell you. But what if you’ve never gone off shiny-shelf before? Don’t panic and run for the RRP (recommended retail price) – here’s what you need to know before you buy refurbished tech online. 
 
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1. Know What You’re Getting

So what is refurbished tech? All it essentially means is a gadget – a phone, TV, console – that’s been returned to the seller. Any repairs that are needed (in some cases, zero) are done, it’s reset, tested, checked again and resold. In some cases, it will be cosmetic damage, such as scuffs, or even just damaged packaging, demo units from stores or simply overstock.

In many cases, the tech will be as good as new, which is why bargain-hunters feel so smug, aside from the fact it’s good for the environment to buy refurbed.  
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2. Check the RRP/MSRP

The RRP and MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price) will give you an idea of whether it’s best to buy new or go refurbished. On eBay you can get up to 50% off the recommended price for new technology by going refurbed – but remember, that’s 'up to', so it will vary. For refurbished smartphones, it's often more like 30% off but on refurbished cameras and lenses, you can expect 50% off.

On some listings, they’ll tell you how much the device would cost new. If not, have a quick Google and look at the manufacturer’s website or tech news stories.
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3. Reviews And Ratings Are Your Friends

The good news if you’re still wary is that everyone before you has done the hard work already. So, on eBay’s refurbished tech hub, when you click on a product, you can see the seller’s ratings out of five stars and as a percentage, too – for example, 98.7% positive feedback. Not everyone will have written a review to go with the rating but have a quick read through these, too, to get an idea if items arrived as specified and on time. 
 
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4. Read Descriptions And Categories Carefully

Here are the words you want to see in an ideal world – 'manufacturer refurbished', 'perfect working order' and 'in very good condition'. That’s not to say 'seller refurbished' is a no-go but if this is the case, pay more attention to the description and any details of the inspection process. Have a quick read of the full list of eBay’s condition definitions here to get a better idea of what to expect and that’ll speed up your browsing. 
 
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5. Know Your Grades

From time to time, you might see a refurbished device listed not with an easy-to-understand description but instead as 'Grade A' or 'Grade B' refurbished. This is pretty simple once you know: Grade A means it looks new or with very minor signs of cosmetic wear and tear. Grade B, which should be cheaper and thus more of a bargain, means it will look worse for wear with more noticeable flaws, scuffs or scratches. 
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6. Check The Warranty

Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, another pro tip is to make sure you know what the warranty is on the item you’re buying. On eBay, buyers of refurbished products get a 12-month warranty, which will appear just below the item’s name on the listing as either 12 months or one year. Often a longer warranty – for example, two years – will be offered as an add-on, too. But these can differ, so level up on your online admin and double check. 
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7. What’s The Packaging?

Definitely one to consider if the gadget is a gift – refurbished tech doesn’t always come with the manufacturer’s packaging. It might come in plain packaging, which maybe isn’t as exciting when you’re unboxing it but hey, you just saved £100. We’re sure they’ll understand. Ditto: Manuals and user guides, but most can be downloaded these days anyway. 
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8. Yes, You Can Get Insurance

This question may pop into your head when shopping around for refurbished goods – particularly if you're looking for a refurbished mobile phone. Now, policies vary depending on where you buy the tech from and how long ago the phone was bought new, but you can get insurance. Often, proof of purchase is required. 
 
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9. Don’t Wait for The Right Time

Unlike new tech, there’s no precise season for getting the best refurbished gadget deals online. Sure, sellers might be selling an old model just after a new model goes on sale but – generally speaking – this is not a one day, pop-up, blink-and-you-miss-it discount – it’s year-round. 
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10. And Don’t Forget The Refund Policy

Scroll way down to the end of the product listing and you’ll find the returns policy – often 14 or 28 days. Some eBay sellers will offer a seven-day ‘No Quibbles’ return, too, so first-time buyers of refurbished tech might feel more secure about this arrangement. While you’re there, have a skim-read of the seller’s terms and conditions so you’re not caught out by any nasty surprises. 
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Looking for More Top Tips for Buying Refurbished Tech?

Check out our guide for some brilliant ways to kit out your home office on a budget. Then see how many of these hacks can help you make your home smart without remortgaging
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