Holiday help: How to buy refurbished tech

Looking for a certified reseller is key

If electronics are on your holiday shopping list and you need to stretch your dollar, refurbished can be a good option. Not only do they keep slightly older models out of the landfill, you can save a lot of money, too.

“We found that you can save between 15% and 20% plus an additional 10% for each year since the product’s been released versus buying new,” said Lucas Gutterman with the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

So, what exactly are you getting when you buy refurbished? You get a used product that’s been fixed up to be as good as new. Keep in mind there’s a difference between a “refurbished item and a “used” one you might find on Craigslist, eBay, or elsewhere online.

Consumer Reports has some advice on how to find the best refurbished items:

  • Look for a certified reseller -- like Sims Lifecycle Service, that’s ISO-certified -- that will replace defective parts with new ones instead of used ones. Or consider buying refurbished directly from manufacturers, such as Apple or Samsung.
  • Look for a warranty that lasts for at least 30 days in case you run into an issue. For example, eBay’s Certified Refurbished products are protected for two years. With Apple, Bose, Walmart, and Samsung, it’s a full year. Best Buy’s warranties are good for 90 days. Some credit card companies will extend coverage on refurbished goods, too, as long as they come with a preexisting warranty.
  • Make sure you have at least 30 days for returns because it may take time to notice issues with the product. For Amazon and Walmart offer a refund or replacement for 90 days if your purchase isn’t working as expected. Apple limits you to just 14 days.
  • Since the clock is ticking, you should also open the product as soon as you buy it to make sure it works and has all the accessories before giving it as a gift.

About the Author

Marilyn Moritz is an award-winning journalist dedicated to digging up information that can make people’s lives a little bit better. As KSAT’S 12 On Your Side Consumer reporter, she focuses on exposing scams and dangerous products and helping people save money.

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