Refurbished is a word that will always cause the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up. Sometimes, I just say the word to get that ghastly chill down my spine. What is it about this word that causes so much consternation to my brain?
Refurbished is a term used to usually describe a piece of equipment that was once owned and/or damaged and returned to the manufacture for a complete overhaul and repair of the system. The manufacture then turns around and sells the refurbished product for a substantial discount.
So what’s the problem?
- You’re buying a used piece of equipment.
- You do not know what the personal history of the item your buying. No one tells you the reason the item needed refurbishment.
- Personal experience has taught me to be wary. I’ve had refurbished equipment not work as well as new equipment, and I’ve had refurbished equipment fail faster than a new equal counterpart.
Now, the truth is that not all pieces of used equipment are bad. Look at the following scenario:
A person who believes that expensive cameras will make his photography look better purchases a new camera. They never get to use it before the spouse discovers the price paid for that new camera. Several uncomfortable conversations later they get buyers remorse and bring back the camera.
The seller then sends this camera to the manufacturer, they inspect it to make sure it still operates to their standards, the camera is then resold as a refurbished product for $100’s less than a new model. What a steal! If this happens then it’s definitely worth buying.
But realize, it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes people return cameras due to a mechanical error, a manufacturing error, or some form of damage caused in shipping. All of these problems need to be fixed by the manufacturer, and they are, assuming they’re sent to the manufacturer in the first place.
Again, that’s a big assumption. It shouldn’t shock people to learn that there are several unscrupulous people in the world that are all too happy to skip repairing the equipment to pristine condition. So how do you protect yourself? In his blog Photofocus Scott Bourne suggests :
Always buy USA refurbs.
Always buy from a dealer you can trust.
Always buy from a true manufacturer’s representative. (Check with the manufacturer.)
Don’t trust the reseller.
Pay with a credit card.
If you follow those rules, you should have a successful experience. The lesson to take away is that you can save a lot of money by buying refurbished equipment. Just be overly cautious when doing so.
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