Buying refurbished is one of the easiest ways to save money while still getting the device you want. If that is not reason enough, think about the amount of electronic waste and resources you put to good use when you and your pals buy refurbished iPhones.
With their environmental and economic benefits, it’s surprising why people don’t consider refurbished devices first when they need another phone or wish to upgrade to a newer model.
Maybe manufacturers’ marketing tactics have made people believe that brand new is always better. Perhaps the term “refurbished” shines a negative light on a device. Whatever the case, there is no reason to treat refurbished models any differently from their brand new counterparts.
That said, general safety measures – those that you should also perform when buying new items – must be taken before purchasing a renewed device. As a start, there are five important things you need to look for before closing the deal.
1. Vendor reputation
Sure, you need to choose good phone models or refurbished mobile accessories before thinking about where you can buy one. But before everything else, your first consideration must be finding a reliable vendor with a good reputation.
When doing so, make sure you set the same standards for refurbished phone retailers as you would for brand new phone dealers. Look for someone offering a wide range of products to choose from (in case you haven’t made up your mind yet). You’ll also want a supplier with live customer service support and customer-friendly policies in buying and returning items (more on this later).
One hint that a seller can be trusted is when addresses, phone numbers, and reviews are posted on the company website. Besides adding credibility to the merchant, testimonies from past customers are useful in guiding your refurbished device purchase.
If you can, try to dig up more information about how the vendor chooses the items they sell their customers. This can help you avoid those that offer devices from questionable sources.
You can seek out companies with high quality standards and work only with refurbished devices that pass a strict control process. It is better if they perform re-checks periodically to make sure that the level of phone quality stays consistent.
When buying brand new, people often expect to be given at least a 12-month warranty for parts and services. For refurbished phones and other electronic devices, 90-day warranties are most common. However, some sellers also give a full one-year warranty.
While some credit cards do not extend the warranty on products sold as refurbished, you can get an extended warranty from the sellers themselves. This is a sign of good faith and the vendor’s confidence in the quality of the items they sell.
3. Refurbishing grade
Merchants often classify the products they sell under different levels or grades, which indicates the condition and appearance of the device. This rating system generally describes cosmetic issues and what’s included in the box.
While various merchants may label products differently, they often refer to the same grade or level of quality as follows:
This is usually the gold standard or top-level quality that could be reasonably expected from a refurbished device.
Grade A devices are in near-mint condition and will show no signs of previous use, except for minimal scuffing on the case or slight marks on the keys. Also, there shouldn’t be any chips, scratches, or other noticeable blemishes, and definitely, not a single issue when it comes to performance.
As for the contents, some merchants include the original accessories with the device, although the unit may be packed in a new-but-generic box.
If Grade A wins gold, Grade B is considered the silver medalist of refurbished mobile devices. In terms of quality, this is the second-best that could be expected from a renewed device.
Tested to be in good working order, Grade B refurbished phones will only show light scratches or scuffs on the bevel. You are bound to notice some signs that it has been used before, but definitely not like it underwent abuse.
As such, Grade B devices are priced lower than Grade A. These could also come with generic accessories and packed in a plain new box.
Following the same medal awards analogy, Grade C is bronze and is expected to have lower quality than Grades A and B. It still has been confirmed to function well after extensive testing. However, it is likely to show more signs of previous use.
Scratches and signs of wear can be seen in the case, which explains why it priced much lower than both Grades A and B phones.
Generally, there are no specific standards when it comes to how the condition of refurbished devices should be described. That said, remember to read the descriptions and reviews carefully before closing the deal.
To make a wise choice, tailor your purchase according to functionality and the user’s needs. For instance, if you’re buying for your company’s marketing and communications team, you may need phones with higher ratings.
Whether it is covered in the quality grade level of the refurbished device, you have to make sure that all the promised inclusions are included in the package. You can check this through past customer reviews, as well.
If possible, aim to get the same items you receive when buying brand-new. This includes a SIM card, earphones, a charger, and a stylus, if the device needs one.
5. Return policy
Since it may take a while for you to notice any issue with the performance of a refurbished device, you have to make sure that you have enough time to return it at no extra cost. This can be done by checking the merchant’s return policy.
Look for sellers that allow returns at least two weeks to one full month from the date of purchase. You should be able to exchange the device for a better performing one at no extra cost, just in case. Refunds are also good.
This will give you the peace of mind that you’re not throwing away your money for something you’re uncertain of.
When you see the phrases “all sales are final” or “no exchanges, no returns,” hit the back button immediately. This will only be a source of headache for you if you discover that the refurbished device doesn’t perform well, but you’re stuck with it and can’t get your money back.
That said, it would be best to always read the fine print. Once you receive the product, conduct a thorough inspection, and do a stress test to see how well it fares with a significant amount of use.
Buying refurbished devices is a better option because of the added economic and environmental benefits they provide. Consider the factors listed in this article, and you should get what you pay for, and more.
Mirza Saqib Habib is the Business Manager at Dubai-based Teckzu, the perfect one-stop shop to discover, browse, and buy new and refurbished electronics such as smartphones, tablets, laptops and accessories. Mirza comes from a strong E-commerce background with over 6 years of regional experience. He has helped kick-start many startups in the past and is passionate about using technology to facilitate a seamless digital user experience.