What Does Refurbished Mean?

By Ashley Poland

Buying refurbished doesn't necessarily mean buying lower quality electronics, so long as you do it carefully. Choosing a refurbished item is one of the ways people save on luxury goods, especially electronics. The problem is that there is no set of standard requirements for "refurbished."

Understanding "Refurbished"

A refurbished electronic device is one returned to "like new" state after being previously owned; this is how it differs from a used item. It may be a smartphone returned to the manufacturer after a week, or a desktop that a hobbyist fixed up before putting it up for sale on Craigslist. Anyone can sell an old piece of electronics and call it "refurbished" -- as such, it is important to choose refurbished goods from reputable manufacturers.

Choosing Quality Refurbished Goods

Not every company that handles refurbishment provides a high-quality product. This can be due to hardware incompatibilities or poor workmanship. Before purchasing a refurbished item, check the company's refurbishing process and customer reviews on its refurbished items. If this information is not readily available, look elsewhere for your refurbished goods. Many manufacturers refurbish their own computers, including Apple and HP. These items are under the same quality standards as new items, use known compatible components and undergo the same testing procedures as new products. Many even come with a warranty. Even with refurbished equipment from the original manufacturer, be sure to check the company's support documentation as to what quality assurance is offered for refurbished items.