What Is a Certified Refurbished Product?

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When shopping for a computer, phone, TV or another gadget, you might come across products that are certified refurbished, meaning they're pre-owned and restored by the manufacturer. Most often, customers have used these items before returning them for some reason. To prepare the products for resale, the manufacturer puts them through a comprehensive refurbishment process and runs tests to check for functionality and quality. Understanding the certified refurbishment process and the benefits and drawbacks of buying these products can help you make an informed purchasing decision.


What Does Certified Refurbished Mean?

Certified refurbished products are usually used items that customers have returned due to a defect or because they've changed their minds. They can also be product demos or items with packaging damaged in handling. To prepare an item for resale, the manufacturer puts it through a detailed refurbishing process to make necessary repairs. This can involve cleaning, running functionality tests and repackaging. For example, if someone returns a laptop with a defective screen, the manufacturer will replace the screen, clean the exterior of the laptop to remove signs of use, check all the laptop's functions and repackage it with its accessories and manuals. After a final check, the manufacturer certifies the product as refurbished and can sell it.


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Where Can I Buy Them?

Manufacturers often sell certified refurbished products on their official websites. For example, you can buy a certified refurbished Mac computer on the Apple website or a certified refurbished Kindle Fire on the Amazon website. Manufacturers also sometimes use auction websites like eBay to sell what is certified refurbished for a flat price or allow users to make offers. In addition, electronics stores like Best Buy and Newegg tend to offer a wider brand variety of certified refurbished products and can be a good choice when you're still exploring your options.


Why Buy Certified Refurbished Products?

The main benefit of buying a certified refurbished product is that you get a functional item while saving money. Since sellers can't list these products as new, they usually offer lower prices to attract customers. Another benefit is that you'll know your product has undergone extensive testing for defects. This offers peace of mind, which is absent with purchase of a regular used item or an item whose "refurbishing" involved nothing more than cleaning and repackaging. Finally, certified refurbished items often come with warranties that equal those of new products, giving you confidence that you can get your money back if the item arrives not as described.


What Are the Downsides?

One downside of buying certified refurbished products is that the product selection usually doesn't include the latest models. This is because it takes time for customers to make returns and for manufacturers to refurbish the items for resale. In addition, while you can expect your product to work like a new one, some manufacturers don't promise that certified refurbished products are in like-new cosmetic condition. Another potential drawback is that your product's warranty may be for a period shorter than one for a new item, so you might need to add the cost of an extended warranty if you prefer this protection.