4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Refurbished Appliances


Some form of risk comes with any purchase, whether it's a new or refurbished item. Fortunately, refurbished appliances and electronics can be a great deal, if you do your research first. (See also: Why Refurbished Electronics Are Such a Great Deal)

Refurbished products are items that have been used, opened, or slightly damaged in some way. They have been repaired to return them to a "like-new" status. If you're thinking about buying a refurbished item to save some cash, ask yourself the following questions first.

Is it a good deal?

Large appliances are designed to last a long time with little maintenance, so you can feel confident about buying a one- or two-year-old refurbished appliance. As a general rule, if a refurbished item includes a full warranty, working parts, and significant savings, it's a good deal.

Another way to quickly determine whether a particular purchase is worth it is to subtract the amount of depreciation from the original cost of the appliance. For instance, if a new appliance is $500 and is expected to last 10 years it would have $50 depreciation per year. If you are purchasing the item after two years, you'd ideally want to find something that is under $400 ($500 - two years of $50 depreciation = $400). (For help with this number, check out: Life Expectancy of 6 Major Appliances)

Can you find a better price elsewhere?

Use a price comparison site like PriceGrabber to first determine where you can get the best deal. Then, compare the total costs of refurbished versus new appliances. New appliances frequently come with free or discounted delivery, which can save you quite a bit off the total cost. Inquire about shipping costs before deciding on a used appliance. (See also: 10 Stupid Shopping Mistakes Even Smart People Make)

How can you find a reputable seller?

It's important to choose a reputable retailer. While you might be able to save more money with a private seller or local repair shop, there’s a chance you won't be able to do anything if the item turns out to be a lemon.

You can find great deals on refurbished items both in-store and online. Consumer Reports suggests purchasing refurbished electronics at Amazon, but warns that they don't always include warranties. You can also see customer reviews on Amazon, which can help you make your purchasing decision.

What about warranty coverage?

Refurbished appliances are often covered by a warranty from the manufacturer or store. If the appliance has no warranty, or a very short one, it might be a warning sign that you're getting a dud.

Even if the seller doesn't offer a new warranty, you might still receive what's left of the original warranty. These warranties tend to last between 30 days and one year, so they aren't usually as long as you would get with a new item. And while you can add an extended warranty to brand-new appliances, you can't do the same with refurbished items. Some warranties only cover new parts, so you'll want to inquire about exactly what the warranty covers.

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