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Should I buy refurbished products? All you need to know about buying refurbished tech online

Want to know more about the world of refurbished products but aren’t sure where to start? Our guide will give you the rundown on everything you need to know about buying refurbished tech on the web.

Whether you’re after a phone, a laptop or even a fridge freezer, chances are there’s a refurbished model available that can save you a decent amount of cash upfront. With big name brands like Apple, Dyson and Philips having jumped on the bandwagon, going refurbished is no longer the questionable investment it once was.

With that being said, there are still some pitfalls and indicators to be aware of when buying a refurbished product online. To help you wrap your head around it in no-time, we’ve put together this handy guide on the top tips to know when on the lookout for a refurbished bargain.

Is it safe to buy a refurbished product?

Absolutely – the latest measurements put in place by online retailers ensure that it’s never been easier to get a high quality refurbished item. The key to knowing if a refurbished product is up to standard is in checking the wording that’s used in the listing itself.

On Amazon for instance, all refurbished products featured on the website are listed as ‘Renewed’, which is used as a blanket term and unfortunately doesn’t tell you if the product has come straight from the manufacturer or a third-party seller. Luckily, Amazon does employ its own quality checks and will not feature refurbished products that don’t meet the retailer’s standards.

In addition, the Amazon Renewed Guarantee ensures that you can return any Renewed items within a year of purchase if anything goes wrong. eBay on the other hand if a bit more straight forward. The retailer splits refurbished items into two categories: Certified Refurbished (formerly Manufacturer Refurbished) and Seller Refurbished.

Certified Refurbished is the crème de la crème – a label that’s only given to products that have been refurbished by the manufacturer itself, or by an external operation approved by the manufacturer. Much like Amazon, eBay also has an internal list of criteria that products have to meet for the CR label, ensuring that it’s your best bet if you want an item that’s in like-new condition.

Seller refurbished is mentioned when the refurbishment process has been carried out by a third party, without the supervision of the manufacturer. This is where vigilance is key, as you can get some genuinely decent deals with Seller Refurbished items, but the quality of a given product will be up to the seller’s discretion and so it helps to stick with more reputable eBay sellers that have a high positive feedback rating.

Where is the best place to go for refurbished products?

The answer to this question depends entirely on what type of product you’re after. For instance, if you’re nearing the end of your current phone contract and you want a fairly affordable upgrade, then websites like, Fonehouse and Affordable Mobiles will have you covered. For everything else however, there’s only one clear-cut option.

While Amazon’s refurbished offering has grown exponentially over the last few years, it still pales in comparison to what’s available on eBay – just for the sheer fact that it’s an industry that eBay has cultivated since the mid-90s.

Having been in the refurbished market for a great deal longer, eBay not only has refurbished items directly from key brands such as Apple and Dyson, but it’s also engulfed other retailers into its platform. For example, Currys PC World, Argos and AO all sell a litany of refurbished items through their respective eBay storefronts, giving you more competitive offers than if you were to shop elsewhere.

How to spot a genuine refurbished deal

A key problem with gauging the value of a refurbished deal is that listings rarely tell you what you’re saving upfront. There are ways around this however, so you can be sure that you’re getting a great deal each time.

It should go without saying but the first step would be to check out our review for the product you’re interested in, as you’ll always find a reference to the original RRP of said product, which you can then compare against the refurbished price to know what you’re saving.

To go one step further, I’d recommend downloading either Keepa or CamelCamelCamel for your browser. These extensions allow you to see the price history of any product listed on Amazon, giving you the chance to look back at how much a product has been sold for in the past, and compare that with the present price.

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