- Purchasing refurbished technology, rather than paying the retail price for new products, is a viable way for small business owners to save money on operating costs.
- Several reputable stores and marketplaces sell quality refurbished products.
- Buying refurbished technology can be a frugal decision but carries some risks that business owners should keep in mind.
As a small business owner, you want to save as much money as you can in acquiring technology. A common way to cut costs is to buy used tech rather than brand-new equipment, which can be two to three times more expensive.
When looking for quality refurbished tech, you may be overwhelmed by your options, and it's difficult to know which websites offer quality products. [Read related article: What You Need to Know About Refurbished Technology]
Check out our list of retailers and outlets where you can find quality refurbished tech that will save your business money without compromising quality.
Amazon seemingly sells everything, including refurbished gear. Refurbished items sold by Amazon have reportedly been tested and certified by qualified suppliers. Testing involves diagnostics, replacement of defective parts and cleaning. According to Amazon, "Products have no visible cosmetic imperfections when held 12 inches away." Gadgets also have a minimum warranty of 90 days. You can find all types of refurbished tech products, including smartphones, desktop computers, laptops and tablets.
Best Buy defines a refurbished product as one that either had a cosmetic defect (such as a scratch, blemish or dent) that did not meet the customer's expectations or was preowned and then restored and verified to work.
According to the company, all refurbished items it sells have been tested to meet its standards to ensure they perform as well as a brand-new item. Best Buy's "like new" refurbished items have shorter warranties than new items, but you can purchase a Geek Squad Protection plan (prices vary) for peace of mind.
This refurbished electronics seller specializes in Apple products. JemJem is a great place to find deals on Macs, MacBooks, iPads, iPhones and other Apple accessories. JemJem-certified products are reset to factory settings and tested to ensure they work, and they have a 90-day warranty covering parts and labor. JemJem only ships within the U.S., but shipping is free. If you want shipment outside the U.S., you'll need to use a package-forwarding service.
This online retailer sells a variety of products, including refurbished electronics. Newegg is an authorized Microsoft refurbisher, so it has excellent deals on Microsoft desktops and laptops. The company's Factory Serviced and Refurbished program inspects products for any damage (repairs are performed by a certified technician) and returns them to the original factory setting. Newegg states that some products might have marks, scratches or other "slight signs of wear." Each device is covered under a warranty, and the return policy is explained in the Specifications tab on Newegg's website.
The Refurb.io online retailer provides services in the U.S. and Canada only. It is an authorized Microsoft refurbisher that exclusively sells laptops and desktops. The company claims all electronics are "restored to function as new products" as well as cleaned and tested. All sales carry a free one-year warranty.
Other sources for buying refurbished tech are government websites such as GovDeals. Here, you can bid on items the government has in its possession that it is trying to sell. You can find many tech items here at very low prices. However, these items usually have no warranty.
Pros of buying refurbished tech
Buying refurbished items is a great way to reduce costs for your business, but be mindful of whom you are buying from, what kind of quality checks they do, and their warranties.
The biggest upside of buying refurbished technology is, obviously, the price reduction. If you keep your eyes open for deals as they come on the market, you could easily find a piece of refurbished equipment listed for two-thirds or even half the price of the original.
Buying refurbished technology can be a cost-effective decision for small business owners who supply their staff with technology. If you have 20 employees and each of them needs a computer, paying full retail price is going to be expensive. Purchasing refurbished computers can save you a considerable amount of money.
Another benefit of refurbished tech is familiarity. Sometimes the latest technology is not the easiest for everyone to learn. If you have employees who are more comfortable using an older model of a computer or tablet, it makes perfect sense to go with a refurbished version. Plus, purchasing secondhand tech ensures that old product doesn't immediately end up in a landfill, which is better for the planet.
Cons of buying refurbished tech
The downside of purchasing refurbished tech is the risk of breakdown or malfunction. According to Consumer Reports, the technology refurbishment market is not heavily regulated, and standards vary by seller. The quality of the parts and the testing procedures are left to the discretion of the vendor.
Consumer Reports suggests researching the seller and making sure the refurbished product comes with a warranty. That way, you're protected if the product suddenly stops working after a week. Most reputable sellers will have the proper certifications or at least customer reviews that provide some feedback on the vendor. All of the companies mentioned in this article vet their sellers.