How to buy refurbished tech

Judging by the WIRED team’s experience, descriptions of each item’s condition are usually very good. “Small cosmetic imperfections” can often mean it looks new. If it is not described as “Like new”, there’s a chance an accessory may be missing, but interactions with Amazon’s customer services are usually great. An offer of a return or a partial refund seems to be standard policy.

Amazon Renewed is a little different. This stream of the Amazon megastore lets other companies sell refurbs and customer returns through the network. Giant tech brands including Dell, Apple, HP, Lenovo and Samsung use Amazon Renewed. All the Amazon Renewed items we pulled up are described as “works and looks like new”, suggesting much of it is simply unsold stock of older lines.

eBay is probably the largest repository of refurbished tech. But can you trust it?
A lot of the biggest retailers around sell through eBay. Argos, Music Magpie, Currys and Laptops Direct all have a huge presence on the site. XS Items is another notable refurb companies on eBay.
However, any private seller can list an item as “seller refurbished” and this is often misused. As when buying from Amazon, pay attention to who you are actually buying from.
eBay offers solid buyer protection, with a system that effectively forces the seller to pay for the return of an item if it is legitimately not as described. And if you pay by PayPal there’s another avenue to start a claim if you end up dissatisfied.

Ok, so Cash Converters probably does not belong in this list. It’s much more a “pawn shop” than a refurb store. It makes no claims about extensive checks it employs, the returns policies are guided by the minimum standard stated in consumer rights regulations. Its online presence acts as an overflow of sorts for its high street stores and store managers appear to choose what to list, if they do so at all.
However, it can be a bit of a tech nerd’s paradise. You’ll find classic home cinema amplifiers and receivers, high-end projectors and ancient audiophile speakers that will still outperform just about any smart speaker, often at sub-eBay prices. Buyer beware, but there’s plenty of gold in the Cash Converters tech trash pile.

EuroPC is one of the largest resellers of refurbished computers, and doesn’t deal in laptops traded in by Dave from Bromley. You’ll find tech from cancelled business orders, excess stock from manufacturers and computers refurbished by the manufacturer.

True bargains are fairly rare on EuroPC, though. Prices listed on the website do not include VAT either, a sign the company is really setup to cater for businesses rather than ordinary folks just out for a new laptop.
Dell Refurbished and Outlet
There are two divisions of Dell dedicated to selling refurb computers, Dell Refurbished and Dell Outlet. Why two? Dell Outlet sells primarily its consumer lines, like XPS, Inspiron and Alienware. Dell Refurbished deals with business laptops and desktops such as Latitude and Precision lines. Standard pricing is rarely jaw-dropping, but the Dell Outlet often offers vouchers that make the jump to a refurb worthwhile.

There’s a refurb area on Fujfilm’s own camera store. Fujfilm says these are retailer returns. It may often simply be the case you get a camera from a retailer that ordered too much stock of a line. You’ll only find Fuji cameras here, of course, but they come with the same 12-month warranty as a new camera. Prices do not tend to be all that much lower than the norm in some cases, but every now and then you’ll find a hot deal for one of FujiFilm’s excellent mid-range mirrorless models.  

Sennheiser’s Outlet sells customer returns, often at dramatically reduced prices. You’ll find items from both its consumer headphones and the Sennheiser pro line, which predominantly offers microphone equipment. This is one to check out every so often if you would like a pair of home headphones, which pop up on the Sennheiser Outlet every now and then. They offer Apple AirPods Max-grade sound (minus almost all the features) at a fraction of the cost.
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