A Buyer's Guide to Refurbished Products

A Buyer's Guide to Refurbished Products

1st Dec 2021

Thinking about buying a refurbished product? You are not alone. According to Market Research, the buying refurbished movement is gaining a sharp increase in popularity. From about $19.7 billion in 2017 to an estimated $38.9 billion by 2025. That is a doubling number in just eight years.

Consumers Want Refurbished Product Options

In the past, manufacturers and retailers have not viewed refurbishing as a high priority. But times have changed and consumer demand is high for quality refurbished products. In an industry survey,

75% of survey respondents indicated that they were planning to buy refurbished products, while 94% indicated that they had already purchased a refurbished product in the last three years.

84% of individuals surveyed were satisfied with the products purchased and are planning to buy more in the future. The main reasons cited as to why consumers flock to refurbished products are compelling:

  • It saves money
  • Refurbished products meet the needs without paying for more than you need
  • The ability to try out new products without a larger financial commitment
  • Brand name products (like Apple) already enjoy a high consumer trust level (new or refurbished)
  • The environmental considerations for sustainability are driving much stronger consumer demand.
  • Some refurbishers have a solid performance like Macs4U at 98%, and are on par with retailers of new products.

To get started, as with any other purchase, decide on the basic specifications

So you have decided to buy refurbished. As with any purchase, it is important to narrow down what options or technical requirements you will want your device to have. As buying refurbished is more economical, you will find that your budget will take you further. Think about how many years you want the device to last and upscale your specs (larger screen, more powerful processor, larger hard drive and so on).

Age of device at time of your purchase

Apple computers for example are known in the industry for low failure rates and can enjoy 10+ years of solid performance. However, it is recommended to choose a model that is as new as possible to ensure long lasting compatibility with software. If a refurbished product is too seasoned, potential repairs down the road may not be possible or exceed the value of the computer.


Refurbished products can have cosmetic blemishes. Refurbishers provide an array of cosmetic grades to choose from. Think about where your requirements fall under cosmetic grades. For some, a small blemish is a deal breaker; while for others, it is of no relevance as long as you get a good deal. Also consider who will be using the refurbished equipment. Some individuals are prone to be rougher on equipment than others (think kids and backpacks).

Where to Buy Refurbished Products: Are Refurbishers and Recyclers the Same?

When choosing refurbished electronics, you will want to buy them from a store specializing in this brand, with the most stellar reputation.

Recently the demand for electronics has surged due to the pandemic, and some recyclers have started to offer refurbished products. Keep in mind that a product normally ends up at a recycler only at end of life, either after many years of use or when no longer working. Recyclers normally disassemble components and appropriately sort hazardous materials like batteries, ensuring proper disposal. Unless the recycler has certified factory technicians, they might not be in a good position to provide support services (including repairs) as well as a properly certified product.

Here is our quick guide of how to select a great place to get your refurbished Apple products from:

1. Is it being sold by a credible seller or reseller?

Get your money’s worth by quickly checking on the sellers reputation. Read comments or verified reviews from customers who've bought from the seller to weigh their experiences. Information on the site should include references to manufacture certification (like certified Apple technicians) and the use of original parts.

2. Is there a return policy?

Whether brand new or refurbished, some devices might not work out as you expected. As a buyer, you want to ensure that you can return the item for a refund within a certain time period.

3. What is the age and cosmetic condition of the device?

To check the age of the device, the website of the refurbisher should clearly state the model information, including the year the computer was introduced. Some manufacturers like Apple can carry the same model for several years, we have seen the identical SKU on some Apple MacBook Pros for up to four years.

To get a good idea of the condition of the device, an easy to understand grading system is key, as most electronic devices are sold online. Look out for cosmetic grades, as they will be sold at different price points. A responsible refurbisher will either have a pictorial or better yet a video to show the differences between cosmetic grades.

Another clue can also come from verified reviews from prior customer experiences. Cosmetic issue rank very high on the priority list for refurbished products. Sometimes you can get additional discounts if the cosmetic condition is not perfect (dents and scratches). Keep in mind that great cosmetics conditions are good for resale value a few years down the road.

4. What is the price of the refurbished product compared to a brand new model?

When shopping for a refurbished device, the price should be lower than its brand new counterpart. Look for listed items to be at least 25% less than the new model. Avoid prices that are too good to be true from sellers without reliable reviews. Do keep in mind that through the pandemic, supply shortages exist – so if you have very specific requirements and the seller check’s out, you may want to pull the trigger in a timely manner.

5. Does it still have a warranty?

As a buyer, get the most longevity out of your purchase, Look for those options in a warranty:

o Support team with certified technicians to troubleshoot issues remotely as most problems are OS or software related

o Use of original parts for repair

o Free round-trip shipping in case you need to send the device in for service

o Turnaround time for repair (refurbisher should have general timelines like 24 hours repair turnaround).

o Ticketing system, so you can follow the progress of your repair

o Warranty longevity provided by the seller

o Manufacturer warranty validity

Fortunately, refurbished seller Macs4U was the first one of Apple refurbishers to offer a 1-year warranty at no additional costs with every computer purchase. Most other refurbishers have in the meantime followed their lead.

6. What is its functionality/condition?

When looking for refurbished products, carefully read the information about the item's condition—is it in a like-new condition or somewhat used? Condition should only refer to cosmetics – not functionality

The retailer’s grading scheme for cosmetics should be consistent and easy to understand across all product that are offered.

The item needs to have absolutely complete functionality (ports, battery, display, keyboard). The grade for a device should only be for cosmetics, never for limited functionality. Consider it a deal breaker if it is not.

7. Compare Apples to Apples

The technical description of the product listing must clearly state the original manufacturer's specifications, including the SKU. This way you will be able to look-up additional information that might be helpful to know. As most items are sold online, check for representative images or videos that provide you with typical examples for the item you are interested in.

8. What is the Refurbished Grade?

Currently each refurbisher has their own grading system – unfortunately not a single standard is currently in place. Some refurbisher's grade also includes functionality of the device, not just the cosmetics - which is not acceptable. The Grade should always indicate cosmetics only. Remember that just because the product is refurbished, it still needs to function like a new computer. If a seller mixes functionality and cosmetic grade together, be very cautious in selecting your product.

Cosmetic grades are there to assist the customer in choosing the right grade, as well over 90% of products are sold online. Refurb products are graded on three factors:

● Cosmetic imperfections (e.g., scuffs, dents, scratches, and other marks)

● Wear and age

● Original accessories, like power supplies.

5 Warnings Buyers Should Watch Out For

1. Sellers who don’t disclose the actual condition/functionality of the products

When there is no sufficient information about the condition and functionality of the refurbished product, this should be a point of concern. As a customer, you should know what you are getting and if it’s worth your money.

2. Sellers who don’t provide accurate grading system

Sellers who don’t use a refurbished grading system to classify their products are not upholding a level of quality in their refurbishing process. By having a grading system, you can expect that products have undergone the same refurbishment process with good quality, and have classified the products depending on what you are looking for cosmetics

3. Sellers who overprice their products

One of the major advantages of refurbished products is that they come at a lower price but they perform like they are brand new. If the refurbished product’s price is close to the brand new price, you should question their pricing system.

Look out for hidden fees (for example, charging for signature confirmation upon delivery, quality check fees, rush order fee, or change of Operating system). This may inflate the price unnecessarily. Step back and look for other refurbished service providers that will provide those services inclusive.

4. Sellers who don’t provide warranty

Sellers who don’t provide warranties simply don’t want to be liable for their products and cannot be considered reputable. Good refurbishers will provide you with a time commitment of how long a repair will take. Even if the product is out of warranty, your refurbisher should be able to help you with repairs.

5. Verified reviews, Marketplaces and Refurbishers

Accurate, verified reviews are a great tool. They are as close as you will ever get to reading honest feedback from real customers. The mission of verified reviewed companies like Trustpilot is to provide unbiased, truthful information.

Marketplaces are a popular source for electronic devices, but do realize that you are not dealing with a refurbisher directly. Marketplaces charge the refurbisher a not insignificant fee to promote their products, so product cost are more inflated than when going directly with a refurbisher.

By dealing with a refurbisher directly, you are not just cutting out the middlemen, but should your product ever need service you will have a direct contact.

4 Tips on How to Find a Great Refurbished Retailer and Read Reviews like a Pro

So how do you exactly check if you are working with a trusted refurbished seller? Keep in mind that the refurbished product you ordered is a testament to how the seller does their work. Here are a few tips on how you can verify the seller’s credibility:

1. Ask your friends or relatives

Asking your friends and relatives for tips on which refurbished seller to go to will give you a general idea of their first hand experience. You can also go to review sites that offer category sorts like computers retail etc.

2. Find online reviews from trusted sites

While online reviews won’t fully tell you the customer’s first hand experience, you do get an idea of their experience (service, price, repeat customer). Keep in mind that not all online reviews are authentic. Since word of mouth marketing is still a powerful way to get customers, some businesses fabricate their reviews online.

However, there are trusted sites that don’t allow that such as Trustpilot. Macs4u has trusted Trustpilot over the years to reflect authenticity and genuineness in their reviews.

3. See if the brand replies or interacts with their customers

One sure way to see if the refurbished seller has a good reputation, check their interaction with prior customers online. Read less favorable reviews and see how the seller is handling the situation and what solutions are proposed to remedy an issue.

4. Review the dates and frequency of reviews

You should look for comments or reviews that span over several years including most recent experiences. Satisfied customers as well as unsatisfied customers will usually leave more detailed reviews, so they surely provide an interesting insight to the business.

Over to You

If your focus is on the environment, or you just want to get the most for your money, opting for refurbished is a great choice. So join the 94% of individuals that have been already buying top-rated refurbished Apple products. Buying a refurbished MacBook or any other Apple device for less is a smart choice.

Ready to buy your new refurbished MacBook? For quality, refurbished Apple products and a premier experience throughout, visit Macs4U's website and browse the top-of-the-line products and services available now.