Deals on “refurbished” laptops and other electronic devices are common in South Africa, and they often seem very attractive due to their lower prices.
These can be great for budget-oriented shoppers, although it is important to note exactly what retailers mean when they list an item as refurbished.
Gumtree GM Claire Cobbledick has outlined what refurbishment is and how it affects the price of a tech product.
“If you are in the market for a cheap laptop, you will encounter dozens of ads and websites offering refurbished laptops at lower prices,” said Cobbledick.
“Before dismissing the deal as too good to be true, it’s important to understand what refurbishment means.”
“Some refurbished items are effectively new, but were returned by the buyer within the return period in working order. Per T&Cs the item can’t be sold as new, but can be resold, so it’s marked as refurbished,” Cobbledick said.
“In other instances, the item was returned as faulty, but the defect couldn’t be found and no work was done on the device. Or perhaps a defect was found, but repaired and now the item is resold.”
A reconditioned laptop has also been repaired, but then thoroughly tested, repackaged, and possibly even upgraded for resale, she added. Cobbledick said that there are dozens of businesses that specifically buy used laptops for reconditioning.
This makes it important to be cautious when shopping for refurbished laptops.
“As with any expensive items that are bought, make sure that you understand the warranties and returns policy,” she said. “If the item has been checked after repairs, find out which repairs were done.”
If the device has been returned due to a fault, this may not be resolved and you could simply become the hardware problem’s next victim.
“Even new laptops can have problems that aren’t detected by QA – refurbished laptops go through two QA checks,” Cobbledick said. “What is most important is understanding whether or not you would be able to return or exchange the product.”
The benefit of this is that if you are happy with the risks involved, you can save around 25-50% on a laptop when buying a refurbished model.
“If a new laptop doesn’t suit your budget, it’s a great option,” Cobbledick said. “Always do your research before committing and use a reputable refurbisher.”