The landscape of the electronics market has largely changed over the last decade in ways the average consumer either doesn’t realize, or doesn’t much think about.  One of these areas is how “reconditioned” products have now become as common as satellite television and broadband.

 

The landscape of the electronics market has largely changed over the last decade in ways the average consumer either doesn’t realize, or doesn’t much think about.  One of these areas is how “reconditioned” products have now become as common as satellite television and broadband.

 

Most consumers are aware when they buy a product marked “reconditioned” that it’s either a returned product, a product ordered but not delivered, delivered but returned unused, or was damaged somewhere along the journey.  These products are carefully surveyed, brought back to new condition, diagnostics are run, and the product is usually packed in new packaging with original accessories and manuals.  Reconditioned or remanufactured products ARE NOT used products.  Each manufacturer has a limit on time and usage to qualify, and it’s usually very low.

I’ve been knowingly buying reconditioned products for well over a decade from manufacturers I trust and saving a load of money in the process.

How many of you know about the Dell Factory Outlet?   I’ve probably purchased over a dozen high-end Dell laptops over the years saving sometimes more than 60-70%.  Each time they’ve arrived packaged and working as new products, and carrying full new product warranties.  I encourage you to check out their site.

 

How many of you know about the Dell Factory Outlet?   I’ve probably purchased over a dozen high-end Dell laptops over the years saving sometimes more than 60-70%.  Each time they’ve arrived packaged and working as new products, and carrying full new product warranties.  I encourage you to check out their site.

 

APC who make what I consider the finest Uninterruptable Power Supplies used to have their own Outlet, but now they’ve contracted out the service to Schneider Electric who offers really great deals on reconditioned UPS devices.  As an example, when I moved back to the states from Thailand the voltages were different and I needed all new UPS devices.  The 7 devices I needed would have cost me over $5500 USD’s.  Through Schneider Electric I had either the same or last generation UPS devices, all 7 of them, delivered for under $1000 . A huge savings.  Their warranty isn’t as good as the original, but I find UPS devices trouble free for the most part so a year warranty vs. a two year warranty was acceptable.

 

APC who make what I consider the finest Uninterruptable Power Supplies used to have their own Outlet, but now they’ve contracted out the service to Schneider Electric who offers really great deals on reconditioned UPS devices.  As an example, when I moved back to the states from Thailand the voltages were different and I needed all new UPS devices.  The 7 devices I needed would have cost me over $5500 USD’s.  Through Schneider Electric I had either the same or last generation UPS devices, all 7 of them, delivered for under $1000 . A huge savings.  Their warranty isn’t as good as the original, but I find UPS devices trouble free for the most part so a year warranty vs. a two year warranty was acceptable.

 

There are many more such outlets.  I’d recommend the next time you have a major purchase, a television, computer, or just about anything electronic, that you contact the manufacturer you’re interested in and ask/search to see if they have an outlet.  They don’t make it easy to find them for obvious reasons, they’d rather most people buy their new full price products.

Liquidators often buy reconditioned products in huge quantities and market them on Ebay or Amazon or through other popular on-line retailers.  The Garmin 885T GPS I reviewed here , and the Garmin 3790t GPS I reviewed here  were bought for half price from such a retailer.

 

Liquidators often buy reconditioned products in huge quantities and market them on Ebay or Amazon or through other popular on-line retailers.  The Garmin 885T GPS I reviewed here , and the Garmin 3790t GPS I reviewed here  were bought for half price from such a retailer.

 

And if you haven’t knowingly purchased a reconditioned product, you probably have received one without being told through a warranty exchange.  Rarely do you get a “new” item back in a warranty exchange.  This is where the best of “reconditioned” items go first, to support warranty exchanges.  When there’s not enough warranty items on the shelves to meet demand, new items will be brought in, but you won’t have a choice.

A recent example was my baht 100,000 NEC LCD2690uxi2 imaging monitor.  The screen started separating and NEC was kind enough to transfer my warranty to the states and send me out a new one.  Well, not really new as we’ve learned.  Reconditioned.  Was I worried?  Was I upset?  You bet, these are expensive monitors which help support my livelihood.  I spend hours at times carefully color profiling these beauties and making them as accurate as possible.  It makes me wince just imagining every bounce it takes on the UPS truck getting here.  So a reconditioned one?  I was headed for breakdown.  Until the nice lady at the other end of the phone assured me I could return any monitor I didn’t feel met or exceeded new specifications.  She obviously had a lot of experience working with distraught imaging professionals.

 

A recent example was my baht 100,000 NEC LCD2690uxi2 imaging monitor.  The screen started separating and NEC was kind enough to transfer my warranty to the states and send me out a new one.  Well, not really new as we’ve learned.  Reconditioned.  Was I worried?  Was I upset?  You bet, these are expensive monitors which help support my livelihood.

 

When my new monitor arrived it wasn’t in a new box.  It was in a special shipping box designed to be reused many time and because it’s such a big and heavy beast, to make the most value from shipping charges.  I unpacked my monitor, removed the plastic, and it ‘looked’ perfect, but was it?  Connecting it to my system I powered it on and entered the Spectraview II software where it could read the monitors firmware and other information as well as how many hours were on the monitor.  My return had 5333 hours.  My new “reconditioned” monitor had exactly one hour.  This monitor was probably taken from the box, someone with buyer’s remorse discovered it wasn’t magic, and sent it back.

But the real proof came during my profiling where I was quickly able to achieve the lowest DeltaE numbers I’ve ever seen.  Was this monitor “tweaked” more during reconditioning by a human than during assembly on a machine run assembly line?  Very possibly.  I don’t know, and NEC wasn’t saying.

 

But the real proof came during my profiling where I was quickly able to achieve the lowest DeltaE numbers I’ve ever seen.  Was this monitor “tweaked” more during reconditioning by a human than during assembly on a machine run assembly line?  Very possibly.  I don’t know, and NEC wasn’t saying.

 

But I suspect many reconditioned electronics get aligned/tweaked/profiled/adjusted by humans, when going through the reconditioning process, where the same product going through the assembly line for the first time are handled by computers.  I’m very happy with my reconditioned monitor.  In fact, I’m kinda hoping my second LCD2690uxi2 monitor developed a problem soon..

 

But I suspect many reconditioned electronics get aligned/tweaked/profiled/adjusted by humans, when going through the reconditioning process, where the same product going through the assembly line for the first time are handled by computers.  I’m very happy with my reconditioned monitor.  In fact, I’m kinda hoping my second LCD2690uxi2 monitor developed a problem soon..

 

The psychology of reconditioned electronics can range from someone just not caring, to a mental devastation because their “virgin” product is being replaced with a product that has been in someone else’s hands.  There is also the feeling that the reconditioned product isn’t worth the money you paid for, that if you wanted a reconditioned product you would have paid less and got one in the first place.

All justified feelings.  To a point.  Understanding the process helps and each manufacturer I’ve contacted has been more than willing to outline their recondition standards and their entire process.  I tend to think that companies who normally provide a high level of custom service and/or a high quality product, put the same efforts into their reconditioned products.

If you can get over the “must have everything new” mindset, you can not only save yourself a lot of money, but you can sometimes end up with a more refined or better calibrated/adjusted/tweaked product.  Something to consider.

 

If you can get over the “must have everything new” mindset, you can not only save yourself a lot of money, but you can sometimes end up with a more refined or better calibrated/adjusted/tweaked product.  Something to consider.

 

Something I’ll never consider, a reconditioned product from a company I distrust or have little respect for, for whatever reason.  I try not to buy from such companies.  Apple being one of them.  Sure, they make great innovative products, but their thirst for the bottom line makes me nervous, and this is beared out when examining 3 different Ipod’s, my sons Itouch, and a friend’s Iphone3.  ALL had scratch marks from the tools they use to pry them open, several weren’t seated right along the mating services, and one didn’t work right at all.  And on several occasions when I finally got through to a human on the phone I was told “scratches and small blemishes are normal and to be expected.” And I said “but I paid for a brand new one, and sent you a brand new one without a blemish or scratch?” I was “handled” and told I was overreacting and it would get scratches soon anyway.  Really?  Try telling that to my 14 year old Cobra sitting in the garage, still not a single ding or scratch.  Some people just take care of their expensive purchases better than others.  This should be recognized.

 

 Apple being one of them.  Sure, they make great innovative products, but their thirst for the bottom line makes me nervous, and this is beared out when examining 3 different Ipod’s, my sons Itouch, and a friend’s Iphone3.  ALL had scratch marks from the tools they use to pry them open, several weren’t seated right along the mating services, and one didn’t work right at all.  And on several occasions when I finally got through to a human on the phone I was told “scratches and small blemishes are normal and to be expected.”  And I said “but I paid for a brand new one, and sent you a brand new one without a blemish or scratch?”  I was “handled” and told I was overreacting and it would get scratches soon anyway.

 

In contrast my HTC Desire Smartphone has never had a lick of trouble, but a good friends did.  I was with him when we walked into a HTC service center at MBK, and less than five minutes later was handed what appeared to be from the packaging and phone itself, a brand new unit.  I asked and the pretty young lady behind the counter smiled sweetly, apologized, and told me it was “reconditioned” and would we be okay with that?  Of course we would.  Great service.

 

 In contrast my HTC Desire Smartphone has never had a lick of trouble, but a good friends did.  I was with him when we walked into a HTC service center at MBK, and less than five minutes later was handed what appeared to be from the packaging and phone itself, a brand new unit.  I asked and the pretty young lady behind the counter smiled sweetly, apologized, and told me it was “reconditioned” and would we be okay with that?  Of course we would.  Great service.

 

Many times it’s been said that which makes us afraid, or in this case uncomfortable, is the unknown.  Not knowing what a reconditioned product really is, how old it’s allowed to be, what’s done to bring it back up to standards, and how it affects our warranty.  I hope I’ve answered most of these questions for you.  Maybe something new you’ve learned reading this article is about all the great deals available from major manufacturers and I’ll caution you once again, search hard to find their outlets.  This information is rarely volunteered, even when asked.  Be diligent and it will pay off.

I’m not a fan of “used” anything.  I buy all my cars new, with the exception of a classic or collector car I plan to “recondition” or “restore.”  I prefer to buy a new home when given the chance, but I’ll buy an older home if it’s been freshly “reconditioned” and not yet lived in.  I’ll buy only new furniture unless it’s an antique I want for some odd reason, and then it won’t even come into the home until I’ve fumigated and cleaned it.  My form of antique reconditioning.

Yet, I have absolutely no issue with initially purchasing or receiving under warranty, a reconditioned piece from a company I normally receive excellent customer service and products from.  I have no issues because I understand what it is I’m getting.  I’m no longer put off or scared of the unknown.  And you shouldn’t be either.

Until next time..