Should you buy refurbished electronics?

Should you buy refurbished electronics?

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Electronics like phones, TVs and computers are expensive.  But there is a way to get a deal: buy them refurbished.   That means used-- but fixed up to be "like new." FOX 5 I-Team reporter Dana Fowle gives you some ideas about how to wade through what items are good to buy used, and which ones are better bought brand new.

The main reason for buying a refurbished item is the discount you can get.  But, you have to weigh the price cut with the increased risk that you might get a dud.  Let's start though with an across-the-board winner-- one that nearly every reviewer of electronics says is the best refurbed bet in the business.   Apple products.   

We're talking about sought after brands like the iPad or iPhone.  FOX 5 viewers write this about their legendary customer service, "...helpful every time."  They say it, "...rocks, HANDS DOWN!!"   But this all comes at a high price-- Apple products are really expensive.

Take a look at a brand new 13-inch, entry-level MacBook Air.  It's almost $1,200 ($1,199), but it does have a one-year warranty.  

The bargain shopping website DealNews.com says in this case-- Apple refurbished products are a good bet. According to DealNews features writer Lindsay Sakraida, Apple has a very stringent process for refurbishing their items, and you might not know its not brand new.

The refurbed equivalent of that MacBook Air is $200 less.  And, guess what?  You get the same one-year warranty.   But buying refurbished isn't always a great idea according to CNET, an electronics review site.  

Two big tech items, it says, that you shouldn't buy refurbed: hard drives and TVs.  Hard drives are they're hard to repair, and warranties for TVs are not long enough to make them a reliable protection plan.   

So whatever you're trying to get at a discounted price, here's a good rule of thumb: Make sure there is a warranty and that it's backed by a reputable company. Sakraida says if a third party is handling your repairs, you may have a hard time getting someone on the phone or a delay in getting it fixed.  She says dealing with the manufacturer generally means its easier to get repaired if something goes wrong.  

Ask around about other people's experiences with refurbished products.  Some people only by refurbished items, and they can provide insight into their experiences, where they've had luck, and where you should maybe just walk away.

More info: DealNews.com

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