Buying Seller Refurbished Items on eBay

Engineer assembling laptop electronics

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Buying refurbished items can be a great way to get a brand name item at a much lower cost. Many large retailers like Best Buy and Walmart sell refurbished items, and consumers are happy to pay the discounted price for an item even if it isn't brand new.

The Apple Store actually sells refurbished items as a way to appeal to a different market segment who do not want to pay for or cannot afford a brand new computer. If the seller refurbished item is a popular name brand like Apple, buying refurbished is a great way to be able to afford the leading brand but without the high cost.

You can pick up these types of seller refurbished items on eBay, but you should definitely do your homework. Purchasing from a retail location such as an Apple store is very different from purchasing a computer or other electronic device on eBay, sight unseen. 

Even though you’re protected by eBay’s "Get the item you ordered or your money back" guarantee for up to 30 days and can file a dispute with PayPal up to 180 days after the purchase date, nobody wants to get stuck with a dud.

What Seller Refurbished Means on eBay

On eBay, when an item is sold as seller refurbished, it means that it isn't brand new. It could have been damaged somewhere along the way during manufacturing or shipping. Seller refurbished can also be when a seller may take a broken item, repairs it, and then sells it in good working condition. 

Seller refurbished electronics are comparable to the used car market. A dealer may buy a car with multiple problems, repair it, and resell it. There is nothing wrong with the final product; it just isn't brand new off the factory line. It may have some age on it, but it still works just fine. Another word for refurbished is reconditioned. 

Avoiding Scams on eBay When Purchasing Electronics

Unfortunately, eBay is known for scams. The best defense against a scam on eBay is a good offense. Make sure to take steps to protect yourself so that you are not a victim of a scam.

  • Check the seller's eBay account history: When was their account opened? Is it brand new? If so, do not buy from them. A good rule of thumb is that the seller needs to have been selling for at least a year. 
  • Check the seller's feedback: How many sales have they had, what kinds of items did they sell, what were the prices, and what are other buyers saying about them? Consider all of these factors when buying from a seller on eBay.
  • Check what kind of items the seller has for sale: Do they specialize in electronics or refurbished items? Or do they sell a mixture of all kinds of random items? It is best to choose a seller who specializes in refurbished items because they will be more knowledgeable and more experienced within their niche.
  • Check the seller's DSR rating: This is their Detailed Seller Rating and is a combination of several factors that indicate a seller's track record, such as shipping time, communication, shipping cost, and item as described.

The Benefits of Purchasing Refurbished Electronics

The refurbished product generally performs exactly the same as a brand new one, but it is sold at a lower price because it is refurbished. That's called factory refurbished. Refurbished electronics often come with a warranty, just like a brand new item. Warranties can range from one to three years. Warranties usually cover not only parts but labor and maintenance.

Updated by Suzanne Wells