When we say, “It Still Works,” we’re not just talking about the electronics that are a little past their age, or the ones that have been sold by gadgets with higher numbers at the end of their names. We’re also talking about contemporary electronics that, for whatever reason, have been returned and remodelled for resale – they (mostly) work just fine, too.
In reality, they’re “work” in quite a few ways. They work for the world by eliminating waste, and they work for your bank account by saving you large sums of money compared to brand new items. But just because everything is green and saves you some green doesn’t mean it’s absolutely rosy – before you plunge into the wonderful world of refurbishment, it’s worth understanding exactly what the perks are and what kind of purchases you’re looking for.
Save the Planet…
While most smartphones weigh between 125 and 165 grammes, the manufacturing process of these tiny dynasties has a major environmental effect. According to the Ethical Market Science Group, every phone emits about 16 kilogrammes of CO2 during processing – that’s as much atmospheric pollution as a kilogramme of beef. And as Chemical & Engineering News notes, only 17 of the 40 components used to make the typical mobile phone are recovered even though the phone goes through a highly advanced recycling facility. If you break out of the ultra-portable market, the situation is very shocking; UN University reports that a single desktop computer needs 48 pounds of chemicals, 529 pounds of fossil fuels, and 1.7 tonnes of water to be made.
So here’s the easy math: when you purchase a new mobile product, you’re buying all the environmental impact as well. If you buy a refurbishment instead the environmental effect of your purchase is practically zero in contrast.
…and Save Your Cash
As relevant as the environmental effect is, it can also be a difficult concept to imagine. However the impact of a transaction on your bank account is far more concrete.
Buying an iPhone 6s from Apple’s Certified Refurbished Program, for example, saves you 15 to 16 percent of the retail price of a new phone—about $80 to $120, depending on storage space and options. Similarly, Nintendo’s own online store offers a company-refurbished 2DS device for $60, compared to a $80 MSRP on a new console, saving 25 per cent.
When the prices of goods increase, so do the savings. For example, no one needs a long lens to see the $450 you save when purchasing a refurbished Nikon SLR camera for $2,300 instead of $2,750.
When the electronics manufacturer refurbishes the product, the unit is usually fully disassembled, thoroughly cleaned, repaired if necessary – a situation that interestingly only applies to about 5% of the refurbishment – and reassembled for resale, all subject to strict quality control requirements.
As a general rule of thumb, however such stringent requirements are much more likely to be complied with by suppliers than by retailers, which makes it wise to go through the company’s official refurbishment programme whenever possible.
When searching refurbished appliances sold in retail stores – both online and out in the real world – you’ll find more variables. Some products are rehabilitated by the original manufacturer, while others are sent to a third party. Again you are not guaranteed a lower price, as you are with the seller, so it always helps to do your homework in this situation. In particular, make sure that the manufacturer does not market an older model under the umbrella of a newer model, or that a brand-new version of the product is not available elsewhere at a reasonable price. As far as store efficiency is concerned, Customer Reviews recommends Amazon, Best Buy and GameStop.
Above all, look for a strong warranty when shopping is refurbished – the Apple and Nintendo products listed above, just to name two, each with a full year of manufacturer coverage. When the manufacturer is so confident in their refurbishment, that’s a pretty good indication that you should be confident, too – and that faith could just help you save the world and save some money next time you’re watching these new tech toys.