Archived from groups: alt.sys.pc-clone.dell (More info?)
June 30, 2005
A Used Printer? No, It's a Refurb
By MARCIA BIEDERMAN
If renovated movie palaces are considered cool these days, why not a
factory-reconditioned home theater?
A refurbished Pioneer 50-inch plasma television with some previous
history fetched $3,300 on eBay over Memorial Day weekend, after an
auction that opened with a 99-cent bid. Even Pioneer Electronics, which
arranged the auction as an experiment, wondered if the frenzied bidding
that quadrupled the price in the last hours was just holiday madness,
said Russ Johnston, senior vice president for marketing in Pioneer's
home entertainment division.
"We're in a test mode," Mr. Johnston said.
Pioneer asked ChannelAdvisor, the intermediary that operates the Pioneer
store on eBay, to repeat the experiment. Three days into another recent
seven-day auction, bids for a reconditioned high-definition 50-inch
plasma TV had topped $2,000.
Once hidden in the back of electronics stores, "refurbs," as refurbished
products are sometimes called, are everywhere on the Web. Eager to
recoup their losses on returned goods, manufacturers like Dell, Apple,
Hewlett-Packard and Kodak sell refurbs on sections of their Web sites or
through online factory outlets.
And refurbs are proliferating on eBay.
"Laptops are probably the king of them," said Karl Wiley, the company's
director of computers and consumer electronics, followed by audio
receivers, laser printers, car electronics and MP3 players. Most sellers
of refurbs on eBay are independent dealers, but big names like the
Sharper Image and Harman Kardon also offer them at their eBay stores,
either through auctions or at a "buy it now" fixed price.
Because sellers use various terms, like "factory reconditioned" or
"remanufactured," to describe such goods, Mr. Wiley recommends searching
for a product by price. Refurbs typically fall in a price tier just
below those described as new.
The Pioneer auction may also be the ultimate test for retreads. Some
consumers are willing to risk thousands on a reconditioned TV, which,
for repairs not covered by the 90-day warranty for labor, cannot simply
be boxed and mailed back.
The core refurb customer is someone who wants plasma living on a
cathode-ray-tube budget. "They're people who have a price they can't
exceed," said Liem Nguyen, a spokesman for Dell. Earlier this week, the
Dell Outlet Web site offered a reconditioned Dell 1700n laser printer
for $124, compared with the $299 Dell price for a new one for home use.
Many consumers remain wary of refurbs, despite manufacturers' assurances
that they have been carefully repaired and rigorously tested, or better
yet, that they are "open box" items, returned by people who unsealed the
package but never used the product. In offering refurbs to resellers,
manufacturers typically describe them as "NTF," for no trouble found,
and "B stock," for those requiring repair.
There are no federal laws about the labeling of refurbished electronic
goods other than general rules prohibiting false or deceptive claims,
said Janice Podoll Frankle, a lawyer for the Bureau of Consumer
Protection in the Federal Trade Commission.
Internet chat boards abound with complaints about refurbs, but,
according to Randy Guttery of Meridian, Miss., this is "whining by
people who haven't done their homework." Mr. Guttery said he was
satisfied with the refurbished computers he bought from Hewlett-Packard
and Dell. For the software company he owns with his wife, he has bought
a number of heavy-duty Epson printers from an online reseller, the
RefurbDepot (www.refurbdepot.com), at a savings of about $1,000 each on
items typically costing $2,500 and he has encouraged others to do the same.
Mr. Guttery advises checking the manufacturer's warranty for
reconditioned items in advance, even when buying through a reseller. A
reseller "is nothing but an agent," said Mr. Guttery, adding that he
once received a defective printer from RefurbDepot, but that Epson
resolved the problem.
Judy Silver, a supervisor for RefurbDepot, confirmed that the
responsibility for the goods lies with the manufacturers.
"The company takes it through a special examination," Ms. Silver said.
"Most of it comes to us in a package. We are just resellers." She said
her company refers customer complaints to the manufacturer, applying its
30-day return policy at its discretion if a manufacturer fails to
resolve a problem. The policy is described on the section of the
RefurbDepot site detailing terms and conditions.
A number of manufacturers, including Olympus and Pioneer, make their
warranties for reconditioned products available on the Web. In many
cases, the warranty applies only to goods sold through authorized
resellers. Refurb customers can often buy extended warranties.
Consumers who swear they would never buy a refurb may already own one.
Warranties on consumer electronics often allow companies to replace a
product with a comparable one - often a refurb - rather than repair it.
This is true whether the item has been purchased new or refurbished.
Cellphone insurance policies typically contain similar language.
"People should understand this is part of the program," said Michael
Powers, vice president for product marketing at Asurion, a leading
cellphone insurer. Mr. Powers estimated that nearly half the cellphone
replacements provided by Asurion, which provides insurance for many of
the leading wireless companies, are refurbs.
Apple Computer's battery replacement program for out-of-warranty iPods
costs $99 plus shipping charges and replaces the iPod along with the
battery, as described at www.apple.com. Critics have asserted that the
replacement iPods are refurbs. Apple declined to comment.
Loved or spurned, refurbishment is proliferating and becoming more
automated. Asurion's refurbishing plant in Smyrna, Tenn., puts
cellphones through a reskinning process that gives them new plastic
coats and a new screen. And at Costco Wholesale's Electronic Hardware
Services plant in Auburn, Wash., carts of computers roll past stations
that wipe their hard drives and reimage them, often 20 at a time. Costco
offers the refurbished products at its online store, www.costco.com, but
sells most to dealers, said Mike Parrott, vice president for corporate
purchasing and strategic businesses.
"There are environmental advantages" to Asurion's replacement practices,
Mr. Powers said. But environmental laws do not always afford special
consideration to refurbs. Under the Electronic Waste Recycling Act in
California, consumers who buy refurbished computers and televisions must
pay a fee to cover the state's cost of electronic waste management, just
as purchasers of new products do.
Archived from groups: alt.sys.pc-clone.dell (More info?)
Tom Scales wrote:
> "Sparky Spartacus" <Sparky@universalexports.org> wrote in message
>>June 30, 2005
>>A Used Printer? No, It's a Refurb
>>By MARCIA BIEDERMAN
> Guess my outlet refurb Inspiron 9300 was an ok purchase.
> Channelvision is also the vendor Dell uses to sell refurbs on ebay.
> I buy pretty much all my Dells as refurbs.
My last 2 Dells were refurbs, a Dim 4550 mini tower and a Dim 8400 mini
tower. Also picked up a refurb Ultrasharp 1704FPVs monitor, $229, as a
backup to my Ultrasharp 1905FP - both are very nice. I'll certainly go
to Dell's refurb site again.