Reporting Kristine Johnson
NEW YORK (CBS 2) — There are a lot of ways to save on gifts this holiday season, from one day sales to double coupons. There are so many deals, in fact, that it can often be overwhelming.
If you take advantage of just one offer this season, consumer experts say, it should be to buy items labeled “refreshed” or “refurbished” – and save up to 50 percent or more.
CBS 2′s Kristine Johnson spotted two flat screen TVs that were exactly the same except for one thing – one was $30 cheaper.
“It still has the same return policy. It still has the manufacturer’s warranty in place,” one store worker said.
So why the difference in price? The cheaper set was refurbished, meaning it was repackaged and put back on the store’s shelf after being used slightly. Sometimes the items aren’t even used, but simply opened, examined and brought back.
“Returned, refurbished, remanufactured, open boxed – all kind of the same thing, so they’ve been owned, typically, by someone for a short time,” said Lance Ulanoff of PC Magazine.
Ulanoff said these days used does not necessarily mean abused. Just about every major retailer and manufacturer now sells refreshed or refurbished products that may have some damaged packaging, or have been used as floor models, but function the same as their brand new counterparts.
“Savings can be really significant – anywhere from $20 to hundreds of dollars, depending on what you get,” Ulanoff said.
On sites like refurb-depot.com, CBS 2 found items like a Cuisinart Coffee Maker for just $42.99 – it usually sells for about $100. A Sony e-book reader, which retails for about $300, was just $98.99.
“Movies, phones, TVs, digital cameras, printers – pretty much anything you buy, you can get refurbished,” Ulanoff said.
“It’s checked out by a squad agent; it’s functional, has no scratches or dents, we put it back and then see if we can sell it,” said Bryan Ledgister of Best Buy.
Best Buy has what they call an “open box program.” A product that has been opened for any reason, or discontinued by the manufacturer, is sold for at least 10 percent off.
“It gets discounted week by week if it seems to not be selling off the shelf,” Ledgister said.
Despite the savings, some shoppers are a little skeptical of giving a refreshed gift for the holidays.
“Not for gifts, though, I wouldn’t do that as a gift,” shopper Joe Vergolina said.
“I don’t think I would risk it, you know, to give as a gift,” shopper Michael Wilson added.
Ulanoff said that if you shop with a reputable retailer, though, there’s no risk involved.
“You actually get the same coverage that you would get with the new product,” Ulanoff said.
Most refreshed or refurbished items are sold with the same warranties and return policies as new products.
Experts did have one piece of advice, however, for consumers. Don’t buy a refurbished item on final sale – you want to be able to return it should something go wrong.
For more information on refurbished products, please click here.