How Can You Buy Electricals Ethically?

We are thrilled to have a Guest Post today from Plunc – a company that refurbish electronics, with some really useful tips for saving money and buying refurbished instead of new:

5 Things to Look Out for When Buying Refurbished Tech

Electronics can be expensive. If you suffer from a tech addiction like myself, you would know that it can be pricey. You can reduce the cost of buying the latest gadgets by purchasing refurbished. A refurbished gadget is like new due to having parts replaced or fixed. As a result, you get a device which looks and runs like new, while saving a lot of money. I recently bought a refurbished iPad Pro, and it still had that new-device-scent. It was £150 cheaper than buying it brand new.

Saving money and getting what you want is exciting. However, there are certain things you should look out for.

1) Difference between used and refurbished

The word “refurbished” sounds posh, unlike ‘used’ which suggests that an item has been worn out. Therefore, people wrongfully interchange the two. For an item to be refurbished, it means that the seller has tried their best to bring it to “as new” condition. For instance, the iPad Pro I recently purchased, had the screen and casing changed. The seller also tested the battery life, because batteries deplete over time. Furthermore, they also deep cleaned the iPad because dust can affect performance. The end result was a device which appears to be brand new.

On the other hand, a used device is unlikely to go through any tests. You might receive a device running a weak battery and covered with scratches. Therefore, the next time a seller advertises a device as “refurbished” ask for what they have done to bring it to ‘as new’ condition. If they can’t tell you, it is worth spending a little bit more to buy a ‘certified refurbished’ device.

2) Manufacturer support and warranty

Some devices are too old for new software updates. Therefore, you might be locked out of new features. In some cases, your device will have weak security because it doesn’t have the latest security updates. Before you purchase a device, find out how long you can expect to get software updates. For instance, Apple provides software updates for approximately 5 years. Once you have the information for your chosen model, it is easier to make a purchase decision. For instance, you might decide to purchase a different device because it has better software support.

Despite your best efforts, things can go wrong. Some manufacturers have more extended warranties than others. And others are easier/cheaper to fix than others. For instance, I recently became interested in noise cancelling headphones. However, I found out that the batteries aren’t replaceable and are guaranteed to fail within 2 years of use. By the manufacturer’s own admission I would need to dispose of them in 2 years. Therefore, I would have basically rented headphones which cost £350. Consequently, I opted for a £100 pair which had easily replaceable batteries.

Carry out some research before purchasing a gadget.

3) Avoid scams

Tech is big business, and criminals are looking to cash in. If you buy your devices from private sellers, it is easy to get caught up. Here are the most common scams.

Fake device – Fake devices are common on Gumtree because it is effortless to register with false details. Fake gadgets are usually sold for much lower than the market rate. Unfortunately, criminals have gotten very good at making identical replicas of the latest devices. For instance, someone tried to sell me a new iPhone XS Max for £400, when I hesitated, they dropped the price to £300. At the time, the iPhone XS Max cost £949 new. Therefore, I was bewildered as to why they would sell it for so little. While testing it, I noticed that the screen had an air gap, and it wasn’t as fast. What sealed the deal for me was that the app store icon took me straight to the Google Play Store. If it feels too good to be true, walk away.

Stolen – Criminals attempt to sell stolen devices offline because it is more challenging to track them. For this reason, whenever I buy a device offline, I ask for proof of ID. If they hesitate or the ID doesn’t match their name, I abandon the transaction. You can use the IMEI number to find out whether a device is blacklisted or reported stolen. If it is found to be stolen, you have a name and address to refer the authorities to. By law, you are required to return stolen items to the original owner. Knowingly buying a stolen item could land you in legal trouble.

Item doesn’t match the description – Personally, I dislike liars. If a device has an issue, I want to know about it. Check an item thoroughly the moment it arrives. If you are buying offline, do some research on common issues with the device. That way you can check more thoroughly.

4) Selling to buy

I sell older devices to offset the cost of the latest and greatest. When a new model of a product line is released, there is a drop in price for previous versions. Therefore, I sell a few weeks before the newer version is released.

Deciding where to sell your device can be challenging. Popular options are eBay, Gumtree or Facebook marketplace. However, on eBay a buyer could claim that the item doesn’t work, open a dispute, and PayPal will usually side with them. From experience, people who buy through Facebook marketplace send low offers, don’t turn up, or demand delivery. In the last few years, hassle-free services such as Plunc have sprung up. You simply enter your item, get a price, send it in a postage free envelope, and get paid. The downside is that you will usually get a lower offer than through eBay.

5) Check the terms of sale

Some sellers of refurbished items don’t allow returns. Therefore, if the device arrives broken, that is just tough luck. Plus, some devices such as earphones can’t be returned for hygienic reasons. Notably, hard drives, memory cards and other data storage devices are best avoided on the refurbished market. This is because they degrade over time, thereby resulting in data write and read errors. If you must buy a refurbished data storage device, make sure you have a backup of it in the cloud. My friend didn’t and lost the album of a major label artist he was producing for.

Final thoughts

I hope this post on refurbished tech was insightful. I always buy refurbished because why pay more for the same device? As mentioned, some criminals will try to take advantage, but you are now armed with the strategies of detection. The key is to do your research and compare prices before parting with your cash.

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