Refurbishment is the distribution of products (usually electronics) that have been previously returned to a manufacturer or vendor for various reasons. Refurbished products are normally tested for functionality and defects before they are sold, and thus are the approximate equivalent of certified pre-owned cars.
The main difference between "refurbished" and "used" products is that refurbished products have been tested and verified to function properly, and are thus free of defects, while "used" products may or may not be defective. Refurbished products may be unused customer returns that are essentially "new" items, or they may be defective products that were returned under warranty, and resold by the manufacturer after repairing the defects and ensuring proper function.
Other types of products that may be sold as "refurbished" include:
- Items used in field tests, sales displays or demonstrations
- Items returned for reasons other than defect and tested by the manufacturer
- Items returned to the manufacturer because the box was damaged in shipping
- Previously leased units that are turned in and resold after the lease ends
- Used electronics that have been turned in to an electronic recycling program
- Used items that have been donated to a charity or non-profit organization
Different companies and industries may have different types of "refurbished" products. Since the electronics industry doesn't have a firm, widely accepted definiton of "refurbished", its exact meaning may vary from one product to the next, or one company to the next. In various cases "refurbished" may be synonymous with "used", "reconditioned", "remanufactured", "recycled", "repaired", or "like new". Merchants do not often specify the exact reason an item is "refurbished", so buyers may be assuming some of the same risks of buying used equipment.