Buying Electronics

Photo courtesy of Jim Walker.
Photo courtesy of Jim Walker.

New or refurbished? 

By Jim Walker 

We all love to own things that are brand, shiny new, and that goes doubly for electronics. Gently encouraging these out of their multiple layers of protective packaging brings forth a feeling like Christmas and Fourth of July fireworks combined, with the added belief that, at least in this purchase, you are, more or less, on the advanced edge of technology. You have faith that your device, be it smartphone, laptop, desktop or game console, is pristine and will operate perfectly – and all backed up by a warranty. 

So why would anyone buy electronics that are not brand, shiny new? 

They want to save money. 

In most cases (but not always), buying “refurbished” electronics can offer you significant savings compared to purchasing brand new. But you have to weigh the savings, the big pro, against a greater or lesser number of cons. 

Here we present the most important things to consider in the refurbished vs. new quandary, and include a few thoughts from Walmart Media Relations. Walmart sells both new and refurbished electronics. 

“Buying refurbished items allows our customers to upgrade their tech at affordable prices, while being assured what they’re purchasing looks and works like new,” said our Walmart spokesperson. 

What does “refurbished” mean? 

When a device is refurbished, or reconditioned, it means that formerly new device was returned to the retailer or manufacturer for reasons you don’t know. Maybe the previous owner merely opened the box and then changed his or her mind. Maybe that owner found a minor defect in the device, or maybe something not so minor. While those who sell refurbished products are not allowed to call them “new,” they can describe them as “like new,” “gently used,” “used” and so on. And while refurbishing might return the device to like-new condition, unless it comes with a warranty of some type, function is not guaranteed. The refurbisher might not test the device after repair. 

It’s hard to go wrong purchasing devices that were refurbished by the original manufacturer. They will have the right parts and know-how to get it to like-new condition. And this is where the term “factory-certified” comes in. On the other hand, third-party refurbishers might make the same high-quality repair for significantly less. 

“We work with third-party providers to offer certified refurbished electronics,” said our Walmart spokesperson. “The products go through numerous steps before being released for sale, so customers can enjoy the reassurance of getting a properly working item. They must receive a grade-A rating that includes having a nearly perfect appearance, so customers can be proud to own them.” 


As noted, purchasing refurbished doesn’t automatically guarantee savings. There might currently be special deals on new devices of that type that get you brand new for a refurbished price, or even less. Do your research. 


 When purchasing refurbished, you need to make sure that all important accessories, such as batteries, chargers, keyboards, cords, etc., come with it. If not, you’ll have to purchase them separately. 

“Our refurbished products also come with original accessories, so buyers don’t have to track down peripheral items to be able to use our them,” said Walmart. 


When the device was new, it most likely had a warranty. This might not carry over after it is refurbished, or the warranty might be significantly altered. Be sure you find out where you stand on warranty – exactly what is warranted and for how long. Without a worthy warranty, the money you saved buying refurbished might be wasted. 

“Our refurbished products come with a 90-day minimum warranty,” said Walmart. 

Return policy 

It is also very important to determine the refurbisher’s return policy. How long do you have to “test drive” the device and still return it for full refund? You’ll probably want two weeks to a month. If the refurbisher says the sale is “final,” you might be purchasing at a drastically reduced price, but you are also taking a huge chance. 

Whom to choose? 

Many electronics manufacturers refurbish their own products, as do major retailers and phone carriers. And there are also companies that only sell refurbished devices. It’s all in who you trust, cost vs. confidence. Research online. 

Our Walmart representative noted, “We want to give our customers options at Walmart, and offering new and refurbished electronics gives them the flexibility to purchase quality electronics no matter the price point.” 

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