Amazon

Buyers are often wary of “refurbished” or “refurbished” products. You don’t want to end up with a bunch of junk, especially if it can’t be returned. But the Amazon Renewed program does a decent job of addressing these concerns: It’s a quick and easy way to save money, and it’s backed by a 90-day guarantee.

What does “Amazon Renewed” mean?

The Amazon Renewed system is very simple. Sellers often end up with less than perfect products, including customer returns, used items, floor models, and items with damaged packaging. Such products are not “new”, so they are marked as “Refurbished” and are sold at a discount.

From time to time you will see an Amazon Renewed item appear among the normal listings. But they’re also organized on the Amazon Renewed landing page. When you want to find a discount phone, leaf blower, blender or whatever, you can find it in this revamped system.

Now, as Amazon customer service explains, all Renewed products are “professionally tested to work and look like new.” Suppliers must put a “Refurbished” item through diagnostic testing, a deep cleaning and, if necessary, repairs. (Also, there should be no cosmetic blemishes when holding a “Renewed” item a foot away from your face.)

It’s clear that Amazon isn’t trying to sell junk stuff. Amazon Renewed’s goal is to sell items that work perfectly with no obvious cosmetic issues. That’s why you can’t see real life photos of these “Refurbished” products – they’re supposed to be perfect.

For the most part, Amazon Renewed is a great program that gets the job done. But Amazon is not the one who takes care of all this “professional testing”, cleaning or restoration. Sellers are often left to their own devices and the quality of their work can be hit or miss (there are plenty of scammers, losers, and idiots selling stuff on Amazon). That’s why Amazon Renewed items come with a nice little guarantee.

Amazon Renewed products come with a warranty

A very broken room.
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Every product sold through Amazon Renewed is backed by a 90-day warranty. If you are not satisfied with the quality of a refurbished item, you may return it within 90 days of delivery for a full refund or replacement. This is a very strong policy, and it’s something that helps Amazon Renewed stand out from the competition.

Interestingly, all devices made by Amazon (Fire tablets, Kindle, Echo speakers, etc.) get a one-year warranty through the Renewed program. This is the same guarantee you get when you buy these items new.

But Renewed products rarely come with the original manufacturer’s warranty. Usually this isn’t a problem – if something breaks you’ll fix it pretty quickly. Still, there are some exceptions. Vacuum cleaners are prone to random problems, for example, but often come with a two-year warranty when purchased new.

If a long warranty is important to you, do some research. You may find that it is better to buy a new product. That said, Amazon Renewed’s 90-day guarantee is pretty generous.

But refurbished products aren’t always perfect.

A technician replacing the screen of an iPhone.
PK Studio / Shutterstock.com

Some Amazon Renewed products are returns, floor models, and items with damaged packaging. These products are not “used” or “refurbished” but cannot be sold as new items so they come at a deep discount.

That said, a lot of Amazon Renewed items (especially phones) get repaired or refurbished. And because third-party sellers can handle these repairs without Amazon’s direct oversight, you may end up with something less than perfect. Scrapes and scratches, broken parts, and other issues are not unheard of when shopping for Amazon Renewed.

Even if a product is repaired correctly, it can still have faults. Replacing a smartphone screen will reduce its resistance to dust and water, for example. Sellers may also complete a repair using “third party components,” which are not made by the phone’s original manufacturer; it’s a bit risky.

Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t specify how an individual product is “renewed.” If you buy an Amazon Renewed smartphone, for example, there’s no way to tell if it’s a floor model, a returned item, or a used device that’s received a screen replacement.

Should you buy refurbished products from Amazon?

A close up of an Amazon package.
Claudio Divizia/Shutterstock.com

For the most part, buying Renewed products on Amazon is a safe bet. You can save a ton of money on phones, computers, small appliances, lawn and garden equipment and other goods when you buy Renewed, and the 90-day guarantee ensures you can return a product if it’s not what you expected.

But some Renewed products are a bit risky. Remember, third-party stores can restore or renew products without Amazon’s oversight. They may not do a good job replacing a laptop screen, for example, or use off-brand components when repairing a smartphone. (That said, a good chunk of Amazon Renewed items are returns, floor models, or products with damaged packaging.)

If you want to play smart while shopping for refurbished, I suggest sticking with simple products: internet routers, leaf blowers, hand blenders, and the like. Unlike a smartphone or laptop, these items are pretty basic. Even if they have undergone repairs, there is a much lower chance that something will go wrong.

Oh, you should also avoid Amazon Renewed headphones. There’s a good chance you’ll end up with something that’s been on someone’s ears, which is disgusting.