Online websites have made shopping really simple. Most online websites always have some or the other offers and promotions that make the whole exercise even more rewarding. Then, there are these unboxed/refurbished goods or factory seconds that offer huge cost savings. But, are they really worth your effort and money?
Intrigued by this question, I tried researching about a few things that I wanted to buy this Diwali and found out how the sale of unboxed gadgets works.
Before we get into the pros and cons of unboxed goods, we have to understand a few basics first.
What Are Unboxed/Refurbished goods or Factory Seconds?
It is wrong to put all of them in the same league as one product is vastly different from the other. There are three primary categories where we can place these products according to the way they are handled.
Unboxed Goods - Products that were sold off to a customer but the customer did not like it and asked for a reversal of payment for the same while returning the product in unused condition. The chances of the products being used is, usually, rare. However, there is a stringent check that is performed before labeling them as 'unboxed'.
Refurbished Goods - Here, things get a little more complicated. Refurbished goods are often referred to as "as good as new". But there's a silver lining. These goods include products that were delivered to a customer and due to reasons like dead on arrival, manufacturing defect, minor scratch marks and etc., they are collected from the buyer and returned back to the company or an authorized service center, who repair or replace parts of the products to make them functional again.
Factory Seconds - This is where things get really tricky. Factory seconds, as the name suggests, are goods that get damaged while leaving the manufacturing facility. However, the damage is minor and does not hamper the performance in any way. Such devices are not repaired or restored and are sold as seconds. But they are not second-hand goods as most of the people think.
Now that we have a basic understanding of what each and every term means, let's understand why such goods are sold in the market.
Why Do Companies Sell Such Goods?
Companies have dedicated production and assembly lines where hundreds and thousands of goods are produced each day. Each product goes through the scanner and, sometimes, critical flaws are not highlighted in these tests.
However, each legitimate product sold is covered under warranty and that is why a replacement is generally issued for smaller goods such as phones and electronic devices. This is partly because of the online shopping websites that offer an additional 15-day replacement over and above the warranty since the products sold here come directly from the company.
It's difficult for companies to discard faulty products, therefore, they try to repair them and then they put the goods in various categories based on their condition and the type of use these products have gone through. Once their issue is rectified, the goods are sold in their respective category.
What's in It for the Customer?
Let's take the example of the OnePlus 5. This phone offers a great mix of features and some heavy hardware specifications for its price and is pretty new in the market. The OnePlus 5 retails on Amazon for around Rs 32,999. If you look at the same smartphone on websites such as shopclues.com that deal in unboxed goods, you can buy it for Rs 29,599.
Now here's the debate — is the price really worth buying an unboxed phone?
The answer is yes. All these products undergo checks by the company and, after that, they are released for resale at an exciting price. So, basically, you get the same product at a lesser price.
If you are lucky, you can also get a brand new phone or gadget at the unboxed store, which would otherwise require you to wait for months after pre-booking.
Where's the Catch Then?
When we are talking about lesser-priced products, there's always a catch. And in this case, the catch is quite big. First of all, these products do not get shipped in completely sealed boxes as with brand new products. So, it's not a good idea for all the paranoid people to take this risk of getting an unsealed product.
Secondly, and the biggest downside is that the warranty of such products is also reduced by the company. So, in the case of the OnePlus 5, you will get a 6-month warranty as opposed to the regular one year.
In case of refurbished gadgets, the devices are shipped with all official accessories while the warranty term is generally kept between 1 to 3 months. While for the factory seconds, depending on the category, a full or partial warranty is offered by the company.
Low pricing, warranty, official accessories – all these may sound a little too hunky dory but, at the end of the day, you as a buyer have to be really alert while buying such products.
Here are some tips that you should follow:
Always make sure that the original packaging, in which the product is shipped, is not tampered with. Chances are that someone handling the package might get tempted to whack your dash charger and replace it with a cheaper one. If you see any traces of tampering, return the product and get another one.
Always test your device thoroughly in the first few days. This way, the flaws will get highlighted if there are any, and you can ask for a replacement right away. This is a very important step if you are buying factory second goods. Most online stores nowadays offer a 5 to 10-day return policy even on unboxed and refurbished gadgets. Make use of it.
Always be prompt in reporting any mishap. In most cases, nothing happens. However, if you are unfortunate enough to be duped, worry not. Most stores offer an empty box policy, which means that if your product or any accessory is missing unless it's specified in the buying description, you will get a full refund or a replacement.
Always be prompt in reporting any mishap.
In case of smartphones you can also perform device checks yourself. All you need is a free utility which is easily available on the application store.
Checking Android’s Hardware
If the phone your are buying is an Android, you can install the Phone Doctor Plus app to make the necessary hardware checks. The app tests for 30 hardware items and sensors, some of which include Multi-touch, Earphones & Microphone, Gyroscope, Proximity Sensor and Display.
Checking Hardware for iPhone
To check the hardware of an old iPhone, go ahead and install a free app call ReGlobe. This app is an online marketplace where you can sell your old smartphones. While selling on this platform is completely your choice, there’s an in-built tool that can help with all the necessary hardware checks.
In The End ...
Buying unboxed gadgets comes with its own pros and cons. While you definitely get gadgets or appliances for a cheaper price, there is a certain degree of alertness required from the buyers. If you are ready and willing for this, buying one such device this festive season might not be a bad idea after all.