When shopping for electronics and appliances, you can save 30 percent to 80 percent by purchasing refurbished products.
Robert Silva, a California-based electronics expert, recommends these tips for buying refurbished DVD players, televisions, computers and home entertainment systems, but they also apply to kitchen appliances.
• Know your terms. Refurbished goods include returned items, new merchandise in damaged boxes, floor models, repackaged overstock or clearance items. The category also includes items that have been slightly damaged during shipping and assembly line rejects that have been repaired. The condition of ''refurbished'' appliances greatly varies, depending on the store.
• Speak to the manager. The sales staff may not know details, but the manager or the store buyer may provide insight about a product's history, Silva said in a phone interview. He is the author of an electronics guide (hometheater.about.com) and the home theater expert for About.com, an affiliate service from the New York Times.
• Look for authorized sellers. They may offer attractive warranties or return policies for refurbished products. In contrast, dealers who are not authorized sellers may sell refurbished appliances on a no-warranty, no-return basis.
• Check the warranties. U.S. online buyers could inadvertently purchase refurbished merchandise with warranties that are worthless in this country. Silva recommends that online shoppers inquire about U.S. warranties (ask for 15 to 90 days).
• Ask about extended warranties. It doesn't matter if you plan to actually buy an extended warranty. Your goal is to find out if the store or manufacturer has enough confidence to offer an extended warranty for a rehabilitated product.
• Know your prices. Take note of the brand name and model number of the refurbished item. Go online and check out the price of a comparable model in mint condition.
This is from my latest column in the home & design section of the Miami Herald.
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