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Author Topic: Is buying a refurbished computer a good idea?  (Read 10294 times)
adjunctatlas
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« on: July 12, 2010, 5:05:51 PM »

My eMac died on me three weeks ago.  Luckily, I can use a machine here at school during the week to do my job search, check my mail, etc., but without a machine at home my world and its possibilities have been severely reduced. 

The Apple technician who told me the bad news about my own machine suggested that I buy a refurbished one--they seem amazingly "cheap."  But since no one guarantees the lifespan of the machines, are they a good idea?  I don't suppose there is any typical lifespan at all, but is there any possibility of spending $300 this week and finding myself with a dead machine in a month or even less? 

It seems that the logic board of my own machine needs replacement; it seems that I'd have to go to eBay to get a new one.  Is that a better idea?  Or are my risks even greater there?  I've never used eBay, and don't quite understand what makes it reasonable to believe sellers are honest--if I submit $350 to PayPal for a logic board, how do I know that the seller actually has what he says he has, or will send it, etc?

Thanks for any replies. 
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goldenapple
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« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2010, 5:09:23 PM »

You can buy refurbished hardware directly from the Apple Store, so that it comes with a warranty. It probably isn't as cheap as eBay, though.
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tinyzombie
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« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2010, 5:10:44 PM »

From the handy-dandy search function: http://chronicle.com/forums/index.php/topic,69597.0.html.

I've never had a problem with a refurbished Mac, myself.

TZ
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t_r_b
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« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2010, 5:11:11 PM »

I am typing this from my refurbished Dell laptop. I have no complaints. It was a great deal at the time.
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« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2010, 5:12:29 PM »

Tjis reforbushed Mic haz kno problims at al.

Well, apart from the keyboard.
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glowdart
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« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2010, 5:40:19 PM »

No one guarantees the lifespan of a brand-new machine either.  The refurbed macs come with the same warranty package as the new ones.
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colette_capricious
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« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2010, 6:00:24 PM »

I've gotten many electronics as refurbs. Think of it as buying a used car. I haven't had any problems that didn't show up within the usual refurb warranty, around 90 days from most places. 
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punchnpie
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« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2010, 6:12:12 PM »

Even the refurbished ones will have some kind of guaranty, like 30 days. Probably if something will go wrong, it will go wrong then.

I got a refurbished Dell laptop; it's been fine for almost 5 years now.
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larryc
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« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2010, 6:36:56 PM »

No Mac knowledge here, but I buy a lot of refurbished gizmos. Many turn out to be new--they selel excess inventory as refurb to ditch the warranty or something. I have been using a refurb $260 netbook as my primary computer for 8 or 9 months now.
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tolerantly
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« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2010, 6:42:00 PM »

Mac's the one machine I wouldn't buy without the extended (Applecare) warranty, since they seem to self-destruct at 2.75 years otherwise. Or sooner. And they're too expensive for self-destruction. If you're not set on the OS, I'd say you might as well head to Best Buy and find a MS cheapo.
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prof_smartypants
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« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2010, 7:14:12 PM »

I've been told by friends who work in the IT industry to ONLY buy refurbished computers.

Why?

Because with a refurbished machine, you're guaranteed that at least one person has gone over it fairly closely to ensure it works right.

No such guarantees with a new machine.

I got my macbook pro in December of 07, so according to Tolerantly's estimate, I should be needing a new one soon.
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glowdart
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« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2010, 7:20:46 PM »

Mac's the one machine I wouldn't buy without the extended (Applecare) warranty, since they seem to self-destruct at 2.75 years otherwise. Or sooner. And they're too expensive for self-destruction. If you're not set on the OS, I'd say you might as well head to Best Buy and find a MS cheapo.

What are you doing to those poor machines?  My Macs never self-destruct (ever, really).  The batteries go out after four years like clockwork in this house. 
« Last Edit: July 12, 2010, 7:23:29 PM by glowdart » Logged
monarda
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« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2010, 8:51:46 PM »

I bought my Macbook used from our university IT tech-store. The IT-tech staff had used it for a couple of months.  Was $600 something, instead of over $1000, and it had a warranty. I bet all kinds of showrooms and tech support places sell their gently used computers (while they are still quite new). Just something to keep in mind.

We buy all our stereo equipment refurbished and our power tools refurbished. Usually on eBay. eBay has all kinds of safeguards built in to make sure the buyer and seller are both protected.
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adjunctatlas
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« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2010, 1:46:14 PM »

I see most of the replies are positive, but today, when looking for the first time at the actual website, I discovered this: 

Quote
Buyer beware. By purchasing from the OCF, you are forfeiting any expectation of post-sale support from the OCF for any reason or circumstance. That is the tradeoff for the benefits of a discounted price and charitable action on your part. All machines are tested and sent in working order to the best of our knowledge. There is NO WARRANTY. There is NO AFTER SALE SUPPORT OR RESPONSIBILITY on behalf of the OCF. There is always a possibility that an OCF machine could fail immediately after it is received. If you are not accepting of and comfortable with this possibility (knowing your purchase went to a good cause - regardless) PLEASE DO NOT PURCHASE FROM THE OCF. WE WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR PRE-SALE OR POST-SALE ISSUES. All sales are final.

Should this scare me?  Especially the part about the possibility of the machine failing?  What the hell is a pre-sale "issue"?  Or is this what all of them always say, no matter who sells?
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kedves
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« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2010, 2:01:33 PM »

This is how I would interpret it:

[the] possibility of spending $300 this week and finding myself with a dead machine in a month or even less

I am facing the same question and don't have any advice. 

I had a Mac laptop for which I paid a lot of money to have the motherboard replaced by a Mac laptop expert company with good reviews--and paid extra for a long warranty.  But when it did not work a couple of months later and I sent it back as requested for a new inspection and repair, they claimed that I had spilt liquid on it and that this was outside the terms of the guarantee.  It had never been used anywhere near water, so I think this was their way of not honoring more expensive repairs.  That has made me wary.

I have found that my credit card has provided me with much better purchase protection than Ebay.  I had a dispute with a seller about an expensive purchase that arrived broken, went through the whole SquareTrade process, and nothing happened.  Once my credit-card bank was involved, I saw immediate action.  So I would consider method of purchase and purchase-protection when buying a computer, but purchase protection will be overridden by a disclaimer like the one you quoted.

However, I have never bought a "new to me" Mac or any other sort of computer refurbished.  I have gotten a lot of other things refurbished (from Amazon, not through an Amazon seller), including tools, but not a computer and nothing this expensive.  I think the place you are considering sounds very iffy, but I am not at all a risk-taker with money, and it depends on what you are comfortable with. 

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