Should You Buy Renewed Stuff on Amazon? – Technology

A colorful green banner with the Amazon Renewed logo.

Shoppers are often wary of “renewed” or “refurbished” products. They don’t want to end up with a hunk of junk, especially if it can’t be returned. But the Amazon Renewed program does a decent job 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” Even Mean?

The Amazon Renewed system is very straightforward. Sellers often end up with less-than-perfect products, including customer returns, used items, floor models, and items with damaged packaging. Such products aren’t “new,” so they’re marked “Renewed” and sold at a discount.

You’ll occasionally see an Amazon Renewed item pop up among normal listings. But they’re also organized on the Amazon Renewed landing page. When you want to find a discounted phone, leaf blower, blender, or whatever, you can find it in this Renewed system.

Now, as explained by Amazon customer service, all Renewed products are “professionally tested to work and look like new.” Suppliers must subject a “Renewed” item to diagnostic tests, a thorough cleaning, and if necessary, repairs. (Also, there should be zero cosmetic imperfects when holding a “Renewed” item a foot away from your face.)

It’s clear that Amazon isn’t trying to sell trashy stuff. The goal of Amazon Renewed is to sell items that work perfectly without any blatant cosmetic problems. That’s why you can’t see real-life photos of these “Renewed” products—they’re supposed to be perfect.

For the most part, Amazon Renewed is a great program that fulfills its goal. But Amazon isn’t the one handling all of this “professional testing,” cleaning, or refurbishing. Oftentimes, sellers are left to their own devices, and the quality of their work may be unpredictable (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 camera.
umarazak /

Every product sold through Amazon Renewed is backed by a 90-day guarantee. If you aren’t satisfied with the quality of a Renewed item, you can return it within 90 days of delivery for a full refund or replacement. This is a very solid policy, and it’s something that helps Amazon Renewed stand out from the competition.

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

But Renewed products rarely include the manufacturers’ original warranty. This usually isn’t a problem—if something is broken, you’ll figure it out pretty quickly. Still, there are some exceptions. Vacuums are prone to random problems, for example, but they often include a two-year guarantee when purchased new.

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

But Renewed Products Aren’t Always Perfect

A technician replacing an iPhone screen.
PK Studio /

Some Amazon Renewed products are returns, floor models, and items with damaged packaging. These products aren’t “used” or “refurbished,” but they can’t be sold as new items, so they come with a neat discount.

That said, a large number of Amazon Renewed items (especially phones) are repaired or refurbished. And because third-party sellers are allowed to handle these repairs without Amazon’s direct supervision, you might end up with something less-than-perfect. Scuffs and scratches, broken parts, and other problems aren’t unheard of when shopping Amazon Renewed.

Even if a product is properly repaired, it may still be flawed. Replacing a smartphone’s 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 of a gamble.

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

Should You Buy Renewed Products from Amazon?

A close-up of an Amazon package.
Claudio Divizia/

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 equipment, and other goods when shopping Renewed, and the 90-day guarantee ensures that you can return a product if it’s not what you expected.

But some Renewed products are a bit risky. Remember, third-party storefronts can refurbish or renew products without Amazon’s oversight. They may not do a good job replacing a laptop’s screen, for example, or they may utilize 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 it smart while shopping renewed, I suggest that you stick with simple products—internet routers, leaf blowers, hand mixers, and such. Unlike a smartphone or laptop, these items are fairly basic. Even if they’ve undergone repairs, there’s a much smaller chance that something will go wrong.

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

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