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It's not second-hand, it's refurbished: Do make sure the product is genuine

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Instead of buying brand new products, and other than the option of renting goods, you can now go for pre-owned refurbished goods. Sale of refurbished goods, including gadgets, white goods, and furniture, has been gaining traction. Retail giant Walmart-owned e-tailer Flipkart also entered the segment recently. It has introduced a dedicated portal '2Gud' for refurbished goods.

According to industry experts, the urge to own high-quality products at affordable prices, and to meet short-term requirements for electronic goods and furniture is driving the demand for refurbished goods. Chanakya Gupta, business head, Flipkart, says: “The growth in this segment, where no one has actually tried to solve it at scale, could be a misnomer. This market has the potential to be worth more than $20 billion in the next five to six years.”

Other than Flipkart, Amazon has been a long-time player in this segment. Other companies such as Greendust, togofogo, Valuecart, and Gobol also deal with refurbished goods. Products such as gadgets (mobiles, laptops, cameras, tablets, TV, electronic items), gaming consoles, home and kitchen appliances, home furniture, even apparel and clothing are quite popular.

Authenticity of products

Experts say that the way refurbished goods were sold in the country so far, customers were at a disadvantage as they were not able to ascertain the right price for the product, and evaluation of quality was left to the buyer. Flipkart has standardised the grading process for classifying goods based on their quality.  Refurbished goods have been divided into five categories - ‘unboxed (like new)’, superb, very good, good, and okay. Depending on what state you want your product, you can choose from the different grades. “The biggest advantage of buying a refurbished product is to be able to enjoy it at a more affordable price. The only thing a buyer has to make peace with are a few cosmetic signs of usage, such as scratches on the product; these vary with grade,” adds Gupta.

The trick is to make sure the product is genuinely refurbished, not simply cleaned up, repackaged, and resold. This is where the role of return policies comes in. It might take a while to notice poor performance or defects in a refurbished product. Or else, even after buying an iPhone X for half the price, you will be stuck with just a demo version.

Make sure you're protected

Before buying a refurbished product, look into the seller’s warranty plan. Earlier, after-sales warranty were not a very common scenario in case something went wrong with the product. Now, most of these companies offer 3-12 months’ post-purchase warranty and also free return for up to 7-15 days. Flipkart’s 2Gud provides 10-day return policy across categories. Apart from online presence, companies like Greendust and Gobol also have physical stores in many cities.

Pricing of these products

The biggest advantage of buying refurbished products rather than new ones is the price. Depending on the type of product, model, and grade, the price of refurbished goods ranges between 40 per cent and 85 per cent of the new product price. For instance, the refurbished and ‘very good’ quality of Apple iPhone 6 Plus 16GB will cost you Rs 29,999 from 2GUD, while the new product will currently cost you Rs 36,000. The same certified furnished Apple iPhone 6 Plus 16GB from togofogo will cost you Rs 19,200.

Instead of a new one, you could always opt for these refurbished products to upgrade to a better brand or product without stretching your budget. Tech experts say, as long as you buy refurbished electronics from a reputable source, you can get a product that works just like new for a fraction of the cost. However, keep in mind not to fuss about minor signs of usage, while buying a refurbished product.