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5 Things To Check Before Buying A Refurbished Laptop


Buying refurbished laptops has a lot of benefits over buying new ones. But it also requires you to carry out a few more checks before you buy.

For the past 13 years, we’ve refurbished thousands of laptops for the UK’s public and private sectors. Along the way, we’ve learned a lot about what makes a good refurbished laptop and what makes a bad one.

After reading this blog post, you’ll know five and a half key things to check before buying a refurbished laptop. We’re going to focus on:

  1. Warranty
  2. Return Policy
  3. Product Grading
  4. Refurbishment Process
  5. Cosmetic Improvements

Plus an extra bonus check for reading all the way down. Ready? Let’s get straight into it.

Pure IT’s Refurbished Laptop Checklist

1. Check The Warranty

Good warranty can be the difference between a bad purchase and a great one. Not all warranties are created equal, so it’s worth taking a moment to ask these questions:

– How long is the warranty?

1 year should be the absolute minimum. Top-end suppliers (like Pure IT!) can offer 5 Year and Lifetime cover.

– What does the warranty cover?

In an ideal world, your warranty would cover the laptop as a whole. Don’t forget to ask about the battery, as many poor quality warranties do not cover them.

– What type of warranty is it?

  • Return to Base (RTB) means you will need to send the item back (normally at your own expense) for repair. This may take days or even weeks to get repaired.  
  • Collection & Return (C&R) is similar to RTB, but the supplier covers the cost of collection and shipping both ways.
  • Advanced Replacement means a replacement unit will be sent to you and the faulty unit is collected. This should mean you’re not without a laptop in the mean time, but you will still need to clarify the timeframe it takes to get a replacement.
  • Next Business Day (NBD) gets you a replacement unit or an engineer sent to your site, the next business day.

So, as you can see, all warranties are not equal. But by asking those questions, you should be able to choose the best one for you. Now, let’s move on to the supplier’s return policy.

Check The Warranty

2. Check The Supplier’s Return Policy

Buying laptops online or over the phone is very convenient. But you don’t really know that a laptop model is right for you until you’ve tested it in real life*.

For this reason, you should only buy refurbished laptops from a supplier with a reasonable returns policy.

Make sure your laptops come with a no-quibble 14 day (preferably 30 day) return policy. So you can send your order back for a refund if you are not happy for whatever reason.

* Pure IT offer a free sample unit for all public and private sector organisations.

Please get in touch here for more information.

3. Check The Supplier’s Grading

This is one of the biggest areas where refurbished equipment varies from supplier to supplier, and it can be the difference between getting a great deal and feeling disappointed.

Ask the supplier if they have a formal grading description. Then ask what each condition Grade means, and if they have any pictures of the units. You can also see if they offer free samples to test out in your own environment. 

4. Check The Supplier’s Refurbishment Process

It’s important to ask what the supplier’s refurbishment process entails, as it can very a lot between suppliers. This might sound advanced, but there’s no need to worry. You just have to ask:

– What tests are performed to ensure functionality?

– Do they only use genuine parts?

Some lower quality suppliers will use cheaper “compatible” batteries and chargers, instead of manufacturer originals. This is a great way to suss out whether a refurbished supplier is high quality or not. If a supplier isn’t willing (and even enthusiastic!) to discuss their refurbishment process with you, we would tread very carefully.

Check The Supplier's Refurbishment Process

5. Check For Cosmetic Improvements

Earlier, we said that using cheap “compatible” batteries and chargers can warn you of a poor quality refurb. Another thing to look for are any cosmetic “improvements” made by the supplier. While these may look good in the short-term, they can leave you disappointed in the long run.

Here are two major areas to watch out for:

  • Painting – many refurb suppliers paint lids and palm rests of the laptop to cover up any scratches. We recommend not buying laptops which have been through this process. Why? Because the painting is never as durable as the original plastic/aluminium or metal finish to the laptop. This means it will scratch more easily and look very bad in a short space of time.
  • Skins – Instead of painting, some suppliers apply a vinyl “Skin” on laptop lids and palm rests. This won’t scratch as easily but the vinyl will start to peel up around the edges over time, especially in the education environment.

We recommend suppliers which either:

  • Don’t do any cosmetic enhancements, and just sell laptops based on their original condition grade
  • OR only use genuine parts to replace any scratched lids or palm rests

Another thing to keep in mind: If a laptop sports these cosmetic “improvements”, it is likely heavily used. Buying a heavily used laptop will generally result in more technical failures than sourcing a lightly used laptop. 

BONUS POINT: Ask About The Keyboards!

Many suppliers will source laptops from Europe and repaint the EU language keyboards to UK keyboards.

The problem with this is the same as the cosmetic painting we discussed earlier: The paint wears off over about 1 year with medium use and even faster with heavy use. At that point, the original language symbols start to come through, and it looks dreadful.

Make sure to ask your potential supplier about what keyboards they use. It can be a quick and easy way to gauge quality.

How To Buy The Right Refurbished Laptop

We hope this checklist helps you find a reliable and great value refurbished laptop.

Our main takeaways here are simple. Only buy from suppliers who offer great warranty, fair returns, transparent grading and who take pride in refurbishing laptops to a high standard.

Checking a potential supplier’s reviews on a website like Trustpilot can often be a good step. For example, we have over 560 reviews at the time of writing.

To help laptop buyers make sure they’re getting the right quality, we recently launched a 5 Point Laptop Guarantee around many of the points covered in this article.

Please get in touch today if you would like any guidance on buying the right laptops for your business, school or organisation. Don’t forget that businesses and public sector organisations can order a completely free sample laptop.

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About Pure IT Refurbished

If you are looking for IT hardware that looks and performs like new but at around 50% of the cost, Pure IT Refurbished can help.

Since 2007, we have been committed to sourcing the highest quality IT equipment. We always refurbish using original parts and rigorously test every product to create an experience that is as good as brand-new.

The result is guaranteed consistency and reliability across your IT hardware, whether you order 1 unit or 1000+. Our industry-leading warranties ensure that a replacement unit is guaranteed within 24 working hours, which we collect at no charge to you.