A couple of readers have asked about refurbished tools. (Thank you all – great questions!)
In theory, refurbished tools are usually tools that have needed to be fixed, corrected, or otherwise refreshed to like-factory-new condition.
Let’s say you buy a new tool and the LED light housing was incorrectly installed. Or your new router has a defective speed controller. Or you use a new drill and the motor burns out in the first few hours of use.
What happens to the tools when you return them or send them back for warranty replacement?
*Shrug* I don’t know. But I have always assumed that refurbished tools were defective, broken, or damaged tools that were brought back to a fully operational condition.
In the screenshot of a Dewalt certified refurbished drill product listing, it says that the drill is tested and certified to look and work like new. They say that the refurbishing process involves testing, basic cleaning, inspection, and repackaging.
I received a refurbished computer monitor from Dell once. Mine had been acting up, and they sent me a refurbished model as a warranty replacement. The refurbished model had more issues than the one it was meant to return, and so I sent it back. It was also scratched up, dusty, dirty, and in depressing condition.
I believe that my father said something once, leading me to take an unfavorable view towards refurbished products by default. I did buy a used CD once. It was scratched up and skipped, and I had always wished I had bought a new copy of it.
Even when I had a much tighter budget for buying new tools, I never really found refurbished tools to be particularly appealing. With refurbished tools, product selection is limited. With some products, not necessarily tools, warranty periods are shortened on refurbished tools.
There are those who will say that refurbished tools can be better than those that only come off the factory assembly line, benefiting from additional inspections and individual attention.
But for me, the price point had never been attractive enough.
Dewalt’s DCD791B 20V Max bare tool brushless drill/driver is $112 new on Amazon, as of the time of this posting, or $88 refurbished by one seller, or $90 refurbished by another. There’s also a refurbished kit.
It looks like you get a roughly 20% price break if you buy this particular refurbished tool.
20% isn’t enough savings for me.
What if there are additional defects, worn parts, or other issues not covered by the original refurbishment process? What if the tool was abused, and a motor was replaced but the gearbox or bearings suffered hidden or less obvious damage?
I do like to save money though, and will sometimes buy blemished or factory seconds tools. I don’t like to see damage or noticeable imperfections on a new tool I bought at full price. But if there’s something where I can live with some cosmetic imperfections, and functionality and warranty coverage are not at all affected, I’ll consider it.
When buying a book, for example, there are times when a torn cover jacket is perfectly okay. Other times, it’s not.
The last time I bought some plywood at Home Depot, one of the sheets had a few unusable spots, due to surface damage. I only noticed it after it was cut down in-store. The Home Depot associate marked the sheets and told me to ask the cashier to apply a discount. At full price, I would have been annoyed at the material I would have had to cut around. But at a discount that more than covered the damaged or defective material, I was happy.
I might be happy to save 20% on a box of screws that was missing 5% to 10% of its contents. But not if we’re talking about a 100-count box of fasteners where I know I needed exactly 96 of them for a project.
With refurbished tools, there are too many unknowns for me. What was wrong with it? What was replaced? How long was the tool used for before it was refurbished? How was it used? Where was it used? In the sewer? Nuclear power plant?
For a one-time-use tool? Maybe. But a tool that will be a part of my projects and work hopefully for years to come?
I just don’t like the idea of refurbished tools. Or refurbished anything for that matter.
So when someone asks me if they should be a refurbished tool, I can only say that I wouldn’t, but it might be okay for them.
Have you purchased refurbished power tools before? Were your experiences good or bad?
If you haven’t yet, would you buy refurbished power tools?