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?
Around a year ago I picked up a “factory reconditioned” Milwaukee M12 fuel hammer drill/impact driver combo for $109 (Normal reconditioned price is $160). Came with a charger and 2 batteries: 4ah, and 2ah. I use this kit more often than I use my M18 hammer drill or impact driver and it has been great. I would absolutely do this again. I probably wouldn’t have either M12 drill if it wasn’t for this deal.
On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t have bought reconditioned or refurbished M18 items since these are what I consider my “main” tools for big projects where I need the power and want the reliability/warranty of a brand new item.
The only item I’ve ever bought certified refurbished was Bosch 18v Radio PB360C form CPO. When received there was sticker indicating certified refurbished by bosch. I couldn’t tell it was ever used and I’ve had it over year and half now and still works flawlessly. Normal price is around 199 so I saved about 35%. My experience has been good. It might depend on what you are buying refurbished. I would give it another try for the right percentage off.
If you watch AvE tool tear-down videos on YouTube, he talks about the common weak points in tools.. its usually that manufacturers use cheap triggers. The motors and gearboxes will be built to last a lifetime, while the trigger is a 50 cent sloppy component that will likely fail within a year or two of use. I bet a lot of these tool refurbishing companies buy broken tools, throw a new trigger in them, and sell them as refurbished products. And from my standpoint those tools are likely just as good as when they left the factory.
Jason A bilger
Unless it’s a 18v dewalt hammerdrill with a variable trigger, they’re $65 for that trigger vs 15 for a regular one
Would that be similar to saying “would you buy a used tool?” Yep sure would, and i sure have. BUT it has to be a good deal.
I like refurbs if they come direct from OEM, have 20%+ discount, and full warranty. Have bought computers, tools, audio, cameras, etc with fine luck overall.
Generally avoid amazon and other such intermediaries on refurbs and go straight to manufacturer website.
I bought many refurbished tools from Amazon, never received a dud.
I bought a Dremel oscillating tool from Amazon refurbished and it failed in 2 weeks..that’s the first and last refurbished I’ll ever buy ..
Bcareful of Amazon and eBay.. because drop shippers screw up everything.. like warranties and charge you more…
In 2015 I took a chance and bought a refurb Makita XFD01Z from Amazon. It retails today for $94 but I only paid $37.
It isn’t my main cordless drill but I wanted another non-hammer drill for dedicated jobs like pilot holes or chamfering/countersinking. The chuck isn’t dead on straight so I can’t use it for accurate drilling but it doesn’t matter as it performs pretty well.
I’ve bought other refurb hand tools (like the 2nds from Lee Valley) but I won’t buy refurb electronics.
My main concern is the battery.
Do reconditioned tools come with a new battery, or is that used too?
That would be the deciding factor for me.
Too many of my tools are collecting dust because the battery died and the cost of a new tool was almost the same as a new battery.
I haven’t bought a refurbished tool in years. Many years ago we had a relationship with both a Skil and a Porter Cable company service center. The Skil center was in (of all places) Manhattan NY, and the Porter Cable center along the LIE in Queens NY. We bought our fist PC Lock Mortising machine at the PC service center. That was an age when you paid list price or close to it for most oddball power tools – or you got a rebate back from your industrial distributor based on the annual volume of purchase. We had an upcoming job on the horizon that was large enough not to sub it out to a locksmith or cobble together a jig. The mortising machine with cutters etc. was selling for around $1000 – and they had one at the Service Center for something like $750. I spoke to the technician we knew at the place. He told me that it was returned as defective – but that he could find nothing wrong with it. He assumed that it had been used for one or two mortises then returned. We bought it, and its still working well – now probably close to 35 or 40 years on.
But one good experience had not compelled me to buy lots of refurbished tools. Over time competition, production moves to Asia, and the Internet have all pushed the price of new tools dramatically downward. This is especially true if you look at costs after applying something like the GNP deflator to compare them in today’s dollars. While I have no statistically valid data, the lack of QA/QC at some production facilities may have pushed the number of early failures (bathtub curve) of power tools up. This may account for some of the wild variability in reviews that we see on Amazon – where both 1 star and 5 star ratings coexist in large numbers – perhaps suggesting that some batches of the same tool were lemons. Buying a refurbished tool on the Internet – is also a lot more impersonal that my face to face experience at a Porter Cable service center with a technician with whom I had a relationship.
Overall I agree with Stuart, that in today’s marketplace the discounts that seem to be offered on refurbished tools – are not compelling for me – but then again I’ve never bought a used car – and many find that proposition attractive.
Agree on all of it. Especially the used car part. Though I did buy a ‘56 Continental Mk. ll once. 90K third owner car. Black with salmon and turquoise leather interior.
My first car was used -a family hand-me-down. A ’55 Chevy Bel-Air – turquoise and white – with 2 speed powerglide automatic. My sister got the ’57 Chevy – salmony pink and black
A ‘57 Chevy was a real cool car.
Old as dirt
I purchased a refurbished Porter Cable random orbit sander. It works great no problems. I also purchased a refurbished Milwaukee impact drill again no problems. If you have problems I think it has to do with who refurbished the tool.
I’m willing to buy refurbished anything. Often when googling for a product I throw refurb into the search to see if I can get a deal.
I buy a lot of them and only from the manufacturer. I have never been burned and I suspect many of them are open-box returns.
Twice I’ve sprung for “refurb” tools. Once some of the then just released in the US brushless 18v Bosch drill/drivers. They were obviously re-cleaned but they’ve held up perfectly in the hands of less then careful coworkers for years.
And the other day CPO had the very latest 18v Bosch ergonomic reciprocating saw for $150 off normal pricing. It arrived and was obviously effectively brand new and marked as a salesman’s sample. I was expecting less. And received way more! Now I don’t need my corded (and totally bulletproof) Milwaukee Sawzall…
Though I’m not inclined to trust my luck to hold out again. But these two deals were both for the very newest Bosch products. Hmmm.
I bought a refurbished a Dewalt tablesaw once from CPO outlets and the damn thing looked like it had been beat up on a construction site and then put in a box and sent to me. The fence was horribly bent and it rattled like plate compactor. Never again. If I’m going to buy used I’d rather buy in person because at least I can see what I’m buying before hand.
I have a refurbished Dewalt drill which has worked fine. Would buy again.
Is there a difference between authorized online retailers – i.e. CPO.com and some of the smaller shops? Where are they getting their product and who is doing the refurbishing?
Whenever I buy a tool I always check CPO sites and I am rarely impressed enough to pull the trigger. Sure, there is on oddball great deal on an oddball tool, but the common items are only discounted 10-15%, maybe 20%.
Not enough savings for me to account for the unknowns. If I had to pick a number, I’d need to see 25% or more savings vs. retail to even consider it. I can wait for a retailer to issue a 15% off coupon or something like that, which come around often enough.
I had a refurbished Hilti demo hammer I bought used in ’98…it needed new brushes about 5 years in…finally died last year…was about 50 or 60 percent cheaper than new.
I also bought a refurbished Husky chainsaw from Northern Tool…works great…about 40% off new…
My threshold is the percentage…40 percent maybe…50 sure…
Doug in Post Falls
I bought the Ridgid x4 kit (Home Depot Retail $499, on sale $399, liquidation $299) from Gardner for $344 refurbished six years ago. All of the tools still function to this day. I use them in a homeowner capacity. I did have to buy a replacement charger in year two.
Without factoring in the replacement charger:
31% savings full retail
13% savings from regular sale price
-15% savings from liquidation price
Should the charger count? Would it have gone bad had I bought new? Maybe… Maybe not. Hard telling with a sample size of one. I think probably not, but lets say it did.
21% savings full retail
-2% savings from regular sale price
-31% savings from liquidation price
13% definitely wouldn’t be enough of a savings for me to pull the trigger for power tools I don’t think. I wanted a kit right then and Father’s day had just came and went, so the kit was full retail. I tell myself all day long I saved 31% but I probably really only saved 13%.
I buy a tremendous amount of computer kit off of the Dell Outlet and the savings there plus coupon codes generally hover around 20-25% off and I’m very happy with the results.
A power tool kit and a notebook are roughly the same price. 20% makes me a happy clam, but the new on sale price of 13% savings just wouldn’t be enough for me to want to do it again.
This is a great example of how refurbished pricing is sort of BS. I agree that 31% looks great, but only when considered in the context of full-blown MSRP.
That’s the problem with CPO.com and others, they mark something as 20% off, but their base price is already 10% higher than Home Depot, Lowes, etc., so the savings are marginal.
Yeah, you simply cannot go with msrp on anything. I use nextag to grab street prices for items I’m unfamiliar with and decide what’s a real deal from there. Camel camel camel is a good tool to use when sorting out price history and sale frequency.
I’m ok with buying a refurb in some cases, and I’ll buy used in some cases as well. It really depends on the condition, warranty, price, and my trust in the brand. I even once bought a used refurb item from a Craigslist listing. I have not been burned yet. However, for big ticket items or high use items, I’d be far more cautious. I don’t have any hard and fast rules one way or the other, I just evaluate each purchase on its own and when possible wait for a deal or a sale.
I buy them on occasions but it comes down to a few things. Maker – seller – deal price.
I would only buy a top tier quality power tool refurb, from a seller that is known and has a good return policy – and the price has to be more than 20% off.
Example I bought my Dewalt 7491 table saw refurb – from CPO. It was on sale as a refurb – their return policy is good and the price was over 470 delivered when the closest I could get locally was 621 after tax. Because only one place had that model and I didn’t want the rolling stand model – which was even more. While still having 1 year of factory warranty. I don’t use it often but I was going to work it out well that first use. It’s been great.
Always however inspect your item when you get it – this is just as true for your new in box product. My table saw needed to be setup – using the manual (see stuart) and a square or 2 and a machinist scale (because I had one) I had it setup square and true in about 35 minutes. That included setting the fence such that the dial a measurement was dead on. I would have done the exact same with the new in box saw.
I’ve sold a lot of refurbished tools and electronics. I buy them for personal use as well. I can’t remember a time when they have been distinguishable from new in use, durability of appearance. I suspect they often are new and allow manufacturers to sell extra stock at reduced prices in alternate channels. I can’t imagine any other way the volumes I’ve had access to would ever become available, in refurbished, but brown box, “as new” condition.
I suspect when people are getting beat up, obviously used tools, they are coming from less scrupulous sellers, who may more accurately be repairing used tools themselves.
I’ve have no complaints with the refurb. tools I’ve bought from CPO. They looked like brand new incl. the cases and have performed like new also. I will continue to buy this way until they give me a reason not to. I save a lot. For me it is a win win.
I’d never buy anything but new, except..classic cars, coins, or old Wilton vises….guys that are buying these refurbs are not in the trades daily….plus only a 90 day warranty….crazy
not all refurbished items only have a 90 day warranty – also when I worked in the hanagar I didn’t have time to deal with warranty issue so if something broke I more often than not had bought a replacement that day. Sure I sent the other item back when it broke but I can’t wait on that hassle. SO I don’t put must stock in factory new warranties on power tools – or even hand tools for that matter.
Then there’s Direct Tool Outlet — a TTI-owned (I think … at least, operated) outfit that sets up shop at various outlet malls. I’ve been thrown out of (and, I think, banned) from the one near me for telling a customer the table saw he was planning to buy is actually $200 CHEAPER, brand new and with a full warranty at Home Depot.
I have no issue with refurb tools if they’re for specialty/one-time/non-precision use. I bought a Ryobi belt sander at direct tool for $18 (used it twice) and a couple of other items but quite frankly, i don’t trust that store any further than I can throw it (and with my bad back, Ed, I shouldn’t be throwing anybody…..)
That said, I’ve had good luck with CPO in the past. In fact, I’ve got a number of items in my shopping cart that I’ll need to rebuild my inherited hoarder’s nest and since the budget is tight, I need to save where I can.
That includes building materials, by the way. Stuart mentioned my beloved “Purple Rack” at Home Depot. I’ve currently got seven sheets of 3/4″ plywood in the garage that I’ve accumulated over the winter … all of which will turn into new kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanity. Not to mention the 63 treated 2x4s I’ve amassed with the hope of actually building a proper fence this summer.
The point of this rambling diatribe: like with Harbor Freight, there is a time and place for refurbs. I can’t justify buying the M18 — or even the Ryobi — SDS/Rotary Hammer only to put about 30 anchor holes into a retaining wall. I could rent one from HD but for approximately the same price … I could grab a refurb from DTFO. One and done but if I ever do need it again, I’ve got it.
Speaking of, I need to see if those clowns have any cordless routers or sanders in stock so I can finish a few projects.
I have bought many refurbished tools in the past, always from CPO. The only one I got burned on was a Porter Cable kit. The reciprocating saw gearbox literally flapped inside the tool. It worked, but that was no good deal. It was an actual factory refurbished product from SBD. Since then, I bought an M12 hackzall from CPO, and it’s fine. Overall, I’ve had good luck. Anytime CPO sells a refurbished kit to me, it’s in a factory box. I imagine they aquire their product directly from the OEM.
I’d probably say no to a refurbished Milwaukee Tool Snake or a Ryobi Drain Auger though 😉
Picked up a Bosch MRC23EVSK plunge router on Amazon for $97 one time. (normally around $250). It had been returned due to a misinstalled base plate, and the first owner couldn’t cut circles properly with it. The packaging looked like it had crossed Africa several times in a donkey cart, but once I got the base plate installed properly, it was like new… except for some minor one time use scratches. All the wrenches and manuals were with it.
The definition of a refurbished tool to me is; An item that is “used” and has been returned due to customer dissatisfaction. This could have been due to an actual problem or even buyer’s remorse. Purchasing one of these items is pot luck, and you may or may not end up with a serviceable tool. Not all defects will show up in the testing process, as just like a software bug, the issue that caused the return might have been random.
There are too many variables and my personal experience says no to refurbished, and the 20% off price point is just not enough to begin to attract my attention. My brother was into refurbished for a short while and everything he purchased in that category failed in short order for one reason or another… It just reinforced my opinion that it is not worth the risk for anything that might be mission critical.
Buying used equipment can be necessary during a start-up phase, and there is always an expected increase in maintenance/repair costs over purchasing new in the short term. It’s a gamble, but normally the initial cost for used will offset any issues encountered. Refurbished is a gamble on those issues, and just not worth it in my book.
Couldn’t justify the Fuel version of the M12 rotary hammer but got a great deal on a refurbished one and it has been just fine. Similar story with the m12 Fuel circular saw i believe, the savings wasn’t as good but it was from a more easily returnable vendor so it seemed to be worth it.
My monitor was factory refurbished and is great.
I also just bought six pairs of nice pants (2 of them brand new with tags) from Goodwill for $27 and a used $350 pair of good quality shoes for $40 on Ebay.
I’ve got no problem with used or refurbished items if they started out as quality product and i can examine them first and/or there is a good return policy. I actually prefer to buy used top quality than new mediocre quality (which most things are these days, especially clothing).
And don’t even get me started on how many used MyTouch 4G Slide phones i went through before i finally had to abandon hardware keyboards for the dark side.
I have no issue buying refurbished electronics because when they first come out, sometimes there are bugs that need to be fixed. That just tells me that what is likely to go wrong, has. I would feel the same way about tools. My main concern in this decision is what type of backing is the company offering. If they “go cheap” on the warranty and you have to get some type of extended warranty, then there isn’t really any savings.
I have purchased refurbs when they make sense to me. A Bosch 1716 router is basically bulletproof, and saving a large chunk of money on a refurbed kit with a warranty made a lot of sense. The same goes for things like Festool’s refurbished site – if I can buy slightly used and save hundreds of dollars without hunting forever on the used market, that makes it a lot more compelling.
For me, a lot of it comes down to the warranty length versus cost tradeoff. If it’s something I envision using the warranty on, and the refurb warranty is a lot shorter, I’ll buy new. If it’s unlikely I’ll use the warranty, or I’m pretty confident in my ability to repair the common wear or breakage items, then I’ll happily save the money for another tool. As an IT geek by trade, I use the same rule with Apple devices – Apple refurbs carry a 1 year warranty and can have the sam extended warranty added as new devices, so there is no reason not to buy a refurbished Apple device at a lower cost with the same support!
I bought a refurbished worm drive skilsaw a few years ago. Aside from some scratches to the plastic mold, it has performed flawlessly.
There seems to be a side channel where some of these tools get out in the wild.
it seems some retailers take there returned goods (may be defective, or just
returned) and don’t bother to return them for credit from manufacturer. they
then sell them by the pallet load to people who “remarket” them in various
forms. It kind of pot luck because some of these tools are 100% good, and some
are obviously used and abused. there are many sellers of stuff like this. One is
Karens barn on eBay. sometimes they will be complete, or be missing components
even if its listed as a “kit”. There are deals to be had, but you have to pay close attention and ask questions before you hit the buy button. Many times they
will be tested working, but sold as-is. There is also a rash of fraud tool sellers
on eBay now. especially dewalt. avoid any new sellers with no feedback that list
tools with stock images, out of the country user profiles, and list it shipping from the US.
I put refurbished tool in the same class as used tool. Which mean I am not oppose to buying them but it better be a really good deal. 20% off retail is not a good deal IMO. Typically I don’t bother unless it’s at least %50 off. Of course there are some exception but those are far and few in between.
I got burned last December by CPO, I had bought a refurbished Milwaukee Bluetooth speaker. I thought I was doing good by saving $30, but I was wrong. My experience in this past with refurbished stuff was that you couldn’t even tell the item I’d bought had been used. This was not the case with CPO, the speaker came poorly packaged (not in a Milwaukee box either) and with no charger that clearly said it was supposed to come with. The speaker itself looked like it had been used on the job site for 6 months. The worst part is that the speaker didn’t even work correctly. Made me very angry because it was supposed to be a birthday gift for my dad. I ended up buying a used one of eBay for $10 more and even came with an m12 battery.
All but 4 (Hitachi miter, and three pneumatic nailers) of my work tools are refurb (Dewalt will melt an R in some). I found that the refurb tool(drill/driver) minus battery (saw, multitool, jigsaw, impact driver, framing nailer) and then a new tool with same volt packs and charger was a savings over all with batteries. I only use one tool at a time, charge other pack, and switch as I need too. Made sense. For the record, none have failed.
As long as there is a significant cost savings, I am ok with refurbished.
I stay far, FAR, away from Refurbished ANYTHING. I used to build and service Computers for a living, and having seen what I had to do in order to get a system to run again, I wouldn’t wish ownership of such creatures on my worst enemy.
In the case of tools like Drills and the like, I would make an odd exception. If you still own K’Nex or LEGO that has spinning parts and gears, and also have nieces/nephews of either biological or friendly bond nature, building toys for them with a piece of garbage refurbished drill as the motor inside makes these toys hours and hours of fun. Plus, if it blows up, it blows up. It’s no big deal. You build it into something with a crank, and toss the drill, no harm done.
I’ll buy refurbished, but the deal has to be really good, like better than Black Friday. Also I wait for the holidays/Father’s Day coupons to purchase most tools, so 20% off is what I normally expect to pay for a brand new tool.
I’ve gotten a few corded and cordless power tools on Amazon Warehouse, listed as “like new” condition.” The first was a Makita circular saw bought about 6 years ago and still going strong, never had a moment’s problem. I use it a lot, but as a hobbyist/homeowner. I once found Hitachi Drills at an outlet store (Ollies) for a crazy good price, took it home and it started smoking right off. CPO refurb Bosch drill during their sale, 50% off the refurb price, but also defective. I’m only out the time it takes to return it. I wait for the sales on CPO refurb stuff and got L-Boxxes that were refurbed for way cheap. They didn’t have any defects, so a good deal.
Most of my plywood and sometimes pine has come from Home Depot’s purple rack. Also, some Makita tools from the Clearance rack at Home Depot, and never had a problem. But because this is a hobby, I can afford to wait and also to spend time checking sales, etc. Helps extend the budget. But if it was for business use, that would be a different story.
I have purchased several refurbished tools, over the years circular saws, Makita Cordless Drills and Drivers, Bosch Grinders and a Bosh Laser level. I have been satisfied with all of them.
Just over a year ago we bought a Reconditioned Bosch DH1020 Inline Demo Hammer. List price $1715, best new price $950, recon price- $579. It quickly became everyone’s favorite tool for breaking out rock and concrete. It stopped working about a month ago. turns out the gears are pretty much destroyed.
We bought it at CPO and paid for a 2-year CPO protection plan, $69.99.
Claim in progress. Maybe a reconditioned demo hammer was not such a good idea.
For some types of tools, reconditioned is a great way to save and they often can still provide many years of service.
I usually look at refurbished when buying tools (and other things), but will usually only buy it if it’s at 15% or more off lowest sale price that I’ve seen within the last couple years.
Most manufacture refurbished tools aren’t noticeable from new aside from some manufactures that like to stamp “R” or mark refurbish on them. I have a feeling some of them are probably new with the manufacture wanting to sell them off with no warranty.
Only tool refurb tool issue I had to date of more than 10 refurb tools purchased from various sellers was a Dewalt XR Drill/Driver kit from CPO (through ebay). Drill looked pretty heavily used, though worked perfectly fine. They didn’t even bother to put a new LED mode sticker on it after peeling it off to open and fix whatever was wrong. Impact driver, batteries, charger all looked and smelled new but with a “R” stamped on them. I contacted them and they gave me $40 back. So at $110 for an XR kit I was fine with it, but still skeptical of CPO refurbished.
I put this in the same category as buying a “Refurbished Car.” At some point in time (at the beginning of the products life,) it failed, it is then taken away and fixed!!!! To my way of thinking if part A fails eventually working down the line, part B will also fail, then again down the line part C will fail etc etc. It’s sort of like fixing one broken link in a chain at a time, when you know that eventually all of the links will fail. Apart from a pretty poor pricing discount, you get a very poor warranty, 90 days V 2 years for a saving of $20.
We have a few factory repair sites nearby. The few times I have ventured into them, the pricing was near or at new retail, so, I shy away from recons.
I have always bought new. Except my 68 Dodge Coronet 500 convertible, 68 Dodge Charger, 70 Dodge Charger RT
I have only purchased 2 refurbished power tools in my life (circa 2002), both Metabo (1/2 hammer drill & 4.5 grinder) both were purchased via a Metabo I/C house in Cleveland, cheaper then new and both still used today.
I would purchase “certain” brands/tools via the refurbished route, I would avoid all purchasing all brand of refurbished tools (DW, MKE, Ridgid, Ryobi) that could have been rented and returned to a Big Box after a weekend project (18v cordless, recip’s, circular & mitre saws) come to mind.
I’ve purchased numerous refurbished handheld power tools (and DSLR and video cameras as well). Always factory refurbished. Many of my Milwaukee M12 and M18 tools are refurbs. Only one I’ve ever had issue with was a the M12 Hackzall. My original non-refub. Hackzall gearbox went bad, they sent a refurb replacement and the same thing happened again. So I’m assuming it’s just a weak gearbox. Otherwise, great experience and lots of $$ savings buying factory refurbs.
The milwaukee service center used to have quarterly garage sales that I bought a lot of tools from. As long as I can touch and inspect them I will buy them no problem. Also buying from the service center works for me as they keep track of all the serial numbers and will take care of warrantee. Also having the service center in town means if anything goes wrong they will take care of it quickly and I will not be down the tool for long. If I can’t find the problems in the 5 year warranty time I guess the tool will be fine.
I’ve bought many reconditioned electronics, never a bad experience.
Years ago (about 10) I bought a Xbox 360 that suffered the red ring of death. It was within Microsoft’s 3 year warranty period I sent it in and got a refurbished one back like millions of people who suffered the same. Till this day it still works great with no issues.
I bought a Bosch drywall screwgun and a Rotozip – both factory refurb units a few years ago when CPO had a sale. I don’t hang drywall very often so couldn’t justify spending full price but still wanted the tools – think I paid around $90 for the pair shipped. Low risk / moderate reward for me.
To me, refurb tools are ok for things you don’t rely on to make a living everyday or will get heavy use in a DIY setting.
I wouldn’t buy reconditioned cordless tools, batteries, or chargers. I just don’t trust what the first owner did with them or how they treated the electronics. Pretty high risk for low reward in my book.
Bought two, a Makita drywall screw gun from CPO I had to return for not working, and a hitachi 12v set from big sky. The hitachi has the previous guys name all over it. No impressed by the savings, plan to find Black Friday and other specials instead for future purchases.
Bought 3 refurbished tools. First was a hammer drill that served me well, saved a good bit of money. Next was a recip saw. It still works well but the blade change mechanism has been glitchy at best from the moment I first tried it. Friend bought a new one same model and no such problems. Most recently I got a rotary impact hammer drill. Has been back to be fixed under warranty twice and still isn’t right. First time quit working, so they replaced motor. When I got it back, it wouldn’t hammer, and when I got it back the second time, it made an odd clunking sound and you can see the motor twist in the housing when you start and stop it. If the same techs that are ‘fixing’ this are the ones that refurbish, I may be done with refurbished tools. Yes, it was factory refurbished and factory repaired. Thinking the quality of tech workers might be going downhill. Part of me wonders if part of the problem might be the nature of the tools (rotary hammers by nature are more likely to see hard use/abuse by first owner) but regardless unless it is significantly cheaper, I think I’m done with refurbished power tools.
Oh, and over the years I’ve bought used computers from a local university. (Employee-used, not student machines). Mostly desktops for light use. A couple of years ago I bought a laptop because there was no other way to get Windows 7 and I have a couple of specialized programs that will only work on Windows 7. The Win7 laptop is better than the newer windows 10 machine in so many ways. I did have to buy a new battery, not from the mfg. It all works fine.
I understand your caution, and certainly one needs to look carefully at return policy and warranty (if any) before buying refurb. I would put this in the category of, consider carefully, and if you’re not comfortable with it, just skip it.
It is certainly easier buying closeouts, demo’s, and returns at the big box store because you get to examine them first, and the return policy is usually fine- often you can get the original warranty from the manufacturer as well.
I’ve bought one maybe-reisky “major” refurb power tool lately from eBay , or OPE if you will, a Husqvarna 435 chainsaw. That turned out to be a fabulous purchase. But at the same time there were a few dissatisfied reviews alongside mine. So, caveat emptor.
I’ve got a factory-refurbished (corded) Milwaukee rotary hammer, which works great, though I don’t use it often. I usually avoid refurb tools, but at $75 with a brand new set of AEG bits, it was too good a deal to pass up.
Also keep in mind some returns are simply because they didn’t know how to operate the tool correctly, or expect too much from it . That is surely some of the “defective ” returns. A small percentage of reviews I read on tools indicates this. I have only bought a couple of reconditioned items over the years, so far no complaints. Also keep in mind some of us buy used tools, could easily make the arrangement that there is little difference between used and reconditioned “if well cared for by the previous owner”
Festool yes. Other brands no.
I think it’s a usage calculation. If it’s a tool that is use every once in a while refurbished might make sense. If it’s a daily production tool (for me and my guys, general residental construction) then new is a must. Not worth the time to think about saving $50 over the life of a tool (300 hrs for prosumer according to AvE if I remember correctly). Good discussion!
Yeah refurbished tools have to be a deep discount for me to buy them. Some times because of deals or speacials I have seen new cheaper than refurbished. Also warranty is big.
I’ve bought a few over the years (Milwaukee 15A Sawzall, PC Planer, Bostich compressor/nailer combo, Skil Mag77). They’re all still with me ~10 years later except for the Bostich compressor, which I sold when I upgraded to a better twin-tank style that could run multiple nailers or a framing gun. I agree, though, that they have to be good deals. For me, it was a matter of limited budget starting out and a choice between buying a brand-new cheaper tool or buying a refurb. version (or used in a lot of cases as well) of the tool I wanted at a comparable price point. I have no regrets about my decisions and would do the same thing again if I was starting out today.
I have purchased refurbished for years and had great luck as long as they are directly from the OEMS/manufacturer and or service centers. Guaranties are then the same as a new tool. Never heard of shortened guarantee time lines directly from manufacturers.
The only issue I ever had was with Bosh’s first generation of RO-SANDERS were the pads would spin off…eventually they gave me a newer next generation product and it is still in use today
The author really had some bad luck but I’ve purchased reconditioned tools and never had a problem. When you buy them from their service centers they give you a full guarantee just like a new tool so I never saw the problem, you save a big buck. Major Tool manufacturers want you back as a customer so the Recon tools will always be just as good as a new tool, that’s how it works
Bought lots of CPO refurbished at decent discount, mostly Dewalt and Milwaukee , most of it was brand new not a scratch. Look for sales and added discounts. Had 1 bad drill once but overall very satisfied. It allows me to justify buying more stuff!
My way of doing used / refurbished, is if there is obvious damage, or the case is abused, I’ll get a price for a new housing or other replacement parts. If it’s still a good deal with OEM replacement parts in the price, I’m okay taking that risk. Only didn’t do that once, and am mad at myself for that.
I’ve had good luck with refurbished tools, but like others say, price check before you buy. You have that smartphone in your pocket for a reason.
The inherent advantage of refurbished tools is that when you buy new it came fresh off a production line. Chances are that they use statistical process control so your tool may or may not have ever been inspected. When it comes back they already know it has something wrong with it and it will be tested and repaired (if needed) by hand so the quality control should theoretically go way up and the refurbished models should have a better track record than the new ones.
There are two problems with this. The first is what the company considers acceptable quality. In this respect some companies won’t sell anything that isn’t like new. A counter example is Swagtron. This company warranty-replaced a huge number of hoverboards that had an older style battery in them that could potentially start a fire. I’m sure all they had to do was swap the old battery for the new ones. But if the unit came back used after a year or two, it really should have just about everything replaced or get sold as “scratch and dent” category. But that’s not what happened to us so went sent it back and went elsewhere.
The second problem is when the defect is very subtle and easy to miss. I distinctly recall a particular module used to transmit control signals several miles in a mine. The configuration memory is a chip that had a watch battery embedded in it and the battery ran out over 10 years but at low voltages the configuration memory sort of randomly erased but it could go for weeks before this happened. It got to the point where “repaired” swaps were just as bad as the one we sent in. So I researched the chip and just bought the chips outright at around $10 vs. $2500 for “repairs”.
Oh the list of refurbished tools of Amazon and eBay I have bought! All DeWalt cordless tools. A sds hammerdrill, an impact driver, a ½” impact, a chainsaw, a flexvolt grinder, flexvolt circular saw, 16ga Brad nailer, dual speed framing nailer plus several other cordless tools! I honestly would not pay full price for tools with one big exception, batteries. After 1½ years of hard use my sds hammerdrill stopped hammering. Took it to a dealer and had it fixed, no charge because of warranty!
I find manufacturer refurbished products sell at a discount off list that doesn’t save enough compared to the street price for new gear, and 3rd party refurbished can be pretty rough. So no, I hardly ever buy recons.
I do buy used tools regularly off ebay – it’s a way to get top grade pro tools at a price I can afford – but the secrets are to wait for the right deal and set hard limits. Buying used, i start with the best street price I can find, take off 20% for loss of warranty and 10% for a minimum saving via ebay and that’s my top bid for a tool listed as ‘new other’ / unused.
If the seller’s lying and the tool’s junk, I have no hesitation in using ebay buyer protection and sending it back for a refund, but I’ve dealt with many more good sellers than bad.
Older tools I take a view on the cost and availability of major parts just in case and bid accordingly. There is 20 and 30 year old gear out there that is as good or better than many tools made today.
I bought a Dewalt DWD520 Hammer Drill from CPO when I rebuilt my deck a few years ago. I didn’t need a heavy-duty drill for much, but for drilling in the ledger board lags, and installing all that 1/2″ rod that holds the rails in tight, I figured I could use more power than my 18v cordless could supply. I think I saved ~35% over new, and when I got it, aside from not having a box or manual, it looked brand new to me. I used it for that project, and also to drill a bunch of holes in my basement block walls for various shelves, conduit, etc.
Added bonus, I also bought a used (not even refurbished) Bostitch Posi-Placement nailer for my deck project. Paid $135 for it, and re-sold it when I was done for $150.
As a rule-of-thumb, for tools I’ll frequently use, I’ll buy a new/nice one. If it’s a specialized tool for a project, I’ll buy used/refurb and re-sell when I’m done.
All of the Festool refurbs I have bought have made it past the three year warranty threshold. At a 20-40% discount, I did okay. A Stihl chainsaw refurb made it past the warranty period, and I sold it for more than I paid for it after eight years. I seldom buy computers or electronics that aren’t refurb, and I’ve never had a problem. I always consider it a gamble, but I think the odds are good.
Refurbished more often than not is simply a customer returning an item they either didn’t like and went with a different brand/model or used it for one job and returned it to the store. The store can’t put it back on the shelf so they send it back to the manufacturer which checks it over, maybe puts a new shell on the tool if it’s scratched up, tests it, puts it in a new box and sells it as “refurbished” to recoup some of the costs and not simply throw it in the trash. I’ve purchased many refurb electronics and have yet to get burned. It’s not like refurb (from the manufacturer) is using different parts from a brand new product so reliability and performance is no different.
Purchased a refurb Ryobi 12″ sliding miter saw for $200, a Ninja mixer for like $40, toaster oven for 1/2 price, corded palm sander for around $20, pneumatic Masterforce 18ga nailer for $20 and all are running flawlessly for years. There are definitely deals to be had.