Is buying a refurbished computer from an outlet a bad idea? Absolutely not! We show you all you need to know about outlet shopping in this guide.
Why the Outlets?
It’s all about saving money; buying a refurbished computer from an outlet store can save you 20%, 30%, or even 50% compared to a brand new computer. As we’ll see later, products sold through outlets are guaranteed to work as if they were brand new – and in a lot of cases, they actually are brand new. Outlet products are also warrantied as if they were new.
Most major notebook brands have their own outlets; these are the three most popular:
As of writing this, the HP Outlet only takes phone orders, so write down the part number of the computer you’re interested in prior to calling. The Dell and Lenovo Outlets on the other hand have interactive websites and are relatively easy to order from.
Something to note about outlets is that their inventories are almost always filled with one-of-a-kind products; the notebook you want may be gone in a few minutes. The outlet computers are non-customizable beyond warranty and services (more on that in the next section) though you’ll likely have a choice of numerous different configurations. Bottom line: Once you find the computer you like, don’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
Product Condition & Warranty
Computers sold through the outlets are classified in three categories:
- New: These products are brand new and probably in the outlet because of overstocking or poor sales.
- Refurbished: This means the product has been taken back to ensure it’s in optimal working condition. It may have been returned by a customer or had something more significant done such as component repair. In either event, refurbished computers are restored to as-new condition and will be functionally identical to a new computer.
- Scratch & Dent: This is a subcategory of refurbished computers. Computers with this label have been refurbished but may have minor cosmetic damage such as a small scratch or nick. This is usually unnoticeable or in an obscure place. Any cosmetic marks wouldn’t affect the usability or functionality of the computer – it’s aesthetic only.
Outlet computers are warrantied as if they were new regardless of how they’re labeled. See the product details for the length of the warranty period. It’s possible to extend the warranty at the time of purchase or after the fact. Take a look at our Notebook Warranty Guide for advice on how much you should really be spending on a warranty and related services.
If the computer you’re looking for is in high demand, the outlets may not have many of them – if they even have them at all. Patience is a virtue in those cases; if you don’t see what you like today, come back later and look again. Remember, nearly all of the computers sold in the outlets are one of a kind. It’s similar to car shopping in a lot of ways – prioritize what you’re looking for and have a couple of choices in mind.
When you do find a computer you’re interested in, do some research and compare it to a new version of that model to see the price difference.
Finally, note that each outlet store has its own return policy – Dell for example has a no questions asked policy within 30 days of invoicing. Often times the return policy is the same as the company has in its regular store.
Buying your next computer from an outlet store can help you save a considerable amount of money without sacrificing quality. Computers sold through the outlets are warrantied as new and are often brand new computers to begin with. Either way, the outlets are a great option provided you find a computer that meets your needs.