One of the big-ticket items on your Christmas list may be more affordable than ever. Computers have never been so inexpensive. They seem to get cheaper every year, and now one of the best-kept secrets of computer shopping might bring that price down even more. Let's face it, the profit margin is meager for the few companies still surviving in computer industry. Ccompaq, Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, and Dell make a profit only through volume sales of bottom-line systems. That's why you have to dig deep on their websites to find mention of what's known in the business as "re-manufactured" or "refurbished" computers.
A refurbished computer is a new computer that the customer sent back to the company because something didn't work right. Maybe the keys on the keyboard got stuck or the modem didn't dial correctly. The company takes the returned computer, inspects it for what's wrong, fixes it by replacing the defective part, inspects it again, then sends it back out on their product line at a reduced price.
For instance, one certain Hewlett-Packard desktop sells for about $1100.00 with monitor at retail, but a similar HP system goes for $950 as a refurbished unit.
"You can get good deals," says Barry Graham, a sales associate at Staples office products store. "I remember an HP scanner that sold for about $30 more than the exact same refurbished unit. They came in the same box, had the same packing, and the only difference was one box had the word 'refurbished' on it. They even had the same warranty," said Graham.
Not all refurbished computers are alike, so make sure you read the description of what any one company defines as "refurbished". It's usually stated on their website.
Most refurbished computers come with a standard warranty, some offer better, some not as good...so make sure and read the fine print. and see what the company's return policy says, it should be at least as good as a new computer.