All About Refurbished

Lets promote refurbished products

Category: Grading

How is the society seeing refurbished products nowadays?

To answer this question it is necessary to define the country we are looking at. The societies in countries like the US, UK and Scandinavia are clearly better educated and more open-minded towards refurbished products than we are in central Europe like Germany.

“Refurbished” – a new condition

Probably the current biggest issue is the misunderstanding of what a refurbished product really is. Most of the people associate a refurbished product with a classic “used” product, so they only divide between two product conditions: “New” and “Used”, but this is not the case anymore. The condition “refurbished” is not a sub-category of “used”, it is a self-standing condition, which is between “new” and “used” as it combines the benefits of both! The product price is more likely the price of a “used” product, but technically as well as the exterior it is like-new (depending on the Grading level – see December post).


One of the biggest current problems is the trust-issue of customers. When they have to decide to purchase a brand new phone or a 10-40% cheaper refurbished phone, they are often still taking the higher priced “new” one. As the quality of a refurbished product is depending on the quality process of the refurbisher (as described in my last post), a good quality can only be guaranteed, if you purchase a refurbished product from a well-known player. To increase the trust for the customer most refurbisher offer at least a 1-year warranty (some even up to 36 months), which means that the customer can return the product for every not self-responsible defect within this time period.

Refurbishment association/union

Actually in Germany and Austria there is no association existing (like in most of the countries), which would be countable for the refurbished industry (i.e. to develop overall standards). As the industry is just in the beginning it is not a surprise, but of course it would clearly help for the acceptance as well as the awareness of this new industry.


When customers purchasing refurbished products on well-known marketplaces like Amazon or eBay one of the biggest issues is that the customer experience (i.e. product detail page) nearly looks exactly the same as for new products. The result: customers are complaining for example that the product “is fake, as the product is coming in a generic box and not in the original one”. This issue is driven as these marketplace are not changing their whole interface for this new category. Refurbished products are in need of explanation at least for now, where it is still a relatively new “thing”!


In most surveys the majority of people are saying that sustainability is important for me. Nevertheless when asking them what they are currently doing to support the sustainability? The responses are often inaccurate as sustainability is something you have to care to be accepted in the society, but you don´t want to give up the comfort or standards you currently have. If we are able to outline these people that with a refurbished product they do not have to give up any standards (same product quality and also a warranty), but could still do something good for the sustainability, this could really make a difference.


The biggest task in the following years will be to educate the society what refurbished means and especially that it is a new self-standing condition, which is between “new” and “used”. One of the strongest forces to support and develop such a change of thinking, can be the politics. Especially if refurbishing as a part of sustainability is getting a more and more important topic on their political agenda.

What are the usual steps during the refurbish process/Grading?

Every used products, which should become a refurbished one, will run through mainly the same 5 steps. These steps are often standardized to ensure a high quality at the end of the refurbished process. Within the industry the final result of refurbished products are separated into different grading categories for the shell of the product. This is really important as each refurbished product should be technically working like-new, but only be differentiated by the outside look though the individual grading. As each refurbisher could have their own wording for the grading, in the following I will use the most common categorization: 1. The best possible product quality for a refurbished product is an “A Grading”, which means that the product looks like-new from the outside (if you hold the product in your hand like 30cm away from your eye you will not spot any scratches or ditches on the surface). 2. The second best refurbished quality is a “B Grading”, which is a product that looks like-new on the first view, but could have really small scratches (2mm), not on the screen, when you are taking a closer look. 3. The “C Grading” already shows clear signs of use on the first look, with possible small scratches on the screen. And finally “D Grading” means long scratches, even on the screen, which often makes this product not attractive to refurbish.

1. Product quality check

When the used product arrives in the production facility, it will be running through an outside inspection for the first rating. Here the refurbisher is checking, which phones will be refurbished and for which ones the process would be too expensive. The ones, which are too broken to refurbish (Grading “D” and sometimes even “C”) are normally sold in large qualities to Asia, Middle East or Africa as the salary level in these areas is extremely low. (For products, which have a cloud connection, i.e. Apple iPhones, there will be an additional step to ensure that the previous owner has erased the icloud account from the phone as it cannot be used, if it would be still connected to the old user´s account.) The remaining products made it to step 2…

2. Data erasing & battery check

As normally all of the refurbished products have been used in the past, one of the most important steps is the Data erasing. Probably no one wants that another person is able to see all their private content. For this reason the refurbisher are using a special software, which erases every remaining data point outside of the required firmware. Therefore you will never find any old data on a refurbished phone (at least, if you buy from a trustable source).

In addition, the refurbisher is checking the current battery life of each product. The normal requirements for a refurbished product are stating that it needs to have at least 70 to 80 % (depending on the refurbisher) of the normal battery life, so that this part does not have to be replaced during the further process.

3. Check & Repair

As now all the remaining data has been erased, the surface and functionality gets into the focus again. Does the Touchscreen function correctly? What is about the Home Button? Does the products charges? Can I put my headphones in the opening? And many more questions, which have to be answered at this step (depending on the refurbisher these are often 40 to 70 individual check-points)! As you probably can imagine for each question, to which an employee answers with a “no”, this part has to be repaired or replaced.

So how does all of it can be checked? Is it all manually “hand-made”? For the large players in the industry the answer – probably not so surprisingly – is NO. The companies have developed different technical tools to support them in these checking processes. Nevertheless not all process can be automated and these have to be done manually by human hands.

4. Final check & cleaning

Nowadays the final check is still handled by a human hand, which finally checks, if all the refurbish processes have been done successful, so the product can have a happy second life.

To ensure that the new owner will receive the product clean and look like-new, the cleaning of the products surface is the last step before the product gets repackaged.

5. Repackagung

As mostly the used products are not coming with an original packaging the product will be delivered to the new user in a generic box (or branded box by the refurbisher). Often customers are thinking that therefore the product quality will be lower or a product is fake, but there is a really easy reason for this: The manufacturer just don´t want to provide the refurbishers with original packaging (probably as they are afraid that a product could be sold as original new instead of refurbished).

As you can see, the refurbishers do not work less professional then the manufacturers themselves! Often the products are also getting fully dissembled for the refurbishment and the quality requirements are extremely high and strict. There is literally no real reason to NOT buy a refurbished product, as long as the source (refurbisher) is trustable.

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