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Navigating the Subjectivity of Refurbished IT Devices.

by | Jan 18, 2024 | News

Reconditioned, renewed, pre-owned… as there are no hard and fast definitions of what the phrase ‘refurbished technology’ means, purchasing restored devices can feel a little like navigating a minefield. This confusion, poor experiences or deep-rooted misconceptions that second-hand means second-best can mean that many UK organisations are missing out on the business benefits of refurbished devices.    

Undoubtedly having the best business technology fuels productivity, drives cost-efficiencies and help to maintain a competitive edge, but our IT is also one of the biggest contributors to any organisation’s carbon footprint; soon to be amplified further with the dawn of

With the Government’s Net Zero Strategy seeking to decarbonise all sectors by 2050, UK businesses are increasingly turning to refurbished tech to not only save a substantial proportion of their IT budget, but also the planet. By using the resources and serviceable components we already have, refurbishing hardware helps businesses reduce e-waste and demonstrates their commitment to the circular economy model and compliance with the WEEE directive. Moreover, this sustainable IT procurement eliminates up to 80% of a device’s lifetime CO2e; emissions generated by the manufacture and transportation of new models. Adopting a circular approach to your IT procurement will boost your ESG rating, particularly important if your organisation must comply with the new Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive.

Aside from some minor signs of use, businesses can save between 50–80% compared to the procurement of a similar specification brand-new model with comparable functionality. *+ Long lead times after order, or chip shortages that can impact supply are also avoided with many vendors offering free, tracked, or express delivery services. What’s more, your organisation also avoids the hidden cost of asset depreciation; within 4 years, a laptop will have depreciated 100%.

What does refurbished technology mean?

The majority of the time, refurbished implies an upgrade or repair of some kind, but in reality, it is a highly subjective term, with the definition defined by each seller. The extent of the refurbishment depends significantly on the prior condition; does the device show signs of light use wear and tear or does ‘refurbished’ mean it was once broken? Understandably, for any potential new owner of restored technology, this raises questions about the quality and the product’s durability. So, what do you need to know when buying a refurbished laptop, for example?

A practical guide to buying refurbished business technology.

Online platforms, such as eBay and Amazon, allow both individuals and professional refurbishment companies to list ‘seller refurbished’ hardware; the listing and the definition of a particular product’s quality are created by each individual vendor. So, if not all listings are equal, what should you look out for? What does professionally refurbished mean? and how can you determine exactly what you are purchasing so you can buy with the utmost confidence?

Refurbishment technicians.

To ensure you meet your organisation’s specific needs, it’s important to know the difference between seller refurbished and professionally refurbished. Much like the subjectivity of the term reconditioned itself, this could mean an individual who upgrades machines in their spare time or a team of highly trained engineers working for fully circular leading IT asset disposal services with their own resales platforms.

You might choose to look for industry accreditations or whether the company you are researching is an . New machines often need updates as soon as they are unboxed, having missed these during the months since manufacture; accredited technicians will ensure that all renewed machines are fully updated with the latest operating system, saving you time and effort during set up.  Similarly, all unnecessary bloatware that takes up precious storage space, potentially slowing your machine is removed, streamlining performance.

The refurbishment process.

As the majority of the components of a laptop can be replaced, it’s important to ask questions. Detailed listings are helpful; they demonstrate that the vendor is open about the device’s history and their renewal processes.

Most professional refurbishers will replace the battery during an upgrade as batteries degrade over time, but it’s best not to make assumptions. Likewise, it’s good to check that your renewed machine comes with the power supply or its user-manual, for example.

Are upgraded parts genuine? To keep costs low some vendors may use lesser quality, yet compatible parts. The use of high-grade manufacturer-approved parts, memory or storage will help you determine the quality of both the device and the workmanship. As device environmentally friendly ITAD services test and recycle premium components, which is both sustainable and keeps costs to a minimum without the use of inferior parts.


Testing & legal compliance.

After an upgrade, it’s vital that the device, any new components or software is extensively tested for functionality, screen quality, battery function and longevity. After all, a device might power up, but any minor fault could mean that your purchased device cannot function fully; leading to frustration, returns and productivity delays.

Moreover, if purchasing from an ITAD supplier, you have the added guarantee that all renewed, resale devices have their own demonstrable ITAD chain of custody. Advanced data destruction software, produces a tamper-proof data destruction certificate for each individual asset, evidencing that the device has undergone secure data erasure in line with the GDPR data destruction requirements.

Choice of specification.

Some vendors offer flexibility through their online resales platforms, ensuring your new technology meets your exact requirements. You can upgrade your chosen device to order by selecting the OS, faster RAM or a larger SSD, delivering greater functionality that might not be within budget if you were buying new. By increasing accessibility to better hardware, refurbished devices will improve your business efficiency.

Quality grades.

There is no industry standard for product grading. Whilst often grading comes in a simple A+ – c-grade system’; C showing signs of heavier use. However, what this means specifically varies from supplier-to-supplier. This should detail cosmetic quality and also any missing elements, such as rubber feet.

Subjectivity around grading means it is a good idea to check the vendors specific grading policy to make sure the device is exactly what you are looking for. If they have an online presence, many will have published grading information on their platform. Whilst sites should offer a no quibble 14-day money-back guarantee if the device is not right for you when it arrives, any business downtime will cost your organisation money.

Warranties & returns.

A common reason organisations give for continuing to buying new devices is the warranty. Often the assumption is made that this is not comparable to that of a new machine. However, in reality, as standard, professional refurbishers offer a one-year warranty; matching the manufacturer’s guarantees.

Furthermore, many larger vendors, such as IT asset disposal companies, offer extended warranties of up to three years for a minimal price. This often only addsyet provides three times the assurance. Longer warranties also demonstrate the seller’s confidence in their renewed products. It is still important to check the small print; it is possible for some vendors to exclude the battery from the warranty conditions.

Read the vendors reviews.

A strong track record matters. It might seem an obvious point to make but with an increase in fake reviews on third-party platforms, it’s worth doing your research when looking for a trusted reconditioned tech supplier that you can return to for their reliability.  Keep in mind that professional sellers may also have verified business storefronts on websites, like eBay and Back Market where you can review feedback, followers and the number of items sold. For vendors with their own online shops, check out independent reviews on platforms such as Trust Pilot or Feefo, along with direct customer testimonials on their own site.


Buying refurbished business technology ensures you can obtain the functionality to drive your organisation forward, sustainably expanding your IT infrastructure – without exhausting your limited budget. However, as refurbished is a highly subjective term, technicians and vendors vary greatly, it is essential to find a reliable, credible supplier with certified refurbishers, essential if you are looking for a long-term partner.

Technical specification choice ensures you create the exact device you need for the job, whilst extended warranties provide peace of mind regarding the quality of the machine, it’s components, the refurbisher’s workmanship and crucially, the devices longevity.

*Business First, +Capgemini.

 tier1’s fully circular, IT asset disposition services help your organisation to deliver sustainable IT solutions. Our secure, advanced data erasure solutions protect company data, reduce e-waste and save our clients’ money.

Our highly cost-effective refurbished devices have their own ITAD chain of custody. We stand behind the superior quality of our renewed devices. Our expert technicians are ; devices are extensively tested and backed by our extensive warranties of up to three-years.

Visit our 5-star refurbished technology resale platform, tier1onine, or tier1Business if looking to procure in bulk.  To chat with our friendly team about our refurbished technology or any of our secure data erasure services, call 0161 777 1000 (Manchester), 01621 484380 (Maldon) or visit www.tier1.com



UK Parliament, Capgemini, Pure IT, RefurbMe, PC Magazine, Green Green Store, Music Magpie, Business News Daily, Business First.


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