NEWS YOU CAN USE: Check Out Refurb Web Sites for the Best Deals

Physician's Money Digest, April 2006, Volume 13, Issue 4

BottomLine/Personal

Retailers return billions of dollars worth of brand-name electronics and appliances to manufacturers each year. Sometimes an item is damaged or defective, and other times a customer has simply changed their mind. Either way, once brought back to the store, retailers can longer legally sell it as new, according to . In the past, opened returns were destroyed or sold to liquidators. Now, with an increasingly competitive market, manufacturers market repaired and repackaged items as refurbished. DVD players, digital cameras, televisions, computers, golf clubs, and office equipment are just some examples of what's available. Physicians can save up to 80% off retail prices and buy a great deal for their home or practice, if you know what to look for. Since no federal regulations exist that define the language of "refurbished" vs "factory reconditioned" or simply "open-box," many sellers will tell you when you ask. The best refurbs are items returned unused, sound items with just cosmetic damage, and overstock items that may be last year's model. Try to stay away from demonstration units, which have substantial wear from use in stores and trade shows, and defective products that may or may not have been repaired. Also look for a good warranty and return policy, and make sure the product comes with all components, such as cables, software, and headphones. The following is a list of retailers that provide refurbished products at big discounts: