A laptop that has been returned to the retailer or the manufacturer due to a defect covered in the warranty or on expiry of the lease agreement can be repaired and reconditioned to an almost ‘brand new status’. Legally, they are not new and are known as refurbished laptops or simply refurbs. Most unscrupulous traders are reselling refurbished laptops to unsuspecting customers as ‘new’ to maximize their profits.
Refurbs are a good bargain if you want to acquire a powerful laptop at a reasonable price, but it is morally right for the vendor to disclose the laptop’s status. Laptops, unlike cars, do not have odometers to indicate ‘mileage’, so it is upon you to carry out due diligence to identify the laptop’s condition that you intend to acquire. Here are a few tips to help you identify if the laptop you want to purchase is new or refurbished.
- Inspect the surface of the laptop for scratches and feel the keyboard texture. Frequent fingertip contact over time will make the buttons smooth and shiny
- Check laptop screws. If you find traces on them, you should realize it was opened before
- Inspect the screen or the display for small wear marks as this are very hard to refurbish
- The next ‘crude’ test is subjective as it involves smelling the surface of the computer. New laptops have an irritating smell of industrial cleaning agents. Hand refurbished machines use home cleaning agents which have a fragrance and leaves the notebook surface creamy
- Check the laptop serial number at the back of the machine or in the battery compartment depending on the laptop model
- Open command prompt, and type c:>wmic bios get the serial number, compare the BIOS serial number with the chassis serial number. If this is not the same, the machine may be a refurb. You can also visit the manufacturer’s website and punch in the serial number to indicate the laptop’s status. This feature works for specific laptops
- Generally, factory refurbished laptops have their serial number ending with letter ‘R’ e.g. CN174UA#ABA is the product number for a new notebook and CN174UAR#ABA is the product number for a refurbished notebook
- You can also check the laptop’s back for labels such as ‘This is a refurbished laptop and contains used parts’
- Check for general laptop attachment/peripherals/additions such as Driver CD, manuals, and brochures that often come with new laptops
- Refurbs have a shorter warranty period of 3 months