FEATURE: 08.08.18 – There’s just nothing like spending your hard earned cash on a brand new Apple product. The joy of the purchase mixed with the heartache over the funds you just depleted can also be an emotional experience. But getting the latest and greatest doesn’t always mean you have to pay full price to get the hardware and devices that you want or need.
While buying newer Apple merchandise in used condition off of eBay or Craigslist is usually the way to go to save the most amount of money, in most cases, you will not get the peace of mind that comes with a full warranty included with a brand new item. (Though eBay in recent years started offering third party 1-year warranties for select used items for sale through companies like SquareTrade or Assurian and some eBay sellers may offer their own very limited warranties as well).
The middle ground is buying refurbished and clearance products or open box items from a retail store. Buying products classified as such can get you the same brand new or almost/like new item for less at a reduced price or sometimes substantially discounted cost along with the perks of free returns/exchanges and a full or limited warranty.
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Most people have an aversion to buying refurbished products because they think there is something wrong with them. That is true in a sense but that is before the product was put through the refurbishment process. However, one fact that you may not know about manufacturer refurbished products — which is different from seller refurbished items — is that in a way, they are much better than outright brand new because they must go through a stringent process before being resold. Something that the latter type did not go through because they are assumed to be in perfect working order off the assembly line. In general, these are customer returns because a defect was not discovered until the product was taken out of its box and the store sent it back to the company to refurbish. And because they are no longer brand new and can not be sold as such, the refurbished product is sold for less than full price. The discount has nothing to do with its quality.
Speaking of customer returns, open box items are simply that. But some people don’t like that idea either because they feel the item has been used already even though that necessarily may not be the case.
It all depends on one’s preference. If you can get over the notion that refurbished products and open box items are subpar or of substandard quality, the savings you can enjoy will overshadow your worries. And it far outweighs buying used — an option worse than refurbished or open box if you think about it — with its added benefits.
So, where can you get Apple merchandise at a discount?
The first place to shop is from the main source themselves. If you didn’t know already, the Apple Store online has a special deals page with items at great savings over brand new ones, most significantly below regular price. Current-generation 13″ MacBook Pros, for example, can be had for up to $300 off MSRP when buying refurbished.
The Apple Certified Refurbished section has products that are an assortment of recently released to somewhat older models. All refurbished products include a full 1-year warranty and are eligible for AppleCare.
From the Apple website:
“Apple Certified Refurbished products are pre-owned Apple products that undergo Apple’s stringent refurbishment process prior to being offered for sale. While only some units are returned due to technical issues, every unit is evaluated to ensure it meets Apple’s quality standards.”
For complete details on Apple’s refurbishment process, see “Apple Certified Refurbished Products – FAQs.”
There is also a clearance section with various products that generally consist of previous generation or discontinued models which are unopened and still in inventory. The original 1-year warranty is also included and clearance products are eligible for AppleCare as well.
Their selections for both sections fluctuate daily so check back often if you don’t find what you’re looking for.
I’m not sure if the retail Apple Store still sells open box items or clearance products in the store. One of my local locations used to have a special bin for those selections but that was many years ago and I only saw it every so often. (I was Able to buy a battery for my Mac notebook computer originally $129.99 for only $79.99 because it was open box).
Another place you can score some discounted Apple merchandise is from Richfield, Minnesota-based Best Buy, the only national major electronics chain left in the retail landscape.
For your shopping savings pleasure, going on now through August 11, Best Buy is offering big discounts on all of their clearance products and open box items in-store and online. Right now, you can save 40% or more on clearance products and open box items during the special sale. In addition, though not part of the sale, are their selection of refurbished products which are anywhere from 5% to 30% off the regular price or if you are so inclined they also have pre-owned (used) items at an even lower cost.
As far as the selection of Apple merchandise, these are just some examples of what is available at the time this story was being formulated (they may be sold out by the time you read this and at the same time new items may have been added since then):
⁃ Apple Watch Series 3 / GPS / Cellular for $297.99 (reg. $399)
⁃ Apple AirPods for $135.99 (reg. $159.99)
⁃ Apple Beats by Dr. Dre for $74.99 (reg. $199.99)
⁃ Apple Smart Keyboard for 12.9″ iPad Pro for $79.99 (reg. $169.99)
⁃ Apple Pencil for $82.99 (reg. $99.99)
⁃ Apple AirPort Time Capsule 2TB 802.11ac Base Station for $214.99 (reg. $274.99)
⁃ Apple TV 4K 64GB for $174.99 (reg. $199.99)
⁃ Apple ThunderBolt Cable 6.6′ Black for $27.99 (reg. $39.99)
⁃ also available are third party accessories like cases from Speck for your Apple products
The list above was compiled from their online Outlet Store. With the exception of the last two on the list that were in the open box and clearance sections respectively, the rest of the products were in the refurbished section labeled as “Geek Squad Certified Refurbished” and only come with a limited warranty from Best Buy and are not eligible for AppleCare. (Best Buy does not sell Apple Certified Refurbished products).
“By referring to the comprehensive ratings on the condition of each product, customers can have peace of mind and confidence in their decision to purchase refurbished products, including Geek Squad certified devices, from Best Buy,” said Brenden Johnson, a spokesperson for Best Buy. “As mentioned in the Best Buy Outlet Guide, refurbished products are repaired and restored to a like-new state.”
“Geek Squad Certified programs involve a rigorous multipoint inspection designed to ensure the highest performance and quality standards. Each product is tested to verify it works like new and is restored to original factory settings, plus all parts are thoroughly cleaned. And all Geek Squad Certified Refurbished items include a 90-day warranty.”
It is interesting to note that, according to Johnson, the majority of Geek Squad Certified Refurbished items originate from Geek Squad City located near Louisville, Kentucky but some do come from the Geek Squad precincts in local Best Buy stores across the country.
Geek Squad City is a 240,000 square foot warehouse — the only one of its kind — where more than 1,000 Geek Squad Agents repair and refurbish laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other devices.
“That location is called Geek Squad City because the size of the building and the number of employees make it feel like a city,” he said.
On clearance products and open box items, specifically in regard to the latter, although Johnson said their products should be available online and in stores (subject to inventory availability) and most Open Box products are in stores but can be fulfilled online, one thing I would suggest that you do if you have a Best Buy retail location near you is to visit them personally and check out their selection in-store.
Sometimes, what they have at your local store may not be necessarily included in their online inventory and you may just discover a treasure trove of great deals waiting for you there and find your next Apple product at a huge discount by perusing the aisles of the computer or electronics departments.
Just like I did back in 2010, the last time I ever bought a computer at retail which was from Best Buy.
I had received an email with a coupon for an additional percentage off their already discounted selection of open box items in store from a similar sale as the one currently going on. I walked in to my local store and checked out what they had and to my excitement found a previous generation iMac 20-inch Early 2009 model that I snagged for around $649 (if my memory serves me correctly) with both the sale and coupon discounts applied. Plus, I was still able to get an AppleCare warranty on the machine which covered me until 2012 (which came in handy for a screen replacement under warranty for a display defect), two years after I acquired my then new computer for home use.
That iMac may not have been the most up-to-date model at the time but it was still new to me and generations ahead of the iMac G5 that I had at home before that, which by the way I bought used on Craigslist. And the substantial savings I received allowed me to get a new computer for much less than an outright brand new machine which I probably could not have afforded at full price when it was released.
If you want more information on these particular products, Best Buy offers this buying guide for items sold in the Outlet Store which explains in detail everything behind their refurbished products, clearance products, and open box items from sale/resale process to warranty duration.
A large number of the items for sale are being sold at their retail outlet stores — which are spread out sporadically across the U.S., with only eight locations — but most of the selections are available for purchase through the online outlet store with free shipping (provided your minimum purchase is $35). You may also choose the free ship to store option and pickup the item there when it arrives. If you need it earlier or don’t want to wait, it is indicated in the item description whether it is available at your local store for pickup which will allow you to save on shipping charges as well.
In addition, all outlet items are eligible for returns and exchanges. Their website states that the time period begins the day you receive your product. “Most products have a 15 day return/exchange period (more for My Best Buy Elite and Elite Plus Members),” said Johnson. “Devices like cell phones and other devices that can be activated are 14 days for everyone.”
Granted, Best Buy is not the only source other than the Apple Store online for discounted Apple merchandise. I chose to focus on Best Buy in this story because I was called to attention to their sale as a subscriber to their weekly emails as a customer of theirs and thought I would share the news and incorporate it into a feature.
You can find them at other retail establishments with a smaller footprint like businesses that are also Apple Authorized Resellers such as PowerMax in Wilsonville, Oregon or B&H Photo Video in New York City, New York. Both have a retail store and sell online. In fact, B&H also happens to be having a sale of their own going on for a limited time, the “Amazing Mac Ssavings Event.” (As seen previously on our site).
Full disclosure: I am also a past customer from the early 2000s of PowerMax having bought a used indigo iMac DV computer and an Apple Certified Refurbished PowerMac G4 dual processor “mirror door drive” (as it was known) computer for home and work use respectively. And from B&H Photo Video a new professional grade Panasonic videocamera which was a work purchase (for my broadcast journalism class).
Of course, no matter whether you buy refurbish, open box, clearance, or brand new, you can always find the best prices on all Apple products right here on MacPrices with our daily price trackers. Be sure to check here first before you buy!
Good luck with your shopping and here’s hoping that you save a bunch of greenbacks in the process for whatever condition product you choose.