The two boxes looked identical, except for the price. Both contained a sound system we were considering purchasing, but the price sticker on one said, “Open Box,” and had a price of $90 less than the other.
My gut told me the right choice was to save the money and buy the Open Box item. My wife, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure. She wanted more information before we decided. So I found an employee, and asked some questions.
Before buying an Open Box item, make sure you understand any risk associated with it, even if you are able to save a bit of money.
What is an “Open Box” Item?
Sometimes an Open Box means the customer returned it after taking it home and determining it wasn’t the right fit, or didn’t look right. So there’s no harm done. In other cases it was returned because they took it out of the box, installed or used it and decided to return it. So there’s a bit more wear and tear.
In this case, the Open Box designation meant that someone had purchased the item, but was not 100% satisfied with it and brought it back within the return policy period. It doesn’t always mean the item is damaged. In that scenario the item would be marked as a scratch and dent item.
Inspect the Item
You could save a good amount of money by purchasing an Open Box item, but make sure you inspect the item thoroughly.
It’s well within a customer’s right to inspect an Open Box item for damage, and ask for a demonstration that it works before heading to the checkout counter. If you are denied either of these actions, a red flag should go up immediately.
Ask About the Return Policy
Ask about the return policy and if it covers Open Box purchases. This particular electronic retailer has a 15-day return policy.
If we decide to purchase the Open Box sound system, we have the same 15-day window to return the item if we found the item was damaged by the original purchaser, or if it just simply didn’t meet our needs.
Is the Warranty Valid?
Likewise inquire about the warranty and if it’s still effective. The item had been previously purchased by someone else. However, if we purchased the item it would come with the exact same manufacturer’s warranty. In the eyes of the manufacturer, we would be the original purchaser of the sound system.
In this specific scenario, purchasing the Open Box item and saving $90 makes a lot of sense. If the original buyer misused the item, I still have 15 days to return it for a refund.
But customers shouldn’t always assume buying an open box item is always a great idea. The item should be inspected, and questions asked regarding the definition of open box, return policy and the warranty. Only after all that information has been collected can an educated decision be made.
Have you ever purchased an Open Box item to save money? Did it work out for you?
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