I put in some insane hours at work lately. Management gave me a spot bonus. I treated myself to a Kindle. Not a Kindle Fire tablet, a real Kindle — Kindle Touch to be exact.
I bought it refurbished, at 20% off new. It came in a sealed box, with a clear plastic sheet covering the screen. Everything looked just as new. There was no sign whatsoever of it being a customer return or damaged good. It also carries the same warranty as a new unit.
So it got me thinking. Is it really refurbished or is it just a lower price?
Refurbished Kindles don’t show up if you just search for Kindle on Amazon, not on the first page anyway. Although Amazon usually links to like-new and used products from its own "warehouse deals" and other 3rd party sellers on the product page, they don’t do that for Kindles. If you want to pay less for a Kindle, you really have to look for the refurbished ones.
By marking like-new products as refurbished, Amazon implies the refurbished units are inferior when they really aren’t. This lets them sell more products to those not willing to pay as much while selling the same products at a higher price to those willing to pay a higher price. Classic profit maximizing price discrimination.
Amazon isn’t the only one doing this. When I finally replaced my trusted Garmin StreetPilot 2610 GPS, I bought a refurbished Garmin Nuvi 1390LMT with lifetime maps and traffic updates. Amazon shows I paid $500 (!) for the 2610 in 2006. The replacement only cost $85. There are many refurbished Garmin GPS units for sale. I just can’t believe the failure rates are that high during the manufacturing process or there are that many customer returns.
Do you buy refurbished products? Do you think they are really refurbished or just new products at a lower price?