May 7, 2007

What Are “Factory Reconditioned Tools?”

If you shop for tools as much as we do, it’s likely that you’ve run across the term, “factory reconditioned,” usually attached to a tool that is being sold for quite a bit below the regular retail price. For those of you that don’t know what exactly “factory reconditioned” means, we’ve done the research and are here to tell you.

Essentially, a factory reconditioned tool is one that has, for one reason or another, been purchased, returned, revamped, and is now in the process of being resold. The important part to keep in mind is that once the tool is returned to the manufacturer; they inspect it and, if needed, repair it, bringing it back up to ‘new’ standards. Because some tools are returned due to user preference (too heavy, hate the color, dad already has one), not all reconditioned tools need repairs or have ever had any defects. It’s just that once the original packaging has been removed, they can no longer be sold as new. At the very worst, the tool may show very slight signs of usage. Maybe someone drove a few screws with that screw gun and decided it wasn’t powerful enough, that sort of thing.

There’s no doubt that reconditioned tools are on the rise. In fact, they’ve become so popular that Tool King has recently started it’s own off-shoot site, TKRecon, that deals exclusively with reconditioned tools.

So what kinds of savings are we talking here? Well, it depends on the tool. It seems that most hand held power tools get a savings of around $20-$30. But as the tool price goes up, the savings can be substantial. A few random examples:

The Bosch PS20-2 Pocket driver is available new at Amazon.comfor 112.05. Reconditioned it is available at Tyler Tool for $99.95. A savings of $12.10.

The DeWalt DW745 10” Table Saw is available new at Amazon.comfor $370.46. Reconditioned it is available at TKRecon for $299.99. A savings of $70.47.

Milwaukee 4 Tool 28V Li-Ion Combo Kit is available at Amazon.comfor $579.88. Reconditioned it is available at TKRecon for $479.99. A savings of $99.89.

The Bostitch BT200K-2 18 Gauge Brad Nailer Kit is available at Amazon.comfor $99.99. Reconditioned, it is available at TKRecon for $64.99. A Savings of $35.00.

So as you can see, the savings can be pretty significant depending on the tool.

Things to think about…
If you are considering buying a reconditioned tool, you should make sure that there is some sort of warranty attached to it (as you would with any new tool as well). We understand that the tools have been retested and are now at factory standards, and there should be no great risk at a defect, but like Mr. Dooley said, “Trust everybody, but cut the cards.” Most dealers of reconditioned tools have such warranties in place.

Another thing to consider when buying reconditioned tools is that selection may be limited, because, obviously, only the ones that have been returned can be resold. An older model or one that is not particularly popular will probably be difficult to find in reconditioned form, but if there is some hot new tool that you want to save a few bucks on, it’s likely you’ll be able to find it out there. Also, you may have to act fast. There’s no guarantee that that nice reconditioned hammer drill is still going to be there tomorrow. Supplies are likely to be pretty limited. In fact we’re interested to see how long the above links stay valid.

So is it worth it? Well, that’s up to you. If you cringe at the idea of some stranger having pawed your circular saw, you probably want to stick to buying new. If you find that you are hard on tools and go through them like toilet paper, then you should give reconditioned tools a shot. As for us, if the savings are in the $15-$20 range, we’ll probably opt to buy a new tool, but when we’re looking at $70-$80 in savings, we’re going to seriously consider factory reconditioned tools.

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Posted by Doug Mahoney at May 7, 2007 5:20 AM
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