So after harping on some of the problems I’m having integrating a couple of new PowerMacs into our business environment (here and here), I thought I’d take a second to mention something that Apple does better than any other computer manufacturer out there.

In truth, I hesitate to mention this at all because I don’t want them to sell out too quickly, but Apple’s little secret in the Apple Store Online is the Apple Certified Refurbished products link.

I’ve been using this quite a lot and I am very impressed with the quality of the packaged product and Apple’s attention to detail when boxing up the computers.

Some of the things I’ve noticed when buying a refurbished Mac:

1) If Apple’s standard equipment or software packages change, you’ll often get a machine that meets the new spec even if it says otherwise on their site. Of course this means you may very well NOT get the new spec, but a couple examples of where this worked in my favor include: the purchase of an iMac G5 that was supposed to come with 256MB of RAM but came with 512MB instead — the new Apple standard; a PowerMac that was supposed to ship with iLife ’05 came with iLife ’06; and another Mac that was supposed to ship with OS X Panther came with OS X Tiger in the box. Thanks Apple!

2) Despite warnings the refurbished Mac may arrive with scratches or other blemishes (they ARE returned/used after all), I have yet to see one come that way. The iMac, PowerMac and a monitor I ordered all arrived in perfect condition. In fact, the PowerMac arrived wrapped up much nicer than the “new” one I purchased. Go figure.

3) By purchasing a refurbished Mac, you know that someone has had their “hands on it” making sure it’s up to spec before boxing it back up to be sold. It’s not like Best Buy where they slap an “Open Box” sticker on a box that is, in many cases, still open. No, these are fully checked out, certified and then put up for sale.

4) Unlike other manufacturers who sell refurb but offer virtually no warranty, Apple offers their full standard warranty on each machine they sell. That in itself makes it a no brainer in my book.

5) The discounts are substantial! They don’t want this stuff sitting around too long, so to move these products out the door, you’ll see some deep cuts off the sticker price. As a great example, as I write this there is a 15″ MacBook Pro listed on the site for $300 off list … plus free shipping! Sweet.

So what’s the catch?

There are a couple of “gotchas” to be on the look out for:

1) The machine may not be free of surface defects. If that matters at all to you, then don’t take a chance.

2) The quantities are very limited. If you really are in the market for a new computer and you see something you like on their sale page, you better not drag your heels for too long.

3) The savings come off the original list price of the computer in question. In other words, if Apple releases a new model with a lower price, the refurb model with the old feature set and higher price might not be all that great a deal in comparison. I’ve noticed that primarily with the iPod line.

(Republished from ESC!Webs Blogitorials, March 2006)