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Consumer Laws About Refurbished Goods

Updated March 23, 2017

Although refurbished items are generally sorted into two categories--one for items that were merely taken out of the box and then returned and another for items that needed to be repaired before being resold--many consumers are still wary about the condition and quality control behind refurbished items. As of August 2010, there are no regulations that ban the sale of refurbished goods outright, although consumers and manufacturers must be aware of several legal trouble spots.

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Deceptive Labelling

The Federal Trade Commission bans deceptive labelling in the sale of any product. This means that returned items cannot be sold as new, and retailers who sell rebuilt or otherwise remanufactured items must label them as such and not sell them as new items. If an item has merely been re-shelved without being used by another consumer, retailers should indicate that. Likewise, recycled materials cannot be reused to construct new goods---as with reused padding in upholstered products---while labelling the item as new.


Because many companies that refurbish goods are not the original manufacturers of them, trademark issues abound in the refurbishing world. For consumers, this has little impact; retailers and refurbishing agencies, if operating without deceptive labelling, are not deceiving consumers about the origins or the quality implied by selling an item with a trademark upon it. Between manufacturers and refurbishing companies, however, it has taken several court cases in numerous districts to iron out a rule of thumb: Refurbished items may bear the original manufacturer's trademark if the remanufacturing process does not alter its performance or quality.


Consumers who purchase a refurbished item should be aware that warranties usually provided by the manufacturer are voided if the item is refurbished or worked on by a non-licensed technician. Many refurbishing companies, particularly those selling items online, are not licensed to do work. Although refurbishing companies and retailers frequently offer warranties on remanufactured items, the warranty itself is not the same one extended by the manufacturer and may have a greatly modified scope.

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About the Author

Wilhelm Schnotz

Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.

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