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Refurbished tech market growing as a way to save cash, and help the environment

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As inflation continues to raise prices, consumer groups say more people are buying secondhand tech this holiday season.

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In its latest report, national consumer group U.S. PIRG found more people are buying refurbished electronics. They found a 10 percent increase in the refurbished cell phone market alone last year.

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“We expect that you can get like 20% off a new gift. But you have to make sure that you’re shopping smart,” said Lucas Gutterman, Director of the Designed to Last Campaign at the U.S. PIRG.

Gutterman explains you can find quality products on sites like The Store and Decluttr. The report shows major retailers like Walmart, Best Buy and Amazon also offer refurbished goods.

But Gutterman said make sure you pay attention to the fine print.

“The best options are going to have certified refurbished products, going to have at least 30- or 90-day warranties and then some also have return policy so you can just return no questions asked,” he said.

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If an electronic is easier to repair, Gutterman said that means it’ll be better quality when its refurbished. He said smartphones, laptops and cameras are good options, but he suggests avoiding refurbished TVs or printers.

“We’re advocating to make sure that products can be repaired, we’re advocating for more information to consumers so that you can see how repairable a product is before you buy it,” he said.

On Capitol Hill, one federal proposal is the Fair Repair Act which would require manufacturers to provide access to necessary materials to repair devices at reasonable prices.

Buying secondhand tech can also help the environment. Gutterman said buying a refurbished smartphone can cut climate pollution by about 91 percent compared to buying a new one!

“Most of the pollution that’s made actually is in the manufacturing of the device, not the use,” said Gutterman.  “So buying refurbished and using things for as long as we possibly can, really helps protect the environment.”

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If you buy refurbished tech, consumer experts say you should test it out as soon as you get it to make sure it works. They say this will help you identify any problems and make it easier to get them fixed.

You can find more tips here: Fixed for the Holidays - PIRG

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