Nicholas with his new iPod

Nicholas with his new iPod

Watch out for "refurbished" goods when you should be getting new.

Nicholas Baxter got a new iPod for his 13th birthday, a highly prized gift for any teenager. Mum Helen says the family wanted to give Nicholas something special to mark the occasion and the $300 iPod fitted the bill nicely. The gift was a hit – until it suddenly stopped working.

Helen says the iPod "froze" some months after they bought it. She took it back to the retailer, Dick Smith Electronics in Takapuna, to get it fixed. She knew the iPod was still under warranty so expected there wouldn't be any hitch.

Refurbished electronics

Dick Smith told us a "minor fault" was found and the iPod was replaced with a "refurbished" model. Refurbished electronics are usually products that have previously been returned to the manufacturer – either because they had some fault or weren't wanted – and "refreshed" for resale (at a lower price than a new one).

iPod manufacturer Apple states its refurbished products undergo a "stringent quality" process and are "fully functional" but concedes they may have minor cosmetic imperfections "such as scratches, marks, discolouration, etc".

Helen says they had further problems with the refurbished iPod they were given. They made another trip to Dick Smith to get things sorted. She also called us for advice.

Consumer Guarantees Act

Our consumer adviser Maggie Edwards believes Helen was within her rights to ask for a new iPod or a refund: "The Consumer Guarantees Act says if a product is faulty, the retailer can make good by repairing it, replacing it with a product of an identical type or providing a refund. In this case, the retailer opted to replace the iPod but with a second-hand 'refurbished' model. We think the replacement should have been a new iPod".

Armed with this advice, the family told Dick Smith they didn't want the refurbished iPod. They said they wanted a new one to replace the original they had bought. Helen says they stood their ground and the store agreed.

Dick Smith told us it subsequently tested the refurbished iPod and couldn't find any faults. It believes it acted as a responsible retailer and says it takes its obligations under the CGA "very seriously and works hard to ensure customers receive the best possible service".

This isn't the first case we've heard of where a new product that's faulty has been replaced with a "refurbished" model. In our view, this practice doesn't comply with the law. Refurbished products are effectively second-hand and of lesser value. If you're offered a replacement for your near-new good, we think it should be a new product – not a pre-owned refurbished one.

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Having the same experience Posted by: David West 11 Aug 2011 9:31pm

Bought my wife a 120GB IPod Classic for her birthday. ~1 week after 12month warranty it developed 2-3 white lines across screen. Had not been dropped or mistreated in fact had very light use. Took it into local Apple store in CHCH. They sent it to apple who agreed to replace it despite it being just out of warranty. We gratefully got replacement but worked out it was a refurbished model that has subsequently (2-3 months after receiving it)started doing random skips when playing music. Too expensive an item for manufacturers to treat customers badly.

APPLE PRODUCTS Posted by: Craig_Morris 11 Aug 2011 6:45pm

I had an iPhone 3 and in the period of warranty it failed. I took it back to the retailer who said they had to send it away - no replacement phone (lucky I had an old one I could use). A week later I got the 'replacement' and it was refurbished, not new. Before the original warranty expired the replacement failed and same thing happened. If I had known I could have insisted on a new replacement it would have saved me a lot of grief! Thanks for the education.

ipad 2 problem registering and starting Posted by: H D MacLeod 11 Aug 2011 3:05pm

Just bought a new ipad 2 but could not set it up Got the latest itunes as required to register, but my mac mini was TOO OLD to install this.
The operating system needed to be at least 7.5. The mac help desk (USA) said my mac mini could not be upgraded ie they had given up on that model - but maybe as it had an intel chip then maybe snow leopard operating system could be put on. Anyway rather than lose a sale the store (Harvey Norman) sorted it all and did a great job..

Broken I pods Posted by: Adele Marsden 11 Aug 2011 2:51pm

I bought my Ipod in Auckland but live in Tauranga so was told to send my ipod (which broke about two months after I bought it) to a company in Hamilton. This I did and ten days later I received another ipod as apparently my one was faulty. Three weeks later this one stopped, I called the office in Hamilton and they told me to speak to the Apple office in Australia!! I did and they told me to send it back. I was not aware they were refurbished and if I had been I would have demanded a new one earlier. I spoke to the service desk in OZ and after me going on and on they sent me another i pod and a compensation gift (a plug so I could charge it up without using my laptop). About two months later this ipod broke (number 3) this time I did stand my ground they told me to take it to our local Apple store for checking (they still had to send it away) and if it was broken I was allowed a new one! Surprise surprise it was broken and eventually I received a brand new one. It was then I found out that the i pods were refurbished.
I felt very ripped off but it really was like banging my head against a brick wall trying to get a new one!!!

Not sure what anyone can do about this..

Had the same experience Posted by: Sherif Millad 11 Aug 2011 11:36am

Had been given a refurbished iPod from Harvey Norman, Tory St. Wellington, and few weeks later it was faulty.

This happened three times! I then refused and demanded a band new replacement.

When I got very upset & demanded to speek to the manager, I was them given a new iPod.

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