Super Bowl season is upon us, and if you're like most sports fans, you're probably looking for an excuse to purchase a new, bigger HDTV.
One of the easiest ways to score a cheap TV deal is by purchasing an open-box TV. These models have the potential to save you hundreds of dollars. However, as with any major tech purchase, consumers should do their homework before opting for an open-box TV — especially if the price looks too good to be true. Here are a few important steps you should take before making any open-box purchase.
What is an open-box TV?
Open-box TVs are generally defined as TVs that have been previously owned or used, returned to the retailer, inspected and sold again at a discount to consumers. Some TVs may appear like new, whereas others may show signs of wear. The latter can be especially true of in-store display models.
Unlike manufacturer-refurbished items, which are repaired and/or inspected by the original manufacturer, an open-box item may receive an inspection only from the retailer. In the case of Best Buy, returned TVs go straight to the Geek Squad.
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"The Geek Squad inspects all of the TVs that come back to the store," said Michael Dye, a system designer at Best Buy. "And anything that you need to know about the set will be marked on the tag."
Nevertheless, consumers should still be diligent with their open-box purchases. We recommend asking why the TV you're interested in is being sold as an open-box item. Was it immediately returned by a customer, was it used by the retailer for display purposes or does it have a small defect? If a retailer can't answer any of those questions, you're better off looking elsewhere.
Who backs the warranty?
Some open-box TVs are sold "as is," which is another way of saying you're on your own if something goes wrong. These models tend to be the cheapest and most tempting deals, but they also carry the biggest risk, because if something goes wrong, you could be stuck with a damaged TV.
As such, shoppers should find out if their open-box TV can be returned. Some TVs may be backed by the retailer's full warranty, whereas others might have a limited warranty. Newegg's Open Box Store, for instance, advises consumers to read the return policy before making a purchase. Even if the TV looks new, there's no way of knowing how long it was used or under what conditions.
Always look for open-box TVs that include at least a 30-day warranty.
Is there a restocking fee?
Some retailers may charge a restocking fee if you return a TV. Others may require that you pay for the return shipping if you purchased the TV online. In an ideal scenario, you shouldn't have to pay either, but make sure you know what your options are should anything go awry.
Make sure the open-box deal is better than the boxed-TV deal.
TVs are no longer the expensive purchases they used to be. These days, you can find TV deals at any budget and from essentially every manufacturer. Even high-end 4K and OLED models receive significant price cuts. So make sure to price check any open-box TV deal you find. If you're saving less than $100, the deal may not be worth it.