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Refurbished GPS Devices


A question that comes up frequently in the forums goes like this.

I recently saw a refurbished GPS advertised at a great price. Should I consider purchasing a GPS that is a refurb? Is there anything I should know? What are the consequences of refurbished devices?

Here are our thoughts on the issue.

Generally speaking, I’ve always been a fan of purchasing refurbished consumer electronics. They often are sold at good discounts– 10-20% off current low street prices which can make them a great value. There is also a good argument that refurbished devices undergo more testing and scrutiny than a device that just passes “standard” assembly line testing. With that said, there are a few things to watch out for.

  1. Warranty: Typically, the warranty offered for a refurbished device is exactly the same as a “factory first” GPS device, but double check that it is true from the store you are considering your purchase from.
  2. Authorized Dealer: Also check to make sure the store you are looking at is in fact an authorized dealer– you wouldn’t want to be offered a warranty only to find that there is some loophole because the store is not an authorized dealer.
  3. Map Updates: This is the “kicker” when it comes to refurbished GPS devices. I’ve heard from a couple of people who have purchased refurbs that came with a much older map than what is currently offered by that GPS company, and in some cases they were told they were not entitled to a complimentary map update due to the refurb status, or because the map was so old it no longer qualified for any complimentary updates. That is the bigger issue of refurbs. It doesn’t happen all that often– but it has happened in the past.

Only you can determine if you are willing to take that risk. If the GPS is a fairly new release (say less than 9 months old) then your chances are good it will come with a recent map. If the device was originally released more than 12 months ago, you might not want to take the chance that you will get an older map, with an expensive upgrade process.

Update: TomTom now is offering an “Outlet Store” offering refurbished devices. From the language on the site, it appears these refurbished devices will appear in other stores as well. These devices only come with a six month warranty, and are not eligible for TomTom’s Latest Map Guarantee. (They are offering MapShare, however.) The lack of a full one year warranty and no latest map guarantee makes their typical discount of 20% off not worth it, in my opinion. Garmin does typically honor their nuMaps Guarantee on refurbished devices.

17 Responses

  1. I recently purchased a TomTom 3rd edition refurb from a popular website. The unit was flawless with a recent map installed. Would definitely purchase a refurb GPS again, in fact thinking of buying one for myself (the first one was a fathers day gift).

    Ryan - June 6th, 2008
  2. I feel the same way. Bought a refurb. TomTom One 3nd Ed. for $100 delivered. Did the on-line update to new maps just released days after I bought. Unit looks new. Cannot be told from new. Like it a lot. Liked idea so much I am getting my dad a refurb. Magellan 2200T (with text to speech and free dash stand) for the same money from NewEgg. Hope the Nuvi 350’s show up refurb. before long, may replace my Garmin 2720 with one.

    George - June 8th, 2008
  3. Have bought refurbs before. Great prices for almost new units. good deal

    Pete - August 8th, 2008
  4. I’ve bought 3 refurbished units, and that will never happen again. The first one didn’t work right out of the box. The second froze up every 20 minutes, and the 3 rd had a file access error that won’t go away. Actually, I only bought one, but Tomtom has been replacing them for me, which is good. But each one is faulty. New to you maybe, but I will get brand spanking new from now on.

    Brian - August 29th, 2008
  5. thanks for refurb review

    glen - November 12th, 2008
  6. Well, I went ahead and ordered a TomTom 720 refurb from Amazon. $159.99 seems like too good of a deal to pass up. I read that most users were able to send in their receipt and they honored the map upgrades so hopefully I’ll have no issues either. I’m looking forward to getting it and crossing my fingers that it’s a worthwhile replacement for my TomTom 510.

    Dan - November 22nd, 2008
  7. Read my blog regarding Tiger Direct and TomTom and the “free” map upgrade. Tiger Direct says you’ll get it then contradicts themselves in the same ad yet really doesn’t say you won’t. Yet when you call they hem and haw and finally only offer to send you a return label for the unit. TomTom won’t stop the vendors deceptive practices because they’re dumping tens of thousands of refurbished units and don’t want to make waves. Sad story in today’s economy. Incidentally, the unit I bought this week has maps that are over a year old according to TomTom.

    Bruce - March 2nd, 2009
  8. I just bought a refurb’d TomTom ONE XL-S from [deleted] and had a slight hiccup trying to update the map. The map that was loaded on the unit was quite old. In the box was a code for a “free map update”, tried to enter the code into TomTom Home, and it didn’t recognize the code. So I tried clicking on “tools-latest map guarantee”, and it came back as “your device is not eligible for…” So a quick phone call to TT customer service, I was told to scan the paper with the code, and my store receipt, add it to the help ticket on my account on TT’s website, and had a map update ready for me in under 15 minutes. The unit itself works very well, and haven’t had any problems with it in the first week. I try to look for refurbished products to get a good deal, and have never had problems with refurbished. I guess your experiences may differ…

    Luke - March 28th, 2009
    • But why are so many refurbished units of GPS out there in the first place? I have not seen any other electronics items that are selling so many refurbished units through so many e-tailers.

      Branon - April 22nd, 2009
      • Brandon, I think it is for a couple of reasons. 1) holiday sales that had been returned now back in the supply chain. 2) People love to purchase these types of devices for a short vacation then return them after. 🙁 3) Most people purchasing a GPS are purchasing their first… while most people have purchased a computer or digital camera before. GPS is a technology foreign to most people so they are less sure what they want.

        Tim - April 22nd, 2009
  9. I am a bit sketchy about buying a refurbished gps system. One thing that come to mind is that a map that is over a year old is not really a big deal. I mean, \Where do people actually live that they are builiding new streets everday?\ LOL. I honestly believe that a refurbished unit is great, but runs the risk of the warranty not being fully covered after 6 months which can be a deal breaker.

    joshua - May 29th, 2009
    • Joshua, the issue isn’t always the new streets built in the past year, but rather the fact that the maps are many years behind in some areas. It can sometimes take many years for new streets to finally get added.

      Tim - June 1st, 2009
  10. Hi
    I just purchased a refurbished one here in Australia but it is apparently imported from the US

    What I am asking though which is probably unrelated to the general topic thread:

    Can I use a usb cable plugged into my ipod charger to charge it rather than having to plug the unit into a car or computer. The plug ends look the same – I want to avoid having to take over 3-4 chargers when I travel overseas.
    Thanks Peter

    Peter - June 2nd, 2009
  11. Yes Peter you can buy the home usb charger and it comes with adapters to be used overseas and it is a plug in charger.

    I bought a TomTom 720 refurb and like others cannot tell that is has been refurbed. It works well and if your a smart ans savvy consumer you should buy a Squaretrade warranty which I did and it only cost me a few dollars for 2 years of coverage. As with all electronics things go bad and sometimes I can honestly say people do not take take of thier stuff and then blame it on the manufacturer.

    I like refurbished, recertified items and have bought them for years and will continue to do so, even as gifts. Brand new items can fail too. As far as a map update is concerned like another user said is true. They do not build and change roads every year. Some people act as if if they do not have the latest map update that they may end up in a swamp. It only can be a deal breaker if you travel frequently out of your home area and rely on a gps for work or getting around in a foreign area. Eventually those new maps will get old and you still have to update and pay for maps after your complimentary maps so whats the big deal? There are ways around the map updates as well if your savvy.

    The TomTom 720 is a great little gps and I am glad I bought it and will keep it for a long time. I just wish I could get the damm FM Transmitter working and that TomTom would not treat US users as UK Users. They do know that we are a seperate country right? lol. Anyway I hope they resolve that issue before a class action lawsuit insues and they lose customer support in droves.

    Radiorara - June 20th, 2009
  12. I am a new GPS buyer. I’m moving from CA to NY and about to drive across country. I am interested in a refurbished TomTom 130 or 130S (text to speech). I’ve read about the map update issue and I’m wondering if these updates would really be an issue for me across country and, more importantly, in a big city like NY? Also, just how valuable is text to speech in the city? Is it all worth it??

    nicki - August 9th, 2009
  13. Refurbed seems to be a good idea, but I am concerned about batteries. Does the factory put new ones in? I would hate to get a refurb where batteries last only a few months past warranty when new ones would have lasted much longer.

    Mike Dreher - November 20th, 2009
  14. Looking to buy a GPS for a gift. I have never owned one but they had a Magellan and dropped it so it doesn’t work that great now. I am looking at three different Magellans becasue she has a map update that is only a few months old. The ones I am looking at are the Maestro 3140, 3250 or 4200. Which would be better to buy? I know she is not looking for a lot of bells and whistles, but I want a good one for her. Thanks

    Steve - December 8th, 2009

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