Refurb Experience/Advice


macrumors member
Original poster
Jun 21, 2005
Raleigh, NC
Hi all,

I recently purchased a refurb mini from apple. This experience is different than other refurb experience from apple, so I wanted to poll the audience to see if this was unique to me. In the past, when I have purchased a refurb from apple, it has come sealed in a new box, and looks 'factory fresh'. The machine I recently received was in a container for shipping computers to apple for repair (plain white box). The plastic wrap/seal usually applied to apple products was torn and looked as though it had been taken off and put back on. there was some debris from the foam packaging inside the box. The power cable and hdmi adapter were loose in the box. I called apple and they quickly apologized and are shipping me a new machine with expedited shipping - but I wonder if my previous experience or this one was the norm. I know many MR posters buy refurb, so do you usually receive your machine in like new condition? Is it properly packaged in new apple packaging? A Plain brown box?

Thanks for sharing your experiences...


macrumors member
Jul 6, 2008
I will be receiving my refurb mac book pro 13 tomorrow so I cannot say yet, but the reason I purchased a refurb was because I was reading through a refurb post on this forum and most of the people said that buying a refurb is a better option than a brand new one because apple does a pretty good quality check before putting the refurbs up for sale.


macrumors 68040
Mar 3, 2008
I got a refurb black Macbook from Microcenter for my daughter. It came in a "brown box" without manuals or disks but it works quite well and she is happy with it. Microcenter claimed it is "from Apple" but it certainly didn't come with normal Macbook packaging.

Vantage Point

macrumors 65816
Mar 1, 2010
New Jersey
I purchased a refurb 2009 iMac and it arrived well packaged and looking brand new but in a plain white box. The box with the magic mouse was labeled refurb but aside from that everyone looked and performed like new


macrumors regular
Dec 21, 2009
My experience was the same as yours, loose power cable, some loose pieces (very small) of styrofoam, and a small gash in the plain white box. The computer was fine though. Aside from the packaging, what exactly was wrong with the computer you wanted replaced? Did it have a dent in it? Did a port not work? Did it not start up? I honestly don't care that much about packaging and I'm glad to have saved some money.

Digital Skunk

macrumors 604
Dec 23, 2006
In my imagination
The interesting thing about refurbs purchased from Apple is that they actually have less of a chance of coming with defects.

A refurbed machine from Apple is only one of two things:

1) and EOL'ed machine that goes back to the warehouse from the retail stores.


2) a machine that has been CTO or purchased from a customer, then returned for whatever reason NOT related to defects.

Once the machine is back at the warehouse, the box is recycled and the machine is inspected for defects. Defective machines get torn apart and the good parts are used as parts for repairs. Good machines get stored in generic boxes and put on the market as refurbed.

They don't go into detail about the specs of the machine, especially when dealing with very specific CTO systems. At times, a buyer will purchase what they think is a stock configuration of a machine and then find out that the processor or HDD has been upgraded.

Refurbs come with the full Apple Care eligibility and many other deals Apple offers. You can't get an EDU/business/or GOV discount however.

I've purchased most of my hardware from Apple refurbed over the past 7 years and have never had a problem with any of them. I just don't get the nice boxes.

Now, as for your case, I would have done the same thing. I've NEVER gotten a refurbed product from Apple that's looked rifled through with unkept cables. That was a unique incident IMHO.


macrumors 68040
Feb 20, 2009
East of Lyra, Northwest of Pegasus
I've purchased a few refurbs through Apple, and they have all been like new. I bought my Mini refurbed in 2009, and the only difference between it and new was the box. All cables were neatly packaged, and the unit looked brand new. All three refurbed iPods I have purchased have been like new, as well. I'm not sure what happened with yours. I haven't had nearly the same experience buying from Dell's refurb store.


macrumors newbie
Jan 31, 2012
Cheshire, UK
Purchased a refurb just last week...

After much deliberating I brought a refurb'ed 27" iMac last week.

It arrived on the Tuesday, in a plain white box, as expected from my research. Unfortunately, when I opened it I was a little concerned, because though the polystyrene packing was intact, as I took out the individual components it seemed like they had been packaged either in a hurry, or just simply without any care and the power cable was lose in the bottom of the box.

My concern was confirmed when on first boot, it was evident that the screen was not functioning.

I went through the fairly standard troubleshooting procedures, but all to no avail.

Therefore, with a sinking heart I phoned Apple Customer services...

...and I have to say they were great. A new (refurb) iMac was dispatched almost immediately, which arrived the following day (I could have chosen the day) and the faulty one was collected by a different courier company, at my convenience.

I was also regularly updated by email on a regular basis from the Apple employee who dealt with my issue.

The new one was well packed, and most importantly, fully functional and indiscernible from a new retail packaged machine.

So I would certainly purchase one again, as they got the customer service right, even when something had initially had gone wrong.

Also, as an aside, if you ever study any Engineering discipline, you are likely to cover the topic of reliability and specifically the product reliability life cycle, or "bathtub" curve. This basically shows that statistically failures of any product generally occur during two distinct periods - wear out - the end of life and more importantly "infant mortality" - products failing at the very start of their lives, first boot, etc. This is why refurb's are generally good value, as not only are they cheaper, they are generally past the infant mortality period.


macrumors 601
Mar 7, 2007
Midwest America.
I have never had an issue, so far, getting refurbed systems from Apple.

My most recent purchase was a Mac Mini Server which came in a rather large white box. The Mini was contained in the normal Apple shrink-wrap style noisy plastic envelope and the box had a divider so a third of its extra width could be for the cables and DVD's. The cables and power supply looked completely new and had the plastic wrap strip on them. The Mini itself was sheltered in enormous foam bits that more than adequately cushioned it.

The system came up and so far everything is spot on. No problems.

I did hear of a person locally getting a MacBook Pro refurb and the unit had a huge dent in it. They called Apple and they actually sent a new one to replace it. The recipient had evidently filed a case with the shipper who denied the claim because there was no box damage. But how many new products arrive DOA or damaged. Badness happens... Apple stands behind their products, and their users. That's a damn good thing in this time where 'customer service', like 'employees' are a liability...


macrumors 6502
Jul 23, 2002
Save some money

If you find a machine with the specs you want, generally you can same some money without any problems. They usually arrive in plain brown or white boxes, not retail packing.

I've purchased a refurbished Mac Pro and 15" MacBook Pro and both have worked just fine with no problems. I think Apple extends the warranty on refurbished items, or at least it is the same a new.

Highly recommended!


macrumors newbie
Jan 29, 2012
Refurbished iMac decision

I have always been on the fence when thinking about purchasing refurbed Apple, only from the sour taste I have had from other companies, (lets face it almost all!), and I was on the fence with apple. I know and trust anything apple, but after visiting this forum I have made my decision to purchase refurb. Saving money and still loving apple.

I will post my findings.
Again thank you everyone


macrumors member
May 11, 2011
In my experiences it has been a plain white box. But there has never been any thing loose or out of place. I don't blame you for calling them, you may have gotten a refurb that was used and sent back but never prepared again for reshipment. Just a thought.


macrumors G3
Feb 26, 2011
New England, USA
I had a problem with my iPhone 4 and it was swapped out at the Genius bar. I assume it was a refurb.

It was cosmetically perfect - believe me, I did a thorough inspection!

It has worked perfectly since I received it. I certainly would have thought it was brand new, except it was in a black box.:D

Corrosive vinyl

macrumors 6502
Sep 22, 2006
Back in the day, I bought 2 iBook G4s. The first one was refurbished and worked perfectly. It was a return from a previous customer that was just sitting up on a table. The second was brand new and had years of issues that I later came to the conclusion of a bad logic board or solder holding it in place.
Last edited:


macrumors 68040
Dec 17, 2009
Most of the stuff I buy directly from Apple are refurbs. They always come in plain white boxes, but the cables are usually bound up with their plastic "tabs". Since they are usually in white boxes, they don't have the "normal" compartments so a lot of times cables are a little bit less contained and a little more "free to roam" in the box. I haven't purchased a computer refurbed, but many aiport expresses/extreme's, iPods, etc.


macrumors 6502
Apr 14, 2006
I have bought dozens of refurbs from imacs to macbooks to ipods. Never had an issue. The nly drawback is if you resell. People tend to turn their noses up at a refurb.


macrumors 601
Oct 26, 2009
4 Macs and an Airport Extreme refurb (from Apple) that except for the brown box appeared 100% like brand new. If I got one that was a mess I'd question if it were refurbished but somehow sent by mistake and return it.


macrumors 65816
Feb 25, 2003
Cold beer land
I can't see a downside.

I ordered a prior generation macbook a few years ago. Worked fine except an issue with trackpad. Talked to Apple. They said engineering wanted the machine & offer me a brand new latest generation.
I said .... sure!
Simply put, Apple took care of the situation.


macrumors newbie
Dec 1, 2010
Refurbs are the best

No fancy box, but many of the refurbs come with Snow Leopard (10.6), which means you get to avoid the Lion mess and hassles... and upgrade to Lion for $30 if/when you want to.

I just sent back my Lion-locked iMacs at work and replaced them with refurbs-- beautiful machines so far, and they came with a stable OS that can actually do good old "Save As' and has all the familiar keyboard shortcuts.


macrumors regular
Nov 10, 2011
On my second refurb laptop. Why pay full price just because of the box?

In my case, a 'last model' MBP (17", 2.2Ghz), it came with an extra 4GB of RAM at no cost.

I'd happily buy refurb again.


macrumors member
Jan 13, 2012
You'll always get a few bad eggs, such is life. This is true for everything you buy. I got a refurb iPod shuffle, as far as I could tell the thing ran like a champ. No issues.


macrumors 6502
Jun 19, 2010
Albuquerque, NM
I received my 27" 2010 iMac in a grungy white box with a handle, specs label, and shipping label on it. Inside, was the typical packing material you'd find in a retail iMac box; the styrofoam padding, the white box with keyboard, magic mouse, documentation, restore discs, and the power cord tucked away in the lower placeholders. At first, I was shocked that Apple would ship the iMac in just the one box, but after several months of using the machine, and finding it had an upgraded internal 2TB hard drive instead of the advertised 1TB, I got over it.

I've also bought refurbed iPods in the past, and they came in plain jane boxes, not the retail boxes. Always came with the same accessories as the new devices did.

If I buy another Apple product in the future, I'll check the refurbed section first. I'd be more than happy to have my next computer, my first iPad, or another refurbed iPod if available.


macrumors 68000
Jan 30, 2005
Greenville, NC
I have owned nothing but Apple refurbs for the past 4 years and they have all been wonderful. The only product I've ever had problems with is my current MacBook cracking near the hinges but that is a product defect and not a refurbished issue. I will be buying a refurb MacBook Pro in the future.

Similar threads

  • jcmc
  • Bradley Street
  • Gremlyn
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.