About the law To be or not to be refurbished

POSTED: 06/15/16 7:14 PM


By Cor Merx, attorney at law

Before I arrived in Sint Maarten – 15 years ago – I never heard of the word “refurbished” because this was not taught in my school-English.

In Sint Maarten there was a discussion about this issue between some suppliers as it was like: you should be aware that the prices are so low because the items are refurbished. They were packed over in another box to make sure they looked like brand-new.

Well, let me try to explain something.

Refurbished means: the product was in use by someone and it went back to the manufacturer to be repaired according to the standards of a new product. The price of these items, most of the time, is better than a new one. That sounds reasonable.

But is it really scary to buy a refurbished product for less money and a lower period of (manufacture) warranty?

No, but please be aware that someone other than the manufacturer can refurbish the product. We call this B-refurbished. My advice is not to buy that kind of product.

I purchased a refurbished generator from a Dutch-German brand because it was totally revised. I took that generator because some other people had a good experience with it. It also is according to the noise and hindrance standards from Holland or the EU (Europe). The American ones make a lot of noise. The difference in noise regulations (in both countries) is clear: in Holland people live very close to each other and a loud generator would cause a lot of hindrance. In the US people live (sometimes) miles away from each other so a generator does not cause hindrance.

Back to the story.

A refurbished product, in itself, is not per definition a bad product. You have to take into consideration the price and the product warranty. It is a personal choice but the supplier has to inform you correctly about the condition of the product. If that is done and you come to an agreement you agree with a refurbished product for a lower price and a shorter period of warranty.

But problems start when the product is not functioning well.

In that case the supplier has to come forward and find out if it was you or a manufacturer mistake that caused the problem. If that is the case you are involved in a serious court case already (again: it depends on the price of the product versus the expenses of a lawyer).

In any case you have to contact the supplier for the warranty because you still do not have an (direct) agreement with the manufacturer.

Here we have the situation that we need a report of an expert to make sure who is responsible for what (the same thing I told you earlier in the case of a currency failure by Gebe).

In the court case the main question will be: did the supplier inform you – yes or no – that it was a refurbished product. If that is not the case, your case in court will most likely be based on an “error of the facts” – dwaling). Because, a contract which has been entered into under the influence of an error and which would not have been concluded had there been a correct assessment of the facts, may be avoided.

To prove these things in court you need sufficient evidence about the question: did he (the supplier) tell you or not or you have it in writing? It would be good to have someone as a witness or have it in writing if the purchase is a very expensive one and refurbished.

The court also will take into consideration if it was a reasonable refurbished product that failed shortly after purchasing it.

My message would be: to be wise, think twice but do not be afraid if it is regarding your wallet. Get the proof before you start the purchase.

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