Amazon is a bustling marketplace, teeming with products ranging from brand-new items to refurbished products. One term often stands out among these seemingly endless offerings: “open box.” If you’ve ever wondered, “What does open box mean on Amazon?” you’re not alone!
The Open Box Deal
“Open box” refers to items returned by customers that are then sold at discounted prices through Amazon Warehouse.
But why are they returned? The reasons can range from a customer changing their mind to a product with minor cosmetic damage from the factory.
However, before these items are resold, Amazon thoroughly inspects their condition, checking for signs of wear and verifying they’re in perfect working condition. If an item passes this inspection and its original product packaging is intact, it’s classified as an “open box” item. In other words, the box may be open, but that’s almost all that happened.
Categories of Open Box Items: “Used – Like New” and “Very Good”
Amazon categorizes the product condition of its best open-box items as “used – like new” or “very good.” Products labeled “used – like new” have either been opened but not used or used lightly with no signs of wear. These items typically come with their original packaging and accessories and are, as the label implies, just like new.
On the other hand, “very good” items may show some signs of use. They could have minor damage, such as cosmetic blemishes or dents, missing non-essential accessories, or the instruction manual. However, these products are still verified to be in good working condition.
The specific condition of an open-box product can be found in the product description on the item’s listing page. This detailed description can help you understand the exact condition of the article, why it was returned, and what you’ll get in the box when the delivery person rings your doorbell.
Understanding the Rest of Amazon’s Grading System
Amazon has a reasonably comprehensive grading system to help you make an informed decision when purchasing open-box items. In addition to “used – like new” and “very good,” you may also come across other terms such as “used – good” and “used–acceptable.”
The “used–good” category includes items with more noticeable signs of wear and tear, but they still work perfectly. So if aesthetics aren’t that important to you, this could mean a great bargain.
Meanwhile, “used–acceptable” is the lowest grade Amazon provides, indicating that the item has been well-used and may have significant cosmetic damage but remains operational. Before buying a product at this grade, you’d have to think hard about how much the discount you’re getting means to you.
How “Open Box” Differs from “Refurbished”
While open box and refurbished items provide an opportunity to save money, they aren’t the same. Refurbished products, often marked as “refurb” or “renewed,” are items returned to the manufacturer or a third-party seller due to a defect or damage. Sometimes these items are traded in. For example, Apple refurbishes the devices you trade with new ones.
Either way, they are repaired, tested for functionality, and repackaged for sale. Refurbished items are guaranteed to be in good working condition despite possibly undergoing more significant use or damage. They often come with a limited warranty, although the duration and coverage may vary compared to a new product’s warranty.
Unlike “open box” items, refurbished products are expected to function like new products, despite any cosmetic imperfections. This restoration to near-original conditions justifies the higher price point for refurbished items compared to open-box items of the same model.
Notably, components like lithium batteries are often replaced with new ones and other “consumable” parts. It is worth looking into the specific refurbishment process for the item you’re considering, but it may have substantial advantages over some open-box items that have been moderately used.
Amazon’s Return Policy for Open Box Items
Amazon’s return policy applies to open-box items like new or refurbished ones. If an open box item does not meet your satisfaction—perhaps your laptop from the Amazon Warehouse has more dents than expected, or your smartphone doesn’t look as “like new” as described—you can return it under the standard return policy. To begin a return, head to your Amazon account’s Your Orders page. Amazon’s return process is generally hassle-free, which lowers the risk of trying open-box items.
The Manufacturer’s Warranty for Open Box Items
While Amazon’s return policy covers open-box items, the same may not be true for the manufacturer’s warranty. A manufacturer’s warranty is often linked to the original purchase and may not be transferable. Therefore, the warranty may be void for open-box items. If the manufacturer’s warranty is critical for your purchase, it’s worth considering this before proceeding with an open-box item.
Open Box Items Across Different Platforms
Amazon isn’t the only retailer offering open-box deals. You can find similar offerings from Best Buy, Walmart, and eBay. Best Buy, for instance, uses labels like “Open-Box Excellent” and “Open-Box Satisfactory” to give customers an idea of the item’s condition. Understanding these ratings across different platforms can help you make an informed choice when shopping for open-box items.
It’s essential to actually read what each rating means for each platform. Just because two marketplaces use similar wording to describe the condition of an open box item doesn’t mean that they use the same standards to label them.
The Assurance of Quality
Quality assurance for open-box items on Amazon is a meticulous process. Amazon sellers, especially those under the Amazon Warehouse Deals program, adhere to a strict grading system before listing items for sale. This rigorous quality control process ensures that the open-box items meet Amazon’s standards. If an item doesn’t pass these checks, it isn’t sold as an open-box item.
That said, plenty of products that don’t meet the on-paper standards make it through the program. Ultimately, human beings do the grading, and no matter how clear the criteria are, some measure of subjectivity is always involved. So what you’d consider a minor aesthetic defect might be a dealbreaker for someone else.
The Variety of Open Box Items
The array of open-box items available on Amazon is diverse. From smartphones like Apple iPhones to Amazon’s own Kindle devices, from laptops to vacuums, the open box category spans a vast range of products.
As long as it’s durable (i.e., not consumable), it’s eligible to be sold as an open-box item, at least in principle.
The Best Types of Open Box Items
While you can find a wide range of products listed as open-box items, certain categories tend to be more prevalent or make more sense as open-box purchases. Electronics, particularly laptops and smartphones from brands like Apple, often top the list of open-box offerings.
These high-demand, high-cost products are often returned due to minor defects or buyer’s remorse, making them prime candidates for open-box deals. This can help you save hundreds of dollars on items that are no worse for wear than when the shrinkwrap first came off.
Similarly, household appliances such as vacuums are commonly found as open box deals. Customers might return these items because of packaging damage, after deciding on a different model, or after realizing the product doesn’t fit their home. However, these types of products usually remain in perfect working condition.
Amazon’s products, like the Kindle, are frequently available too. Given Amazon’s direct control over these items, it can ensure these open-box items meet high-quality standards. It also makes it easy for them to replace any missing accessories.
The Savvy Shopping Approach
When shopping for open-box items, comparison is vital. Don’t be in a hurry to save money, but take your time. For instance, a “used – like new” vacuum cleaner might seem like a bargain on Amazon, but you might find the same item brand new at Walmart for just a few dollars more.
Always check the UPC (Universal Product Code) to ensure you’re comparing the same model across different platforms. Sometimes the open box deal might be an older model, which isn’t necessarily bad, but improvements or bug fixes might make it worth paying a little more.
Ensuring a Smooth Open-Box Purchase Experience
After purchasing an open-box item, inspecting it immediately upon arrival is vital. Verify if the product matches the description on the listing page, and check for any missing accessories.
Amazon sells many open-box items directly via Amazon Warehouse, but some are offered by third-party sellers. This means they may have slightly different standards and policies. A seller with high ratings and positive reviews is more likely to accurately describe the open box item and respond promptly to any issues. For this reason, you should carefully consider the ratings and reviews of a particular third-party seller before choosing an open-box offering from them.
The Bottom Line
The open box category on Amazon offers savvy shoppers the opportunity to snag items in like-new or very good condition for a fraction of the original cost. While these items may have minor blemishes or be missing certain accessories, they’re confirmed to be in good working condition.
Even though open-box shopping might carry more risk than buying new, the benefits could outweigh the drawbacks if you don’t mind a minor imperfection or a missing manual. To reduce waste and provide cost-effective shopping solutions, the open box initiative offers excellent value and benefits for price- or environmentally-conscious consumers.