Good as new: A range of refurbished home appliances on display inside a store

SHARJAH: Second-hand prices on virtually new electronics? It sounds too good to be true, but that’s business as usual in the Sharjah electronics market.

The market, in Industrial Area 6, specialises in what are called “refurbished” products, meaning they have a small bump or scratch somewhere; the original packaging is damaged; or that they were used for a few days.

“Since the packing has been opened, they are not new; but since they have never been used, they are not used,” a Bangladeshi salesman there said. “We call them ‘refurbished’ and they are the best value for money as you’re paying much less for something that is, basically, brand spanking new.

“Sometimes even we can’t tell what’s wrong with it or why it’s so cheap. So… you want this Samsung 42-inch LED TV for Dh1,900?”

An Indian shopper said the same model specification would have cost him about Dh800 more at the normal retail price elsewhere in the city. “I think the deal’s on because of a slightly chipped corner,” he added.

A Pakistani expat familiar with the market said non-flatscreen 20-inch TVs can cost as little as Dh200, DVD players as low as Dh75, with air conditioners priced at a comfy Dh300.

Top brands like Samsung, LG and Kenwood can be found in everything from LED TV sets and fridges to blenders and microwaves. Shops and warehouses there are packed to the brim with household electronics of every kind, arranged in no particular order. Narrow and dusty market lanes are dotted with the glare of TV sets playing satellite TV channels amid the hum of air coolers and the clank of metal products getting moved about.

A vendor said most of the products come in bulk from Europe, mainly the UK, Slovakia, Germany and Poland. A lot of the refurbished goods here are also sold wholesale, with Iranian re-exporters being the prominent customers, said a shopkeeper.

He added: “In the US and UK (for example) you can easily return your purchase if you change your mind. Sometimes the original packaging or condition of these returned goods are not tip-top – the shop is not going to put that back on the shelf.

“So it enters the global refurbished market. Also sometimes things get a bit roughed up during shipping, the receiving agent will reject that – it’s sold to refurbished specialists like us and then we sell it to the end user.”

However, as electronics become increasingly more affordable in a retail chain-dominated market, the refurbished specialists fear losing customers.

An Arab shop manager said: “It’s hard to beat a 32-inch LG flatscreen for Dh900 at [a popular hypermarket], with a two-year warranty. We do offer our own shop warranty for six months, but it’s not the same thing.

“Look: if it’s a good refurbished brand, it’ll last you ages. People know that, but when they see a big sale sign and warranty scheme at a regular store, something in their mind clicks and they go for that instead.”

Home electronics are not the only products available at rock-bottom prices in the Industrial Area; the zone is also home to cheap refurbished laptops, furniture and used cars.