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Semi-official 'Apple Refurb' eBay store closed

updated 05:13 am EDT, Mon April 1, 2013

Offered better deals than official refurb outlet

An eBay store that sold refurbished Apple products -- seemingly with Apple's blessing -- at prices equal to or below those of Apple's own refurbished store has been closed, at least temporarily. The store, which sold officially-refurbished Apple products under the seller name "refurbished_outlet" (a long-standing power seller on eBay) now has no products listed after zeroing out all inventory sometime Saturday. The store gained notoriety by selling some items below normal refurb prices, offering a PayPal option, and avoiding taxes in some states.

The store was said to be supplied by Apple through a licensed third party, and began offering Apple-certified refurbished Macs, iPads and iPod products back in November. The refurbs carried the same one-year warranty as those bought from Apple's online refurb store, and refurbished in the same manner (ie new batteries in iOS products, original OS reinstalled on Macs, "burn-in" testing and so on).

The wording on the original page suggested that actual refurbishment was being done by a contracted third party, but "final quality inspection" of refurbs was done by Apple. Earlier this month, the eBay store offered 13.3-inch MacBook Airs for $100 less than the same refurbished model from the official refurb store, along with better deals on 32 and 64GB iPod touch models, and Verizon iPad 2 models.

Apple may have been using the eBay seller as a clearinghouse for excessive inventory, or perhaps the vendor entered into an agreement with Apple to help move the products (Apple Canada once entered into an agreement with Costco to sell some MacBook Pros very briefly). It may simply have been experimenting with a program to allow third-parties to do licensed refurbishment and sales at their own costs and markup. The eBay store was an attractive options since, unlike used Macs and iOS products normally sold through the auction site, the refurbs came with a full warranty as well as the option to pay via PayPal rather than strictly credit-card or gift-card sales as the official refurb store does.





by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    "Avoiding taxes" is exactly that

    "The store gained notoriety by selling some items below normal refurb prices, offering a PayPal option, and avoiding taxes in some states."

    If you live in a state that collects sales tax and you purchase something from an online vendor that does NOT charge you sales tax, then you are responsible for reporting and paying a "use tax" which is typically the same rate as the sales tax rate.

    "Sales tax" is a burden put on the seller of an item. "Use tax" is a burden put on the purchaser of an item. If a vendor doesn't charge you sales tax, then the consumer must pay a "use tax." Even on most used items. You don't ever have to pay both, but you have to pay one or the other (provided you're in a sales-tax state).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Use_tax

    If you purchase something online and you're not charged sales tax, and you do not report and pay the use tax, then the article hit the nail on the head: you've just "avoided taxes," which is not legal.

    I don't know if the internet has helped people to be more educated about regulations and laws, or more ignorant about regulations and laws, but just because millions of people buy crap online then turn around and say, "Look! No tax! Awesome!" does not make it any more legal.

  1. Grendelmon

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 12-26-07

    Right

    Originally Posted by DiabloConQuesoView Post

    "The store gained notoriety by selling some items below normal refurb prices, offering a PayPal option, and avoiding taxes in some states."

    If you live in a state that collects sales tax and you purchase something from an online vendor that does NOT charge you sales tax, then you are responsible for reporting and paying a "use tax" which is typically the same rate as the sales tax rate.

    "Sales tax" is a burden put on the seller of an item. "Use tax" is a burden put on the purchaser of an item. If a vendor doesn't charge you sales tax, then the consumer must pay a "use tax." Even on most used items. You don't ever have to pay both, but you have to pay one or the other (provided you're in a sales-tax state).

    Use tax - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    If you purchase something online and you're not charged sales tax, and you do not report and pay the use tax, then the article hit the nail on the head: you've just "avoided taxes," which is not legal.

    I don't know if the internet has helped people to be more educated about regulations and laws, or more ignorant about regulations and laws, but just because millions of people buy crap online then turn around and say, "Look! No tax! Awesome!" does not make it any more legal.




    Right, because everyone is a tax-dodger when they don't even know that the use tax law exists.

    Retailers make absolutely no effort to tell it's customers that out-of-state sales are exempt from sales tax and that they might need to pay a use tax instead. In fact, many companies have advertised this as a reason to buy from them (especially around the holiday season e.g. "Free shipping! No sales tax!").

    To me it sounds like you're blaming consumers for being stupid and are "sticking it to the man" by evading use taxes. Nobody knows about it, and even the people that do probably don't care. Congress does nothing to enforce it. Why do you think California started the online sales tax, and the federal government wants to start charging internet sales tax in all applicable states?

    http://consumerist.com/2013/03/22/symbolic-senate-vote-demonstrates-support-for-marketplace-fairness-act/

  1. dwlayman

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-06-10

    I know and I care (sorta)

    I know about the user tax and I care enough about having a clean conscience, that I will pay $58.63 in user tax in the 2012 tax year.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Not knowing about a law does not excuse you from not following it. Morally perhaps to a certain extent, but certainly not legally. :)

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    On the other hand,

    It is likely a "Don't ask a question if you don't really want to know the answer." kinda thing. Or maybe a license agreement kinda thing, where you are presented with a dialog box with loooong scrolling content, and you decide to just click "I agree" instead of reading that long as_...

    In both cases, no one is "sticking it to the man". Instead, "the buck stops here", right in this drawer, where I'll put it until...

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