We often get asked about supplies of reworked, reconditioned and graded appliances, especially washing machines, cookers and fridge freezers and the short answer is, supplying raw or graded appliances is something that we do not do.
In fact, there appear to be almost nobody that does do it in any meaningful way for trade these days.
WEEE Kills Reconditioning
It is suspected that the introduction of the WEEE Regulations, instead of actually helping with reconditioning, has actually largely led to its demise in our industry or, it hasn't helped.
There are many reasons for this but the highlights are that suddenly, the large national retailers suddenly realised that if they used their returns correctly that they could make more money from them in evidence to meet their WEEE requirements than they were worth selling as raw appliances.
So, instead of selling on all the returns, they get processed and used as evidence leaving the small traders with no route to obtain raw appliances.
Also, due to WEEE, the local councils have to account for their WEEE returns so no more buying appliances from local amenity sites to rework. It helps pay for the sites and there are national deals done for these returns we are led to believe.
Add to this the high cost of making a business able to recondition legally under the WEEE Regs and you quickly come to realise, nobody is going to do it as there simply isn't enough money in it. That is of course, if you can even get appliances to rework in the first place.
Until the UK government (as well as the EU) looks at this sort of problem in specific industries, don't expect much change.
Graded = Spare Parts
With the appliance industry moving to, well anywhere that’s cheap to produce really, the cost of spare parts has relatively risen quite dramatically in relation to the cost of the product in a number of cases.
Add to that the longer lead times, higher shipping costs of spare parts and the fact that exchanging machines is desperately costly you may be able to appreciate why a lot of warranty returns are not sold as graded products now.
They are stripped down for spare parts as, bluntly, they are worth more as spares than they are as graded appliances.
Costly Spare Parts = Less Reconditioning
And there’s the Catch 22.
If the parts are more expensive, take longer to get and are generally a pain then machines that have those properties get passed over for reconditioning. They also often happen to be the ones that are less reliable and with poorer branding so, all in all, not worth the bother.
Therefore you have a number of people all competing to buy the same returns and the pool of acceptable brands for reworking is getting smaller and smaller.
Cheaper Products = Less Reworking
For years and years customers have demanded cheaper and cheaper products and, in response, the manufacturers or brands and retailers have largely provided just that.
Trouble is, what’s the point of buying a reconditioned washing machine from wherever for £150 when you can buy a new one from Argos for £170? And, if the cost to replace for Argos is even £100 for the product plus delivery et all then how much is the return worth as parts to prevent another exchange?
Okay, we in the trade know that the recon will likely be a higher quality than the cheap you can get in Argos for that money but, the public don’t know that. They just think a washing machine is a washing machine and see new versus old.
Less people buying reconditioned machines equates to less demand.
The fact it only lasts a year or two before falling apart doesn't factor in when people buy a new washing machine, cooker or whatever.
We do not supply graded or reworked appliances at all.
We are unaware of any suppliers that do have meaningful supplies of graded appliances, especially washing machines, cookers and fridge freezers.
As above, we do not supply reconditioned appliances to trade at all.
Again, we are unaware of any suppliers of reworked appliances in any meaningful quantities.
We do not supply these at all.
Where To Get Raw, Recons And Graded
We honestly don’t know.
There used to be a bunch of companies that would specialise in getting and supplying raw appliances for reconditioning but, they all seem to have vanished. Even the charities now struggle to get appliances either reconditioned or raw in any volume and we know of some charities that have simply stopped trading appliances over the years as, it appears to be just too much hassle.
The best thing we can suggest is to ask in the trade forums and see if anyone can help, other than that, we've got nothing to offer.
If you do find a supplier, our advice is, don't tell anyone!
As for graded products, you might secure the odd few but with a fragmented market and more being used for spares that much of anything else, you will probably struggle. Badly.