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Late last year, it was discovered that Apple was potentially selling its refurbished wares through eBay, discreetly under the seller name Refurbished-Outlet. At the time, 9to5 Mac pointed to the near identical re-certification practices as evidence that this was an Apple-run outfit; all items came with a full 1-year warranty, final inspection was completed by Apple itself, and all of the items were priced the same as the Apple Store. The eBay front still exists, but it appears as if the latter practice has changed — and in the consumer's favor.
dealnews recently discovered that several Apple items on the eBay store have dropped to prices that are lower than what the Apple Store charges, in some cases by a significant margin. Currently, the most notable price cut is on the current-generation 13.3" MacBook Air with a 128GB SSD, which comes in at an all-time low of $899 — $100 less than what Apple charges directly.
Additionally, the eBay store offers both the fourth-generation 32GB and 64GB iPod touch players for $179 and $229, respectively; that's $30 and $50 less than Apple Store prices. Even more curious is the fact that we've actually seen the Apple Store offer these exact price cuts in the past; both models fell to $179 and $229 in January.
Lamentably, the MacBook Pro and 256GB MacBook Air offerings are priced the same as the Apple Store, as are all of the third-generation iPads. Both of the refurbished iPad 2s are cheaper, but they're only available in Verizon 3G flavors: the 32GB is $429 and the 64GB is $529, which are both $50 less than their price tags at the Apple Store.
Discounts are of course great, but why is Apple selling its refurbished products at a different price? And why is it using a mysterious eBay store to begin with? AppleInsider has suggested that Apple has been experimenting with eBay in "unconventional" ways to push laptops in large volumes. The publication floats the theory that the manufacturer is approaching "eBay power sellers" and giving them MacBook Pro Retina laptops to sell at a discount. While that involves third party sellers and a computer model that isn't currently in the Refurbished-Outlet store, the idea of discreetly promoting discounts in order to increase sales could still apply.
Regardless, the news means that consumers have a new opportunity to save money. And as we've said many times before, purchasing an Apple-certified refurb is an excellent way to score an iDevice at a discount since the manufacturer does a near flawless job of refreshing its electronics. In fact, for many people an Apple-refurbished product is the only refurb they'll buy. With these recent cuts, those consumers can now get that same quality second-hand product for even less.