The Case for a Refurbished Blendtec or Vitamix

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The following article details my first-hand industry experience with refurbished Vitamix and Blendtec blenders.  To skip straight to details on available models from these manufacturers, scroll down to the section entitled, “The Specifics.”

(updated July 28, 2015)

 

Everybody likes something new.  No matter how fleeting, there’s a tangible level of excitement that comes with breaking a factory-seal, peeling away shrink-wrap, and breathing in familiar scents associated with something never-before owned. “Unboxing” just about anything is such a thrilling event for some that YouTube, for instance, has a catalog of nearly 20 million videos of just that – people sharing with the world their experiences tearing into the packaging of a product for the very first time.

I can’t imagine anyone not being excited over seeing a brand new Vitamix or Blendtec blender waiting on his or her doorstep. Opening one of these big boxes is the punctuation mark on the high-performance blender buying experience – usually preceded by days if not weeks of review-reading, video-watching, price comparing, and everything else involved in the due-diligence process.

The Idea

Along with the associated cost of the machine itself, this process is what makes the purchase of a high-performance blender a true investment into a healthier lifestyle for its new owner. But while just about anyone with internet access can perform the legwork that culminates in the choosing of a particular model to suit his or her needs, actually purchasing the blender is often a challenge in and of itself. Why? Well, in a nutshell, these things are expensive! Price-points for new Blendtec and Vitamix models begin at $400.00 and can go north of $1000.00 on the high-end. Though even the baseline models from either manufacturer are exceptional machines in their own rights, understandably not everyone can, or is willing to, shell out half a grand or more for one.

Fortunately there’s an alternative for anyone who might be suffering from Vitamix and/or Blendtec sticker-shock. This relief comes in the form of a refurbished model. Now, I realize the very term elicits varying degrees of skepticism from consumers, and, as it relates to numerous re-sold consumer goods, justifiably so. Manufacturers have even come up with clever alternative tags like “recertified” and “reconditioned” to deflect attention away from the implicit negative connotation of the word. I wouldn’t blame anyone for avoiding most refurbished products out of general principle. To a few specific items falling under this umbrella, though, I can speak with absolute authority that a refurbished Vitamix or Blendtec blender indeed meets the very definition of the term “good deal.” Let me explain how.

The availability of refurbished Vitamix blenders predates the launch of blender dude in 2009. However, although the opportunity to purchase one of these models existed, to the best of my knowledge there was not a single recommendation to consider this option to be found anywhere on the internet. Why was that? I suggest any explanation is rooted in the rationale discussed above concerning the general negative connotation associated with refurbished products. At the time, no high-performance blender “authority” was willing to put his or her stamp of approval on a refurbished model as there wasn’t a documented account anywhere on the internet of actual first-hand experience with one.

This all changed once I began paying closer attention to the return inventory of Vitamix and Blendtec blenders in Costco and Sam’s Club warehouses during my live-demonstration “road shows” that year. Prior to stacking any blenders which were returned between or during shows on pallets and sending them back to Blendtec’s factory in Orem, Utah, as was required per my regular end-of-show duties, I began methodically performing my own inspections of these machines, first. I would do this over the course of my 10 days in a given store at closing time and during lunch hours and other daily break periods of the road shows. What I discovered surprised me.

The Support

Prior to being sent back to their manufacturers, returns of all items to Costco and Sam’s Club stores are housed in the rear of the warehouses, in what are known as return “cages.” As a rep for one of these manufacturers I was granted access to the cages. Here I was able to unbox and inspect each and every Blendtec Total Blender brought back to the store. Not only would I visually inspect these machines, but I also developed the routine of plugging units into nearby electrical outlets where I could see via their control panels exactly how many “blend cycles” were run on them prior to being returned. Over the course of several months I discovered the majority of these returned units had fewer than 10 cycles on their counters, and a large proportion of them had zero! As well, at least once per show I would perform actual demonstrations with a returned unit specifically to satisfy a personal curiosity over whether or not something was actually “wrong” with it. At no time did any machine I used fail to perform to the exact same standards as did my regular demonstration blender.

What did this mean? I suppose it is possible that the purchaser of a high-performance blender is able to determine in 10 or fewer uses that the product doesn’t meet his or her expectations. But what I ultimately concluded then – and remain just as convinced of today – is that most returns were the result of initial “impulse purchases” from customers who visited one of these warehouse clubs on a given day with absolutely no intentions of purchasing a $400.00 blender. Once inside they would watch my demonstrations and perhaps become convinced of the merits of the product, only to realize after taking one home that the sizeable financial investment required in owning one simply wasn’t feasible at the time. This conclusion of mine was both developed and reinforced by the personal testimonies of numerous customers who approached me during my events to confess making a return for just such a reason.

Having access to the cages allowed me to perform similar inspections on the returns of Blendtec’s primary “competitor” as well. And the story was no different with the Vitamixes. As these blenders don’t have digital displays I was unable to tell exactly how many times one was used prior to being brought back. However, visual inspections of the Vitamix returns were entirely consistent with those of the Blendtecs in that nearly all of these machines appeared to have been hardly taken out of their boxes before being put right back in. For all intents and purposes they were still brand new – the very ones that would subsequently be returned to their respective factories, re-inspected, re-packaged with brand new containers and accessories, and re-sold as factory refurbished models at tremendous discounts from their original prices.

It did not take me long to realize I would be doing a tremendous disservice to the readers of my website in failing to mention the value that could be captured investing in one of these models. And for years thereafter blender dude was the only site not just referencing the availability of refurbished high-performance machines, but also actually recommending them. In the years since I have periodically used many of these models personally on a daily basis, and my belief in the value they represent has only grown. To this day I have yet to receive a single complaint from a customer of mine who has bought a Certified Reconditioned Vitamix over the condition or performance of his or her unit. On just two occasions I have been informed by purchasers of Certified Refurbished Blendtec Total Blenders that the containers included with them had faulty gaskets around the blade assemblies. It is worth mentioning again, though, that containers included with all refurbished Blendtecs are brand new, meaning, these two occurrences were unrelated with the blender, itself, being pre-owned.

Today the word is out. There is hardly a blender review website to be found that doesn’t recommend a refurbished option from either Blendtec or Vitamix. How, exactly, can these reviewers so confidently advocate for these models? This is a minor mystery to me as I have my reservations over most of them having any significant first-hand experience with them. Whether they do or not, though, doesn’t change the fact that their proclamations of refurbished Vitamix and Blendtec models being great values are spot-on.  I strongly recommend anyone in the market for one who is also on a tight budget or otherwise deterred by the sizable prices of quality high-performance blenders give these models thorough consideration.

The Specifics

Vitamix currently offers four Certified Reconditioned models. Each is comprised of previously new blenders such as those discussed above which have been returned to its factory in Cleveland, Ohio, for reconditioning. Occasionally blenders from promotional photo shoots or home shows will be included in the pool of available units as well. Upon return to its factory, Vitamix performs a 17-point inspection to ensure that each blender meets the exact same quality and performance criteria as all of their new units. To these criteria, the Certified Reconditioned model warranty coverage is also identical to that of new Vitamixes with the exception of its duration.

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Whereas new Vitamixes most-often come with 7-year warranties, a Certified Reconditioned model comes standard with a 5-year warranty – very nice in its own right. However, options to purchase additional 3-year terms are also available with most models. In almost all cases, when added to the reduced cost of the blender, itself, the cost of an extended warranty on a Certified Reconditioned Vitamix results in a model with a longer warranty coverage than that of a new one – covered to the same extent, yet at a lower overall cost.

Returns of all new Vitamix models which feature identical motors and user-interfaces are grouped under the same Certified Reconditioned model category. After completion of the inspection process, Vitamix re-packages each motor base with a brand new 64-ounce container, tamper, and recipe book. This is how Vitamix ensures that each reconditioned model is identical to any other in its category with the exception of the original model name on the front of the blender. Regardless of the model name stamped on the motor base, the blender itself, warranty, and all associated contents of the package are exactly alike within the particular Certified Reconditioned category.

The Certified Reconditioned Standard Vitamix is comprised of blenders from any of 7 original C-Series models. These blenders feature 2-horsepower motors and user interfaces with Power On/Off and Variable/High speed levers and a center Variable speed dial. Regardless of which size container was included with the original unit, this model will come with a new 64-ounce standard BPA-free container with a 3-inch blade assembly and new tamper. Along with an instructional DVD, the spiral bound Getting Started Plus recipe book is included with all packages regardless of which book originally appeared with the respective new blender. The standard warranty for this Vitamix model is 5 years with an option to extend to 8. Normal savings off of standard pricing on new models in this category can be as high as 38%, and reach close to 45% during promotions.***

The Vitamix 6300 and Professional Series 500 are the two original models which represent the Certified Reconditioned Standard Programs Vitamix. These blenders also feature the same 2-horsepower Vitamix motor, new 64-ounce BPA-free containers with 3-inch blade assemblies, instructional DVDs, and new tampers. Original recipe books are replaced with new spiral-bound copies of Savor. The distinguishing feature of this model is the pre-programmed functionality on the user-interface panel. Settings for Smoothies, Frozen Desserts, and Hot Soups allow the user to load the container with corresponding ingredients and have the blender stop itself automatically with perfect results when recipes have completed the blending process. Savings of 41% off of normal new model pricing is standard with this option, and can reach nearly 50% during promotions.***

Four original Vitamixes combine to create the Certified Reconditioned Next Generation Vitamix model. Each features a 2.2-horsepower motor and the newly designed, shorter-profile 64-ounce BPA-free container with 4-inch blade. The control panel consists of Start/Stop and Pulse levers as well as a center Variable speed dial. A new tamper, the hard-bound Simply Fresh recipe book, and an instructional DVD complete the model package. Savings of nearly 25% off the price of new Next Generation models can be captured by purchasing a reconditioned equivalent.

Only one model makes up the Certified Reconditioned Next Generations Programs Vitamix. The Professional Series 750 is the only Next Generation model equipped with pre-programmed settings. Along with the 2.2-horsepower motor and Start/Stop and Pulse levers on the control panel, its Variable speed center dial also features settings for 5 pre-programmed cycles: Smoothies, Frozen Desserts, Hot Soups, Purees, and Clean. Like the C-Series Standard Programs models, via these settings users can elect for the blender to automatically select speeds and blend durations without being monitored. A new tamper, low-profile 64-ounce BPA-free container with 4-inch blade, instructional DVD, and hardbound Create recipe book come with the blender. The reconditioned Pro 750 models can save the customer as much as $120.00 compared to new versions.

Though arriving a little later to the game in offering refurbished machines, Blendtec has more than made up for it by backing their models with not only the same level of warranty coverage issued on its new blenders, but also for the very same duration. Every Certified Refurbished unit is given a comprehensive inspection, including service and testing, by trained technicians in Blendtec’s Orem, Utah, factory.  It is then repackaged with brand new accessories to go along with the aforementioned full 7-year warranty.

Blendtec’s Total Blender Classic Certified Refurbished model features a 3-horsepower motor, new BPA-free WildSide container with 4-inch blade, vented gripper lid, and Fresh Blends recipe book. The user-interface panel consists of touch-button controls including buttons for manual Speed Up and Down, Pulse, as well as 6 pre-programmed “blend cycle” options: Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt, Ice Crush/Milkshake, Soups/Syrups/Fondues, Sauces/Dips/Dressings/Batters, Whole Juice, and Smoothie. Via these cycles along with corresponding Blendtec recipes, users can achieve desired results with the press of a single button without having to monitor the blender. Regularly priced just under $400.00, new, the refurbished option at $280.00 represents a 30% savings.

The recently-introduced Designer Series model is also available as a refurbished Blendtec option. A savings of $70.00 can be captured from the $450.00 starting price of new units. The Designer Series Certified Refurbished model comes with not only the same 3-horsepower motor and blend cycle options as the Total Blender, but also capacitive-touch user-interface and re-designed airflow resulting in quieter blending. Brand new BPA-free WildSide containers, vented gripper lids, and Fresh Blends recipe books are included with this model as well.

A final incentive worth mentioning to those considering a refurbished Vitamix or Blendtec is the respective return policies of these blenders. Just as with their new models, both companies offer no-questions-asked, full-refund, 30-day trials of their refurbished models. For anyone “on the fence” regarding the prudence of making such a significant financial investment into a refurbished product, this might be considered additional insurance into making certain one of these units meets every expectation placed upon it before committing to full ownership.

Feel free to contact me with any issues or concerns with refurbished Vitamix or Blendtec options not addressed in this article. Disclosure:  As an authorized Blendtec and Vitamix affiliate, commissions are earned on specific products purchased via links on this site.

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