The following details my first-hand industry experience with refurbished Vitamix and Blendtec blenders. To skip right to the available refurbished models from the manufacturers discussed, scroll to the section entitled, “The Specifics.”
(updated November 3, 2017)
Who doesn’t like 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 the familiar scents that come with something never-before owned. “Unboxing” new products is such a big deal for some that YouTube, for instance, has a catalog of nearly 20 million videos of just that – people sharing with the world the experience of tearing into the packaging of something for the first time.
High-performance blenders are no exception. 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 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.
Along with the cost of the machine itself, the buying process contributes to making the acquisition 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 legwork that culminates in the choosing of a particular blender model to suit his or her needs, the actual purchase can often prove to be the bigger challenge. 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, 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. Yes, this 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 phrase, “good deal.” Let me explain how.
The availability of refurbished Vitamix blenders predates the launch of blender dude in 2009. However, though 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. Back then, 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. Part of the job entailed stacking any blenders which were returned between or during shows on pallets and sending them back to Blendtec’s factory in Orem, Utah. In order to better understand why these units were being returned, I began methodically performing my own inspections of these machines, first. Over the course of a 10-day show in a given store – after closing time and during lunch hours – I had the opportunity do take close looks at every unit that was returned. What I discovered surprised me.
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.
Vitamix currently offers nine 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.
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, (now known as Legacy Series). 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.
Rather than being renamed for branding purposes, the Certified Reconditioned Vitamix 780 is exactly what it sounds like – a previously new Vitamix 780 which has been returned, re-inspected to look and perform like new, and discounted for re-sale. All the features found in its new model counterpart are present in the reconditioned unit including low-profile 64-ounce BPA-free container and low-profile tamper. Even the cookbook is the very same. This model features an LED touchscreen control panel for easy use and cleaning, and 5 pre-programmed cycles: Smoothies, Frozen Desserts, Hot Soups, Purees, and Clean. It’s also equipped with a Pulse feature.
Introduced in 2015 as a new, in-stock item for Costco Wholesale, the Certified Reconditioned Vitamix 5300 is available as a refurbished model for purists who prefer the aesthetics of traditional looking machines with some added muscle under the hood. With a motor base resembling the all-time best-selling 5200, it packs the improved 2.2-horsepower motor and comes with the newly designed, low-profile 64-ounce BPA-free container with 4-inch blade. A combo getting-started guide and recipe book, along with a low-profile tamper, complete the package.
In 2014 Vitamix came out with a radical design change in the the form of their Personal Series line of blenders. These models were significantly smaller in overall size than any previous model in the lineup, and catered to individuals who wanted to blend “on the go.” The first refurbished Personal Series model available at a reduced price is the Certified Reconditioned Vitamix S30, featuring a 7-amp motor base with Pulse and Variable speed controls, and both 40-ounce BPA-free and 20-ounce “portable” BPA-free containers. The 20-ounce container serves as both a blending vessel and smoothie cup with flip-top lid – the primary feature of the model. A low-profile tamper and recipe book are also included.
Consistent with its larger-sized counterparts, the Certified Reconditioned Vitamix S55 offers a few more features than the baseline model (Vitamix S30) in the series. Four pre-programmed settings can be found on the Brushed Stainless 7-amp motor base along with Pulse and Variable speed controls. Like the S30, it, too, comes with 40-ounce BPA-free and “portable” 20-ounce BPA-free containers, recipe book, and a tamper.
Though arriving a little later to the game in offering refurbished machines, Blendtec has made up for it by backing their models with the same level of warranty coverage issued on its new blenders for a period of 3 full years. 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 warranty.
The Blendtec Total Blender 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.
Think of the Blendtec Classic 575 Certified Refurbished model as an aesthetically more modern Total Blender with slightly fewer manual speed control settings. It still features pre-programmed settings including those for Smoothies and Cleaning, and also 60 and 90 second cycles useful for other specific recipes such as soups. A Pulse button is present as well. The LCD interface is extremely easy to read and due to its lack of knobs and dials the entire motor base is a breeze to keep clean.
The “sleek factor” gets ramped up a notch in the form of the Blendtec Designer 625 Certified Refurbished. The motor base in this model is still free of knobs and dials, but instead of buttons it uses capacitive touch technology (think of how you operate your smart phones) to control each of the 4 pre-programmed blending cycles, Pulse feature, and 6 manually-controlled speed settings. The touch or slide of a finger, rather than a press, really ups the cool factor with this model. Of course, it also comes with the 3.0 horsepower motor which means it’s more than just a “pretty face.” It also blends like a work-horse.
Rounding out the reduced-price offerings from the company is the Blendtec Designer 725 Certified Refurbished, which is essentially a less-expensive duplicate of the “bell cow” in the Blendtec lineup. Boasting a 3.8 peak horsepower, 1725 watt motor and capacitive touch slider controlling 100 manual speed settings and 6 pre-programmed cycles, think of this as the premier Blendtec offering for home blending for $130.00 less than the normal price.
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” about making a significant financial investment into a refurbished product, consider this additional insurance into making certain one of these units meets every expectation placed upon it before committing to full ownership. Here are the details on the respective Vitamix and Blendtec risk-free return policies.
As always, feel free to contact me with any issues or concerns with refurbished Vitamix or Blendtec options not addressed in this article.