Cameras are checked out, cleaned and repackaged with a sticker indicating it is refurbished. If repairs were needed based on the tests, they are repaired but there is a strong indication that most cameras returned are not defective. Mail-order greatly increases the returns because the products were never held or even seen by most sight-unseen on-line buyers so they use buying and returning as the equivalent to dropping by a store and picking one up, maybe several are ordered. And all but one is returned. We saw thousands of D7000 returned because of inexperience with the camera that required more careful technique than their older lower resolution, low pixel density cameras on which they learned their habits. The same occurred with the d800 which was just too sophisticated a camera for many people who rushed out to get one thinking that it would magically overcome the perceived shortcomings of their point and shoot or D40. Hundreds were probably returned because it was too heavy and the on-line ads could not demonstrate that feel until UPS delivered it. Some were returned because of an actual defect however. Those got repaired if the problem could be reproduced on the test bench. I suspect that getting a refurb is no more risky than one that was never tested since it left the factory. Stan St Petersburg Russia
My question to the OP was because he indicated D600's were being "repaired" for the dust issue before being resold as refurbished. I am not aware of an identified dust defect that can be repaired, other than cleaning. Thus, my question, "what's to repair?"
I guess my main concern was: When a camera is returned to a vendor, where does it go? I assume they are not supposed to repackage it and resell it? or do they? I was assumming it goes to Nikon for a checkup and gets labeled as a Refurb. IF Nikon cleans a returned camera I do not think they sell it as new as this would not be NEW, in my eyes anyway.
The shorter warranty period compensates for the lower wholesale cost. They way they calculate it, it is a better deal for themselves. Refurb does not mean what some people think. There is no rebuild, it is tested with a battery of end of production line tests which is supposed to identify most parameters and adjustments. It is passes, it is cleaned and reboxed. If it is in need of repair, it is repaired unless the cost of repair would be higher than the cost of warranty support and the lower price received for it. In that case it is probably scrapped.
I had a business for years that was the sole warranty and factory service for a large manufacture of pro-audio equipment. We received pallets of warranty and store returns daily. Those that were not economical to repair because module and parts stores for other repairs. About 50% of all returns revealed no defect and no warranty claims after being "refurbed", boxed and sent out again. These items were similar in prices to the Nikon camera range. I doubt if we got back any where as high a percentage as Nikon does since the typical buyer of this pro gear was pretty knowledgeable about its use. No one was sending them back because they were too heavy or the files were too big. Whether a camera is refurbed, as in "repaired", is probably determined by its sales price. If any real repair is needed on a D3100 or CoolPix, it is probably headed to the crusher. Repair of a camera costs more in labor to assemble on. One tech can align or final assemble new items much faster than a skilled tech can diagnosis and repair a defective one. Stan St Petersburg Russia
I think most cameras returned within a few days are checked by the seller and resold as new. Same as when you open one at the counter and take a few shots with it. This does not bother me, because at least the camera has been tested.
The one's that are "refurbished" by Nikon could be better yet.