There is a site called refurb-tracker.com that puts out an RSS feed based on changes to the store inventory. I used some tool to turn that into a twitter feed @MacRefurb.
It's been running so long I don't even remember how to log in and change it. And I forget what tool I used to make the RSS->twitter conversion. But I still have 185 followers, 4 years later...
One morning I got that email and I no longer had an excuse :D
I like what you did there, great stuff! I do wonder how many personal bots are out there, scraping sites for individuals' own gain like this.
I remember a good few years ago, getting frustrated at having to wait six weeks for a driving test. I wrote a little script that ran every half hour, logged into the DVLA's site (in the UK), entered my details, and looked for recent cancellations. If it found one, it sent me the details, and I'd madly scrabble together to try and book the slot. After I failed my first test, it was even more useful :)
It was beautiful, transitioning from sifting through CL by hand, to having carefully filtered ads delivered to my inbox within an hour of being posted.
I was right, and have picked up two this month (one on behalf of a friend):
- A MacBook Pro 15" 2.3 i7 Quad Core unibody, antiglare. (Sold for £908, cost in March 2011 £2,169. 58% saving.)
- A MacBook Pro 15" 2.0 i7 Quad Core unibody, 8GB RAM, antiglare. (Sold for £950, cost in 2011 approx £1,500. 37% saving.)
Both of these represent considerable savings over the 17% median for a used model stated in the article.
Both laptops can be user-upgraded with a 512 SSD (approx £300 from Crucial) and up to 16GB of RAM (approx £100), even though Apple's advertised maximum is 8GB of RAM for 2011 MacBook Pros. Their Geekbench scores are pretty close to the latest i7 chips in the Retina MacBook Pros.
Although they're out of warranty, the savings and the relative reliability of nearly new Apple hardware makes these excellent value for money, in my view. And they're not atypical of finishing prices for this sort of kit in Britain at present; average selling prices are only £100-£150 higher. I got a good price by finding auctions with average photos or formatting that were listed with awkward finishing times (typical commuter home time/very early in the morning).
Is there a premium for used Apple kit? Well, sure -- even the old ones are desirable. But that doesn't mean you have to pay it.
The last Mac I had that developed hardware problem (out-of-warranty) was not one of those refurbs.
I picked up a refurbished iPad 2 a month ago and it works great -- except the home button is shoddy. I didn't really pick up on it after two or three days of use.
Back here, you can exchange your iPhone with a minor excuse (3G intermittently working etc.) so the owner of the used phone exchanged it from the vendor for a brand new one at no cost. Therefore, I got a brand new iPhone 4S at the price of an iPhone4 with an Apple Care Protection plan. The only "used" part of the phone are the 19 pin connector, the earphones and the adaptor which personally doesn't quite keep me awake at nights.
 It means that there's a -8% for the MBA 11" and -1% for the MBP 15" savings if you prefer the used one. So you should choose the the refurbished over a used ones for these models if price is your ONLY parameter.