I had some problems with my 13 month old Vario W. I called Baratza and they were very accommodating. They suggested that they send me out a new refurbished model and that I return my "broken" model with their prepaid UPS tag that came w/the refurbished model. The swap was very easy. One grinder out of the box, the old grinder in the box and away it goes. Now, as to your question. I can tell you that when the "refurbished" grinder came in, it was shipped looking like it was brand new. I couldn't tell, based on a visual inspection of the box or the grinder, that it was refurbished. As was mentioned on another post, you have to figure that the grinder was returned for a problem, fixed, QC'd and sent out. Again, when it was sent out, it was boxed and packaged as if it were new. Now here's the rub w/my experience...when my grinder arrived it worked flawlessly; however, I had a problem w/the weight based calibration after about 2 months of use on this grinder. I tried recalibrating (per their instructions) several times but the grind amount was WAY off. So...after several emails to an ultra responsive Baratza tech (no kidding, good customer service), they have decided to send me ANOTHER refurbished grinder. Ultimately, I don't know if I just got two bad grinders or if all of them are bad. I doubt the latter. I'm sure my replacement grinder was checked out and was working fine when they sent it out. Some part inside probably went haywire during use and needs replacement. Bottom line: I wouldn't worry too much about the fact that it is refurbished. Hope this helps.
My recommendation is to work with Baratza and ask for a new one. But a word of warning, I think the design of the Preciso is flawed. I bought one about a year ago and it had a problem: it would need to be adjusted to finer and finer settings to maintain the same grind fineness, until I ran out of settings and it couldn't go any finer. So three months in, I contact Baratza and they cross-ship a replacement (major kudos for customer service). They said they changed the way they do calibrations.
Same thing happens to the second grinder. After another three months, they cross-ship another new grinder. Again, kudos for being willing to do that. Said this time that they started gluing down the base ring.
Guess what? Same thing happened to the third grinder. Three grinders, all cross shipped from Baratza three months apart each (so 9 months total) all failures of the same issue, but each one supposedly had the issues addressed (calibration, gluing down the ring, etc.).
So I work with the person from whom I bought the grinder initially, he's a reseller, so he goes to bat for me, gets me a refund for the original price, I return the now-third grinder, and I get a Mazzer Mini-E.
Three months with the Mazzer and I couldn't be happier. Yes I know it's three times the cost of the Preciso, but it's like graduating from a Corolla to a BMW/Audi/Mercedes. The build quality alone easily justifies the cost (it's a tank, and it looks and feels like their professional models in use in many high end espresso shops). But that's not the selling point. The grind fineness and consistency have improved dramatically, even in comparison to when the Preciso was working properly. The best shots I was ever able to pull from my Preciso is probably equal to the worst shot I can pull from the Mini. And I'm just using a Silvia PID.
I am a true believer now when certain sites and companies say the grinder can make as much, or more, of a difference than the espresso machine. My capps and lattes far surpass any drink from the "big chains" and fall just barely short of the best espresso houses in my area (Intelligentsia, Tomo, Luxxe, etc.).
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