The next stage in ‘certified pre-owned’

How powerful are the words “certified pre-owned”?

It’s the high-priced version of “refurbished used.” But even the first time I ever heard it years ago, I instantly knew the phrase would boost used-car sales. And setting standards for certification like low-mileage, relatively new vehicles that have been inspected and repaired as necessary creates an upper tier of used vehicles that have value for consumers and justify a price premium.

Other industries have borrowed the term to move used merchandise.

But today I have positive proof of the power of the phrase.

The Michigan Humane Society e-mailed me an offer I’d like to share. Maybe you would like your own “certified pre-owned cat.”

I thought the Humane Society already had good wordage going when we “rescued” a 6-year-old long-hair called Byron. He’s affectionate, playful and has quickly trained my wife and me to serve as his staff.

But while he’s “pre-owned,” Byron is clearly not certified. Maybe if we’d held out for “certified,” our sofa upholstery would still be intact.