One place to check for bargains is Epson's site. They have a sale section which usually contains discontinued and factory reconditioned items, some very cheap. I bought my scanner that way a couple of years ago and it came with a free 4x5 negative/transparency scanner attachment.
I know from my time in retail that most returns to the factory have nothing wrong with the item - the customer just got the it home and decided to return it claiming it didn't work. The factory reconditiong consists solely of testing and repacking.