A recon box will be like new. A used box will have just been taken from a car and sold whatever.
I just replaced the box in the V6 with a used box and it isn't as smooth as the box I took out (the whole box/diff/bellhousing assembly was replaced as the bellhousing cracked from a malfitted diff after it was all reconditioned by the previous owner 18months ago...it's a long story).
the labour for my change was about £300 (7 hours), but that included other things too.
I would say the car wasn't repaired properly. BTW, I'm sure you can get a good box cheaper through peeps on this site.