In every 'dead' laptop battery I've torn down, one cell (or pair, in parallel) is totally kaput, and the remaining cells retain at least 50% of their nameplate capacity. Protection circuitry will lockout recharging of the whole pack, which wouldn't work with the dead cell anyway.
So the battery as a whole is utterly useless for the laptop, but 2/3rds of the cells or more have some life left in them, for other purposes.
I imagine a lot of the too-cheap-to-be-true off-label replacement laptop batteries are in fact combinations of two dead ones, with the remaining functioning cells rewired into one working (but lower capacity) pack. Certainly seems about right judging by the performance of them, anyway.