New or Refurbished? Some important things to consider

In today's tight-funding climate, there is brisk business to be had repairing and re-selling used laboratory equipment. 

If you would consider wearing a prom dress or leather jacket from Goodwill, why not pick up a once-used centrifuge or incubator for pennies on the dollar?  

Unless, of course, you are uncomfortable with the whole "Haven't we seen this before?"  

Sort of like this (from Top Secret)....

I was recently asked by someone who was in the market for a centrifuge what I thought about purchasing a refurbished unit. Below are a few of the comments I shared with him. 

TRUST - Amazon and eBay all have their rating systems to reduce the risk of winding up with a fraudulent or ill-equipped dealer.  Whether new or used, only work with reliable name brands and suppliers you've seen before or have built up a relationship of dependability and reliability. 

AVAILABILITY OF PARTS - Make a point to check in with the manufacturer to confirm the model is still in production or, in the case that it has been discontinued, that there will be regular access to critical parts to maintain the device. 

For obvious reasons, laboratory equipment that comes from overseas could be difficult to support post-sale. 

NATURE OF THE REPAIRS - Used dealers should tell you why the unit was in need of repair and how this factors into the duration of the warranty that comes with the sale. In my conversations I've found warranties range from thirty-days to a year depending on the severity of the original issue. Each re-seller may have their own formula, so be sure to ask about this. 

WARRANTY - Find out exactly what is covered. Is it bumper to bumper, or just certain moving parts and mechanisms?

HOW ARE REPAIRS DONE? - Is there a network of local repair places, which is almost always the case with dealers who sell new products, or do all repairs require you to send the unit back? 

In general, it is a good practice to hang on to the original box or shipping container for a period of time after the sale in the event it becomes necessary to make a return. Its bad enough to have the equipment go down (and it always goes down at the worst possible time), it would be worse to have the unit damaged in shipment and increase the costs of repair. 

In conclusion, when budgets are tight, used equipment becomes a tantalizing option. If you do your homework and are careful to select from known name brands and work with a trusted source, you can do pretty well and save your lab a lot of money.