New vs. Refurbished
What to Consider When Purchasing Test Equipment
By Diane Gleb - President
Thanks to the Internet revolution, the market for used test and
measurement equipment has soared in the last few years, with dozens
of websites offering used instruments for sale. As with any choice,
the decision whether to buy new or used is a difficult one that
should be fully understood as there are both benefits and drawbacks
to each alternative. This article will discuss the issues of both
and will help you make an educated decision.
I sell refurbished, used equipment, but seek to inform my customers
of all of the potential issues so that the ownership experience
will be enjoyable, and the business relationship long lasting. I
have been in the test and measurement business since 1986, originally
with a company that focused on rentals and leasing, then over the
last twelve years I began working with customers looking to stretch
their budgets by buying refurbished (used) equipment. I have had
many conversations with customers who have made used equipment purchases
– the overwhelming majority of those customers have been satisfied
with their choice to buy used.
I hope the following information will give you some insight into
the issue of new vs. used equipment purchases, and help you to make
the decision that is right for you and your company. Many of us
simply have a preference for either new or used equipment, and we
are not easily persuaded to abandon our comfort zone. Yet there
are good solid reasons to evaluate your purchasing strategies. I
want you to make the decision that is right for you and the one
you will be happy with in the coming months and years.
Why would a person choose to purchase new
equipment? I think most people find reassurance in the knowledge
that their hands are the first ones to have touched their testing
equipment. When you alone are first owner or user, you can be certain
the instrument has been cared for. For others there is the satisfaction
of having the latest state of the art equipment. Everyone welcomes
the assurance of a factory warranty and the support of both dealer
Why would a person choose to purchase used
equipment? The obvious attractions for purchasing used, are
price and lead-time. Often these instruments can be purchased for
half to two-thirds of their original price - a nice savings, assuming
that no problems arise. Yet used equipment carries more risk than
new, so let’s examine the potential problems.
Source: This may be the most critical
issue of all, as so many of the problems we will discuss hinge upon
the ethics of the seller. Can you trust the source? Is the supplier
reputable? An individual seller has no reputation to protect, so
you operate on blind trust that the person is honest. A company
that has been around for any length of time has a reputation to
maintain, thus it is much more likely that you will get satisfaction
from any issues that might arise. Individuals are selling much of
the used equipment offered and lets face it there are those out
there who are less than trustworthy. Once the seller has your money,
it may be very difficult (or impossible) to gain satisfaction if
you are unhappy with your purchase. Try to deal with companies that
have been around for a few years rather than individuals, and do
not be afraid to ask for current customer references. While references
are no guarantee, it may be of some benefit
Warranty: Check to see if your purchase
will have a warranty. Most manufacturers do not offer a transferable
warranty. A used equipment company will sometimes warrant that a
product will operate correctly on arrival. Make sure your used equipment
company offers a minimum of a six -month warranty. At Test Equipment
Solutions Today we offer a 12-month warranty on most equipment we
Condition: Unless you can personally
inspect the product before you buy (and you know what to look for),
you rely completely on the seller to accurately describe the instrument.
A photo is great, but even that may not be enough to spot many problems.
Condition goes beyond the external appearance, and the internal
workings should be considered. Indeed, the inside of the instrument
is often a better indicator of how the unit has been cared for than
the exterior appearance.
Misrepresentation: Much of this
happens by accident, but misinformation is commonplace. Incorrect
information can be the result of ignorance or downright deception.
It can range from misrepresenting the condition of the unit, age
or functionality, to the owner simply not being very well informed
about the unit. In many cases, equipment cannot be upgraded to the
current version, so you may want to check with the manufacturer
to be sure. If there is a question, get the serial number of the
unit you are considering and call the manufacturer to verify the
information you have been given.
Financial risk: When buying from
an individual, this can be one of the most devastating potential
consequences of the transaction. More often than not, Cash On Delivery
(C.O.D.) is the method of payment between buyer and seller. This
requires a level of trust on both parties - the seller does not
want to send the goods without assurance of being paid and the buyer
does not want to release payment until he has received and inspected
the merchandise. The whole C.O.D. process is ripe for rip-offs.
I’ve been ripped off myself, and I have spoken with countless
customers that have lost money to con artists. All I can say is
be extremely careful. If you get a bad feeling, there is probably
reason for it. Again, sticking with a reputable company has far
Trial: As any used test equipment
company knows the only way to know if a purchase is right for you
is to set-up the unit and use it for your application. Quality dealers
will offer a minimum of 5 days to accept your purchase. At Test
Equipment Solutions Today we offer customers a 10-day acceptance
period to insure satisfaction.
Wear/Abuse: Generally, used test
equipment companies take very good care of their investments. Yet
with even the most careful among us, accidents happen, so be sure
and check the unit carefully for any damage – inside and out
before your acceptance period expires. Of course, normal wear and
tear is to be expected, but signs of abuse are reasons to reconsider
your equipment supplier.
Assistance: If you purchase a refurbished
instrument from an individual, you are pretty much on your own if
you have questions. While the manufacturer may be able to provide
some assistance, they are often busy helping others with warranty
related issues. Test equipment companies, of course, cannot and
should not be expected to provide technical support and expertise
on instruments not acquired through their company. However, if the
unit was purchased from them they should provide any technical assistance
needed for you to get your unit up and running. The unit should
be thoroughly tested and a certificate of calibration provided.
Purchases made from a bad source can be expensive and time consuming.
So, consider carefully and decide whether refurbished or brand new
equipment will best preserve your sanity!
Give us a chance to earn
your business. I firmly believe that you will find a purchase from
Test Equipment Solutions Today to be a satisfying and enjoyable