The Pros and Cons of Buying Used IT Gear
The price is right, but how do you know if you’re buying a quality product that is not too good to be true?
By Martin Sinderman
Using refurbished or used gear can be a great way to help your SMB clients save money on IT equipment without sacrificing performance, as long as you’re careful where you buy and skeptical about deals that sound too good to be true.
Pre-owned networking equipment, for example, is ideally suited for SMBs that want the best technology but cannot afford the price tag of buying new, according to Mike Sheldon, president and CEO of Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Network Hardware Resale LLC, a provider of pre-owned, used, refurbished, and new-surplus networking equipment.
In addition to realizing savings of up to 90 percent off OEM list prices, solution providers that shop the secondary IT gear market these days can find an extensive inventory of ready-to-ship equipment, as well as warranties “that in some cases top those of the OEM’s,” says Sheldon.
Farpoint Group, an Ashland, Mass.-based advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing, has been buying and recommending refurbished gear for five years, “and we haven’t had a problem yet,” says Craig Mathias, company principal and founder.
Providers of used IT equipment, whose ranks include companies such as Miami-based TigerDirect.com and Oceanside, Calif.-based Geeks.com—as well as the OEMs themselves—are selling what Mathias calls “vast amounts” of refurbished product these days. Given that much of the gear is basically new equipment that has been returned, “you may not be able to pick and choose the specific piece of equipment you want, or have it configured to your particular specifications,” says Mathias, “but, especially in the SMB environment, you can find very suitable, essentially new equipment that will easily get the job done at a really good price.”
LET THE BUYER BEWARE
That said, it’s important that IT providers understand who they are dealing with when shopping for pre-owned gear. “While used networking equipment is highly popular on auction sites and craigslist, if a deal looks too good to be true, chances are it is,” says Sheldon. Much of the equipment on these sites is sold in “as is” condition, he adds, leaving the buyer with no protections if it proves unusable.
So when buying any new or refurbished piece of equipment, Sheldon advises: “Do your homework regarding who you are dealing with, just like you would any other aspect of your business.” Reputable companies with demonstrable track records stand behind what they sell, he notes; shopping with these types of firms “is the simplest way to avoid counterfeit or fake gear, and will go a long way toward avoiding complications should anything not measure up to expectations.”