Buyer Beware: What You Must Know Before You Buy Refurbished IT Equipment

Buying refurbished IT equipment makes sense for many organizations. Not only can you get like-new equipment for a fraction of the cost, you can continue to use equipment that you’re familiar with without a significant learning curve or investment in additional hardware to expand your infrastructure.

Even with all of the positives of buying refurbished, though, many people are still leery of buying pre-owned equipment. Perhaps they have been burned in the past when they purchased equipment that wasn’t up to par, or they have heard horror stories from others who have had bad luck. You may have heard some of these stories yourself: Tales of equipment that didn’t work, that was counterfeit, or came without warranties or service plans are enough to send you running to the nearest retailer for new networking equipment.

While there are some unscrupulous sellers out there who will attempt to defraud buyers, if you do your homework and ask the right questions, your purchase of refurbished equipment will go smoothly. Follow this guide to know exactly which questions to ask when considering your refurbished purchase.

Know Where the Equipment Came From

The first thing to ask about when purchasing networking equipment is where the equipment came from. You might hesitate to purchase refurbished equipment if you don’t know where it came from, as you won’t know how it was used — or even if it is authentic.

When you purchase from a reputable reseller like xByte Technologies, you generally don’t have to worry about the actual source of the equipment, as in most cases it was acquired when a company upgraded their existing equipment or traded in equipment at the end of a lease term. You want to avoid products that came from the “gray market,” which means that they are international versions of goods sold here in the States. Not only is there a greater likelihood of these products being counterfeit, but in most cases, items produced for use overseas are incompatible with U.S. equipment and systems — and they may be not be repairable here, either.

Know How the Equipment Was Refurbished

Refurbished networking equipment is generally indistinguishable from brand new equipment because it has been completely disassembled, cleaned and rebuilt from inside and out. Reputable resellers will be able to provide a detailed breakdown of the refurbishment process, including such information as:

  • Whether the seller conducted the refurbishment in-house, or is merely a broker for those who perform the work. Ideally, the seller should be the one who completed the work, as they can provide more detailed information about what was done and are generally more willing to stand by the quality of the piece.
  • Whether original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts were used in the refurbishment.
  • Who worked on the equipment, and whether or not the technician is certified to work on that brand/type of machine.
  • What type of quality control, testing and inspection protocols are in place.

Know What Happens After the Sale

One of the major benefits of buying refurbished equipment is that it comes with a warranty and/or service plan to cover any possible problems after the purchase. When you purchase used equipment, there’s usually no such plan in place, and you’re on your own to cover any repairs or replacements if the equipment doesn’t work as it should. When purchasing refurbished gear, make sure you are absolutely clear on the terms of any warranty programs or service agreements, particularly how long they last and what they cover, and whether the company offers any type of on-site service program.

Know Who You Are Buying From

Finally, before you hand over a purchase order or company credit card, know exactly who you are buying from. It might be tempting to purchase from an anonymous seller offering a great deal on an online sales site, but you can never be sure who you’re actually buying from. Do your due diligence: Review the entire website, run a Google search to see what others are saying about the company, read reviews and ask for client feedback or testimonials.

You might even check the company’s listed address on Google maps to determine exactly where they are located — are they located in a commercial area, or is the address just a random residence that is unlikely to house a sophisticated refurbishment operation?

When it comes to purchasing refurbished networking equipment, the expression “caveat emptor — buyer beware” applies. Do your homework, and you’ll have a positive experience to share and counteract all of the negativity you hear when you bring up the idea.

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Osho is Tech blogger. He contributes to the Blogging, Gadgets, Social Media and Tech News section on TecheHow.