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When Buying Used Equipment, It Pays to Know Your Terms

25 August, 2010 | medical equipment

Buying pre-owned Medical equipment is a great way to save money while expanding your practice. Here are some key terms you may encounter when buying.  Understanding them will help ensure that your purchase meets expectations.

Used or Pre-owned: The Medical equipment being purchased is simply being sold “as is, where is”. The price on such is the most economical. It could be hospital surplus, items from a doctor who is retiring or relocating or even a demonstration piece. Normally it is sold without warranty. For complex pieces (a laser or C-arm, for instance), you may want to pay to have the item inspected by a qualified service professional before you buy.

Reconditioned: This term bridges the gap between “as is” and “refurbished”. Equipment that is in good condition, but has been given some cosmetic attention and basic maintenance (i.e. a new door gasket on an autoclave) may be termed “Reconditioned”. Usually a warranty of 30-90 days is included. Pricing will be somewhat higher than “Used”.

Refurbished: Refurbished Medical equipment is a term often misunderstood and sometimes abused. Disreputable sellers may simply apply a coat of paint, make sure the lights work and call it “refurbished”—a practice known as spray and pray.  This is NOT refurbished! Refurbished equipment should assure the user that they are receiving clean and carefully checked equipment in good condition cosmetically and functionally. This may include painting, but even more importantly, replacement of all worn parts. The unit will be brought up fully to manufacturer specifications. Consumables (like batteries and lead wires) will have been replaced. Warranties from 90 days to a year are standard. The price is usually higher than pre-owned or reconditioned.

Re-manufactured: This is the most advanced level of service provided in the secondary market. It is more expensive than refurbished but still represents a substantial savings over new. Normally it is only offered on larger devices such as OR tables, large sterilizers, MRI’s, etc.  Re-manufactured products have been torn down to the component level and completely rebuilt.  Often they will have been modified to exceed the original manufacturer specifications (i.e. a large autoclave with analog controls will be upgraded to the latest digital interface).  Re-manufactured equipment normally comes with a six to twelve month warranty.

The above definitions are fairly well-accepted in the industry, but knowing them is no substitute for good old-fashioned caveat emptor (let the buyer beware). There are lots of great deals, but knowing whom you are dealing with makes all the difference. Are they reputable? Can they provide service? If a problem arises, can you easily get in touch?  As with any transaction, understand the terms and know whom you are dealing with.

You can contact Tim and Ron at:

Office: 888-878-6874, Fax: 888-249-9866

Mobile  206-423-9009

contributed by Tim Richards and Ron de Ru – Northwest Supply Diagnostic Imaging, Medical and Scientific Equipment Solutions