Top things to consider when buying pre-owned equipment - A Buyers Guide

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter's approach.

Businesses of all sizes rely on increasingly sophisticated network architectures to transform their businesses, all while maximizing the value of IT investments. With today's economic pressures and elevated operational costs, refurbished equipment can be a safe way for organizations to keep pace with the latest technologies without the stress of increased expenses.

To be clear, refurbished equipment and used equipment are not one and the same. Though both terms imply previous ownership, refurbished equipment complies with quality standards, often with the same warranty options as new.

Though refurbished equipment is often backed by standards, different vendors use different processes, parts, levels of rigor and quality-acceptance levels to refurbish the equipment they sell.

IT and purchasing managers have numerous variables to consider. The total cost of long-term ownership is dependent on understanding the factors involved in proper refurbishment, how it contributes to equipment reliability, and the differences in the processes among various vendors.

Sacrificing on brand or quality will take its toll on the infrastructure and professional support staff. Here are seven key criteria to consider before purchasing pre-owned equipment in order to maximize value and minimize risk:

1. The pre-owned equipment has been fully refurbished to factory specifications. Much of the functionality of advanced networking equipment is software and firmware driven. Used equipment, when refurbished properly, is updated with the current versions of firmware and software and tested to confirm that the equipment is operating within the product specifications, ensuring reliable operation over the duration of the intended product lifespan.

2. The equipment is backed by the same warranty, vendor maintenance and support options as the equivalent new product. When buying used equipment, it is important to look beyond the price tag. Confirm that the refurbished products have a warranty and maintenance program. This way, should the equipment fail, it will be under the same level of protection as new equipment. Nothing can be worse than buying a piece of equipment at a bargain price only to have it fail shortly after it is installed and having no recourse other than to purchase yet another solution, doubling your costs.

3. The equipment has been purchased from original manufacturer, the best choice to properly refurbish equipment.  Refurbished equipment purchased from the original manufacturer will ensure that the equipment is backed by original policies, including warranty options. In addition, the manufacturer will be aware of integration and upgrade issues that may have occurred over the life of the product and be able to provide solutions. Individuals and resellers that are not certified by the manufacturer may not have the ability to confirm compliance with engineering standards and may inadvertently introduce damaging software to the system. In addition, some resellers sell equipment without valid software licenses or product warranties, making the equipment ineligible for support or updates.  

4.  There are no hidden fees.  The sales price should reflect the value of the refurbished equipment taking into consideration the functionality of the unit, as well as the parameters of the license agreement and warranty. Some resellers will make necessary upgrades, charging high premiums, eliminating the cost benefit of purchasing refurbished equipment.

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5. The reseller is OEM-authorized. For additional savings, always source your equipment and support services directly from authorized OEM channels or the manufacturer directly. Resellers who are OEM-authorized provide technical expertise and access to products, promotions and financing.

6. The remanufactured products are certified. Without assurance that your equipment is loaded with the latest firmware and software, organizations are increasingly vulnerable to attacks. Companies who decide to purchase equipment from a reseller who is not certified may not have access to the most current patches and updates, causing downtime and maintenance issues, potentially resulting in a loss of hardware and data. Additionally, some uncertified equipment may not be compliant with certain regulations and directives, such as the Restriction of Hazardous Substances.

7.  Prices are not “too good to be true.”  Heavily reduced costs may be an indication that the products are counterfeit or not authorized for sale where they are being offered. The potential risks — to your business and network security, as well as legal and compliance risks — may end up costing far more than any initial cost savings. Especially when buying equipment that is critical to network integrity and business continuity, it’s important to select a source only after a careful evaluation. Resist Internet, email, or telemarketing offers that will send representatives to pick up your payment in person or demand cash-on-delivery shipment. 

When the equipment you’re buying is business-critical, quality and authenticity should be your most important considerations.

Properly refurbished equipment is an attractive option for purchasing decision makers faced with tight budgets who nevertheless need to address increased network security concerns, stronger compliance guidelines, or service and support challenges. Doing sufficient research on the reputation and service of your IT vendor will safeguard a reliable, refurbished system that is inspected and backed by a warranty, helping to ensure that your network stays up and your business runs smoothly.

Cisco is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Information about Cisco Certified Pre-Owned Equipment can be found at

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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