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Buying Used

(April 2010) posted on Tue May 04, 2010

Consider these variables when pursuing a previously owned printer

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By JP Pieratt

You can also find individual sellers through online auction sites such as eBay. Keep in mind that an online auction service is simply a tool to allow buyers and sellers to connect. And even though some of the online auction sites have some safeguards built in, it still typically will come down to dealing with a private owner on a one-to-one basis. Just because it’s on eBay doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a trusted source. As this piece was written, more than 300 items came up when “wide-format printer” was entered into the eBay search engine—although many of these items were actually desktop units. (For Web-auction tips, see “Going Once, Going Twice…,” page 33).

Establishing a checklist
Developing some basic questions can be handy for every previously used printer you’re considering. Questions can be tweaked for your particular needs, but should include at least the following:
• How old is the printer? Is the machine so old that you cannot modify it yourself if need be?
• How many owners has it had?
• How many hours of service does it have?
• When was it last serviced? How often was it serviced? Is a documented service record available?
• Why is the former owner selling it?
• When were the printheads last replaced?
• What brand and type of inks were used in the machine—both OEM and third-party?
• What’s the machine’s top speed on specific media?
• Can I get the specs on this machine when it was new?
• Are supplies still readily available?
• What does this machine do best? That is, what is its best application? Its worst?
• What product produced on this machine has sold best for the former/current owner?
• What problems/glitches does this machine/technology present to a print provider?
• Has the machine been modified in any way, and, if so, what kind of modifications were made? Have these modifications affected/negated its warranty?
• What is the seller willing to include with the printer? The RIP should definitely be included, of course, but also ask about media, inks, spare parts, etc.