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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

Kick the tires
Always try the printer before you buy it—this step is too important to skip. If you’re buying from a local private owner, have them operate the printer as you watch. You should bring a couple of your own files and a few pieces of various media and ask to operate the printer yourself. Experiment with the different substrates at various resolutions and speeds.

The opportunity to “test drive” a printer and check under the hood also affords you the opportunity to look—and listen—for anything that might seem to indicate that maintenance of the machine has not been a priority for its current owner.  And:
• Do a head test on the printer—are all the printheads firing?
• Ask the current owner/technician if there are any particular quirks about this machine you should be aware of.
• Bring along a technician if you’re not technically savvy.

Warranties and service contracts
As indicated previously, OEMs and their distributors typically offer the best warranties and service contracts, while these are typically limited or non-existent when dealing with private sellers. Several OEM programs offer some sort of warranty with the purchase/install of the previously owned printer. After the warranty period, service contracts typically are available for purchase.

If you’re purchasing from a company other than an OEM or from a private owner, see what kind of warranty might still exist on the machine and if it’s transferable to you. Also, determine if a service contract is available to fill any gaps in warranty coverage. Some third-party warranty companies offer warranty or maintenance services for a variety of equipment from major manufacturers.

The bargaining process
This applies primarily to dealing with private owners, rather than OEMs and/or other companies, but don’t be afraid to bargain. Many people enjoy “horse trading,” and the initial asking price will likely be negotiable. Also, cash typically is king. If the seller has bills to pay, that cash is going to be tempting and can bring the price down considerably—especially if it appears you’ll be walking away without buying the printer. And don’t be afraid to walk away, either. If something in the deal doesn’t sit right with you, move on.

Although it’s not always possible, try and find out why the owner is selling the printer. If you’re buying from someone who is getting out of the business, there may be additional equipment and supplies “thrown in” the deal—inks, media, etc.

Also, consider: Who preps the machine for shipping once you’ve agreed to purchase? Who arranges for and pays for packing, shipping, etc.? How soon after completing the sale do you take possession? Do you have to put a deposit down, and if so, how much? How soon after the sale must the unit be paid for in full?

The other side of things
If you’re on the other side and are selling rather than buying a piece of used equipment, perhaps the best advice is to be up front with the potential buyer. Don’t hide any problems. Provide any and all documentation you might have available in terms of printer maintenance and service. Also, let the potential buyer know of any concerns you may have had with the printer—what never quite seemed to work right, or as right as you would have liked. Answer all the buyer’s questions, and be proactive about offering suggestions.