BUYING COPIER: a new or used one?

Most businesses face several dilemmas when purchasing photocopiers. Which model will be the best for us? Will it fit our needs? How much will it cost per page? Should we lease or buy? And finally – should we buy new units or used ones? A lot of people choose to purchase new copiers without really considering their choice; this article aims to summarize both pros and cons of each option.

Buying new equipment has clear advantages; your copier will be up to date, with all the latest new features, options and software. It will have all the latest innovations regarding networking, some handy options such as stapling or booklet making, and lower price per copied page compared to older models. It will also be faster and more reliable. The biggest disadvantage is the price; copiers range from five to fifty thousand dollars – surely not a minor investment for small companies, especially if they need more than one. Not to mention the ink or toner prices which can be high (even exceed the price of the unit after two or three years) and the instant decrease of value - that new copiers lose value the instant they’re purchased; it will have lost 25 to 50 per cent of its value the moment you use it for the first time.


But you will get a brand new machine, with perfectly functioning parts and a full warranty protecting you from unexpected service related costs. But let’s take a look at the other side: we’ve summarized a few most popular myths about buying second hand copiers and tried to analyze them.
Let’s discuss the most common myth first - are used copiers worn out and generally in bad condition?

People always assume that a used copier was put up for sale after many years of use, while actually a majority of used copiers which are for sale have been leased recently and put up for sale after the lease has ended. Many companies prefer leasing their copiers rather buying them. After the lease ends, copiers and other equipment are resold at significantly lower prices, which means that your used copier might in fact be relatively new, used for less than a year.

You won’t save any many due to maintenance expenses – As we already stated, most used units are not very old, and still have the original manufacturer parts and latest software updates. However, all copier units need maintenance every now and then. Before you make your purchase be sure to ask the seller on some kind of warranty; some offer same levels of warranty as if you were buying a new unit, so finding a deal like that will protect you from any unplanned costs.

The original parts were replaced with cheaper ones – Although some used copiers require some repairs before being sold again, you can always check out the quality of the repairs by simply asking the seller whether the unit you’re planning to buy has original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.

Used copiers won’t last for very long – How long your used copier will last depends solely on its use. If your office prints large quantities of copies, you should always look for a copier that will suit your needs; myths about used copiers’ short lives come from people who bought the unit inappropriate for their needs. If you bought a unit which was previously leased, chances are it has years of proper functioning ahead of it.

They are technologically obsolete – New copiers come with the latest software and other technological updates, but old unit’s software can be upgraded as well. It is true that new units will always copy better and faster as technology moves forward, but there are plenty of already existing models which do the job just fine. What actually matters is that the unit you buy must be compatible with your office IT infrastructure.

Manufacturers actually don’t make any money on used units; they make money on ink cartridges and toner, of course, but they are not directly involved in the market exchange of used units. This is why all manufacturers try to present buying new models as a better option than buying used copiers; they also encourage the notion that new models are substantially better than used ones. Although it is true that technology evolves fast, it’s reasonable to conclude that it’s not evolving so fast that you would have to buy a new unit every two years!

The average consumer will spend more money buying copier supplies than on the unit itself. For instance, if you have a laser color copier, you will have to replace the drum, the yellow, magneta, cyan and the black toners separately. The copier unit also has a plethora of small, moving parts (mostly made of plastic) which have a limited lifespan and will need to be replaced sooner or later – so why waste money buying something which is in fact a wear item? By buying a used copier, you’ll pay half as much and spend money only on maintaining that which is absolutely necessary. Just calculate the costs of your replacement toner and ink cartridges, and the cost of the new drum and other basic supplies, over a three year period and compare the numbers between various manufacturers – you’ll see that in most cases the supplies outweigh the cost of the unit itself. Respectable used copier companies generally sell only low-used units which worn-out parts have been replaced before they’re put up for sale. Many copier units have an internal copy counter which tracks how many copies the unit made; a trustworthy used copier company will show you the counter before the purchase.

You may also notice the term ‘refurbished copier’ often comes up when discussing copiers: refurbished copiers are those which are returned from repossessions, short-term rentals or sales demos. Most of these units have been used for less than three months, and you can buy a purchased refurbished unit at 50 or even 75 below their manufacturer’s suggested retail price. If we take into consideration that a high-end copier multifunction copier costs about 50 thousand dollars, you could potentially save substantial 25 thousand dollars right away, and still get a decent copier unit capable of the same functions.

Still, these are all best-case scenarios. Your used copier may in fact breakdown after a month of two of everyday usage, or you may have copying or slowness related issues; buying new units ensures this does not happen. This is why there is no right or wrong choice in the end – the ultimate choice depends on your funds and your own analysis of your specific needs, requirements and possible risks.


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