How to Choose the Right Used or Refurbished Copier

Buying a Used Copier

Buying a used or refurbished commercial copier can literally save you reams of green. If your business knows that buying a commercial copier is the right decision but the price of a new model is too staggering, consider buying a new or refurbished copier. You can get exactly what you need in an older model and save around 50-70% off the price of a new copier. Buying a used machine is also a good way to keep electronics out of landfills, so you can go green and save green at the same time!

Employee using MFP

Now that you have made the decision to save money by buying an older model commercial copier, you may find yourself wondering “what’s the difference between used and refurbished?” Not knowing the difference between these terms can dramatically affect how much you pay for your copier. A few basic differences include:

A used commercial copier is a machine that is sold without any repairs or updates, and very minimal cleaning or testing. More often than not, these machines are sold “as is”, either without a warranty or with one as short as 14 days.

Refurbished commercial copiers have been audited, cleaned, tested, updated and had any necessary parts replaced by a third party (not the manufacturer). These machines are typically used less than three months and will come with a “same as brand new” warranty.

Whether you end up going for a used or refurbished commercial copier, before buying anything it’s important to answer these questions:

  • What do you need the copier to do?

Take into account that modern commercial copiers are multi-function products capable of much more than printing. Before contacting a supplier, try to decide what features are important to you and your business, such as color print, scan, fax, sort/staple features, etc. Older models may not have the extras you are looking for, so its important to ask up front.

  • What is your print volume?

Figure out a rough estimate of your company’s monthly paper consumption and add 20% to account for future growth. It is important to choose a copier that can handle your business’s output. Overloading an older machine can lead to frustrating downtime while the copier is being repaired.

  • How fast do you need to print?

As a copier ages, its printing speed can decrease. Commercial copier speed is measured in pages per minute (ppm): the number of letter-size pages the machine can produce in one minute when running at full speed. Most offices are comfortable with a machine in the 20-50 ppm range, so be sure the used or refurbished copier you choose can handle your business’s print volume.

  • What is your budget?

Set a range for what you are willing to spend on the machine. Most used or refurbished commercial copiers are business or production models. For a mid-range business copier, you can expect to pay anywhere from $400 to $2,000. A production copier can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $17,000.

advanced commercial copier

4 Steps for Choosing the Best Used or Refurbished Copier

After answering all the preliminary questions, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of buying a used or refurbished copier. Just because you may find older copiers that meet your needs and are within your budget, it does not mean that they are a great deal. Consider these tips to help you choose the best used or refurbished copier for your business:

1. Check the Performance.

You wouldn’t buy a car without driving it around the block first. The same goes for buying a copier. When looking at a used or refurbished copier, one of the most important things to do is to take a “test drive” of the machine to see how well it performs. Some things you should do during inspection are:

  • print a sample job
  • open every door or drawer using a flashlight to look for damage
  • note the model number and look it up online to verify the age of the copier
  • check the odometer to track the machine’s total usage
  • verify that the network card works
  • make sure the menu system is functioning properly
  • verify that any serviced or replaced parts are secure and working well

2. Consider the Age of the Machine.

The older a copier machine is and the more it has been used, the faster it depreciates in value and cost. This is why it is important to check the date of a used or refurbished copier before buying. Most copier machines have the date of manufacture clearly stamped near the serial number. The lifespan of a copier is generally around 3-4 years, depending on how well it was maintained. When buying used or refurbished copiers, a general rule of thumb is this: Do not buy a machine that is older than 5 years. Models that are older than 5 years tend to have outdated technology and will usually require extensive maintenance and repair.

3. Consider the Ink or Toner Used.

When buying a used or refurbished copier, it is important to know what type of ink or toner the machine has been/is using. When examining used copiers for sale you want to know if they’ve been using aftermarket toner that may have gummed up the machine more than Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) toner. It is also possible that you may be buying a copier whose toner or ink is no longer easily available for purchase. Verify that the materials needed to print are still available in office supply stores. Buying a copier that uses outdated toner or ink will lead to a higher cost of operation over time once the materials run out.

4. Double Check the Warranty.

Even a used or refurbished copier can cost thousands of dollars, so make sure your investment is protected. Some warranties can last as little as two weeks or as long as a year, but either way, it’s important to know how long you are covered in case any issues occur. The most common warranty time frames are 30, 60, or 90 days. After your warranty is up, it may not make sense to stick with the person you bought the copier from for maintenance. More often than not, using a reputable dealer in your area or going directly to the manufacturer for repairs can save you time and money.

  • Don’t buy analog!

Although analog copiers are still available on the market for a lower price, the bulk of copier sales now belongs to digital copiers.

  • Don’t buy a small all-in-one printer.

Spending $150 on a printer from a chain office supply store is really only useful if you are working out of a home office. Because these printers are not built to handle high business copy volume, per-copy prices with an all-in-one printer are much higher and the output is much slower.

Want to Learn More?

Still not sure if buying a copier is the right decision for your business? Learn more about your options by reading our Office Copier Buyer’s Guide.

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