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10 Questions to Ask a Refurbished Hardware Vendor

man with protective glasses fixing a desktop computer

In a previous post, I shared with you how, when it comes to hardware, secondary is often better than the first. Once you realize I’m right and you decide to purchase from a vendor in the secondary market (I jest, but really, secondary is lit!), there are a few questions you should ask to make sure you’ve found the right vendor for your needs

1. How long have you been in operation?

Just because a business has a slick website, doesn’t mean they’d be the best hardware provider for you. Total noobs aren’t the safest bet in the hardware market. If you dig around their website and find it’s a newer company, a closer look might tell you if part of the business previously existed (for some time) under a different name; growth and a new name doesn’t necessarily mean the whole company is “new.” On the other hand, if they founded the whole business last week, you probably want to shop elsewhere.

2. How do you test, refurbish, and grade your product?

Every company has their own process for refurbishing and testing their products. Are they receiving the product, blowing out the dust, and then plugging it in to make sure it lights up (yikes!)? Or, do they have a more thorough process of refurbishing, cleaning, and testing, like Inteleca’s? Make sure their standards are aligned with yours. 

3. Do you have any certifications, such as ISO?

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is an independent organization with standards to ensure the quality of products, services, and systems. It provides different kinds of certifications. For example, Inteleca has an ISO 9001 certification for the “acquisition, testing, configuration, sales, and distribution of surplus new, refurbished, and used data center hardware.” Yay, gold star for us!  

4. What’s your warranty?

In the secondary market, warranties are provided by the reseller, not the manufacturer. Every secondary vendor has its own warranty policies, but generally, they’re better than manufacturer warranties. Inteleca’s end users enjoy a warranty that covers most of our equipment for life. For our resellers, the warranty period is 90 days from our invoice date, and we offer an additional 10-day warranty for products having visible/cosmetic damage. 

5. Who are some of your other customers?

If a vendor isn’t a total noob and they’re reliable, they’ll probably be able to list other clients, including ones who are similar in size to your organization. If they can’t, they’re probably like that guy you know who says he’s always busy and has lots of “plans” with his “friends,” but yet his social media pics are all selfies, food pics, and landscapes. 

6. What’s your lead time to ship an order?

Speedy delivery might be important to you, especially if you anticipate having immediate needs for hardware. Ask how much of their products are usually in stock and can ship right away, and how often they might need to special order an item. If an item is in stock, Inteleca can ship same-day if needed. 

7. What happens if there’s a problem?

Your business runs on your network. So, when there’s a problem, “yesterday” is usually the timeframe for addressing it. We get it. Ask the vendor how they would address that type of situation: who is your point person for contact, how fast can they get to it, and what’s the charge to service or ship something immediately?

8. Can you install related software or custom configure?

If you need more than just the hardware, ask the vendor if they provide any and all related services. Many vendors like Inteleca do provide installation and configuration services as well as sell the hardware. You may also ask them if they can service or manage the hardware (yes, we can), and if they’d be able to service all of your hardware (yes, we might), giving you the ability to have one single provider. … or super provider! 

9. What’s the best way to communicate?

If your vendor is providing you service beyond just a purchase, ask them how often they’ll be in contact with you and how. These days, there are many ways of keeping in touch, and every business has their way. You may have a general email for all communication, a chat feature through an app, or a specific contact person you can text. Inteleca has all three and we use all of them. 

10. What’s your specialty?

Many mainstream hardware vendors sell equipment from a variety of manufacturers, but some specialize in a limited number of vendors or certain types of equipment. Specializing may help a vendor better understand the equipment they work with, but it makes them more limited in the amount of hardware they can service, meaning they may not be able to be a “super provider,” like Inteleca. Figure out which kind of vendor better suits your needs–one for all or all for one.

I hope this list gives some direction in choosing the right hardware vendor for your business needs, and makes you feel more secure with your choice. If a solid super provider is your best option, contact Inteleca to chat with one of our engineers about putting together a plan for your hardware needs.