Here are some things you need to know about the used laser market.
First of all, some of the people in it are very shady. Second, it is not standardized like the used car industry. There is not a “blue-book” value for used laser equipment. Prices and quality vary widely across the board. You usually don’t get a chance to check out (or test drive) the equipment you are purchasing. There is no lemon law with used lasers. When you buy it, it’s yours. It may be difficult getting your money back if it doesn’t perform. Most of these used dealers are not real companies. They are some guy who probably doesn’t even have the laser, but is instead brokering it. There are no real warranties with the equipment. The following are things you should look for in a laser broker and ask:
- Does the laser broker actually have the laser in his/her possession or is it a consignment sale? If it is a consignment sale, you need to do your own due diligence on what condition the laser is in because you can’t always rely on the broker giving you accurate information. Since the broker may have never actually physically seen the device, he/she may not know if there are any flaws with the device. He or she is relying solely on the doctor who owns the device to give him accurate information.
- Has this broker been certified by third parties and received a seal of reliability and ethics? Below are a few of the certifications that can be helpful in your assessment:
- Dotmed. An online website that certifies laser brokers is Dotmed (found on the internet http://www.Dotmed.com). Find out if your laser broker is Dotmed Certified.
- Ebay. Every Ebay seller should have a seller’s rating. Find out if your broker has sold on the internet and what his satisfaction rating is. You want to see as close to 100% satisfaction as possible.
These certifications mean a lot to laser dealers and brokers because it validates their good reputation. Brokers and dealers who plan on selling medical lasers for many years to come do not want anything to happen to these ratings because they realize how important they are in selling equipment.
- Has the broker had the equipment inspected by someone qualified to repair the laser prior to shipping? Even used lasers cost a lot of money, so it behooves you to make sure the laser that you’re buying has been properly inspected prior to purchasing. This should be done by a technician who knows the laser and should be done before you put any money down. Would you buy a used car from a fly by night dealer without having your mechanic look at it? Once it’s been purchased, all bets are off. Apply leverage to the broker when you have leverage, and that is prior to purchasing.
Many brokers tout that their laser equipment has been “refurbished.” This statement means absolutely nothing if the laser broker cannot provide documentation of the laser’s refurbishment. If they claim it has been refurbished, they should be able to send you a checklist of items that have been done to the laser in a matter of minutes via email or fax. If they cannot provide this to you in relatively short order, then nothing has been truly done to this unit.
If you have any doubt as to the laser’s condition, you can also ask the broker to shoot a video of the laser in operation, showing the following:
1. The laser being fired
2. The pulse count on the screen
3. The user adjusting the treatment parameters on the screen
4. The serial number of the unit.
5. Any material defects the laser may have that need to be disclosed
The bottom line is this: You want to make sure the laser is in good, operating condition. You need to make sure it is actually functioning. Shooting video these days is extremely easy. You can buy a Flip HD video camcorder for less than $200 and shoot high resolution video that can be uploaded directly to YouTube in a matter of minutes. Don’t let this process intimidate you. You are about to make a very large investment. Asking these items of your broker shouldn’t be seen as excessive.
4. The Importance of a Laser Inspection Checklist
How do you know if a laser has been inspected or “refurbished”? Ask for a laser inspection checklist that has been completed by someone qualified to perform the inspection. Below is a basic laser checklist THAT SHOULD BE PERFORMED ON ANY LASER PRIOR TO BEING SOLD TO ANOTHER PARTY:
Laser Inspection and Maintenance Checklist
Inspection / Maintenance Item Date Completed Tech Initials
1. Check coolant level and add deionized water.
2. Inspect electrical connections.
3. Perform power meter calibration check.
4. If more than 250,000 shots replace deionizer cartridge and DI water.
5. Inspect and clean internal optics (if applicable)
6. Replace Xenon flash lamp if power is low and more 250,000 shots.
7. Inspect footswitch for proper operation.
8. Verify laser has no leaks after replacing any filters or connections.
9. Check High Voltage Power Supply.
10. Verify operation at all power settings.
Laser Repair Company:____________________________ Phone:___________________
In most cases, the inspection checklist will not have been performed prior to the broker listing the item, however you should make it a condition of the sale that the laser be properly inspected. If you do not require this, you will be buying at your own risk.
- Can the broker provide you with a service report on the laser while it was under the manufacturers warranty? In addition to the laser inspection checklist, you should also request any and all laser service reports that documents any maintenance that has been done on the laser since it was purchased new. Sometimes the selling doctor may no longer have a record of this, however this should also be available from the laser manufacturer. Manufacturers have a responsibility to document all repair and maintenance work that has been done to the laser as part of any warranty they have provided for the laser when it was purchased new.
Brokers can be hesitant to provide you with a serial number of the laser because they do not own the laser. With a serial number you can call the manufacturer and find out where the laser is and sometimes who actually owns the laser. This makes brokers nervous because it means that you can potentially go around them and buy directly from the owner of the laser unit. Such behavior is completely unethical, however it does sometimes happen which is why laser brokers are very careful about providing such information to you.
- Can the broker provide you with at least 5 references within the past 3 months of doctors he has sold to? Not every transaction will always run smoothly every time with a broker, however does the broker adjust to problems and ensure that things get back on track to keep the buyer happy? Calling references of recent transactions will allow you to find out from buyer’s their level of satisfaction with the broker and whether they would do business with him or her again.
We have special offers on the lasers on our classifieds section, and all of them are in GOOD condition. So come and check it out until supplies last.