Used IT equipment can help a business cut capital costs, but be proactive to protect yourself from dishonest gray-market sellers.

How can I find legitimate used IT equipment and protect my data center from black- or gray-market threats? What does AGMA say about this?

Gray-market gear can be perfectly legitimate IT equipment that organizations buy used, knowing it’s used and accepting the limitations of vendor service and support. But there are some tactics that you can use to gauge the integrity of a prospective reseller.

First, look for resellers that have been in business for years and can produce verifiable references. When you check references, ask about the reseller’s support and problem resolution processes; Will the reseller be there for you when you need them? Ask the reseller to certify in writing that all of the equipment is original and eligible for manufacturer’s service agreements. Some equipment manufacturers require licensing before they provide service or software, so also ask the reseller to guarantee that licensing will not be a problem. If the reseller can’t, or won’t, put those points in writing, it could suggest stolen or counterfeit equipment — or the reseller simply can’t guarantee the integrity of the equipment. In either case, it’s probably best for you to find another reseller.

Other tactics to protect your capital include buying on credit and having a clear understanding of return policies. Any reputable reseller can arrange simple credit terms like “30 days net.” If the equipment doesn’t meet your needs or you experience any problems at all in registering or licensing the hardware, you can return the gear — or at least not pay for it. Avoid resellers that refuse to extend credit or offer no-return policies for their gear.

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