December 2009

Refurbished Printers in Demand

Everything Old is New Again: Refurbished printers continue to be a valuable option for businesses

By: Lorrie Delk Walker

There is a growing trend of businesses shifting to managed print services, and with that change has come an increased desire among print management services companies to purchase refurbished printers.

Refurbished printers have a host of benefits to the print management services companies and the companies that have switched to the service, says Lance Lansing, director of sales and marketing with Global Printer Services ( in McFarland, Wisc.

Managed Print Services- A Brief Overview

Managed print services is a term that refers to oversight of printers, copiers, fax machines and multi-function devices in a collective manner. This service often is outsourced to a company that specializes in this area.

The switch to Managed Print Services typically begins with a Managed Print Services company offering a complimentary audit of a company’s printing activity. The Managed Print Services company uses the audit to develop costs on toners, repairs and other related items.

In the next phase, the Managed Print Services company assumes control of the fleet and provides all of the supplies, repairs and necessary maintenance. Next is a concerted effort to streamline printing tasks to ensure that all equipment is being used efficiently and at an optimum production level.

The final stage- typically the stage where refurbished equipment is introduced- is enhancement. In this stage, the Managed Print Services company works to increase the fleet’s capabilities and improve efficiency through possible equipment upgrades, efforts to improve document workflow, and document management.

Refurbished printers often come into play at this stage because many Managed Print Services companies prefer legacy printers due to their reduced cost and the availability of replacement parts and rechargeable cartridges, Lansing says.

A big reason businesses turn to Managed Print Services is to take some pressure off of their information technology departments.

“I read a statistic once that said about 50 percent of calls to IT desks are password resets or printer problems,” Lansing says. “(Managed Print Services) does take a lot of work off the IT department.”

Benefits of Refurbished Printers

Refurbished printers is an area where Global Printer Services enters the equation. The company sells refurbished HP LaserJet printers, often to Managed Print Services companies.

Managed Print Services companies work to “right-size” businesses into a more uniform printer inventory, Lansing says. That can include consolidating printers into work groups or replacing an existing printer with another model that is cheaper to operate and repair.

The Managed Print Services companies ultimately seek to keep down the cost per page in an effort to reduce overall costs for the business and to increase their own profit margin.

“A lot of our customers are the Managed Print Services companies and the service companies that support them,” he says.

They turn to Global Printer Services because of the initial investment cost savings provided by refurbished printers. Managed Print Services companies don’t have to worry if the printers are on back-order from the manufacturer.

HP is currently back-ordered on a ton of new printers,” Lansing says. “We mainly deal in discontinued items.”

Using discontinued legacy printers is cheaper because it’s easy to find replacement parts for them and it gives companies the ability to use recharged toners and ink cartridges, which are cheaper than purchasing brand new consumables.

Legacy equipment also has been around long enough for Managed Print Services companies to know what their exact costs will be on the actual printer itself and its maintenance and repair costs- almost down to the page, Lansing says. For example, they know how many pages they can get out of a toner, how much replacement rollers cost and how many service calls they will have to make on that unit.

“When a new model comes out, that information isn’t immediately known, and consumables are expensive initially because there are no refurbs available,” he says.

Buying refurbished equipment also means not having to deal with a large manufacturer’s warranty department, which can be a hassle. Manufacturers’ help lines can make it difficult to reach a real person and often when callers get to an actual person, they are not in the U.S. and communication can be difficult. Other times, help desks walk the caller through a self-diagnosis process, which can end up being time-consuming.

“It’s easier to get a warranty issue taken care of from a customer service-based smaller company,” Lansing says.

As Good As New

Global Printer Services builds value into its refurbished equipment by providing a one year warranty on parts, Lansing says. The company also fully explains the refurbishment process to customers.

“We don’t take an end-of-life, off-lease printer and send it back out,” he says.

Instead, the company thoroughly inspects each printer and replaces high-wear parts including rollers, separation pads and fuser assemblies. Machines are cleaned thoroughly and faded plastic panels are painted to look as good as new.

Businesses often can’t tell if the refurbished printers the Managed Print Services company has brought in are new or used, Lansing says. And at the end of the day, whether it’s new or used doesn’t matter. The client just wants to know that the equipment works properly and can be repaired quickly if it breaks down.