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Part 2: Doing Research on the Seller

Doing your homework

When you’re buying second hand, you’ll need to know what machine you want, the training, upkeep and maintenance it will require (so that you can establish the true costs involved), the reliability and quality of your chosen brand, as well as the history of maintenance of the specific machine you are looking at. Because manufacturers typically don’t assist second-hand purchasers, you’ll need to do your own research on all aspects of your chosen device, such as its longevity, maintenance needs, efficacy and light delivery methods. Not all laser brokers will know everything about your device – sometimes they have only been given a simple crash course of “facts” on the machine or only have marketing brochures to give you.

Even if your broker is able to at least give you a correct technical description of how the machine operates, this does not obviate the need for you to undertake your own due diligence and research. It is important to ring around and find out technical information on all aspects of your potential new device. Our partner company, Cosmetic Compare, is able to facilitate with all aspects of the sale, from finding you the best rates on finance, through to connecting you with the best clinical training, as well as engineering support.

Other resources you might consider are the free webinars usually offered by the major laser manufacturers, or you could attend trade shows.

Finding a seller who is reputable

We all know scam artists run rife on the internet. The aesthetic device industry is not immune, and is particularly vulnerable to shady operators. As this is a significant financial investment, don’t expect a simple ‘click to purchase’ transaction. It is critical that you do your own due diligence before making a decision to buy.  This is vital in an industry that is not standardised in terms of price or quality, and where you usually have no chance to ‘test drive’ the machine before buying. (Please contact us if you would like to seek rental options. We may be able to assist.)

If you are able to source referrals to reputable sellers or companies through colleagues or other industry members, you are one step ahead. But even if you are venturing into the market on your own steam, you should take measures to establish whether a seller is reputable. Checking the seller’s history and reviews is very important, but you can also cross-check the website via sources such as ASIC or Scamwatch. If it passes these checks, also ask yourself if the website (if they are a company) looks professional and if all parts and devices are fully described. You should also try the company’s contact numbers to ensure they are valid.

Unfortunately it is much harder to verify genuine sellers on popular sites like Gumtree or eBay, as new stories like these abound:

Some of the red flags from sellers include:

  • They want you to pay before receiving the device.
  • They offer only very limited payment options (for example, only money wire).
  • They appear to be more interested in the money and not your needs.
  • A distinct lack of customer service.

Once you make contact with a seller or broker, make sure you ask plenty of questions. You want to be sure they know what they are talking about and that you could develop a trusting relationship that will last over time. One thing we recommend is asking for a video conference call. This enables you to ask questions as well as view the machine yourself.

A reputable company is happy answering questions such as:

  • What’s the history of the device?
  • When was it made?
  • Has it been properly maintained and refurbished?
  • Is it guaranteed to work?
  • Do you provide maintenance and repairs or only sale?
  • Have you put it through any kind of tests?
  • How long as this company been in business?
  • Is this a consignment sale?

If so, you need to find out the condition of the laser when the broker may never have actually seen it themselves and is relying on second-hand information from the previous owner.

  • Has the broker had a qualified person inspect the machine before shipping or before any money changes hands?
  • Can the broker supply you any and all service reports on the laser from while it was still under manufacturer’s warranty? If the previous owner does not have these records, the manufacturer should still have them as part of their duty to document all maintenance and repair work.
  • If broker says their devices are “refurbished”, insist on more info. You need documentation of the refurbishment, and a checklist of what was done to the laser. Your broker should be able to easily provide this information.

Note: The laser inspection checklist

If you need to establish whether a laser was inspected or refurbished, a qualified person should inspect the machine and complete the laser inspection checklist. The checklist covers information such as maintenance work done, inspection of electrical connections, performance of calibration checks and so forth. You should ensure that it is a condition of sale that your laser has been properly inspected.

When asking to view a video of the machine working, ensure you are able to view the laser being fired, the pulse count on the screen, a user adjusting parameters on the screen, any defects, and the serial number of the unit. Don’t be shy to ask the broker for this – it’s easy and cheap for them to do and they should be more than happy to do this for a customer potentially parting with a large sum of money.

Next: Choosing the right financing

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