Friday, December 5, 2014

Is Buying Used Equipment and/or Buying Equipment from Amazon or eBay a Good Idea?

I'm often asked if it is a good idea to save some money by purchasing used point of sale equipment and/or point of sale equipment sold on websites like eBay or Amazon.  The short answer is "yes - but with caution".

Here is what you need to keep in mind and this is all based on real world experience:

  1. Point of sale hardware is not 'universal'. For example, a receipt printer or barcode label printer that works with one point of sale system may not work with a different point of sale system. You need to match all the equipment up against the supported hardware list for the point of sale system that you will be using.  Saving $250 on a piece of hardware sounds awesome until you find out the hardware is not supported or compatible with your point of sale software.
  2. Cable, connections, and drivers vary from system to system. Again, make sure that any hardware matches up to the right cables and connections on your computer or mobile device as well as being on the support hardware list for your point of sale software or app.
  3. Any batteries may be 'toast' in used equipment.  Not a big deal - just plan on needing to buy new batteries.
  4. Make sure that documentation comes with all equipment and/or is available online. You'd be surprised how much manual programming is required with some point of sale hardware. Make sure that you will have access to any manuals, programming guides, etc that are required to correctly use any hardware.
  5. Check the version for compliance and support!!!  This is a big one that has cost some folks a lot of money as they up having to re-purchase all or part of their system.  Here are the 2 most common scenarios that I have come across over the last 15 years:
    1. Someone gets a great deal on a whole point of sale system but doesn't do their homework and receives a computer that is running an outdated operating system like Windows XP (or a tablet that is running an outdated version of iOS). The user goes to upgrade the operating system but then finds that some of the hardware doesn't work with the updated operating system so now some of the hardware has to be upgraded - this quickly turns in to a expensive ugly mess.
    2. Someone gets a great deal on a complete system and all appears to be fine until the user calls for support on the system (or fails a PCI compliance scan) and finds out that their point of sale software is so outdated that it is no longer supported and the user needs to purchase all new point of sale software (which may or may not work with existing hardware, etc).
I'm not saying to avoid used or discounted equipment, just do some homework and by all means, make sure that you will be EMV compliant!  No sense having to buy a whole new point of sale system in September 2015 because you bought something now that will never be EMV compliant.

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