When purchasing used, refurbished, or demonstration model equipment there are considerations in addition to the cost of the equipment.

Purchasing these types of equipment directly from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), is suggested whenever possible to minimize your risk.  Buying directly from the OEM allows the purchaser to:

  • verify the condition of the equipment;
  • verify that the equipment was properly decontaminated prior to shutdown;
  • obtain a copy of a calibration report;
  • ensures that upgrades are available;
  • licensing issues are addressed;
  • ensure that the equipment is still eligible for a service contract;
  • ensure that repair parts, chemicals, consumables, and other supplies are still available
  • purchase a warranty if the equipment does not already come with one
  • ensures the equipment includes software licenses

Alternatives sources to consider:

  1. UW Surplus Property
  2. Local companies liquidating equipment
  3. Referrals from the OEM

The following are suggestions for dealing with any used or refurbished equipment supplier.  This will help you evaluate the condition of the equipment and minimize the risks involved in the purchase. 


Ask for Equipment Details:

  1. Complete model number with a list of the provided options and accessories.
  2. Serial number and the date the unit was manufactured.  It is a red flag when a potential supplier will not provide the serial number.  With the serial number, you can minimize risk by contacting the OEM to verify maintenance and service records.
  3. Is the unit refurbished to OEM specifications or is it “Used”?  Used often means the equipment is being provided “As Is”.
  4. What is the warranty period? The best option is for the warranty to start after installation and final acceptance testing in the UW lab.  Another acceptable option is for the warranty to start upon arrival on UW premises. Delayed installations or delayed shipping use up warranty time if the warranty start date is  the same as the shipping date.
  5. Verify that manuals, cables, and other installation accessories are included.
  6. Request a copy of the equipment’s last calibration test or diagnostic test results.
  7. Has the equipment been decontaminated and are the decommissioning/shut-down records available with the last calibration report?
  8. Verify with the OEM that the equipment still has service support and that replacement parts or upgrades are still available.
  9. When equipment is described as “to spec” or “to specifications” be sure it is to the OEM’s specifications. The equipment’s ability to hold the tight tolerances of a function or feature deteriorate with age which may create problems with its compatibility with existing equipment or updated software capabilities.
  10. “Refurbished” means different things to different suppliers.   Ask for details about what components have actually been replaced.

    a) What parts were replaced?   Were the replacement parts new or used?  Were common wear and tear parts such as belts, seals, valves, or tubing replaced or were  only the cosmetic items touched-up
    b) Was the equipment calibrated and tested to OEM specifications?  Request a copy of the calibration report.
    c) Is there a “within range spec” that you can use as a guideline to ensure  the equipment has been refurbished to OEM specs? 


  1. Ask for a minimum 14 day Right of Refusal from the date of receipt of the equipment or a 30 day Right of Refusal from the ship date. This allows you to receive & inspect the condition of the equipment and verify if it is complete or  if parts and accessories have been removed.
  2. It is recommended for expensive, complex equipment that there is a “Trial Work Period” or some other time window to ensure that the product is fully functional.  The Trial Work Period should start after the installation of the equipment.  Other options may be: 1) operational testing at the seller’s facility to OEM specifications or 2) have the seller provide a copy of the calibration report showing that the equipment meets OEM specifications and is functional.
  3. Ensure that installation and training (if needed) is included in the price quote.
  4. The quote should also include:  the installation costs, estimated shipping and packaging costs, and any other additional charges such as hazardous material charges and fuel/energy surcharges. The shipping term “FOB Destination” should be stated in the quote
    Note: The University is not liable for any charges that are not included in the quote.
  5. Verify the cost of any software license(s) by comparing the OEM cost to the resellers cost.

Important Reminders

  1. As with any purchase of goods and services, the University cannot pay in advance. This includes paying a deposit. If the seller is adamant, check with your buyer who can often negotiate alternate payment terms. The University’s standard payment terms are Net 30 from receipt of goods or invoice, whichever is later. Suppliers already registered with the UW and signed for ePayables are often paid more quickly.
  2. Used equipment must comply with EH&S approval requirements. https://www.ehs.washington.edu/ 
  3. Equipment for clinical applications should meet the UWMC electrical specifications and pass any required UW engineering inspections.
  4. Used equipment brokers may not allow returns or refunds. Occasionally a broker may not own or have clear title to the equipment they are selling. Whenever possible, make sure the broker is reputable.
  5. UW Procurement Services Buyers are available to assist you through the entire process. Early contact is best. For the commodity buyer list, click  https://finance.uw.edu/ps/contact-us/subject-matter-experts 

Purchasing Goods through Auctions

Auctions are a popular way for companies to dispose of used scientific and other equipment. There are many sources for online and live auctions, but carefully consider the pros and cons before you bid, as the equipment is usually sold “as is/where is” without a warranty. You may be better off purchasing new equipment with a full warranty, and the protections of UW terms and conditions.

In general, the University discourages the use of web/live auctions as a means to make purchases of goods and services.   If considering a purchase through an auction, contact Procurement Services in advance to discuss options for payment as payment in advance is prohibited even at an auction.

Here are some points to be aware of if you decide to bid on items at auction:


  • Validate that the price is reasonable regardless of cost, and set a ceiling price for yourself!
  • Do your homework before the auction: how old is the equipment, who owned it, how used, was it properly maintained?
  • Make certain that the auction /website offers protection against purchasing defective or erroneously described merchandise.  For all auction purchases, the department should ensure that the auction /website allows for refunds, if necessary, after physical inspection of the goods received.
  • The department should document and understand fully all warranties and other protections offered by the seller or auctioneer.
  • Confirm payment method with the auction house up front. Make sure that they will accept Procard or P.O. if you are the successful bidder
  • If the purchase exceeds the direct buy limit a sole source justification must be submitted to Procurement Services and approved in advance of the auction. The sole source should include
    • Description of the goods being purchased
    • Explanation of why the item needs to be purchased through an auction
  • Documentation needed for auction purchases:
    • Final cost
    • Copy of the purchase confirmation
    • Documentation describing all warranties and proof of ownership/title from seller