Not All Online Device Vendors Are Created Equal:
I recently got off the phone with a (now) customer that entered the refurbished medical device buying scene in rough fashion. Like so many do, they were tempted by the affordability of an asset dealer- specifically found on the eBay marketplace. Despite the assurance of the seller and some decent marketing, the device arrived “working” yet entirely not ready for clinical patient use. It’s an all too familiar story I hear daily, and sadly the remedies available after the fact are often limited, expensive and time consuming.
The asset mover that sold the device did in-fact turn the machine on and verified that the unit did enter a ‘home screen’ of sorts. This however was all the testing that occurred and was apparently evidence enough to describe the unit as “GREAT WORKING CONDITION WORKS PERFECTLY.”
Unfortunately, the unit did not work perfectly and a few self-tests later confirmed the unit was grossly uncalibrated and as a result of poor packing, suffered internal damage causing the unit to overheat and power off after a mere 30 minutes of on-time. This of course was a problem for the clinic whom had just purchased and had delivered a now 70 pound paperweight for thousands of dollars.
There were however some remedies- including sending the unit back for a refund which is what they did. And, nearly a month after first receiving the device they were then issued a refund. Admittedly, I felt the pain of the revenue and time lost with the hassle of returning the defective unit, and then purchasing another. I thought it may be an educational read to hear about some of the things I’ve learned in my time here at Acme, dealing with over 500 different vendors. After-all, Acme Revival purchases tens-of-thousands more devices a year than a clinic will in its lifetime.
1). Asset movers and similar vendors on the internet, don’t understand the devices they’re selling
As described above- many asset vendors are attempting to sell thousands of different products at once, and typically assume that if something turns on- and doesn’t have any errors, that it’s operating to factory specifications. Although it would be nice if it was that easy- many do not understand the dynamics or purpose of such a device and therefore have little knowledge as to fully testing the functionality of a unit.
2). Many online vendors are attempting to just sell parts
Despite the image and text used in their listings claiming something is in GREAT shape, many-a-vendor are hoping to sell a unit to someone more experienced, whom will be able to repair or part-out the system, rather than use it clinically.
3). Shipping damage occurs way more than you think
Many small-shop vendors are not sophisticated enough, nor financially capable of buying premium containers and packing materials designed to transport fragile medical devices. They’ll find a box laying around and some left over Christmas wrapping and call it a day. The major US couriers stack boxes to the ceiling, and will make them fit in the plane/truck/van/boat in any way they can– often rolling, tumbling, or tossing boxes on other boxes which inevitably leads to damage of the more fragile items. As much as we’d like to think that FedEx is reading the “Fragile” sticker pasted all over the box- they’re not (lol).
4). Ask yourself, why does Joe Schmoe have this medical device in his garage?
Devices found on eBay and the-like are often won in surplus government auctions or estate sales. These devices are typically stored in filthy warehouses and transported numerous times until they end up with the highest bidder whom knows nothing about it. Unlike house-flippers, the ‘asset-flipper’ doesn’t know anything about ‘the asset’ and this where the problems usually start.
5). They’re not meeting FDA Guidance Protocols
Although the FDA is generally not strict in refurbishment and/or remanufacturing guidelines with independent third-parties, there are guidelines set forth by the agency that essentially force independent sellers to verify devices are operating to factory specifications. As detailed above, this process is not for everyone.