Purchasing laboratory equipment, whether new or used, is a big investment. After carefully considering multiple factors to ensure the best solution for the lab, taking time to evaluate warranty options prior to purchase is an important next step to protect your investment.
Equipment can account for a large portion of the laboratory budget, and malfunction or failure creates additional costs for repair, as well as lost productivity. Equipment warranties can protect laboratories from such additional costs, as they serve as a written guarantee for a product that holds the manufacturer or seller responsible for repair or replacement if the item is defective. However, not all warranties are the same, and it is important to ask a few questions prior to purchase.
According to Barbara Pearlman, president of Cambridge Scientific Products, most lab equipment comes with a warranty, but this may range between a seven-day right of return, to six months of parts and labor coverage, and numerous other options. The questions she feels are most important to ask pertain to “the warranty period, service contract terms and conditions, and the return or cancellation policy.”
Questions about the warranty period are fairly straightforward, but important. When does the warranty begin and expire? Does it begin at the time of purchase, receipt, or must the equipment be registered to obtain the warranty?
“Service contract terms and conditions would include what the seller covers when the equipment needs to be repaired,” explains Pearlman. This may include repair and/or replacement of defective parts, or the equipment itself, but not damages caused by mishandling. It is also important to ask whether the warranty period restarts when the repair is completed, or if the original warranty period continues. According to Pearlman, “common mistakes buyers make can be prevented by carefully examining the service contract terms within the warranty period.”
Pearlman also recommends determining what will void the warranty. In general, warranties only apply if the equipment is used as intended for certain applications. If the equipment is used for other applications, or exposed to certain chemicals, voltages, or conditions, there is a risk that the manufacturer will deny the warranty claim.
Understanding the warranty claim process before purchasing is also valuable as it can save time and additional costs. Ask whether the seller or the original equipment manufacturer is the point of contact to initiate a warranty claim. If equipment needs to be sent back for repair or replacement, ask who is responsible for the shipping costs and whether there are any other costs associated with a claim.
Lastly, consider the initial cost of the equipment and determine whether an extended warranty is worthwhile. For larger investments, an extended warranty can provide assurance that the lab will not be faced with high replacement or repair costs in the event of malfunction. Keep in mind that extended warranties may differ from standard warranties and should also be reviewed prior to purchase.
When purchasing lab equipment, warranty options should be part of the conversation. Asking a few key questions and making an informed purchasing decision will prevent costly surprises.