In the current economic conditions it's more tempting than ever to consider buying second-hand equipment. Cost is obviously the main advantage compared to buying new - but there are some serious drawbacks, too, that could end up costing a whole lot more than the original saving.
Warranty: Check very closely exactly what warranty the vendor of the second-hand equipment is offering. What does it cover and for how long? It should cover both parts and labour - and for peace of mind it should definitely be more than three months. Ask if it is possible to buy an extended warranty.
Bear in mind that new equipment will have at least a one-year warranty, sometimes two or even three - and often this can be extended for a relatively low cost. That means peace of mind for several years, with no unexpected extra costs, which is an important consideration when weighing the pros and cons of second-hand versus new.
Service agreement: Any kitchen equipment should have regular servicing. With second-hand equipment it is vital to ask the vendor if they can provide a service package and what the cost will be. Make sure that the agreement covers emergency call-outs, an especially important consideration with older equipment.
Get a comparison cost for an identical service agreement if the equipment is bought new. Be sure to check if the new equipment's warranty includes a servicing package, or if there is a special offer on servicing when buying new. This could make the cost saving on buying second-hand less attractive.
Refurbished equipment: Be wary of equipment that is completely refurbished because it may need to be CE-marked again. Without the CE mark, if would be illegal to operate.
Energy saving: Modern equipment is more efficient, in terms of both energy and other consumables, which means it will cost less to run than second-hand models. In some cases the cost savings can be large.
For example, manufacturers of some dishwashers claim the latest models can save thousands of pounds a year in running costs, because they use less water, less energy and less detergent
In addition, the government offers financial incentives to buyers of energy-efficient equipment, including low-interest loans and tax benefits. These should be factored in to any cost comparison with second-hand equipment. To find out more about the incentives visit www.carbontrust.co.uk or ask a reputable equipment supplier.
The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) represents over 130 companies who supply, service and maintain all types of commercial catering equipment - from utensils to full kitchen schemes. For more information on CESA visit www.cesa.org.uk